5 Helpful ProPresenter Hacks for Church Live Streaming

5 Helpful ProPresenter Hacks for Church Live Streaming


Beginning with ProPresenter 6 for Mac, and now with ProPresenter 7 (for both platforms), Renewed Vision has made live streaming a focus of their efforts. In the past, there were hacks you needed to do to get video out of Pro6 and into an encoder if you wanted an alternate format that was better for your online congregation.

Thankfully, today, that’s not necessary. ProPresenter 7 can capture live video from multiple sources, overlay an alternate layout of lyrics (or sermon notes, etc.), and even encode it for live streaming.

That’s not to say that there aren’t things you can’t do to modify how it works for your particular situation. There are in fact a number of ways you can make modifications to fit your live-streaming needs.

Pro7 is so flexible that once you learn to do some of these “hacks,” your live-streaming will be better than you even though possible.

Church Live Streaming Hack #1 – Using Pro7 as a Multi-View

On a basic level, ProPresenter 7 comes, from Renewed Vision, with the ability to display up to 8 screens of content, in most circumstances. Those who use it in the most simple configuration might only send a single output to the congregation or might add a second screen for those leading from the front. When you add in a screen dedicated to the live stream, it’s helpful to be able to keep an eye on all of the screens at once.

To do this, you can make your own multi-view screen within ProPresenter.

First, you’ll need to dedicate one of those 8 screens to doing so.

It doesn’t need to be a wired screen. You can make a “placeholder screen” that only shows in the ProPresenter interface (in “Screens>Configure Screens” under Stage).

Next, you’ll go to Screens and then Edit Layouts and make a new layout for this screen (whether it’s a placeholder screen or a “screen” within Pro7 that’s connected to an external display). Now, for each screen that you want to keep an eye on, click the big plus button above the preview of the stage screen layout and select “Screen Preview”. Drag the corners of each to resize them and move them around until you get a layout that you like.

Go back into “Show” mode and change to that stage screen in the preview window (using the dropdown underneath it) and then in the Stage screen layout tab, underneath the preview screen, change to the layout you just made and it should show you a preview of all the screens that you’ve added previews for in one place.

Keep in mind that this is processor intensive, so don’t try it if your computer can just barely run Pro7.

Church Live Streaming Hack #2 – Using ProPresenter 7 as a Video Switcher

This isn’t something that ALL churches should do. It’s not even something that most should do, but if you’re in a situation where you have more than one camera and would like to be able to switch between them, ProPresenter can do so.

The video input layer can cut and/or dissolve between sources just as well as some hardware solutions. Whether you want cameras to switch at predetermined times, by dragging the live video source thumbnail onto a certain slide or want to change more organically by clicking on each video source, Pro7 can do it, BUT there ARE more options.

Earlier, we talked about making a multi-view within Pro7. You can certainly take this to the next level by including not only screens but live video sources as well.

If you have an Elgato StreamDeck and the free Companion software, you can add in buttons on a physical interface that allow you to either “hot punch” to switch between sources OR mimic a video switcher with a preview bus, program bus, and separate cut and mix transition buttons.

To get full functionality, you have to have multiple stage screen layouts that change based on what “preview” button is pressed on the StreamDeck AND have transition buttons that change between two possible live video sources, one with a cut transition and the other with a dissolve.

Again, this requires a beefy computer to pull off, but it’s possible, as you can see from the video below.

This isn’t something you’d want to do with more than a couple of live video sources, but it IS possible to do with up to 8. That said, BlackMagic switchers are fairly inexpensive, so after a couple of sources, switching to a hardware switcher is a better plan.

Church Live Streaming Hack #3 – Encoding with other software or hardware

The motto of many church tech ministries is, “if it’s free, it’s for me,” so using the encoder built into ProPresenter, instead of using something else, will probably always be the default choice (if you have Pro7 already, not that it is free). Still in the free line of options are choices like OBS (Open Broadcaster Software).

You could encode on the same computer, but it’s better not to.

If you have a second dedicated computer for encoding only, getting the video out of Pro7 is the next challenge.

Here, you have a couple of options. If you have the capability to send an HDMI or SDI signal out of Pro7 and capture that with a second computer, you can absolutely do that.

A better option might be to use NDI to send that signal over the network (preferably a wired network). By doing so, you can send not only the basic video signal but an Alpha channel as well.

If you do, you’ll have the flexibility to send transparent or translucent pixels along with opaque ones to overlay on top of live video from cameras.

If you have the budget, other encoder software to consider (this is the non-free variety) includes Wirecast, vMix, and many others.

Here’s an article that talks about some of these options: https://www.dacast.com/blog/live-stream-encoding-software/

Also, consider hardware encoders. Blackmagic Design, Teradek, and others make boxes that you can use in lieu of a second computer with encoder software. Additionally, Resi, Boxcast, and others have proprietary hardware encoders that work with their hosting exclusively.

5 helpful propresenter hacks for church live streaming

Church Live Streaming Hack #4 – Consider Hosts in Addition to YouTube and Facebook

The motto at Facebook that says, “move fast and break things” seems to many church techies to be especially true on Sundays, whether it is or not. The biggest downside of using these services isn’t their insistence that regular church activities, like worship, are a violation of copyright, even with live-streaming licenses, but that there’s no one to talk to if you have a problem with their service technically OR with things like copyright enforcement.

Inside ProPresenter 7, you can encode for most live-streaming hosting services, but there’s a special ability to encode for RESI.

Returning to the “if it’s free, it’s for me” mindset, you might be hesitant to pay for a live-streaming host, but consider it to be an investment in reliability because you’re NOT the product; you’re a customer and there IS someone to talk to when problems arise.

Church Live Streaming Hack #5 – Don’t Be Deterred by Obstacles

This doesn’t just apply to ProPresenter, but works with all of the tech in the church. The most important thing you need isn’t better gear, but an attitude that says, “This problem CAN be solved.”  Probably 99.999999% of problems have been solved or worked around by someone before you. Often, they have more excuses as to why they can’t solve them but have solved them anyway. Keep that in mind, with a willingness to try things, your live stream will get better than it is today and reach more people than you can right now. Ultimately, that’s the point.

Why Attend WAVE? (What makes us different)

The WAVE conference focuses on audiovisual and lighting first and is a traditional conference and expo with the best church AVL exhibitors and vendors in the industry. At WAVE, you and your tech team will have the time to talk with exhibitors because our expo floor is less crowded and better organized than other AVL conferences. WAVE offers the opportunity to see what others are doing and even boasts and church tour local to the conference. Experience roundtable discussions during meals and after sessions. Visit the biggest manufacturers in your area. Maximize your team’s time for education, training on equipment, and industry connection and collaboration. Lastly, WAVE offers incredible value for the education, exhibit access, networking, worship, and amenities for the price of the ticket. Lastly, we at WAVE want to see your church grow, help others find God, and feel personal satisfaction with their jobs by being educated and connecting within the AVL church tech industry. Register for WAVE today!

Paul Alan Clifford, M.Div. is the creator of ChurchTechU and LearnProPresenterFast.com where you and your team can learn church tech through self-paced tutorials on your time-table. He is also the author of Podcasting ChurchThe Serving ChurchChurch Video School, and other church tech books. He releases free tech training regularly on TrinityDigitalMedia.com.