This article includes tips for better live streams for Catholic parishes.
It’s very likely that your church live streams Mass each week. Before COVID-19, most Catholic parishes never even considered live streaming their Mass. The Catholic Church requires that its members go to Mass in-person to fulfill their Sunday obligation, so it often didn’t make sense to. When the pandemic hit, parishes were scrambling to learn how to stream Masses on YouTube and Facebook. While I applaud all of the parish priests who went above and beyond to share the Mass with their parishioners in lockdown, it’s just not the same as in-person.
As of the time of this article being published, most Catholic Churches are not operating at full capacity. There are a lot of people who are not comfortable coming back to Mass yet. Furthermore, many people have gotten used to not going to Mass and will probably never return.
The most important thing to consider when live streaming Mass is that you are not only competing with all of the other live streamed Catholic Masses in the world, but also all of the secular social media content on Facebook and YouTube. The algorithms work against you unless you produce high quality, relevant content that gets social media users engaged.
I can’t stress the importance of high quality production value. If your audio or video quality is low, people will click off of your live stream. I’m not going to make recommendations for live streaming gear since there are already so many other resources on the web like this one.
What can Catholic parishes do to evangelize using the Mass in digital form for the souls outside of their pews?
- You may want to look at purchasing a separate sound mixer or interface to run off of your main sound system just for live streaming. Oftentimes, the audio levels for the sanctuary are not the same as what is needed for high quality live streaming.
- Have your priest, lectors, and cantors look into the camera occasionally just like they look at the parishioners in the pews. This creates a connection with the viewer.
- If you are live streaming on YouTube and want to share it to Facebook, considering starting a separate stream for Facebook. Facebook algorithms don’t like you leaving their site. Furthermore, Facebook algorithms overwhelmingly serve your content to more users in a live stream than any other organic post.
- Lighting: Try not to mix too many warm and cool lights on the altar. While it may look fine to the human eye in-person, camera sensors tend to pick up on the mix of color temperatures more easily, which can lead to unnatural looking footage.
- Set your camera’s whitebalance (if available) to match the color temperature of the lights in your church. This will make your footage look more natural and pleasing to the eye.
- Consider purchasing an AC adapter for your camera so you don’t have to worry about batteries running out during the service.
These were just some basic tips that you can implement right away. I hope these helped. Feel free to email me if you have any questions on how you can create better live streams for your parish. God Bless!