The Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Prague’s Karlín district is an architectural gem not only by Prague standards – it’s actually one of the largest churches built in Bohemia during the 19th century. Like all churches, this one too has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and resulting social distancing measures. Practically from one day to the next, the ban on gatherings prevented parishioners from holding services. Father Miroslav Cúth, however, found he could let people attend his services with the help of live streaming.
“Live streaming online wasn’t completely new to me; the organizers of clergy meetings use it often, for example. I once saw it used to stream a funeral service, and it was then I realized it could be put to good use for our purposes too,” explains Cúth. First, he tried streaming with a mobile phone. “I started out holding a mobile phone in my hand. Later I began using a tripod. In the end, I came across an offer from the company NetRex and decided to try one of their professional solutions,” says the priest.
Trained on the chancel at the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius is an AXIS M1135 camera atop a tripod, which makes it possible to move the camera and thus change the view angle. Running on board the camera is the CamStreamer App, which handles transmission of the video stream directly to YouTube and Facebook. For maximum ease of control, the solution features an external button with an indicator diode, thanks to which a live stream can be started or stopped with a simple push of a button, while the view angle can be controlled on a connected tablet. The tablet can also be used to alter captions in individual streams. Once the button is pushed – to start a live stream, for instance – the diode begins blinking and continues to do so for as long as it takes the stream to “come online”. After that, the diode changes to a solid light to indicate that the camera is streaming live. When the stream is switched off, the video
is automatically saved to a publicly accessible archive.
Live streaming from a church also requires quality audio. At Cyril and Methodius, the camera is connected to the church’s existing sound system. For the priest to be able to move around freely during a service, he wears a wireless lapel microphone.
The live streaming has met the needs of all the parties involved. “Without people in the church, we don’t have any money from collections, which is why the question of cost was an important one for us. I have to say, though, that NetRex (CamStreamer installation partner) responded to all our conditions very quickly and professionally and provided us with a solution we could afford. Moreover, when the time came to invest in the camera, we received some assistance from a private donor,” explains Cúth, and he adds: “We’ve had very positive reactions to the live streams. People are really pleased to have them.”
Once the restrictions relating to the coronavirus are lifted, Cúth plans to limit the live streams of services and find other possible uses for the camera. “Even though we may not be live streaming every service, we definitely plan to continue using the camera. For instance, I’ve got some ideas in mind for a series on the church itself. There are many possibilities, but I don’t have any specific plans just yet. We’ll see,” says Cúth in closing.