Sharing out experience with Virtual Sacrament Meeting Broadcasts

Using the Church Webcasting System, YouTube, etc. Including cameras and mixers.
mrbitsch
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Sharing out experience with Virtual Sacrament Meeting Broadcasts

Postby mrbitsch » Fri Aug 14, 2020 12:46 pm

I know we're nowhere close to the first stake to be doing these Virtual Sacrament meeting broadcasts with the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, but most of the stakes I've seen doing this have been using Zoom, and a lot of the feedback I've heard from stake leaders and members has been, well frankly poor. I wanted to share what we've been doing for our broadcasts, and hopefully it will help others. I put together a quick demo so you can see what we're getting for sound and video quality you can watch here https://youtu.be/VDvnuEQKkRw and I've been putting together notes on how I put the entire setup together here https://github.com/TechnoSwiss/broadcast_pi

Some of what we've put together for this is stuff we've learned from stake conference broadcasts, while most of it is setup different that we normally do our stake conference broadcasts. One of those learning was that, while we'd love to use the church broadcast system, we find that a/v quality never seems to be able to achieve the 1080p advertised (the TeraDek does better, but has it's own issues with our setup). The other issues with the church broadcast system is the scheduling requirements, which isn't a big deal for stake conferences, but can turn into a lot of overhead when you're doing 9 wards trying to do broadcasts every other Sunday. Since a TeraDek is so expensive, and still requires a camera, the setup we decided to go with for the broadcast end was a RaspberryPi 4 with a USB web camera. I think the most important part of this setup though, that that could be applied to any system including using a cell phone with Zoom, is getting the chapel audio piped into the broadcast. We have a rather complicated system for this that we use in the stake center for stake conference, but for these sacrament meeting broadcasts we're going really simple and just using the "Record out" connection that I believe are present on most buildings in North America.

To reduce overhead and automate this as much as possible (the wards let us know when they are holding their meetings, we schedule those on the RaspberryPi, and everything is automated from broadcast start to cleaning up after), to allow that automation we're using YouTube for our broadcasts, using an Unlisted Live recording so only people with the link can access the video, and then the automated scripts are making sure the videos are deleted after the broadcast so no recordings are kept. Since it's an Unlisted recording and the link changes each broadcast, the scripts also update a static link that the wards can send out to ward members.

Once I've scrubbed all the account information out of the scripts I'll get them uploaded to GitHub if anybody is interested in them.

russellhltn
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Re: Sharing out experience with Virtual Sacrament Meeting Broadcasts

Postby russellhltn » Fri Aug 14, 2020 2:25 pm

Just to be clear, this is webcasting a physical live meeting, as opposed to holding the meeting virtually (everyone including the speakers stay home) and webcasting that. Correct?

A couple of other options that have been explored is using Larix Broadcaster running on a cell phone, or a Mevo Start. The latter is a bit pricey, but seems to be a nice all-in one without a lot of technical expertise to make run.

Out of curiosity, have you explored using the raspberry pi camera? The new one allows for a number of different inexpensive lenses. Some which may allow the setup to be placed where it's less distracting. I love the idea, but it seems to force one to build a case to make it fuctional.
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mrbitsch
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Re: Sharing out experience with Virtual Sacrament Meeting Broadcasts

Postby mrbitsch » Sat Aug 15, 2020 1:19 am

Correct, this is broadcasting a live physical meeting from the chapel (member of the bishopric who is presiding and conducting the meeting, 2 people for prayers, 2 talks, potentially an organist for pre/postlude for 5-6 people in the building broadcasting to their ward).

I haven't seen Larix Broadcaster before, but this solution costs just under $200 per building, and so comes in about the same as buying a cell hone for each building. Larix could provide a very comparable experience if it's using the chapel audio. One thing I do like about the solution we decided to go with is that it's hands off for the members of the ward in the building. They don't have to do anything other than turn on the chapel sound and do a quick sound check to verify the broadcast is working. We did look at a couple of solutions like the Mevo, but they all ran quite a bit higher cost, and again didn't provide for the automation.

