Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Something new coming soon... just not here!

 In the first part of 2020, the world (as we know it in the USA) changed, at least temporarily (and so far ongoingly). Suddenly our church (Faith Family Fellowship) was unable to meet in person for services, and we started doing online services instead, recording the praise portion with a limited praise team and the sermon portion separately, then editing the video portions together into a single worship service video. I volunteered to assist as I had some limited prior experience doing video editing, and enjoyed the task as well (both prior and current). I also had a video camera that we could use for a second angle, and was able to edit the footage together with some pans and zooms added in post-production - for example, this service (or here on Facebook) - despite all the pans and zooms apparent in the praise portion, this was entirely shot with unmanned cameras on tripods. It was a huge effort (for me - probably like 5 minutes' work for someone with skills and experience), but I enjoyed it.

Then, suddenly, the ban on gathering in person was slightly lifted, and our church started meeting in person, with restrictions on gathering size, social distancing requirements, and additional cleaning requirements. However, our church decided to also begin live streaming our services as we started meeting in person, so that those who couldn't or didn't want to meet in person (due to the Coronavirus) could still "meet" with the church family and worship. The first live streamed service wasn't great (shot from a single phone down front in the sanctuary, unfortunately in a location where audio was very, very bad - essentially live video with a bunch of white noise for audio), but, as we'd already been in discussions about live streaming, I had already begun configuring a computer for the church to use for live streaming from some older leftover components that I'd upgraded in my own personal rig to use for the video editing. I got the system finished before the second week, and, along with a USB audio input box purchased by the church to allow a line from the sound board to the computer, things were much better. We continued to improve both the computer configuration and the live stream hardware (such as eventually adding PTZ cameras), and now it's in a pretty decent shape for live streaming our services (note: we don't currently pan/zoom live, but we do use presets in the PTZ cameras for changes in scenes). It's been a fun, occasionally frustrating, and overall satisfying experience, and it isn't over, as I'm still interested in doing live streaming as a side hobby/business. (I did a live stream for a friend's blacksmith shop, for instance, and while it didn't necessarily go as planned, or even great, it was adequate, I think, and I learned a lot of what not to do. His shop is really cool, by the way - you should definitely sign up for a class and go make something! They offer gift certificates, as well, so you can buy someone a gift and schedule a class later.) 

Having gone through this over the last year, I've decided to start a second blog/website devoted to live streaming. That's what's coming soon, on a new domain. Hopefully it will provide some resources and information to others who may be interested in setting up a live stream system for their own use, whether that's for a church, for a business, for your own hobby or entertainment, or whatever else you might want to use it for. I'm slowly getting it ready, and I'll let you know when it (really) goes live (the domain is live, but there's nothing really there, content-wise, yet).

As to me, I'm still kicking, although cardiac rehab won't let me push it too much (for instance, they told me I can't get on the rowing machine or the elliptical yet, as I tended to really get the heart rate up on those). And we're still doing the DASH diet thing, and my wife is still making delicious, low-sodium, low-saturated-fat meals. Life is good!

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