The demand for video switches has increased dramatically as the church enters the world of live-streaming video and video production. As has the need for upfront information and honest recommendations regarding these products.
After seven years of live streaming, I felt I could contribute to the conversation and help you in your quest for the best live streaming system. As a pastor, I know the tension between spending money on something you don’t need and the value of producing the best live-streaming system for your church. As I created these recommendations, I kept this tension in mind. These recommendations will help you find the best video switcher in your church.
- Video Switchers: The Essentials
- A Video Switcher: The Benefits
- The Best Video Switchers for Church Live Streams
- The Best Video Switcher Overall
- Roland V-8HD HDMI Video Switcher
- Best Video Switcher for Budget
- RGBLink Mini Video Switcher
- Video Switcher for the Best Bang For Your Buck
- Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Extreme
- Final thoughts on these Video Switchers
Video Switchers: The Essentials
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What is a Video Switcher?
A video switcher, in a nutshell, is a piece that allows you to switch between different video signals and then outputs the signal you choose. Depending on how many cameras, video feeds, or graphic overlays you wish to display in your live stream, this can be useful and necessary.
What is a video switcher?
Video switchers allow you to select which feed is being shown at any moment. Switch between camera 1 and camera 2 using your presentation software. This allows you to show lyrics or Bible verses. It can convert your video signal to HDMI, SDI, or USB inputs and encode them into HDMI or directly encode them. You can then connect to the internet to stream live from the switcher. These are known as video switchers or encoders.
What is the cost of a video switcher?
The cost of a video-switching device depends on its features and quality. A video switcher can be purchased for as low as $300.00 using the RGBLink mini video switcher or as high as $9,000.00 using the Telstream Wirecast Gear420, which is more like a video studio and not just a switcher.
A Video Switcher: The Benefits
Can I use multiple webcams simultaneously?
Yes, you can use multiple webcams simultaneously when using a video switcher as long as you don’t use cheap cameras that clip to your laptop. Live streaming of church services requires a high-quality camera. Trust me, I tried to save money, and the image was not something I wanted for the public.
How can I get multiple cameras on Facebook Live and YouTube?
Live streaming to YouTube or Facebook Live is limited because they accept only one video feed. You do not have access to any software that can control your production. Some people use OBS or vMix video-switching software to accomplish this. However, as the number of feeds increases, the processing power required to run the program will increase. Many people feel a delay in their live stream when they add more feeds.
Can a video switcher stream directly on Facebook or YouTube
Some video switchers can stream directly to YouTube or Facebook. One such video switcher is the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Extreme. You can stream live directly from the switcher. These video switchers can also be called video encoders, as they encode the signal for use with YouTube and Facebook protocols.
Aren’t OBS, vMix, and Wirecast video switchers not available?
They are true! These are software-based video switches. These devices work well if you have a computer that can process all signals. Trying to combine multiple video feeds on the same computer you purchased at a big-box store will strain your computer’s processing speed. A video switcher is a great alternative to having a professional build you a gaming-style computer.
The Best Video Switchers for Church Live Streams
As I said above. When buying a video switcher, I can understand the anxiety church leaders feel. While you don’t want your donations to go to waste, you still want a high-quality live stream that can be shared with the world.
This is why I recommend three different types of switchers. I’ve chosen the best switcher I can find, affordable but with quality and best for people on a budget. These selections should help you narrow down your choices and find the best ones.
The Best Video Switcher Overall
I weighed quality more than the cost in deciding the best overall video switcher. While I didn’t choose the most expensive switcher, I didn’t consider whether it would be affordable for churches with tight budgets. I decided to purchase the Roland V-8HD HDMI Video Switcher.
Roland V-8HD HDMI Video Switcher
Roland HD Video Switcher (V-8HD)
Roland is a leading brand in both video production and audio equipment.
Ask your musicians. Roland produces a high-quality product. The V-8HD seamlessly combines eight HDMI sources with Full HD support. This is even when the sources have different frame rates or color spaces. The built-in scalers at two HDMI inputs allow you to interface with other sources such as tablets, smartphones, computers, gaming consoles, and legacy 4/3 devices, like your old projector.
