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Before getting started.

  1. Read this first: a reason why we think this should be temporary feature of our churches.

  2. A disclaimer: I’m very much an enthusiastic amateur here, and by no means a "power user" or a professional in any sense. This is just me sharing how we’re going to do this in our church. Other (and potentially better) ways exist!

Equipment Required

Video source

We are using a Canon DSLR camera with a power supply, connected by a USB Mini cable to a Windows laptop.

Camera software

We are using Canon EOS Utility which allows the computer to have a window of the camera sees. N.B. you have to download the right version of the software for your camera model.

Audio Source/equipment

We are taking a stereo feed from our church sound desk through a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 external audio interface. If you are using anything older than Windows 10, you will need to install drivers for your audio interface. See note on copyright below about what you are allowed to send down this feed.

Importantly, the audio feed from the sound desk this includes a condenser mic trained on the congregation (even if, nowadays, it's just the guy behind the camera). It is important we stream our brothers and sisters and not just the upfront content!

Internet connection.

We have installed a temporary wired internet connection to our church auditorium (using the oh-so-elegant solution of a long ethernet cable from the router to the relevant location). The wisdom of the internet says that you need a 3-5Mbps upload connection to stream in Standard definition and about double that for HD. Our connection is about 30Mbps download and 8Mbps upload.


We are using a Windows laptop with reasonably beefed up specifications with a second screen (this just makes life easier, it is not a necessity). We recommend at least a 3GHz processor and 8GB RAM

Note on Apple Macs: while often more powerful, streaming software is often not so well optimised for the operating system, so they have a much harder time carrying all the required tasks and the final-product stream stutters more.

Streaming software

We are using the free open-source OBS software.

Streaming platform

We are using YouTube Live on a dedicated YouTube channel.


Audio Interface

This is for setting up for the first time – can be done days in advance
  1. Plug in audio interface to computer.
  2. Go to the start menu and click the Settings cog on LH side.
  3. Choose “System” and “Sound”
  4. Set your input device using the drop-down menu about halfway down to your audio interface. If it doesn’t show up, you will need to install some drivers and then have another go.


This is setting up for the first time – can be done days in advance

Video Feed
  1. Click the + button at the bottom of the Sources box.
  2. Choose “Window capture”
  3. Select “Create New” and press “OK”
  4. Choose the window containing the camera feed (likely called something like “Remote Live View Window”)
  5. Untick “Capture mouse cursor” and then press OK.
  6. Hold down “Alt” and drag the edge of the bounding box to crop the image until it contains just the camera, then resize the image so that it fills the black box.
N.B. If you would like another source, e.g. song words from a PowerPoint, you can do this by pressing the + button at the bottom of the Scenes, giving your scene a sensible name, and then repeating the instructions above but choosing your alternative source.

Audio Feed
  1. If you have set up your audio interface as above, it should come up in the Audio Mixer box (probably labelled “Mic/Aux”). Make sure that the Desktop audio is muted (click the button that looks like a speaker and it will turn red to show that it’s muted.)
  2. If it doesn’t show up, but did show up in the Audio settings earlier, click the + button at the bottom of the Sources box.
  3. Choose “Audio Input Capture”
  4. Click Add New, choose your audio interface in the “Device” dropdown menu, and click OK.
  5. Finally, as earlier, make sure that the Desktop audio is muted (click the button that looks like a speaker and it will turn red to show that it’s muted.)

Setting up your stream on YouTube

This can be done days in advance

This is how to set up each individual stream. You will need one stream per service.

N.B. This assumes that you have setup a YouTube account already. Google has plenty of instructions on how to do this.
  1. Log on to your YouTube account.
  2. Click the leftmost of the four buttons in the top right hand corner of the page. This is the one that looks like a camera with a plus on it. Choose “Go live.”
  3. Click the “Stream” button at the top of the page.
  4. Give your stream a suitable title.
  5. Optionally, change the stream from “Public” to “Unlisted.” This allows you to control more fully how the stream is shared. We think this is useful in our context as we do not want people identifying as members of our church family solely by watching the livestream each week. It is instead for those who have been habitually attending our church who are now prevented from coming to gather with us.
  6. Give your stream a suitable description (it might contain e.g. Bible passage preached, link to song words etc. It should contain your church CCL License Number and (if you have one) Streaming License Number; see below for more details)
  7. Next choose the stream genre. We don’t think that a church service naturally falls under any of the headings, but since we need to choose one, we have gone for “Non-profit and activism”
  8. Select “Schedule for later” and choose the service date and time (N.B. we start the stream about 10 minutes early to allow for any technical hitches).
  9. If you want, you can upload a custom thumbnail to show before the stream begins (this can be used to communicate useful information)
  10. Under Audience, select “No, it’s not made for kids” (unless it is an All-Age service where kids are a “target audience” throughout).
  11. Click “Create Stream”
  12. Close the box titled “Stream setup help”
  13. If you would like to disable Live Chat, press the cog at the top right of the page, select "Live Chat on the LH side, and deselect “Enable Live Chat” and “Allow Live Chat to replay.”
  14. To share the stream before it happens, click the arrow at the top right of the page and copy the web address. Share using your preferred method.

