However, all is not lost and one positive to come out of the pandemic is that many churches and cremetoriums are installing technology to live stream funeral services. If you are organising a funeral, check with your Funeral Director to see what technology they have in place and how they might be able to help set up a live stream for virtual guests to attend.
If the Crematorium or Church doesn’t have live streaming facilities, you have two options; live streaming the funeral yourself or hiring a virtual funeral planning service such as FuneralStreaming.co.uk. According to your needs, these professional services vary in cost, ranging from £95 – £595. However, such a service can help to remove some of the stress from an already emotional day. They will organise everything from tech supply and support to detailed instruction and guidance for guests, plus service sheets, music and downloadable copies of the event.
If you decide to do it yourself, you’ll need to make sure you have the right equipment and connection to make the live stream run smoothly. You can use something as simple as a smartphone or tablet but for improved quality, you might like to use a camera such as a DSLR or camcorder, connected to the Internet through a laptop computer.
There will be lots to organise and we suggest you enlist support from people who can help you with:
- Tech and equipemt, including writing clear instructions for family and friends on how to join a live stream and be on hand to offer support before and after the ceremony.
- Creating a virtual guest list with emails.
- Filming — this will need to be someone who is familiar with a smart device and can focus on this role during the emotions of the ceremony. Make sure they have a good viewpoint and are close enough to record the sound of the ceremony. A tripod is a good idea to avoid shaky hands and a microphone for people delivering the service.
There are many streaming services available but we suggest Facebook Live or Zoom for ease of access.
Setting up a Facebook Live Funeral
Of the two this is probably the quickest to set up if people already have a Facebook account. However, it doesn’t have as many functions as Zoom which could help with the formalities of the service.
All guests must have a Facebook account to use this service and be Facebook friends with the account holder who will be broadcasting the live video feed.
This will need to be set up in advance to give non Facebook users time to set up an account and connect with the organiser.
The organiser will need to create an event via their profile menu and follow the instructions to schedule a live event, invite guests and share details including timings, photos and links. Guests will receive their event invitation in their notifications and will be able to access the Facebook live at the set time.
Setting up a Live Stream Funeral via Zoom
To live stream a funeral via Zoom, all you will need is a smart device such as phone or tablet, Zoom software installed (for the organiser) and a good internet connection.
Once you’ve downloaded Zoom, you can schedule the funeral like a meeting. You have the option to attach or copy and paste the service sheet and then simply email the invite with link to your virtual guest list. If recipients don’t have an email address, you can send the link via a messenger such as WhatsApp which is quicker to set up on a relative’s smart phone than perhaps creating an email account from scratch.
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The great thing about Zoom is that as an invited guest you don’t need to download it to join the event. All you need is a smart device or computer and an internet connection. Everyone will be sent a Zoom link by the main funeral organiser (via email or messenger) and all you have to do is to click on the link and ‘allow’ the URL to access the live stream. You then click on ‘Join the meeting with audio’ and ‘start video’. You will find these at the bottom left-hand corner of the screen.
For older members of the family or those not used to video streaming technology, we suggest you talk it through on the phone and do a test run in advance. If they are not vulnerable or in self isolation, they can join a group of up to six people to view the funeral as part of the Government’s guidance for a commemorative event. This might make things much easier for all.
Another useful tip is to suggest that everyone joins 15 minutes before the service, so any technology problems can be sorted. People can also use this time to say hello to each other if they wish. If you do not want to be seen by others, you can click on ‘Stop Video’. You will still be able to see and hear everything.
When the ceremony is ready to begin, everyone will be muted centrally while the ceremony takes place. It is best not to ‘unmute’ yourself unless you are scheduled to speak, as background noise is easily picked up.
We recommend you only see the speakers during the ceremony, to avoid a lot of distractions. For that, click onto ‘Speaker View’ in the top right corner. If you are on a tablet or phone you can move to single ‘Speaker View’ or ‘Gallery View’ by swiping the screen left or right.
One of the nice things about Zoom is that after the ceremony, the Zoom link can be left open and everyone unmuted so you can talk to each other.
We hope this guidance has been helpful and that your ceremony goes smoothly.