You have the option of more than one video switcher. The V-8HD has eight HDMI inputs and three outs that allow for much creativity without increasing your budget. Your video feed can be sent to the nursery or an overflow room.
- HDMI workflow
- Five-layer effects with keying engine
- Multiviewer preview screen built-in
- Aux output to a different video feed
- Technology-assisted video switching
- Digital audio mixer 18-channels with effects
- Start & Stop Atomos recorders.
- Available as a free app for remote control of your iPad
- Ultra-mobile, light, and efficient
- Reduce capital expenditure
These features make the Roland HTML8HD HDMI Video Switcher worth $2,000.00.
Best Video Switcher for Budget
The other side of the spectrum is where I completely understand the need for a video switcher that does the job but doesn’t require too many bells and whistles. My budget is limited as a church planter. The Roland is not affordable for small churches. A switcher will be all they need to allow them to have four cameras or video feeds and then do the switching with a push of one button.
I had to choose between two budget video switchers that I would recommend to you. The Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini and the RGBLink Mini. The user interface of the RGBLink mini is very simple, and I am happy to recommend it to you.
RGBLink Mini Video Switcher
RGBlink Mini Streaming Switcher
The RGBLink Mini simplifies complex tasks. You can switch seamlessly between the four HDMI inputs, both HDMI outputs and the USB 3.0 output. Mini is ideal for presentations and live streaming, as multiple sources can be used to create a professional impression.
You can use the onboard features to embed external audio and transition effects. An external microphone can be connected to your soundboard, and video and audio will sync.
Large buttons allow for quick actions, and the T-bar provides smooth transitions between sources (cameras or graphics) thanks to its provision. The RGBLink mini is a great deal for a basic video switcher.
- USB 3.0 live streaming port
- Compact design
- Four inputs live preview
- Seamless switching
- Manual switch or auto-cut
- Transition effects
- PIP (Picture-In-Picture) presets
- Audio insert/extract
- HDMI output as Multi-view or PGM
- Remote control via app
- Third-party apps such as OBS Studio, vMix, and others are supported
Video Switcher for the Best Bang For Your Buck
It was not hard to choose the right video switcher for people who are conscious of the cost but still want the best value for their money. The choice was easy, with 8 HDMI inputs and the ability to stream to Facebook Live, YouTube, and other live-streaming hosts; it was clear. Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Extreme, just released, is the best value for money.
Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Extreme
Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Extreme Switcher
The Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Extreme switcher is for professionals only! All the ATEM Mini Pro features are included, plus 8 HDMI inputs and two separate HDMI outputs. There are also 2 USB ports.
You will also find four chroma keys, six picture-in-picture DVEs, and two media players. There is also a multiview that can display up to 16 views.
You can connect multiple cameras to different views with 8 HDMI inputs. Because they have higher-quality lenses and better low-light sensitivity, HDMI outputs provide better quality than webcams. If they use different video standards, all video sources will resynchronize to the switcher. You don’t need to worry about connecting devices to video sources.
All ATEM Mini models include a USB port that can be used as a webcam source to ensure maximum compatibility. You can plug it into any computer and use any video software. Although the software thinks the ATEM Mini is a webcam, it is a live production switcher. This ensures full compatibility with all video software in full resolution 1080HD. You can use software, including Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Skype, to create a new way of presenting with multi-camera broadcast quality. ATEM Mini can also be used with streaming software like Open Broadcaster, XSplit Broadcaster, and many more!
This makes the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Extreme extremely affordable!
Final thoughts on these Video Switchers
Some people feel that a video switcher is just another piece to purchase when deciding if they need one. Some people aren’t sure if they need one. Ask yourself the following question: Is the live stream at the church an extension of our ministry to the community or a window into the church? It doesn’t matter which answer you choose; it all depends on your goals.
You may only need one or two cameras if it’s a window. If it’s a ministry, you will need all the tools necessary to make your live stream. Your live-streaming ministry should have all the tools it needs. Just like your worship team has all the tools they require, and your pastor has all the books and tools he requires, so must your live-streaming ministry. Video switchers are part of these tools.
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