Video webcasting made easy

Question

Our church would like to start web casting our service. Is there a listing for the items needed to do this. In other words we just want to plug in the video camera and off we go. Also, what is the least expensive way to do Web cast live streaming video/audio.

- Bob

Answer

This question was answered on March 18, 2009. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Less than 10 years ago, the thought of broadcasting video via the Internet was relegated to those with deep pockets and lots of bandwidth.

Much has changed as the Internet has evolved into the “user generated” content world that it is today.

Many companies are now offering an opportunity for anyone to generate video “webcasts” for an audience of 1 or 100,000 with nothing more than a webcam, a computer and an Internet connection; if you have higher quality cameras, a sound mixing board and a video capture card in your computer, all the better.

Once you get the video and audio mixed down and into your computer (more on this later), you can be broadcasting (or in religious circles it’s referred to as “godcasting”) over the Internet in less than 10 minutes!

The site that I have used for various video streaming projects in the past is Ustream.tv (www.ustream.tv) which is an absolutely free service.

The best way to get up to speed on how best to start your broadcasts is to observe how other churches are using this resource for their streams Ustream actually has a network of religious broadcasters (www.ustream.tv/network/religion) that makes it real easy to start your education.

In addition to creating live broadcasts, you can create archives of previous services or any other event that you webcast as a part of your church’s outreach.

You can offer real-time chat during the broadcasts and even password protect sessions if you only want certain people viewing them (live or archived).

Another really interesting option that they are working with is the ability to use an Internet connected mobile device such as a cell phone as the camera.

Before you go out and buy any new equipment, such as a video capture card or HD digital video camcorder, learn from those that are already doing it.

Find the church webcasts that you would like to emulate, then contact that church and ask them specifically what they are using to generate the video and audio for their broadcasts.

Once you have gathered information from lots of churches, you can find a solution that fits your technical and financial abilities.

If you are wondering why Ustream allows you to use their system for free, it’s because they add advertising to each broadcast page.

Once again, watching a few other church broadcasts will allow you to determine if their advertisements are acceptable for your audience.

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on March 18, 2009