Show me your auditorium

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One of the primary goals of my live stream setups for churches is to occasionally show as much of the auditorium as possible. I make this happen with a second, wide-angle camera usually centered on the back wall above the primary camera.

Why? Below are three key reasons.

Worship is more than a song leader

Close your eyes and visualize yourself sitting at home, unable to go to church and watching your worship service on your smartphone, tablet, computer, or TV. When it’s time to sing with the rest of the congregation, what do you see?

The image above is what we show at Deerfoot Church of Christ during singing – a “triple box” showing The Paperless Hymnal, the song leader, and the auditorium. The size and arrangement of each box is done on purpose because I want our online viewers to worship God with us, not watch us worship God.

  • The Paperless Hymnal is the largest box because I want online viewers to be able to sing with us.
  • The song leader is displayed so the online viewer can stay in rhythm.
  • The auditorium is displayed so the online viewer can feel connected with the congregation.

I’ve had some elders and church leaders refuse to show the auditorium during singing, even when a wide-angle camera was available. One said he was embarrassed by the number of empty seats. My response: you’re denying sick members watching from home the opportunity to worship with their church family and you’re denying potential visitors the opportunity to see how much room is available for them when they visit.

Ironically, one of the best ways to encourage visitors to attend your church is for them to see your auditorium and experience your worship service online. Potential visitors unfamiliar with Christian worship can “window shop,” sampling the experience to decide if visiting your congregation would be worthwhile to them. If your congregation is truly worshipping God, in spirit and in truth, then the joy you feel when leaving church each Sunday will be contagious.


Less distractions during camera transitions

Do you know why TV studios have more than one camera? The main reason is so that you don’t see the camera movements. When one camera is focused on a news anchor, another camera is moving so that it is where it needs to be before the next news anchor needs to be on camera. This reduces distractions and greatly improves the professional look of the news product.

If you only have one camera available during worship, then your online viewers will have to watch you zoom, pan, and tilt the camera during worship. You may have the camera zoomed out during singing, only to zoom in on the preacher when the sermon begins. If this camera is a remote PTZ (pan tilt zoom) camera with presets, then selecting a preset may cause the camera to quickly reposition itself, causing a brief distraction for people watching online.

To reduce or eliminate these camera distractions, transition to the wide angle camera, then reposition your primary camera, then transition back to the primary camera. All of this can be done in less than 10 seconds, but the result is a much-less distracting view of worship.


Backup camera

One of the early lessons I learned in TV news is that you should expect Plan A to fail. To that end, a second camera is a great Plan B. It would allow you to continue to show worship services, even if your primary camera suddenly stopped working.


Bottom line: live streams of worship services need a second, wide-angle camera to enhance the worship experience. Let your light shine…