Live streaming has been around for over 25 years, but it wasn’t until recently that it became simple enough that anyone can stream from anywhere at any time.

With advances in technology and better internet connection speeds, you could broadcast your message to the world with something you already have in your pocket – a smartphone.

In this article, we will have a look at how live streaming works and cover what you need to get started with live streaming.

How Does Live Streaming Work?

Live Streaming, online videos and the TV industry all share the same core principles to connect us all and carry messages further—capture, upload and distribute.

We can look at how a newspaper gets produced to get a better idea. A writer writes an article (capture). The writer sends the material to the editor who formats and organises it (upload). Finally, the editor gets it printed, and deliveries go out to all the shops for people to buy (distribute).

Step 1

The first step of any broadcast is to capture the message. For newspapers, capturing the article is usually done with a pen and paper—or keyboard and computer. For video, we capture the message using a camera. We can either record the video and save it for later, or immediately move onto the next step.

Step 2

Once we have captured the message, we need to upload it somewhere. With newspapers, articles would usually get sent to an editor. The editorial staff will format and prepare it for the last step.

For video, we upload the video data to a platform via an application. The platform reformats the footage, making it ready for distribution.

At this point, we have the content, and it’s nicely formatted. But now we need to let people see it—or buy the paper.

Step 3

Newspapers use a network of local shops. They send bundles of freshly printed copies to put on the shelves ready for the readers. 

Video works similarly in that the video is made available for viewing. Your audience can watch the video by visiting your website, browsing on Facebook or clicking a link to YouTube.

So Where Does the Live Aspect Come Into it?

Live streaming splits up the captured video into tiny sub-second sections to send each one through the full process individually. It is available to watch within seconds of being captured. With non-live video, the whole of the message has to be captured in one go before it gets uploaded and distributed.

The process for non-live video could take minutes or hours, that means it can take a long time before anyone ever gets to see it. So live streaming is just like making a phone call. You can transmit a message to a group of people as you are speaking, bringing us all one step closer together with more direct and intimate communication.

What do You Need for Your Church Live Streaming Setup?

Now that we know how live streaming works, we can start to see what we need for each of the steps in the process

Video camera taking live video streaming with lighting frame of mobile phone.

1. Capture—Just a Camera

Developments in technology mean that we now each have a very powerful camera in our pocket. Smartphones are perfect for making videos because they are smaller than traditional cameras and easily accessible. Any smartphone made in the last ten years will have a built-in camera capable of capturing video.

More recent smartphones have better cameras, increasing the quality of the footage we capture. Laptops also have built-in cameras, but their quality will generally be lower than that of a smartphone.

So now we have a way to capture the message, using a smartphone or a laptop.

For our full guide on different cameras and options; check out our article here.

Closeup of a wireless router and a man using smartphone to upload live stream2. Upload—an Internet Connection

As we discovered, live streaming needs to send small sections of video as they happen. The internet is our friend here. Using the internet, we can upload the video as it happens and prepare it for the next step.

We can do this by using an application (either on our phone or laptop) to encode the video (format it) and put it online.

To check what kind of connection you need, see how to test your speed, and what alternatives are available if your connection is not fast enough; check out our article here.

To find out what applications you should use and how to set them up; check out our article here.

Female hand holding smartphone and watching video while standing outdoors to view a live streaming service.3. Distribute

We have our camera and an internet connection, now it’s time to distribute the video. There are many services you can use to live stream, including standard options such as Facebook and YouTube. Each of these services has its own application that makes the entire process simple, but that means you have to choose a single platform, like sending all your printed newspapers to only one shop.

Using the Faith Online live streaming service, we will handle the distribution of your live stream to multiple services simultaneously. Upload your video to us, and we will re-stream it to Facebook and YouTube, so your message is visible on your Facebook page and YouTube channel as it happens live.

To find out more about streaming to multiple platforms simultaneously using the Faith.Online live streaming service; check out our article here.

Where to go From Here?

Now you know how live streaming works and what you need to get started. The next step is to get set up and go live to the world.

Be sure to check out our other articles for detailed guides on setting things up, advice about different types of equipment and tips on how to ensure your live streams are high quality, engaging and growing your audience.