Home Ministry Tech Leaders Video Switcher Basics

Video Switcher Basics

And that brings us to the software you’ll use with your video switcher. Some software is free, and others you’ll have to pay for. The option you choose will be affected by how complex your video-streaming needs are. Simply put, the fancier you want your productions to be, the more likely you’ll pay for the software you use. Nevertheless, many houses of worship find that their needs are met perfectly with free software such as OBS. If you have to pay for your software, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will be paying a lot.

Pay Attention to Your Budget

The best way to stick to your budget when looking at various video switchers is to determine beforehand what you need in one of these devices. If your needs are a little more complex than they are for the house of worship down the street, you’ll likely need more than just a “basic” video switcher. After all, it’s pointless to go cheap and purchase a very basic video switcher if you already know that you’ll need 3D or other complicated abilities. You can shop around for the best deal, of course, but if you decide what your house of worship needs before you buy anything, you’ll have a better chance of getting a switcher that will meet your needs from that point on.

Video switchers start at under $300 and can get up to $2000 or more. Naturally, the more expensive the switcher, the more bells and whistles it has and the more it can do. Nevertheless, it behooves you to learn exactly what you need before you purchase your video switcher because you don’t want to spend too little and not get what you need or spend too much and have features that you’ll never even use.

Types of Video Switchers

Video switchers usually come in three basic types:

  • Electronic switchers. These solid-state devices utilize vertical blanking intervals that take only a few microseconds. In addition, the information used in the previous switching is stored in memory. It is a great type of switcher to use if your needs include high reliability and low maintenance.
  • Mechanical push-button switchers. These have interlocked switch blanks, so there is no chance of simultaneously punching the buttons. With these switchers, the video signals are found on the actual switch contacts, so each action you perform is fast and accurate.
  • Relay switchers. These switchers have reed switch contacts that are activated magnetically. The operational time is only about 1 ms, which means that the switcher’s operation is very fast. You also get a D-switching capability, which prevents the loss of syncing when switching occurs.

With video switchers, you get different numbers of input and output ports. This is where you would connect all of your devices to the switcher and the switcher to your monitor or another device. Fortunately, video switchers come with easy-to-understand user manuals that tell you, step by step, how to set everything up so that you can begin using it immediately. The USB plug-and-play ability that most of them now offer means that you can have the entire system set up in minutes, not hours. From then on, the more you practice using it, the easier it will become.


While video switchers do a lot of fancy footwork, most are not difficult to learn or use. For a house of worship, your needs might be big or small, but one thing is certain: you’ll easily find a switcher that can accommodate those needs. Video switchers should be researched, but it should be easy to determine which is best for your facility.


This article on video switcher basics originally appeared here, and is used by permission.