OBS: A comprehensive guide for recording and streaming

What is OBS?

Open Broadcaster Software or OBS is a free, open-source, and cross-platform software for creating webinars and live video streaming. It is very useful for any kind of video set up. You can easily capture your screen or PowerPoint presentation slides, record them as a video stream and share it with your audience live. During installation, the set-up wizard will ask you if you will like to optimize the software for recording or live streaming. This is because of the tons of OBS features that support recording and streaming. OBS also supports has many plugins that can be used to extend its functionality to include features such as NDI support, VST plugins, stream desk control, and more.

What are OBS plugins?

These are custom codes you can add to the OBS software to extends its functionality. With plugins, you can perform specific tasks that are not possible in the software. For example, the virtual camera plugin allows you to take any video in OBS and connect it to another camera input via a virtual webcam source. This is great for pumping video from OBS into other applications such as zoom, skype, and more.

How to install OBS software

Install OBS on your computer. You can download the application for free on OBS project Choose your OS from the list of operating systems available. Then follow the setup wizard to install OBS. After installing you will be asking to optimized the dashboard for recording or streaming. The wizard also attempts to find the setting that your PC can handle. You can, however, modify the setting manually later if you feel like it.

How do I add video and audio in OBS studio?

By default, OBS Studio will capture the desktop audio device. You can confirm this by checking the volume meter in the mixers section. If it is moving that means it is capturing the device audio by default. If it is not, this might mean that the wrong device is being captured. The process of adding video and audio differs according to your operating system. In a Windows machine, audio is added automatically when you add a video. While in a Mac computer you need to add it separately.

Windows Device

OBS has scenes that are made up of sources. Sources can include microphones, webcams, browser audio, and more. In this way, you can create a custom scene with various layouts to display all of your various video sources, audio sources, and more.

Create a scene: To add a video and audio source, first of all, you need to create a scene. Head to the scene tab and click on the Add sign to create a scene, then give the scene a name that is easy to remember.

After creating a scene, click on Add sign on the source tab to add a source to your scene. This can include audio, video, image, and more.

Then select Create new radio button to create a new video source or click on Add existing to add and existing source.

Mac Device

On mac device, you add the video and audio source differently. After adding the video source, follow this process to add an audio source. To get started, after creating a scene, proceed to the source tab and click the Add and select Audio Input Capture

Then select either select Create new radio button to add a new source or select Add Existing button to use an existing source.

Click the dropdown menu and select the appropriate audio source from the list of all audio devices connected to your desktop.

To remove an audio source, just right click on the name in the source tab and click on remove.

How do I setup my audio sources?

OBS allows you to adjust and monitor all of your audio levels right from the main interface. The first thing to do is to properly name your audio sources – which you should have done when adding your audio sources. For example, in my case, I have the game audio, microphones, voice call/chat, browser audio. As well as, desktop audio for things like Spotify, YouTube, and the rest.

Advance audio properties

Anytime you create a new audio source, it automatically shows in the audio mixer. There are some settings you need to put in place to allow your audio comes out professionally. Thereby giving your audience the best user experience. Here are three settings you need to put in place.

  • Volume. You can adjust the microphone gain up and down depending upon the circumstances
  • Sync Offset. This is useful when you are using a microphone that is not directly connected to the camera source. And there is a slight delay in your camera. You can delay your microphone audio to match the video.
  • Audio Monitoring. There are three settings you need to know: monitor off, monitor only (mute output), and monitor and output.
    • Monitor off: These send the microphone audio directly to the stream but you won’t hear it through your speaker or headphones.
    • Monitor only: This is a setting you will use for a source only you want to hear. Like a producer of your livestream or something. You can hear them, but it never goes live to the stream.
    • Monitor and Output. This will playback your source to your output speakers or headphones and also broadcast it. You never want this one set unless you are wearing headphones. I use this setting for stream alerts like donations. So, I can hear them in case I don’t get their animation.

How to record my desktop in OBS?

There are times when you need to record your desktop screen. For instance, if you are showing your audience how to do somethings on their PC. For example, you want to show your audience how to use a certain advanced program.  Then, you may need to show them the process of how to get it done on your device. On-screen recordings are very straight-forward on OBS.

First of all, create a screen for your recording; click on Add sign in the source tab and select Display Capture. Give the Display Capture a name that can be easily remembered.

Then, if you are using more than one screen, you need to select the appropriate screen from the display dropdown menu. Select the right screen and click OK

Most on-screen recordings come with a video capture device that displays at the edge of the screen, usually a webcam. Presenters adopt this method because it leads to better engagement with the audience. People are more engaged when they can see who is talking to them. Also, the presenter has the opportunity to gesticulate and communicate with their body language.

To add video capture to your on-screen recording.

Make sure you are in the same scene. Go to the audio source and click on Add; select Video Capture Device. Give the Video Capture Device a name that can be easily remembered and click OK.

Then choose the video capture device from the device dropdown list. The default is usually your webcam. The dropdown list, however, shows the list of all video devices connected to your desktop. Choose the appropriate one and click OK

Note: You can adjust the size of the display capture camera and change its position by clicking on it.

Hoe do I set up OBS Studio for streaming?

OBS Studio setting for live streaming

Livestream is a way to connect with your audience in real-time. OBS allows you to stream seamlessly. Whether you are teaching a class, playing video games, performing for your fans. As well as host a Q&A session and playing video games. You can connect to your audience in real-time and make them part of your audience.

To set up OBS for Livestream is straight-forward. With a few settings in place, you can get started.

To get started click on Settings under the control menu, and then select Stream from the pop-up windows.  Afterward, you can choose the streaming service you want to stream to from the stream dropdown menu.

After choosing a streaming service enter your stream key to connect your streaming service account to your OBS studio. You may also decide to connect your account directly and allow the streaming service authentication service to connect you.

Now that you have done your basic setup. You need to first create a Scene for your streaming. As you know from this article that you can add as many sources as you need to your scene. Basically, if you are getting started you need to create three basic scenes for your streaming: Coming soon, Intermission, and main scene.

Let’s start with the coming soon scene. This is the screen you want your audience to see when you have not started streaming. It is usually a background image or an animated background with an overlay text. To do that select the Coming Soon scene; click on Add in Sources menu and select Media Source. Give it an appropriate name.

Choose the background image you want to use. I am using an animated background Click here to get the URL in case you will like to use it too. Remember the click the loop checkbox if you are using an animated background to pick the background animation in a continuous loop. In case the background animation doesn’t fit your screen. Right- Click on the image, Click Transform, and select Fit to screen. From the Sources tab, you can add a text overlay to communicate with your audience by clicking on Add sign and choose Text.

Click on the main scene and add the sources for your Livestream. Basically, what you will need is an audio and video source.

Select the main scene from the Scene tab. Then go to the Sources and click on add sign to add a new source. If you are using a Windows machine, when you add a video source automatically it adds an audio source for you. In a mac machine, however, you will need to add an audio source independently as explained in the preceding part of this article.

Next, to add your webcam, click the Add sign in the Source menu and click on Video Capture Device to add the device. By default, it captures your device’s camera. However, if you have a webcam connected to your device you can select it. Also, if you need to stream a game, then you select Game Capture from the source tab

Now we have two scenes set up and have added the sources for each of the scenes. Lastly, we need to work on the intermission scene. The intermission scene is a wait screen you can show to your audience when you need to take a break. Basically, an image will suffix and perhaps a background sound to keep your audience engage. So, just head to the Source tab and add an Image source.

Now that we have our setting completed you can click on Start Streaming in the control tab to start your stream.

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