Last year we posted the best solution for streaming your church services live to Facebook. How has this changed in the year since that post?
Streaming to Facebook Live still offers one of the best solutions for low-price live streaming. You can use dedicated streaming from businesses catering to churches. Our round-up of church app providers includes some services that make streaming worship fairly simple. If that’s what you need to make it happen then you will want to pay the fees that can reach or exceed $100/month for those services. If you can’t afford to use one of those turnkey solutions, then use Facebook. It’s where most people are online today and thanks to some great tools, it’s not that expensive to get set up and has no subscription fee using the solutions below.
Facebook Live Streaming From Your Phone
The simplest and cheapest way to stream your worship services live to Facebook is to use your smartphone. It costs nothing, except the price of the phone, the Internet connection in the building where you’re streaming along with a reliable Wi-Fi router. Here’s how to do Facebook Live Streaming using your phone. This also works with most recent Android tablets or the iPad.
Start by opening the Facebook app. You’ll want to stream from your church’s Facebook Page. If you don’t have a church Facebook Page, then set one up using this Facebook Help page.
Tap on the three vertical line menu or “hamburger icon” in either the upper right or lower right corner depending on whether you use an iPhone or Android phone. It’s on the upper right on an Android phone and looks like three horizontal lines sitting all the way to the right. It’s on the lower right on iPhone, also all the way to the right. Now scroll down till you see Pages. Tap it and find your church’s Facebook Page. The person doing this has to be assigned as an administrator.
On and iPhone or Android phone, look for the box that reads Write something… on it. Tap it.
Tap on Go Live on Android (left) or Live Video on iPhone (right).
If you’re using an Android phone, tap on the Go Live button (see above left). On an iPhone it reads Live Video (above right). If it’s the first time you’ve done this, the app may ask for permission to use the camera, the mic or locations. Use your phone’s button in camera view to select the forward facing camera which looks like two arrows in a circle.
Hold your phone in landscape view instead of portrait view. It looks more professional. Only violate this principles if you know all of your viewers will watch the live stream on their phones.
When everything looks ready, tap on the blue GO LIVE button in the lower right corner of the screen.
Here’s a few tips to make sure your church’s live stream looks professional, even though you’re only using a phone camera.
- Make the title something descriptive. “Father’s Day at High Peak” is better than “June 18, 2017 at High Peak – worship services.” If you know what’s happening tell viewers about it or go back after and edit the title after the fact.
- Avoid Filters and Stickers. Facebook offers them as options, and they’re fun for video for your friends. Don’t use them for your church. They don’t look professional.
- Hold the phone in landscape orientation. That means hold it so it’s wide not tall. Videos in landscape look more like a TV show than amateur social media videos. Only break this rule if you know everyone who watches only watches on a phone.
- Use an external microphone. If possible, get a good external microphone and attach it to the phone. Believe it or not, but sound matters more than video quality, even in video streaming. People will put up with a low quality video signal longer than they will poor audio quality. If your stream doesn’t sound clear, get a mic. Consider a wireless mic system if only one person will speak or sing for the service. Since that’s not likely, then get a wired mic and put it as close to the stage as possible. Sit on the front row with the phone.
- Get a phone tripod. You can buy a decent holder and tripod for your phone. I prefer tripod mounts for smartphones from a company called Joby. They fit on a regular tripod or on one of their tripods, like the GorillaPod which you can put on the back of a pew or chair in your church.
The Joby GripTight Mount Pro works great on any iPhone or Android phone.
We mentioned above using an external mic. Check out IK Multimedia, makers of the iRig Mic and other multimedia equipment and accessories that work great on a phone. They make a whole mount that lets you hold the phone and attach an included wireless mic via XLR input. They call it the iKlip A/V. It costs about $180 or get it for a little over $100 on Amazon.
Facebook Live Streaming From Your Computer with Special Software
This area changed drastically since our last post. We recommended using a Windows computer, the Elgato HD60 USB capture device plugged into a computer running OBS Studio, a streaming software program. However, this combination became totally unreliable in the months following that recommendation. It crashed often and we couldn’t find any solution that made it reliable. I could never figure out if the instability came from an update to Facebook Live Streaming, the Elgato drivers, Windows 10, or OBS Studio.
If you have to use a Windows computer, then I’d recommend buying Wirecast. Learn more in the video below. I’m told it’s a reliable solution and you can get customer support because you’re paying $695 or $995 for one of their two professional quality solutions.
