2021 tech history update

A bit of the story . . . .  a retrospective, coming close to 200 live-streams (ESC + GSC)
ELCG’s experience in building up our live-stream capability.

1. In March 2020 we were confronted with Covid and the imposition of restricted public gatherings.

2. Within ESC, Andy evaluated the problem and the opportunity – giving us the challenge to begin and develop a live stream capability.

3. Our first stream used a laptop, and a confirmed YouTube stream channel, plus a small loudspeaker connected to the output of the sound system and placed on the laptop so its microphone would relay the altar and lectern microphone sound !! – Yet, it worked!  (Camera in the photo was to record the sermon as usual, audio being recorded on the SD card recorder in the sound rack, independent of the stream).

4.The following week Andy had set up a Zoom account with the idea to begin “webinars” instead of live-stream, which would be a safe and maybe an easier alternative while while allowing readers to read from home. But we soon found out that Zoom has limitations in a live-streaming set-up.
We had Tom Davis, a Zoom user in his work environment, control Zoom and the external contributors, from his home which worked really well.

5. Finally we used Zoom to stream to YouTube rather than use the webinar method.

6. Marc saw what we were doing and was thus motivated as well.

7. I offered to set up live-streaming for GSC as well as ESC and operated both ESC and GSC for many weeks until Marc was also organising streams with his son as operator.

8. Together, the two congregations built up equipment — eventually two church-owned cameras, each congregation a dedicated MacBook, one shared ATEM-mini switcher, and then also a spare.

9. An old TV screen that ESC had used in the side window of the ‘rue de la fontaine’ became our visual in the sanctuary, so that presenters could see when they were “on air”.

10. The old audio mixing desk which had been for many years in the organ gallery (mostly not utilised) was installed as a permanent part of the streaming control desk.

All this time we learned together and supported each other – yet the Zoom versus OBS question remained a practical barrier to smooth change-over on Sunday mornings.
Eventually, both congregations switched to OBS with no more remote contributions via Zoom. Zoom remained a good option for those recording their reading or prayers to do so at home and then send in the Zoom recording for uploading to OBS.

In ESC Simon Petitjean helped a lot in receiving those videos recorded at home so that we could edit them and upload them before Sunday.

Also, extra lights (4x50W equivalent to 1.6kW halogen, 5250 lumen x 4 = 21000 lumen, amazing) were purchased for the two side balconies thanks to a member of the GSC. These lights face up and reflect light down into the sanctuary from the ceiling. This has made a real difference to the quality of our videos. (Recently they have been wired and fixed safely so we can now again use the balconies).

During ALL of this time our streaming cameras and other equipment was positioned in the center of the sanctuary – one camera pointing at eye level directly at the pastor (perfect position) and the second primarily at the musicians where microphones were set up to record quite intimately depending on who, and how many, were singing or playing.

Around this time, we were all pleased that Lars joined us to take over from Marc’s son in operating the stream for GSC. Lars brought knowledge of OBS and quite a bit of immediately useful know-how and experience from his work at the German school.

11. At a certain point in time, more physical presence in worship was allowed and so we began the so-called hybrid worship session where we needed to once again to turn on the sound system which had been off for more than one year (no loudspeakers required during a live-stream). This created some technical challenges so I created two versions of the hybrid installation.

12. Then the number of people physically present became such that the streaming equipment needed to be vacated from the sanctuary floor and to move up to the organ gallery.

To allow this, we needed to install an internet cable up to the organ gallery (up until that time, we had an internet cable plugged into the ESC office modem and which we would set up each Sunday morning) this was planned and installed by Jonathan and Dave from ESC.

The output of the sound system is taken via a single cable (installed during the last renovation) to the organ gallery (socket can be seen in this photo) and is now used to bring those microphones (hand-held and pulpit) for which we have no separate connections. The quality of this output is not good, which is why I have changed the cabling in the sanctuary such that we have direct connection to the altar and lectern microphones despite they are, out of necessity, connected to the sound system (description in October update).

13. Clearly the cameras have to work harder (again) due to the extra distance, so we are not back to the best quality we had from the sanctuary floor, but still much better than before those new LED lights were purchased.

14. I tried hard to maintain a central camera on the sanctuary floor, but this proved difficult in three respects:

Unless the camera is located quite high up (and thus almost at the height of the balcony!) and the congregation stands up (which in ESC we do for singing and for the reading of the Gospel) then the camera view is blocked. And among the seats it did not look good either.

The length of the HDMI connecting cable is about 10m,  so a fiber optique HDMI cable is required for a stable image which we now do have if needed.

It was difficult with just one operator to maintain adequate control of this camera’s position and focal length.
Comment:  yes, remote controlled cameras exist but to get decent quality they are expensive.  Alternative is to have a remote-controlled mounting for an existing camera, but those mounts are also expensive. . .  à suivre.

I have always attempted to document our experience and our progress, to be completely transparent.
The ESC website has this area for member articles where I publish what I report, including this one.
Here are the other currently published articles under LATEST >ARTICLES > SUPPORTING TECHNOLOGY

2021 November update:

2021 October Update:

Stream Celebration at 50 Jan 2021

Live stream experience May 2020

History (sound system failures, etc)