How to Setup a Small Group/Church Site for Live Internet Streaming

How to Setup a Small Group/Church Site
for Live Internet Streaming

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     Watching a live event at a remote site can be an exciting, rewarding, fun and new way to share your faith. Whether you are a large church congregation or a small home study group, nearly everyone can join in these types of events.  Even though you are not physically at the event there is a "live" factor, a sense that the viewer is part of a bigger picture, a sense of belonging that is sometimes not found in smaller local events.  These events can easily be followed up in various ways with the ultimate goal of bringing people to decisions for Christ.

     This guide will cover all necessary aspects to help you setup a remote church or home site for live internet video streaming to a projector, LCD or plasma screen, monitor or TV.   We have made this guide as simple as possible, but if you still find it hard to understand you might want to consult with someone you know locally who can assist you with your setup.  Some locations may have challenging or difficult situations related to your site that are beyond the scope of this guide.  One of the most important things to stress here is that you do not want to put off your site preparations until the day before the event.  This can be a source of frustration and disappointment for everyone involved.  We would recommend that you begin your setup at least 2-3 weeks prior to the event, and test your setup at least 1 week prior to the event.  This is especially important with a new internet connection.

High Speed Internet Connection

     To watch a live internet video stream you will need a "high-speed" internet connection.

Simple Wireless or Wired Network

     Once you have your internet connection installed, (or maybe you already do,) you are going to need a way of connecting to the high speed internet connection from the location where it enters the building to the location where the computer/laptop is going to be located.  This can be achieved by either a relatively simple wireless or wired connection.  Both of these options will work and both have their strong and weak points.

Computer or Laptop

     After you have set up your internet connection, you will need a computer or laptop to play the live internet video stream.  The computer will need to be relatively fast, be able to connect to your internet connection, and have connections for external video out to a projector or tv, and a headphone audio connector.

     Consideration also needs to be given to the computers physical location.  One of the biggest factors to consider is whether you are going to use a projector or monitor and how far away it is from the computer.  In a large church or auditorium, your computer should ideally be near your PA system.  However, if you lack long projector cables you may want to keep it close to the projector or monitor and choose to run longer audio cables.  See the section about the PA System for more details on this subject.

     Video Quality - Most web video streams are currently not comparable to DVD quality, so don't expect it.  That being said you can do several things that will make the video quality appear much better.  Our current highest quality internet video resolution is about 428x240 (16:9).  Your computer desktop resolution can make all the difference in how much the video has to be stretched.  For example, a desktop resolution of 1920x1080 is going to have to stretch that 428x240 video a LONG ways to get it to full screen, but a desktop setting of 800x600 won't have to stretch the video nearly as much.  Lowering your computer's desktop resolution is the best way to increase the apparent video quality, especially on a projector.  If you want to check the difference just try any of the videos at our web site and play with your desktop resolution settings.  Lower settings are better in this case.

     Projector Output - One thing of mention is projector output from the computer.  This is probably one of the most misunderstood functions of a computer we have seen at presentations.

     Before you go to the next step it would be advisable to make sure that the computer you are planning to use can connect to the internet and play a video.  There are hundreds of videos at our web site to use for testing and they will help to simulate the same connection as our live video streams.  If everything looks good then proceed to the next section.  If you are having problems you may need to troubleshoot them further, or try another system.  If you are having a specific issue and are not sure how to proceed contact us.

Projector, LCD, Plasma, or LED Screen, Monitor or TV

     Ok, you have the internet connection and the computer is working.  Depending on how many people are viewing at your location, you may want to setup a projector, large LCD, plasma or LED screen, monitor or TV.  There are a lot of options out there, but we will cover the basics.  In every case there will be a cable to connect from your computer to the projector, screen or TV.

PA System or Powered Speaker System

     Ok, everything is working except the sound.  The quality of your audio is always just as important as your video.  Lack of proper volume and quality sound can be serious contributing factors to how successful your event is.  If people can't hear it, or it sounds bad they are not going to come back.  If you are using most laptops and even computers and speakers included can be dismal at best.  While laying a PA microphone on your laptop speaker is always a last resort it can be just downright painful to listen to, and at worst you may experience feedback issues.  Please take the time to get some proper connectors for your computer to PA system.

Testing & Educating

    By now you have probably done a fair amount of testing, but it is highly recommended that prior to the first meeting you test it all again.  Plan on arriving early the first night to make sure everything is working correctly.  If you can watch and hear any video at our web site then it should work.  Once you get a video playing simply click on the full screen button located in the play bar of every video and it should go full screen.

     One other aspect to consider is education.  If you have set this system all up at your location, but are not going to be able to be there every meeting then you might want to consider educating your assistant(s).  Go over the basics of start up and shutdown with them.  A few minutes spent in this area can avoid a panicked phone call later.  If possible, also leave a copy of this guide with them and have them review it.

What To Do if you Lose your Connection

     First, DON'T PANIC.  Occasionally things can and do go wrong.  Diagnosing what has gone wrong quickly can make all the difference, especially for a large viewing group.  Live streaming video can be interrupted at several different places along the broadcast past.  In this segment, we will start testing with your local site and move up.  Looking intelligently for the cause can save you a lot of time (and sometimes embarrassment.)

     Important Note - When experiencing difficulties, many mistakenly assume the problem is at the broadcast site.  While this is convenient to say, this is not usually the case.  We have invested thousands of dollars on high quality, broadcast standard equipment and very high bandwidth streaming.  Currently, we can easily handle several thousand simultaneous viewers and are expanding our capacity all the time.  Our streams are sent directly from our live location to our servers just outside Las Vegas, Nevada where they are distributed on 10 Gigabit fiber optic to the backbone of the internet worldwide.  All of this process can take from 10 to 30 seconds, depending on internet traffic conditions and your location.

Final Thought

     If everything goes right you should feel like you are part of a group of people around the world, all learning more about God's word and sharing a common experience.  The goal of this common experience is to bring people to decisions for Christ and to grow in grace and love.  Remember that someday we WILL all be together at the same church service every Sabbath and ALL AT ONE TIME!  What an experience that will be!

     "For as the new heavens and the new earth Which I will make shall remain before Me," says the LORD, "So shall your descendants and your name remain. And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me," says the LORD." -Isaiah 66:22-23

     "Although God dwells not in temples made with hands, yet He honors with His presence the assemblies of His people. ..." {PK 50.1}

     This guide was written and maintained by Sealing Time Ministries.  We hope that it helps you setup your remote streaming site as well as answer many of the questions that come up about the live internet streaming events that are becoming more and more popular.  If this guide has been helpful or if you have a question not covered, please let us know by visiting our contact page.  You may also want to consider supporting this ministry so we can reach more and more people with God's last day messages.

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If you are interesting in live streaming for your Adventist church or ministry we also offer live streaming and hosting services.

We also offer complete video production services for Adventist events.