On June 10, 2009, the Archdiocese of Saint Louis was blessed to have its tenth bishop (and ninth Archbishop; Robert J. Carlson) Installed at a ceremony in the Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis. The event was not only recorded for future reference; it was streamed to the Archdiocesan website, put on satellite for EWTN and CatholicTV to pick up and air live, and sent to local TV stations as well.

Archdiocese of Saint Louis - Streaming Live

For all this to happen, there were two main components: our production personnel/equipment, and our method of delivery.

Live Production

About six weeks before the installation, we decided to meet with some representatives from one of the local Saint Louis TV stations. They graciously agreed to help us with the production of the event, and we decided to pool resources from all the different TV stations, as well as some of the resources we had at the Cathedral, in order to make a very nice production (with six video camera locations set up) to be recorded for the news, streamed online, and sent via satellite to EWTN and CatholicTV.

The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis has a video production system built-in, using some 3CCD Sony video cameras (not quite professional, but good-enough for broadcast-quality cameras) and a professional TriCaster Studio live broadcast mixing system. The producers decided to use this system for their live camera mix, and we ran all six cameras into the unit.

Three of the video cameras were remote-controlled and fixed in certain locations at the Cathedral, while the other three were manned cameras, with technicians from local TV stations. Each of the manned cameras had to have cabling run to it, for intercom and for the video signal from the camera. We decided to run some of the cabling ourselves, under the Cathedral floor, so that we didn't have any cables running across the main aisle (wouldn't want the new Archbishop to trip!).

You can read more about how we saved a ton of money on the microphone and intercom cabling by using Cat5e network cable to run balanced mic and line level signals via XLR jacks.

Installation Mass Production Run-Through

With this all wrapped up, we did a full run-through (picture of production crew above), testing everything the day before at a noon Mass, and it worked flawlessly. On the day of the Installation, we had the satellite truck feed the signal to EWTN's satellite, and we allowed local TV stations to tap into the pool feed so they could record or broadcast the event live. We also had an audio press box (malt / break-out box) with multiple outputs; a couple were used for local journalists to grab sound bytes, and one was used to record the homily for posting on the web just minutes after homily was delivered.

Streaming Delivery

The Archdiocese had considered using the Ustream service for its streaming delivery (see how we connected our TriCaster to Ustream at a later time here), but decided against it because of the fact that Ustream could display ads during the stream, which could be a liability, depending on what ad was displayed. Also, we wanted to maintain our own branding.

We discovered Watershed, a paid service through Ustream, which allows us to maintain our branding, stream without ads, and, most importantly, easily get the video feed from our TriCaster Studio unit to the web. All we had to do was click a button, and whatever was being sent to EWTN, local TV stations, etc. was being sent to the Archdiocese's Watershed channel. (Alternatively, there's another similar solution from a company named Livestream).

The fees for Watershed are not too bad, but the best option is to sign up for a monthly service, then cancel the service, paying an early termination fee.

We had, at one point, considered putting the actual stream onto our own webserver (which has a lot of bandwidth and could've handled at least a hundred or so viewers), but ultimately decided against it, because if there were more than a hundred viewers, the server would've probably been choking, and the website would become unavailable or at least slow.

At the height of the live stream, we had over 600 viewers from at least 15 countries (mostly in the US, but two viewers from the Vatican!). Throughout the Mass of Installation, over 1,300 different people watched a part or the whole stream. After the event was finished, we grabbed the recorded video from the TriCaster, saved it as a flash video file (.flv), and put it on our webserver. Over 600 people have downloaded the Installation Mass as of one week after the Installation Mass.

More on streaming via Ustream