Preparing to stream with Open Broadcaster Software (OBS)
This article will guide you through how to set up OBS Studio so that you are ready to start streaming your events. OBS is one of the most cost effective pieces of software when it comes to streaming sound and image via TicketCo Media Services. This guide should get you started and also provides you with some recommended settings along the way:
- Broadcasting software and installation
- Basic settings
- Recording the stream
- Audio settings
- Video settings
- Stream key
- Connecting to video
- Filming with an iOS device
- Connecting to audio
- Start streaming
The most cost effective way to get going with a live stream is to use a software-based solution that runs through a laptop. There are a lot of alternatives available, but this guide will be specifically based on access to a laptop with specifications such as Windows, MaxOS or Linux. The programme we have based this guide on is OpenBroadcast Software (OBS).
There are many different types of broadcasting software out there, and you can use whichever you like as long as it is RTMP compliant. Check out, for example, Livestream Studio or Wirecast.
Installation and layout
To install OBS, go to https://obsproject.com and download the software for free. The installation process should be fairly straight forward. You can click through the “Auto layout” - guide if you want to, or simply ignore. We will go through the most important settings below.
Setting up OBS
Open OBS on your laptop and go to Settings which you will find in the bottom right corner (or you can press CMD and + on MacOS). In the picture below, you can see the menu which includes several options on the left side:
Select the Output tab, and then Advanced:
Here are our recommended settings:
- Codes should be set at x264.
- Rescale outlet can be left without being ticked, as we will adjust those settings under Image later on.
- Bitrate means how much data we will stream each second, and this is strongly connected with the quality of the live stream. If this is set too low, your image will become grainy, whilst a higher bitrate will provide a clear and sharper image. In general, we recommend a bitrate of around 6000kbps (HD). It is also essential that you have a high speed internet connection that can manage the bitrate you choose.
We would advise you to visit https://speedtest.net and run a speed test before streaming, to get an overview of how fast your WiFi you have accessible. A good rule of thumb is to have a double uploading speed compared to the “bitrate” you are broadcasting in.
- Set your Buffer Size to 2000.
- The remaining settings you can leave as they are.
Recording your stream
Now, navigate to the Recording tab if you wish to record your stream while it is being broadcasted live. Head to Recording Base to choose a folder where your recordings will be saved. Under Recording format it is advised to switch to mp4, which will generate considerably smaller files than the standard option mkv.
Under Encoder, select Use power codes so that the same settings will be used for your recording as for your stream. If you would like your recordings to be set to a higher quality, you can do so by choosing another option in the drop down menu.
Under Audio, you can choose Sound-bit frequency for the different tracks. 160 would be preselected, but change it to 320. The last option in our settings menu Replay Buffer, and this you can leave as it is.
Navigate to the Audio tab. Here we can set our Sample rate, Channels and override units. The Sampling frequency will automatically be set to 44,1kHz, and it can remain like that or be set to 48kHz. Channels should be set to Stereo. Connect your Microphone / Aux to your external sound card which will automatically appear in your drop down menu.
Go to the Video tab. Base (Canvas) Resolution means the size on our project window. 1920x1080 means that it is 1920 pixels wide, and 1080 pixels tall, which in other words, is full HD. The most regular option for streaming is 1920x1080 or 1280x720.
Output (Scaled) Resolution is the resolution we are actually streaming. This should be determined according to the hardware and software you are using. Start with 1080p, and go down to 720p if you experience that your laptop is not capable of streaming in full HD.
FPS means frame (images) per second. This will default to 30 which is the American standard. In the UK and Europe, we tend to use 25 images per second. We do not recommend exceeding the 30fps, and this is the max fps which can be streamed in TicketCo.
Under Stream, head to Power source.
Choose Custom under Service, which will give you two fields to fill out. Server is where you input a server address, and Stream Key is the unique key made up of numbers and letters which ensures that you are streaming to the correct location. These details will be found under Technical information on your streaming event in TicketCo.