I did look at the RaspberryPi camera, the standard camera doesn't quite manage a 1080p stream (at least I haven't been able to achieve that with the 2 I have at home monitoring 3D printers) and the new Pro camera is 2-3x the cost of the USB cam by the time you add a lens. Ideally I would have gone with a Logitech C920 USB cam as I think it provides a better picture because it has a better lens and sensor, but they're in pretty short supply, and the price is generally over $150 if you can find them (in contract to having picked one up for home last year for $40)

russellhltn
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Re: Sharing out experience with Virtual Sacrament Meeting Broadcasts

Postby russellhltn » Sat Aug 15, 2020 1:50 am

mrbitsch wrote:One thing I do like about the solution we decided to go with is that it's hands off for the members of the ward in the building. They don't have to do anything other than turn on the chapel sound and do a quick sound check to verify the broadcast is working.

How are you muting the audio during the sacrament? So far, when I've seen wards allowed to webcast, they were told to mute the sacrament prayer.
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mrbitsch
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Re: Sharing out experience with Virtual Sacrament Meeting Broadcasts

Postby mrbitsch » Sat Aug 15, 2020 10:28 pm

I haven't worked through muting for the sacrament yet, I'm working on setting up a web based control page for the member of the bishopric to use that can pause the audio/video. For the moment it's been a moot point since we haven't been authorized to have the sacrament in these meetings (even though our area presidency has said these are still sacrament meetings). So I still have some time to sort that one out. I'm guessing for our stake we won't be allowed to do the sacrament in the chapel for these meetings until our county goes to the next stage of reopening, which I figure is at least a month or more away. So for now, families just continue to do the sacrament in their homes, and this "virtual sacrament" meetings is just talks and prayers.

michaelbuhrley
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Re: Sharing out experience with Virtual Sacrament Meeting Broadcasts

Postby michaelbuhrley » Fri Sep 04, 2020 11:52 am

mrbitsch, Great project, it checks all the boxes for our stake needs except the mute audio/video because we have been authorized to have sacrament in the meetings. I am in the process of putting together a test rig based on yours so I'll be watching the repository for updates. We have ethernet to the podium in each of our buildings and have traditionally turned off the wifi when doing a stake building to building broadcast to preserve bandwidth. If the building wifi were down and you were using the ethernet connection then that leaves the onboard wifi to be a hotspot for the bishop control. That also puts the controls behind another layer of security if only the bishoprics have credentials to the hotspot.

Keep up the good work, this is an exciting project.

michaelbuhrley
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Re: Sharing out experience with Virtual Sacrament Meeting Broadcasts

Postby michaelbuhrley » Mon Sep 07, 2020 8:42 pm

Are you using a different youtube channel for each building (each pi)?

cbkummer
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Re: Sharing out experience with Virtual Sacrament Meeting Broadcasts

Postby cbkummer » Fri Sep 11, 2020 8:32 pm

So with the new guidelines, I've been asked by our stake president to look into livestreaming our sacrament meetings, and I was curious, do you have a separate YouTube account for each ward, and do you have a way to mute the sacrament prayer? I'm considering just starting after the sacrament is passed, but I feel like that might detract from the feeling of being there that we're going for with these streams.

rmrichesjr
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Re: Sharing out experience with Virtual Sacrament Meeting Broadcasts

Postby rmrichesjr » Fri Sep 11, 2020 9:08 pm

cbkummer wrote:So with the new guidelines, I've been asked by our stake president to look into livestreaming our sacrament meetings, ...


For what it might be worth, I'm pretty sure each ward in our stake has a separate Zoom account, and our STS sent out a document with screenshots of options to minimize risk of Zoom problems. My ward's bishop decided to do the sacrament ordinance at the end of the in-person meeting, and the Zoom meeting is ended immediately after the sacrament hymn. IMO, that arrangement has worked well. They use a small webcam that retails for $80-100 or so. I think they take audio from the 'Record Out' connector next to the pulpit in order to get clean audio from the pulpit mike.

russellhltn
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Re: Sharing out experience with Virtual Sacrament Meeting Broadcasts

Postby russellhltn » Fri Sep 11, 2020 9:20 pm

We've just received authorization, so my first "real" run will be Sunday. Ask me Monday. ;) But I'll be testing this weekend, and probably building a cable for audio.

My plan is Larix Broadcaster and the Church Webcast system. I think if you use the church system, then it's harder for people to complain you're doing something wrong. :mrgreen:

Currently, my plan is to use the mute button in the app, but I did notice that the letter from the First Presidency encouraged either doing sacrament last, or starting the broadcast after the sacrament. But we'll see what Bishop does. He may surprise me.
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