Xsplit Broadcaster offers another paid solution. It’s a subscription service that costs $199 for a lifetime subscription or $24.95 for a three month subscription. I’ve not used it so I cannot say how well it works, but I’m told it’s solid and you get customer support to make sure it works.
The simplest solution involves more expense up front, but will save you a ton of headaches. It’s simple enough for non-technical types and the tech guru will enjoy setting it up and moving on to other issues while this option just works! He can train volunteers in under an hour.
Here’s the way this works…
You’ll need the following:
- A Mac computer because the software doesn’t run on Windows.
- eCamm Live software only available on Mac.
- Blackmagic Design UltraStudio Mini Recorder.
- A video camera that has HDMI output.
- A Thunderbolt 2 (NOT Thunderbolt 3) cable.
We set this up and the man who runs our streaming for Sunday services literally got excited because it became so simple compared to Elgato HD60, OBS Studio and a Windows computer.
First, find a good quality HD video camera that includes HDMI output. We have a JVC Everio camera (about $230) that produces good quality video and has a mini-HDMI out port. Our camera’s a little old, but works well. You can also go with a higher end camera like the Canon Rebel T6i Video Creator Kit with an 18-55mm lens ($700) that eCamm recommends. You’ll also need an AC adapter for the camera ($20) if you go with the Canon. The JVC and other HD Camcorders come with one.
You’ll plug the camera into the Blackmagic Design UltraStudio Mini Recorder adapter ($145). The HDMI camera goes from the camera to the Blackmagic adapter (seen above). Use the included software to choose the HDMI connector instead of the SDI connector. You’ll find this in the Blackmagic Design Desktop Video application. If your’s didn’t come with it, then download it from their website.
The Blackmagic box will connect to the computer using a Thunderbolt 2 cable, not a Thunderbolt 3. They’re not expensive, but don’t buy one from Apple, because they are expensive. You can find them for $10 to $40 depending on the place you buy and the brand.
Now let’s pick the computer.
First, decide between a used and new Mac. If you’re open to a used Mac, then go to Craigslist or eBay to find a good one. On eBay you can buy a used computer and add insurance from Assurant. That’s what we did. I found a cheap $350 Mac mini and added a warranty from Assurant all for under $400. It has 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. It’s the lowest end model and it works fine with eCamm Live.
A basic Mac mini costs about $500 without a monitor, keyboard or mouse. You can probably find those lying around or use the ones you connected to your Windows PC if you used to use one of those. If not, then get a basic 24-27 inch monitor for under $200, a simple mouse and keyboard for probably less than $50.
Other options include the following:
- iMac 21-inch for $1000 and comes with a mouse and keyboard and a built-in 21-inch display.
- MacBook Air for $1000 – a laptop with and 13-inch display.
- MacBook Pro for $1299 – 13-inch or 15-inch computer with a lot of power, more than you need for this, but you may want it for other uses.
Some people may want to buy a higher-end computer, but you don’t need it for this solution. The above recommendations will work great. They also include the proper port to connect the Blackmagic box to the computer with a simple Thunderbolt 2 cable, unless you pick a newer MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. It will cost you much more and you’ll need a different cable to connect from the Blackmagic box to the MacBook Pro. These cost as little as $20 to $80. Be sure it will work before buying because many will not work with the Blackmagic box.
Here’s the best part of this option.
eCamm Live is a cheap $39.95 program that incredibly simple. You can download a trial version and it will stream live without any feature limits, except one. They put a small watermark in one corner during your live stream. It’s nearly imperceptible, but you’ll want to pay for it so you can put your own church logos there.
Here’s the user interface for eCamm Live below.
When you open the program you can link it to your Facebook account. In the lower right corner (see right arrow above) you can choose to go live on your Facebook page or your own personal Facebook timeline. On the lower left you see a place to add your description. Use a great title that will interest possible viewers.
Here’s what the other parts of the application do:
- Choose scenes – you can set up multiple cameras or show your desktop.
- Pick sound sources – choose what audio source you want to use. This lets you use the camera’s audio or the better solution is to plug a cable from your sound board to your computer.
- Add overlays – overlays are graphics that will show up when you choose one. I’ve added them for people who often lead worship, our church’s logo, and you can super impose things like lyrics slides, Bible passages, or any other picture file.
- Comments – read comments from viewers and respond.
Some of the awesome features include:
- Stream videos for promos of events and ministries.
- Record the video locally to upload to other places like Vimeo or YouTube.
