Adventures in Livestreaming

Lots of places have been thrust into the world of telecommuting.  But what about churches, or theatre, or concerts?  All of those worlds have had to very quickly adapt.  We here at A440 Sound have also adapted as quickly as we could.  At the beginning of the COVID response, some churches quickly offered a “live streamed” mass.  In reality, many of them simply used someone’s cell phone and “went live.”

We wanted to offer something better.  Having never done this before, we spent quite a bit of time online reading and absorbing everything we could.  For the theatre side of our business, we already had an OLD Canon XL1, and Eric’s wife just got a new Panasonic 4k capable camera.  Surely, there had to be a way to make this work.

The base of our setup became a MacPro from our inventory running Open Broadcaster Software. Remember that XL1 we mentioned?  Well, it has the old iLink DV firewire connection which directly interfaced with the Mac.  That Panasonic?  Well, that was a bit harder.

Something else in our inventory was an old Sony MiniDV converter.  We normally use this to adapt the XL1 to composite for stage views to supply video to backstage.  It works the other way as well, to convert composite to MiniDV.  That became our interface for the Panasonic camera.  Downscaled?  Definitely, but it gave us a 2 camera shoot, which is miles ahead of a lot of other options.

But what about audio?  Sure, you could just throw a mic up in the middle of the church and call it done.  But have you heard those kind of recordings from large echo-y rooms?  You can’t understand much.  In our case, we expected it to be difficult to interface with this church’s sound system.  It’s tucked into a closet, in a rack that doesn’t slide out…  And then we saw the rarely-if-never-used listening assist system!  No need to run cables, it was already setup for us!  We just plugged the output of the receiver into our mixer and away we went with near crystal-clear sound.

Our last trouble spot came from the internet connection.  Internet was spotty.  We couldn’t get a strong connection.  In the end, our phone set to be a hotspot saved the day.

So, for about 4 days of prep, and only buying one cable, we were able to put on a 2 camera shoot.  The parish was ecstatic.  We here at A440 were happy, but knew we could do better…. next week.

Posted in A440 News.