MarvinD's picture

Level1 - The Web Site only

This most basic level of Internet presence has a very low hardware requirement. In fact all that is absolutely required is for someone in the congregation to own a computer. A digital home movie camera would be nice so you can shoot video and upload it later, just like YouTube™. Even without a movie camera, you can have a pastor's blog, a forum, a calendar, on and on. Many of these additions while having a very small development expense can add greatly to the maintenence requirement. The importance of personnel to maintain a calendar or a forum cannot be over emphasized.

Level 2 - The Web Site plus a small live webcasting ability.

This system will be limited to about 5 clients watching the live webcast. And, the webcast itself will produce very small movies which will measure about 320 by 200 pixels.

The webcasting hardware requirement is a minumum of 2 security cameras, one with a pan/tilt, a computer with a capture card, a controller for the pan/tilt, a monitor for the pan/tilt camera, distribution amplifiers, baluns, wiring, and a couple of VCRs so you can send out tapes to the technically challenged. This is assuming you already have some kind of audio system in place. If not, you will need that also. The hardware described above is surprisingly cheap overall because of its use in security systems.

The webcasting software can either be open-source and free or proprietary and expensive. In my opinion, the free stuff works better.

I know I keep harping on personnel, but it is the deciding factor. Can you get 3 people to commit to running the webcast system? Can these people do more than email? Like can they run a word processor without locking up the computer? If you can't find the people, don't buy the system.

Level 3 - The Web Site plus a big live webcasting ability

This system can reach thousands of clients with very high movie quality.

It is an easy step up from Level 2. No additioinal hardware, software, or personnel is needed. A slight software adjustment will send your webcast to a media server which relays the webcast unto the world. Of course a media server isn't free, but its cheap.

There is one thing about stepping up to 'Level 3'. If you have an operator who can just barely run 'Level 2', the instructions will need to be modified to hide the media server window. Then we hope the media server doesn't have a hiccup. Hiccups are rare and can be easily corrected, but that one more thing can just blow their mind. (You have probably seen hiccups on YouTube™.)

If you can't make up your mind...

Don't worry and just take it one level at a time.