How to Effectively Reach Your Congregations Using AI-Driven Live Streaming Technology
November 8, 2022

Providing live streaming of services from churches and other houses of worship has become a highly effective way of reaching congregations and helping them enhance an individual’s needs for community and spiritual fulfillment.

While some HoW facilities have been able to build and deploy their streaming solutions by contracting in the necessary skills and technology, others have been fortunate to call on volunteers within their local congregation. For many though, there is a desire to deliver a streaming service, but lack the ability to deliver.  For those churches and places of worship that have developed a streaming service there is the implicit commitment to maintain the ability to provide programming week-in, week-out.

With the acquisition of Mobile Viewpoint, a leading manufacturer of bonded encoder technology for 4K video support, 5G network communication, and AI, among other advanced remote production solutions, Vislink is now able to offer a larger breadth of solutions. The company is committed to providing end-users with simplified deployment of capturing, producing and streaming religious services within houses of worship and looking at the ways technology can be deployed to give HoW an always-ready system to reach remote congregations without the need for a highly skilled tech team.

Live video production systems can be complex and can require skilled operations teams.

Vislink believes that, for some, the answer lies in the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to capture, produce and direct the religious service and then stream it to the viewing congregation. By using AI to recognize people, to follow the order of the service in praise and in song, it becomes possible to automate cameras and automatically choose particular shots to create a live video program that brings the heart and soul of the service to a remote video audience.

As a tool, AI can be trained to achieve capabilities that are too ethereal and too complex to code with a set of firm rules in the way classic programming of software systems have been implemented. Directing where to point a camera and choosing a particular camera shot in a way that delivers creativity, engages an audience, and maintains viewer engagement over a period of time is something that plays to the strengths of AI, which can be trained with content to detect people, their actions and ultimately invite human visual engagement.

Advances have been rapid in Artificial Intelligence technology in the past few years. New algorithms have been developed that deliver rapid image processing ̶ opening up new possibilities that can provide new creative solutions. In particular, Vislink takes advantage of the YOLO (You Only Look Once) algorithm to evolve an AI engine that can control and direct video programming.

The Vislink AI-driven camera and production system uses visual and audio cues to decide where to point its high-quality cameras and select the appropriate camera shots to suit the action taking place. The system can, for example, select a wide shot appropriate to the vocals of a choral celebration, a close up on the pastor as they deliver a sermon and interject with views from different cameras to give a new visual perspective and maintain viewer engagement.

With 3D sensors linked to the camera system, Vislink’s vPilot solution can map the celebration area to find and detect people within a 3D space and to determine if they are looking in the direction of the cameras. The AI automatic director has been given the ability to select different camera views should the presenter turn away from the camera. The 3D human detection provides the system with the ability to control Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) cameras, to follow the celebrants as they move across the stage as they conduct their sermon.

Sensors to locate people within a 3D space

A complete video program of a religious service consists of much more than an artistically created video feed. Program content can be enriched with on-screen graphics, pre-prepared video segments and video inserts that involve the congregation.

Vislink’s vPilot system has been designed with the capability to deliver on-screen graphics and run VTs—in part driven by the needs of professional broadcast entertainment programming customers who use the same AI solution to deliver studio-based TV programs.

The on-screen graphics engine can be used to give context to the video production by showing the celebrant’s names or to develop a sense of engagement between the viewing audience and the local congregation by inserting the lyrics for the hymns.

To simplify the triggering of additional content playout, the vPilot system can be equipped with the vPanel to provide a number of customizable hot-button triggers.  Through an ethos in the vPilot design of ensuring simplicity for the user, the vPanel may be operated by one of the presenters or by the program director.

In creating video programming, it is important, whatever the content, to create an artistic style and pace to the event. Some churches or houses of worship may appeal to a specific audience through a relaxed and contemplative ethos, others may choose to engage with a spirit of joyful and fast paced celebration. The vPilot AI virtual director can be tailored to the desired style and pace of the service to engage the audiences.

Through an acceleration of new technology coming on stream and breaking down cost barriers, the democratization of video content has resulted in a new wave of video consumption driving enhanced content accessibility. Artificial Intelligence driven production toolsets have the potential to enhance and widen content availability into many more applications.

With a powerful combination of creativity, drawn from human behaviours with automated management of high-quality video production tools, AI-driven systems such as Vislink’s vPilot, enable live video broadcasts across a wide spectrum of content types. This creates new content streams and can help reach new audiences without the cost prohibitions that have traditionally held back this type of technology. AI feeds into the human desire to engage, entertain and educate each other, and worry less about the technology that drives the production and concentrate on the content itself..