Livestreaming prerecorded content for church online with restream.io

With current social distancing requirements, churches are trying to work out how to do online streaming yet we try to keep our staff safe while producing a church service. I thought I’d share with you the tools that we’re using at Whittier Area Community Church to stream our services online. I’m Director of IT and a live streaming YouTuber and podcaster. I don’t represent the A/V Tech department at WACC, but I did have an active role in setting up the tools we use to get this all done.

Recording

Whittier Area Community Church Sunday Service

For starters, we prerecord 3 parts of our service: heritage worship, worship, and the sermon. Our video editor creates 2 video files to be uploaded to restream.io and we use Google Drive to send these files between the editor and the production staff. All of this allows us to minimize the time that staff are on-site and allows us to get in and out quickly. Staff safety is paramount during this COVID-19 pandemic and using a recorded service and a scheduler lets us do all this work remotely.

“Livestreaming”

With our two video files produced and ready to go we upload them to a service called Restream.io which I’ve used for many non-church projects to do live streams and recorded podcasts and it works great! Restream.io has a function called Scheduler that works quite well for streaming prerecorded content.

Stream your recorded videos live
Image of Scheduler page on Restream.io

You can find their pricing on the Restream.io pricing page depending on your requirements.

Setting up your Restream Channels

This process couldn’t be simpler, you click add a channel and select the place you want to stream to. For instance, with Facebook, you can select the profile of the person logged in and it would stream to their account or you can select a page this person is Admin of (How to manage roles on a Facebook Page). From there you’ll be able to stream to that page. One thing to note is the Continuous live stream checkbox on the edit channel page, I’d suggest keeping this unchecked it “enables continued streaming past Facebook’s 8-hour limit, but a recorded version isn’t stored to your page after the stream ends.” I don’t feel there is a reason to use this and for us it stopped us from being able to stream.

edit channel setting for facebook
Edit Channel settings for Facebook

YouTube also has the same function, you just want to make sure that your user that is logged in has proper access to the YouTube account you want to stream to. (Change channel owners & managers with a YouTube Brand Account) “If a channel is linked to a Brand Account, multiple people can manage the channel from their Google Accounts. You don’t need a separate username or password to manage YouTube channels with a Brand Account.

Setting up your first scheduled service

Before we were using Restream.io’s scheduler we were streaming live using Restream.io’s ability to send it a signal using their RTMP endpoint, we did this for a short time before going on lockdown here, in California. Before that and COVID-19 we were using a service called churchstreaming.tv using their hardware encoder.

In Restream.io once you select the channels that you want to stream to it will restream (see where they got the name) to each of those channels. Those channels, many of which are for gamers such as Mixer and Twitch but don’t let that fool you, it supports many popular platforms. Our church streams to our Facebook page as well as YouTube. We could stream to LinkedIn or Periscope on Twitter or any custom RTMP endpoint, if needed, you could even stream to Instagram using this custom RTMP but that’s for another post in the future.

add a channel

With Scheduler, you use the same endpoints and can select each one individually when setting up the stream, for instance, if you wanted to stream a church service to a specific Facebook page for a ministry. This also works for Facebook Groups too if you need to do that.

new live event

You specify the time and date and it will stream the video selected to the channels selected. There are some features for doing repeat streams and at what interval, we don’t use that.

Putting it all together

While streaming to YouTube and Facebook we also use CHOP or Church Online Platform as a way of having a chat, prayer and other ways of interacting with this church all in one player. You can see our use of CHOP over at WACC.tv. We recently did a post on how to optimize the statistics from CHOP using Google Analytics Configure Google Analytics for Church Online Platform for using custom dimensions.

Wrapping up

I hope this article helps you with some clarification with live streaming a recorded service, check out our other posts relating to this and leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions for more posts from us!

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Posted by Jason Tucker

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