With an introduction to camera options and what you’ll need to get that video uploaded, it’s time to look at video switchers. Most churches will want to incorporate further visuals into their stream. Whether an illustrative video, slides with graphics, or additional camera angles, you’ll need a video switcher to facilitate switching between them.
But First, Presentation
There are options for software to help facilitate presentations. The name first thought of by many is PowerPoint, and if all you need to do is sermon slides it gets the job done, as will Keynote. But when you start displaying lyrics, wanting to run lower thirds lyrics, and in general start working with more advanced presentations, maybe needing more frequent and easier changes, a more advanced presentation tool is needed. ProPresenter is arguably the most popular, but you can also choose from MediaShout, Proclaim, Worship Extreme, Easyworship, and others. Any of them will make presentation management easier, and possibly save you a few inputs on a video switcher.
We previously mentioned OBS, Wirecast, and Livestream Studio when discussing how to get your video uploaded, and they capably handle switching as well. You can also peek at Teradek’s LIVE:AIR app if you want to use an iPad. As the timeline for social distancing stretches out, some may consider how to manage multiple remote video sources, and Cloudmix could be the solution you need for that. All software has limitations though, and your computer will only handle so much. A dedicated hardware switcher is still the most reliable way to go.
We won’t discuss the upper echelon where the likes of Ross and Grass Valley live. Those are for discussion with a system integrator. Similarly, TriCaster’s are in a higher price point, though their blend of hardware and software can be just as much a curse as a blessing. I watched a stream improve last year by replacing the TriCaster encoding with a dedicated Teradek.
Let’s instead focus on the lower cost options to get you rolling. As always, Blackmagic offers a low cost entry point, though reliability will vary, and you will need to be very careful that every video setting is precise, they often don’t play nice with different formats and frame rates. With that being said, the ATEM Mini has been highly sought after by those with a low budget and a lot of consumer grade equipment. For higher demands you can step up to the ATEM Television Studio Pro 4K which offers a lot more capability and SDI inputs.
My favorite recommendation for a robust and versatile switcher at a lower price point comes from Roland. The V1 (HDMI) (SDI) gets you running, with a limit of HDMI or SDI inputs, not both. Of you only have 2 HDMI inputs the V-02HD is simple, straight-forward, and built like.a tank. An iPad app will enable some great hidden features too. When you need more inputs the V-60HD is a multi-format switcher that will make your life easier. If you have a need to do simple audio mixing for your stream, the VR-4HD might be the answer for you.
With any of the solutions don’t forget about a monitor so you can use the multi-view features and preview all the inputs before switching to them!
Stay tuned as we soon look at incorporating good audio into your stream, and finding the streaming service right for you!