Connecting to video
Choose Studio Mode in the bottom right corner, to change the viewing mode in the programme.
When Studio Mode is in effect, there are two video windows instead of one. The window to the left, is named Preview and it allows us to see how things look before being aired. The window to the right, named Programme, shows us the finished result which will be streamed, recorded or both.
There are several ways to connect video to OBS. You can either use your webcamera on your laptop, or an external camera connected to your device. To connect an external webcamera, you need a capture-card, which can access HDMI or SDI which are the most regular professional video signals. Please note that even if your laptop has access to a HDMI connection, that does not necessarily mean it can be used for video.
Here are a few examples of some affordable and good capture-cards which can transfer video from a laptop:
- Blackmagic Web Presenter (MacOS + Windows)
BlackMagic Web Presenter allows you to connect either an HDMI or SDI to an external video card, and will allow you to connect your computer via USB2. WebPresenter changes your video signal so your laptop reads it like a regular webcamera. The limitation here is that it has a max resolution of 720p. The card also allows you to connect sound separately.
- Magewell USB Capture HDMI Gen 2 (MacOS + Windows + Linux)
Magwell USB Capture HDMI allows you to connect cameras or other sources with HDMI via USB3 to your laptop.
- Blackmagic UltraStudio Mini Recorder (MacOS)
BlackMagic UltraStudio Mini Recorder is one of the smaller capture cards, which allows you to access a video source via SDI or HDMI to your laptop via Thunderbolt 2 (or 3) via an adapter.
To connect to video, first create a scene if you have not already done so, then go to Sources and +. Now we select Video Capture Device. Give the source a name and select OK. A new window will appear where we can review all available video sources connected to the machine.
The webcam in this example is called "FaceTime-HD Camera". We have now selected this and chosen the highest resolution available. Resolution should always be set to the same as we previously set in our Settings earlier.
Click OK to add the source. If the source does not fill the entire area in Preview, you can resize it to fill the entire screen.
And there we have got the video! If you want to add some graphics to your video, head this way.
Filming with cameras on iOS
You can use iPhones and iPads as camera in production. Here we recommend the latest generation if you want good image quality, but older versions also work. These must be connected by cable. To use the iOS device as a camera, you must first download the iOS Cam plug-in to OBS. You must also download OBS Studio's Camera App to your device in order for it to be used as a camera. When the plug-in is installed on the machine, you will find iOS camera under Sources. As before, set up the source so that the feed is linked to your connected device.
Connecting to audio
To connect external audio sources, e.g. if you have your own sound cards, head to Sources and click the + icon and select Audio Input capture. If you have connected your sound card, it should appear in the list already.
Here you have an overview of all active audio sources and can control the sound on the individual, or mute. Note that you only see audio sources for the active scene that is, meaning the scene located in the Program window.
You may want to test all your different scenes (more on that here) in Program before you start streaming, to see which audio sources are in the various stages, and make sure to mute, among other things, "Microphone/AUX" from your machine, if not in use. By tapping the settings symbol on one of the audio sources and selecting “Advanced Sound Settings” in the drop-down menu, you end up here:
This is where you can set mono, or control the balance on a stereo track. An important feature here is Synchronise Deviations, which is especially important if you are capturing audio through a sound card, and video through a video card. It will most likely not be in sync, and most likely the sound will be processed first. So, to get audio from the sound card synchronised with video from the video card, or webcam, you can select the number of ms you want to delay the sound.
To start streaming, after remembering to fill in the Server URL and Stream key, you can start by pressing Start Streaming in the lower right corner. Remember to select the correct scene first. If you want to record, remember to select Start recording as well.
The CPU measure tells you how much processing power your machine is using for the stream. If it is 100%, there is a high probability that something will crash or cut in some way. If it stays below 50% you have little to fear. If it is always above 50%, you can try adjusting settings, such reducing the video from 1080p to 720p, or refrain from recording while streaming.
To end the stream again when you are finished, you can press Stop Streaming.