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With COVID-19 shutting down the whole world, our church is now broadcasting our services on YouTube. Last Sunday we used a WebCam because we only had 48 hours notice, and it just worked.

Given that this is likely to extend to Easter and beyond. We need to improve the sound and video quality as much as possible, but without a huge capital investment.

We have a PA system, but I am not sure how to pull the audio out of it into the computer (4 wireless microphones, 3 corded microphones) and that system is 80 ft away from where our video source needs to be. Our highest priority is to capture the Pipe Organ which is generally not fed through the PA anyway (that thing need no help being heard even across the street). I have a collection of good corded microphones but all plug into the XLR Jacks around the building then into the audio closet and out to the speakers.

The video from the webcam was good. In the future we would like to add additional video sources. I am working on coming up to speed on OBS Studio which knows how to mix multiple video sources, but again my question is how to connect them to the PC. USB max run length is 5 meters.

What would be helpful:

  • A web site giving the basics of how audio works. (I know how to plug a mic into a chord and plug that cord into the wall. I have no idea how the things actually work.)
  • Same thing for video.
  • How to get the Pipe Organ to sound good, or at least not terribly distorted. (I understand that I'll never get HiFi out of a live stream) Can I use one of out existing mics or do I need something different?
  • What do I need to know if I want to purchase a video camera, and how to connect them to a PC that is not directly adjacent to it?
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    For getting multiple streams of video into one machine, and switching live, BlackMagic's ATEM mini is a good solution that won't break the bank at only $300. The most cost-effective way to connect a camera to a PC at a distance depends on the distance. Wireless connections are very expensive. HDMI cable is good up to about 25 feet. SDI cable can run much longer distances without amplification, but you'll need proper converters if the cameras you get don't have SDI out with BNC connectors. – Jason Conrad Mar 20 at 17:28
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Did you watch the webcam feed? What did / didn't you like about the quality of that? For some applications, webcams do "just work", and that might be good enough. Installing a "professional" setup can get real expensive real fast.

For audio, if the PA system is of high enough quality, picking up the audio from where you pick up the video might be good enough. The webcam mic likely isn't great for this, but there's lots of mics out there designed for video cameras that will also plug into your laptop to improve that. Get a USB audio interface as needed (google audio interface as suggested, I've used the ATR2USB, works fine), there are more specialist devices like the Rode AI-1 available if you want to use an XLR input. Getting a feed direct from the audio closet will be highest quality, but based on the distance, you'd either need to run a long cable, or invest in a wireless transmitter / receiver. So it all depends on your current webcam quality, versus how much you want to spend to improve that.

For video, do you need more than one camera angle? Do you have existing video cameras available? Again, something that can get expensive quick, depending how far you want to go. You can interface via something like the ATEM Mini (haven't got one myself, and no one currently has stock!), some cameras do have direct streaming available as well. If it's a fixed shot and the camera doesn't move, the webcam might even be fine. Maybe post some more detail about what does/doesn't work with the current setup, to get some more specific suggestions.

Also try browsing this YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/makeradventures - he's basically doing exactly what you are, and possibly has some content of interest.

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For audio, you will need an audio interface. Posting a picture of your "audio closet" will help.

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