Streaming Audio and Video
A very common question that I am hit with daily is the streaming issue. Fellowship has been doing streaming audio and video for 4 years now and we have learned a lot in those years. My hope is that our mistakes and successes can save you time, money, and pain. Before I get started I want you to know that this is not an in-depth article. For in-depth info, please refer to the links. What are all the components needed for streaming?
1) Feed from the worship service or whatever you are streaming. This can be as simple as a stand-alone video camera, or as advanced as a 7 camera switched feed. 2) NLE (Non-Linear Editing) System with capture card. There are tons of cost effective NLE systems on the market. An NLE will allow you to take the feed that you have and edit it down into a file for the web. (This will allow you to edit out the music, etc.) Your selection of a NLE and capture card will affect the compression and output file. A few options of output formats are Windows Media, QuickTime, Flash, and Real Media. 3) Internet Connection and FTP software. You will need an Internet connection with FTP software to upload your encoded files to your streaming server. 4) Streaming Server or Streaming Service. You will need a streaming solution to stream your files.
Outsource vs. Insource Streaming
I do not recommend trying to do streaming yourself. Even though bandwidth and hardware costs have come way down over the years, it is still not worth it, in my mind, to take this on yourself. Most people do not realize the complexity that it adds to your local network administrator and/or your systems administrator. So, if you are reading this and say, “I don’t have a systems or network admin,” then run, OUTSOURCE!
What do I look for in a Streaming Company?
1) Easy to use. One of the most important things to look for is the ease of use. Most companies use a “Portal” backend for you to upload your files and to manage the distribution. This is important because you will be using this often. I have used many that are cumbersome and don’t work well. Make sure that you DEMO the backend before you buy. 2) Streaming format flexibility. I have found that it is important to have flexibility with your output formats. Why this is important is because who knows where you will be in a year or so. Currently we are evaluating our output format and will possibly be changing from Windows Media to QuickTime. If I had to change my streaming provider because they did not support multiple formats then my hands would be tied! 3) Customer Service. This is very important because you will need help. This is technology, so things will go wrong. Make sure that you talk to some of their customers and make sure that you get good quality references. Don’t just talk to the money guy; make sure that you talk to the crew that is actually using it. (This is a common problem people fall into when checking references.) 4) Scalability. This is crucial if you are trying to grow your streaming content. Again, you do not want your hands to be tied because your provider is not flexible or scalable. Also, make sure that your scalability is cost effective. Look at some of the larger plans and make sure that they are affordable. 5) Price. This speaks for itself. Shop around and get many price quotes. Don’t get caught up in the hype, or their sales techniques. If 1, 2, 3 are covered, then boil it down to price. However, remember to NOT let the price ultimately (or solely) determine your decision.
What NLE system do I need?
This is not my specialty. I recommend doing your own research. Many on the market are great, and I will tell you later what we use. Here is a list of the ones that I would look at: 1) Adobe Premier Pro 2) Apple Final Cut Pro 3) Avid xpress 4) Etc, etc.
What Capture Card do I need?
This is very important. Do your research, but start with the basics. What format are you going to use? What is your NLE? What is your price point? Once you choose your NLE they will have a list of “approved” capture cards. For an example here is a list of approved cards for the Adobe Premier NLE.
What does Fellowship use?
1) Live feed from video department (SDI feed) 2) Adobe Premier Pro 1.5 3) Matrox RT.100 Xtreme Pro 4) Export out via Matrox Media Export to Windows Media 9 5) Dell Precision 850, Dual Zeon, 2 gig ram 6) Mackie 16 channel audio board 7) Windows XP 8) Outsource Streaming to Christianity.com 9) FTP with Internet Explorer
Again, I hope this was helpful. Please know that just because we use the above products and services does not mean that we are completely happy with all of them. I am constantly researching better solutions and looking for better more effective and efficient solutions. If you would like additional resources please visit.