How Does Resonance Stream Online?

We’ve received lots of questions from other churches about how we accomplish our live stream each week, so we have created a summary here to help answer those. If you have specific questions after reading all of this, don’t hesitate to reach out. You can send us an e-mail at the bottom of this page. We are praying for you all as you are leading through this time!

Background

Since going completely online in March 2020, we have streamed in two different ways.

  1. An actual live stream from our normal church setup at our physical location
  2. A simulated live stream of a single video created from mutliple videos shot by our staff at their homes

Since we are completely at home right now, as are most of you, this summary will only cover the second scenario for now. When we have more time as we reengage with meeting in person, we will try to update this with our actual live streaming setup and method.

NOTE: This method is not “bare bones.” If you ONLY have a phone, use what you have. Don’t overcomplicate it. You can go live DIRECTLY in either YouTube or Facebook Live very easily from your phone. For some churches, this is the best option. If you want to spend a VERY modest amount of money to make your videos look and SOUND better, see section 1 below (“Shoot the video”).

 

There are also several links below. These are not affiliate links. We do not receive anything if you buy from these links. These are just what we have done and have experience with. We also are not responsible for or connected to any content from the creators linked here (videos, etc.). They are just good summaries that we have found useful rather than recreating it ourselves.

Summary

Here are the basic steps we will cover in this summary.

  1. Shoot the raw video(s)
  2. Edit the final video
  3. Set up the encoder
  4. Set up the distribution
  5. Set up the live streams and Go Live!
    1. Facebook Live
    2. YouTube Live
    3. Twitch
    4. Church Online
  6. Monitor the feeds and chats
  7. Conclude the live stream(s)

1. Shoot the raw videos (on your phone, etc.)

The first step is to shoot your videos. For our “at home” streaming setup, all videos are shot on iPhones (from iPhone 7 to iPhone 11). Lighting is VERY important. If you have natural light from a window (or outside), that is best. These cameras are great, but no camera is amazing in low light.

Lighting

If your lighting is less than ideal, we have used a simple ring light to improve that. We typically use a kit like this (Amazon Link – about $86 at the time of writing). There are several brands on Amazon that are very similar. Our ring lights are made by “Newer.” The kit linked here also includes a tripod and a cell phone mount, which is super helpful.

Sound

The microphone on your cell phone isn’t horrible, but making a modest upgrade to a shotgun type microphone will help block ambient noise in your records and help you to sound more full. It will be much easier for your audience to hear you. We have purchased this mic/mini-tripod kit (Amazon Link – about $55 at the time of writing) for ALL of our staff during this time, and it’s made a big difference in the quality of their videos.

NOTE: If you use an newer iPhone, you will need an adapter like this (Amazon Link – $8). Also, when plugging the external mic into your phone, you MUST use the gray end of the cable that has THREE bands on it (not the typical “stereo” cable you normally see). This is what gives your phone access to the microphone. When you use the camera on your phone, it will automatically recognize and use your external mic. No configuration necessary (at least on the iPhone – not sure about other phones).

If you need a cheap full-size tripod to hold your phone, Amazon Basics makes on that’s inexpensive and works fine in most cases.

2. Edit the final video (iMovie, etc.)

Once everyone has shot their individual videos (worship, message, intros, promos, etc.), you will need to edit your final “broadcast” video. Use your favorite editing software. If you’re on a Mac, iMove does just fine. Export it to a high quality, full-size video. It will be a big file, but don’t worry. As long as your computer can play it without issues, it will be fine.

We use Office 365 for our entire team (non-profit pricing through TechSoup is outstanding – we use “Business Premium” for our staff – $3/user per month – and “Business Essentials” for other leaders, which is FREE!), so we created a folder under one of our channels in Microsoft Teams where everyone uploads their raw videos. Then one staff member edits the videos together using those videos.

3. Set up the encoder (OBS Studio)

We use Open Broadcast Software (OBS) Studio as our encoder, which is FREE. You’ll need to install this and do some basic setup. Rather than detail every step here, I’m going to summarize the next few steps and then include a great video provided by Ballast Media that walks you through each of the next several steps. The video is below.

If you need help with detailed OBS instructions, they have a great Wiki with all of their documentation and FAQs.

With the method described here, you can tell OBS that your source is the video file that you edited in the previous step. However, you can easily do the same thing and go COMPLETELY live by using a camera, etc. as your source in OBS. The steps are essentially the same after this point either way.

4. Set up the distribution (Castr.io)

This step is really awesome because it allows you to send out ONE stream from your computer and distribute it to MANY platforms all at once! There are other services out there, but we use www.castr.io because it’s simple and inexpensive. For the first week, we signed up for their trial, and everything went so well, we subscribed right after our first service. It costs about $100-$150 per YEAR, depending on the features you want. What I will describe here is possible with their most inexpensive Simulcast “Broadcast” plan.

Again, rather than detailing all of the steps here, I’m going to point you to the video below. The setup of Castr.io is covered very well in the video by Ballast Media. For reference, we simulcast to Twitch, YouTube Live and Facebook Live from Castr.io.

5. Set up the Live Streams (Facebook, Youtube, etc.) and Go Live!

Within each of the accounts you linked in Castr.io, open the live stream pages and await the signal from Castri.io. More detail is shown in the video below.

Church Online Platform: Because of its stability and minimal design, we have chosen to embed our Twitch stream into Life.Church’s Church Online Platform. We use Church Online as our “main” platform to interact with people (even if it’s not our most attended). Church Online allows you to have private chats and prayer sessions with people, and they are adding additional features constantly. Life.Church gives this away for FREE, and it’s a valuable resource for churches.

For full details on how to implement Church Online, you can view their documentation here. We use the Twitch channel embed code in ALL of our events because it never changes.

Now is a good time to go ahead and watch the video summary, which covers the previous three steps (with the exception of the Church Online Platform information).

6. Monitor the feeds and chats

One of the most important reasons to live stream is the interaction that is possible during your stream. Make sure you monitor your streams and chats for each platform.

At Resonance, we assign a “Host” for each platform to interact with those attending on each platform. They welcome them, ask questions, pray with people online, etc.

7. Conclude the live feeds

When your service is over, you simply need to end you live stream on OBS, then Castr.io, and then each of your platforms. You did it!

We keep our Facebook and YouTube videos online for archiving.

Have any questions not answered above? Let us know, and we’ll do what we can to share our experience.