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The software you use is going to depend a lot on all the other decisions you make. That includes the last item on the list, the streaming service provider.
It is really important to consider software in tandem with your streaming provider. Some providers offer free software; others sell software specific to their service. One that I know of offers steep discounts on software that works well with their service. Your software choice may also depend a lot on your budget. Prices range from free to around $1000. There are also more expensive options, but they are likely more powerful than a church would need.
Software has two main functions, encoding, and switching. If you have a stand-alone encoder, you won’t need the encoding part. If you are using a capture device, the software will encode it into the right format to send to your streaming provider.
The software can also take care of switching. This is useful even if you don’t have multiple cameras. You may want to switch to a graphic when there is nothing to look at on the camera. You may want to insert slides during the announcements. One software program allows you to pull a feed from another computer, meaning that if you are running song lyrics or other slides, they can be fed into your broadcast. If your video setup already includes a switcher, you may not need this setup. However, if you are taking a feed from a switcher that feeds the screens in your sanctuary and it doesn’t have an auxiliary channel, you will only be able to send the same signal as you are sending to your screens.
The best deal in streaming software! OBS works on PC, Mac, and even Linux. You get all the feature you need for professional grade live streaming at no cost. If you are technically inclined and budget is an issue, this is a great choice. Since it is free, there is really no risk in giving it a try.
Having used both OBS and Wirecast, I use Wirecast for event streaming. The technical advantages grow smaller as OBS continues to improve. However, I find the ease of use and the availability of tech support to be worth the price. Also, they offer a free trial. During the trial, everything is watermarked. That means you can’t really use it for a live broadcast you intend to share. But, it is fully functional meaning you can take it live to see how it all works.
I don’t have any experience with vMix though it is starting to get some decent reviews. It isn’t an option for me since it is Windows only. It has a rich feature set and offers a 60-day trial so it is worth giving a chance if you are working on a PC.
If you want to read more about these software options, DaCast has a great review of all three.