- Record Skype calls from missionaries or other ministers who live far away. This costs $40 extra or if you buy it with eCamm Live it adds $20.
Facebook Live Streaming with Mevo Plus
There’s an interesting option now called the Mevo Plus Camera that connects to your phone or tablet and lets you stream to Facebook, and others services. Last year we recommended the cheaper Mevo Camera that costs about $150 less. It had some problems, so we don’t recommend that option now. Pay the extra $150 to get the faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi. It’s more reliable than the cheaper Mevo Camera. It also has a better range antenna that stays connected more reliably from 100 feet away, five times that of the lower price Mevo.
The Mevo Plus Camera has a 4K sensor, which means you can zoom in and still send 720P or 1080P video to Facebook Live. The Mevo Plus Camera app for iOS or Android works like a mini-control room. Select preset camera views where you zoom to certain portions of the worship area and quickly switch between them live. In our last post the Android version was in beta, but it’s not anymore.
The Mevo camera sits about 2.5-inches high and about 2-inches in diameter. The front holds the 4K lens. The button on top turns it on/off and shows an LED that gives the status of the camera’s streaming through the app. For more information on the camera and service, see my review GottaBeMobile.com.
Connect the sound board to your iPad, iPhone or Android device with a sound cable. You’ll need something like the Headset Buddy Line-level 3.5mm audio adapter. Plug your cable into he Headset buddy and then plug it into your phone or tablet. In the app you can select whether to use the audio from the camera or from your phone/tablet. Select the latter. We used an XLR output on the board that converts to the 3.5mm. Check with the sound guy to get the right cables and adapters.
The Mevo Camera has an optional connector called the Mevo Boost (see above) that connects to the bottom of the Mevo Camera. The camera itself only holds 60 minutes of battery life, not long enough when you factor in time to set up the camera before the worship service and the add times when our worship service goes about 70-75 minutes on some Sundays. The Mevo Boost adds 8 hours of battery life.
In addition to extra battery, the Mevo Boost adds an Ethernet connection. If you can use it, do so because Wi-Fi can get unreliable with a lot of people in the room using their tablets or phones to read their Bibles. The Mevo Plus mostly fixed this issue, but the cheaper Mevo still suffers from it.
The Boost adds a regular USB connection and a micro-USB connection. The regular connection lets users plug in a USB LTE modem to use if you don’t have Wi-Fi or Ethernet hooked up to an Internet connection. The micro-USB powers and charges the Boost and the camera when it’s connected.
The Mevo Camera connects to the Boost so you can have two batteries, the included 1-hour battery and the additional 8 hours from the Boost.
Without the Boost you can’t put it on a mic stand like we do. The connection on the bottom of the boost supports both a mic stand and tripod. The camera alone only connects to a tripod.
The Mevo Camera alone costs $300 (in black and white). The Mevo Plus is $450 on sale now, but could be $500 by the time you read this. The Boost adds $250. There’s a bundle that also adds a nice hard cover carrying case (see above) and it costs $800, which saves you a little money over buying them separately.
Facebook Live Streaming with Special Hardware
The last option won’t fit very many churches because this requires expensive hardware like NewTek’s Tricaster. The NewTek Tricaster Mini costs $2500 and can handle multiple inputs for up to 4 cameras or one or two cameras and the output from the computer that controls your church’s PowerPoint or Worship Presentation Software. That way your viewers can follow along with songs, announcement slides and the pastor’s sermon slides.
A cheaper option comes from the same company that makes the Mevo Camera. Livestream sells the Livestream Broadcaster, which connects to your camera and sits on top of the hot shoe connector, a little connection on top of most pro or high-end consumer cameras like DSLRs. See the red box in the image above. It costs $600.
You’ll also need the Livestream Studio software. It works with the Livestream Broadcaster and the Mevo Camera. Livestream charges $800 for the software, so this plus either the Mevo Camera or the Livestream Broadcast will cost either $1300 for Studio plus Broadcaster or $1000 to $1200 for Studio plus the Mevo Camera or the Mevo and Boost bundle mentioned above.
A third option is called SlingStudio and has two options costing either $1,348 or $2,094.
Last year I recommended the Elgato HD60, OBS Studio, and a Windows PC. Now, the easiest solution, if you’re willing to buy a Mac or already have one, is easily eCamm Live. The second preferred solution is the Mevo Camera Plus. For going all out use one of the solutions in the final category above. If you just can’t afford any of these, please put your smartphone on a tripod and stream in landscape mode.