Canon EOS Utility

This setup required for every use
  1. Connect the camera, turn it on and set it to video recording mode.
  2. Open Canon EOS Utility
  3. Select “Camera settings/Remote shooting”
  4. Choose “Live View Shoot…”
  5. In the RH pane, make sure that Focus is set on “Face detection + Tracking AF” and that it is turned to "Off" immediately below.
  6. In the bar near the bottom of the window, make sure the button that looks like five boxes in a cross pattern is deselected.
  7. If you can, hide the setting pane so that the camera output fills the window (we also put it on the second screen) and then leave the camera output window open.

Going live on your stream

  1. Open Canon EOS Utility and set up as above.
  2. Open OBS (settings should be retained from your earlier setup)
  3. Log on to your YouTube account.
  4. Click the leftmost of the four buttons in the top right hand corner of the page. This is the one that looks like a camera with a plus on it. Choose “Go live.”
  5. Click the “Manage” button at the top of the page.
  6. Click the relevant service stream.
  7. You will see a pop-up window called “Stream Setup Help.” Copy the stream key.
  8. Go into OBS and click “Settings” in the bottom right hand corner of the window.
  9. Choose stream in the LH column, set your streaming service to YouTube and paste in the key in the box the appears below. Press OK.
  10. Then click “Start Streaming.” This starts sending a feed to YouTube
  11. Back on YouTube, click Done. Your feed will appear in the top left of the page, unlocking the “Go Live” button.
  12. Finally, press the go live button, and you will be live on YouTube!

Note on Copyright

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS SECTION HAS BEEN CHANGED TO match CCLI's change in advice on friday 12th march 2020

[UPDATE - 23 March 2020]: CCLI now offer a streaming license which will cover you for streaming to YouTube and keeping the streams online afterwards. See here for what it covers in more detail. Please note, you are still not covered for pre-recorded music other than your own church's recordings.

If you don't get the license from CCLI, here is what you can lawfully do in a livestream:

For streaming to YouTube, you must get written permission from the copyright holder before streaming any copyrighted materials (most likely when you sing songs). There is no copyright license that will cover you for livestreaming on a third-party platform such as YouTube or Facebook Live. If in doubt, remember we are blessed with some real musical treasures in the Public Domain (hymns by Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley and Augustus Toplady to name a few). Take your adventures in livestreaming as an opportunity to up your church's hymn-singing game!

UPDATE (20th March 2020): Sovereign Grace, Emu Music, Richard Simpkin, Matt Searles and Getty Music have given permission for their works to be used in church service livestreams for the time being. Matt MacGregor is also permitting all the songs he has written for StAG to be used (but doesn't feel his name fits in a list alongside those Christian music luminaries!)

If you do get permission, you will need to acknowledge this in the video description in roughly this format:

Songs used:
Words and Music by [SONG AUTHORS]
[COPYRIGHT INFORMATION] - e.g. © 2020 The Church Music Company
Used with permission.

On YouTube, their content ID filters will notice if you have used a copyrighted melody on your stream. Whether or not you have written permission, they will put a Content ID claim on your stream, essentially running adverts on any subsequent non-live watches of the stream to pay the royalties. This is not a legal notice against your video, it will not be taken down, nor will you be prevented from streaming. Moreover, these checks are only applied to the stream after it has finished. Your stream should not be stopped mid-flow.

Finally, God's Word encourages us in Romans 13, 1 Peter 2 and elsewhere to obey the law and be subject to authorities. While the temptation is to follow the crowd and treat the Internet as a copyright law Wild West, God's Word seems to tell us that God himself cares about our attitude to these rules and laws. That in itself should be reason to take them seriously, regardless of how much annoyance they cause!

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