More and more people are streaming live videos on Facebook. Most people just turn on their phone camera and get going, but sometimes you'll also see a video that looks like an entire production team is behind it. In reality, these people often use OBS, a free program that makes it easy to live stream on Facebook and other platforms.
Tip 01: What is OBS?
OBS stands for Open Broadcasting System. It is an open source program, which is intended as a free alternative to the very expensive software that you normally need to stream professionally. With free, we already think it's less powerful or less professional, but that's definitely not the case. Think GIMP, the open source alternative to Photoshop, which also doesn't cost you a dime, but is almost as versatile as Adobe's paid software (albeit with a bit of an interface to be desired). OBS is available for various platforms, including Windows and macOS. You can stream videos to the most popular platforms, such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitch and so on. In this article, we focus on streaming videos through Facebook Live using OBS.
Tip 02: Why OBS?
Facebook has made live streaming videos via the smartphone child's play. Then why complicate things with a program like OBS? There are several reasons for this, one of which is the stability of the wireless connection (see tip 12). Another reason is that OBS makes it possible to use much more than one video source. Think of the programs you see on television where they have a chat and then switch to a pre-recorded video. That is not possible with a live video via your smartphone. OBS makes it possible to make virtually any content from your computer, from webcam to program windows, part of your live video. You can also add pre-recorded videos so you can switch to them during your video. Those videos are also great for broadcasting a leader as an intro before the real video starts. This way you make it all a lot more professional, while it won't cost you a cent.
Tip 03: Supplies
Before you can get started with live streaming videos using this software, it's important to make sure you have everything you need. First, of course, you need the software itself, which you can download for free from www.obsproject.com. If you want to make videos in which you can be seen yourself, then you also need a video source, with a webcam being the cheapest solution. It doesn't have to be a state-of-the-art webcam. If you still have a webcam in your closet, it will also work, although older webcams will of course have a lower resolution. Optionally, you can also opt for an external microphone. This also does not have to be an expensive device. OBS was developed to save you money, not to cost you. Finally, you need a Facebook page and a streaming key from Facebook. We explain exactly what this is in tip 9. In principle, streaming via OBS on a personal profile is also possible, but it is a lot more complicated and we deem it less likely that someone who does not have a Facebook page wants to broadcast very professional videos. .The interface seems very complicated, but you can ignore most of it
Tip 04: Interface
When you have downloaded and launched OBS, you will be presented with an interface full of options and buttons. Don't be alarmed by that, it seems like a lot, but the interface is really very simple and some of the options you will never use. You see two large black areas in the picture. These are the monitors on which you can see what you are going to broadcast. The area on the left is the area where you prepare everything. Whatever you show here will not show in your live video. The content that (soon) appears in the black area on the right is the content that is actually shown in your live video. With the button Transition in the middle of these two planes, causes you to send the contents of the left window, to the right window, that is, as soon as you press this you say: I want to broadcast what I have made here in the left window. You will then see a number of panes with headings at the bottom, which we will discuss in the tips below.
Tip 05: Sources and scenes
In OBS we distinguish between scenes and sources. The easiest way to explain this is to compare the program to a book, where scenes are the chapters and sources are the pages in that chapter. A project always has at least one scene (otherwise you won't be able to work in anything). Within that scene you can create resources. A source is simply something that can be displayed. For example, your webcam can be a source, as well as a video file, an MP3 and so on. You add sources via the plus sign at the bottom, where it is important to know that they are stacked. In other words: when you set two images as the source, it is possible that the top image completely covers the image below, so that it is not visible. You can scale and move resources, in other words, you can also load three images and drag them side by side to display them side by side. So you can stack and organize resources the way you want. If you suddenly want to show something completely different, you use a different scene. So you can easily build scenes full of interesting content, which you can switch between with a mouse click.
Tip 06: Add webcam
A live video can consist of many things, but most of the time you will want to say something. In that case you will need to add a webcam. In this article, we'll assume that the webcam is already installed on your computer and working (if not, you'll need to do that first). To add this webcam, first click on the scene in which you want to use the webcam. Then click on the plus sign under the heading Sources and select your Video recording device. Name the source and click OK. A window will appear in which your webcam is most likely already selected. If you have multiple video sources, in this case select the source you want to use. Don't worry about all the settings, they are usually fine. click on OK. Your webcam has now been added as a source. Optionally, you can also add something else, such as an intro video or an image that you want to show before you actually switch to the live feed.
Tip 07: Transitions
The video you just added may not be the correct format. That's no problem, you can easily move it and scale it to the right size. You will only see the content of this image, as described, in the left window. Only when you click Transition it will be posted to your live feed. Just click on it, this can't hurt yet, because we haven't entered a stream key yet. You'll also see your source appear on the right, with a transition effect. By default this is the effect Fade. Under the heading Scene transitions At the bottom right you can indicate which transitions you want to use (with the plus sign you add new ones) and how long these transitions last. This way you have full control over how one image transitions into another and that immediately makes your video a lot more professional.
Tip 08: Settings
Now that you know the basics regarding the interface, scenes, transitions and resources, let's tell OBS exactly what platform we want to stream on and how. We do this via the button Institutions bottom right. When you click on this, you will end up in a very extensive menu and again we would like to emphasize: do not be alarmed by this. Ignore the options we don't discuss here, you probably won't use them. Click on the tab Stream on the left and select Facebook Live in the drop-down menu. You will also see all other options here. The advantage of this preset menu is that the settings for the selected service are immediately set correctly, you do not have to enter any values yourself for server, and so on. In this menu you will also see an option called Stream key. OBS needs this key to communicate with your Facebook page, so that a connection can be made between your live video and OBS. You can request that key via Facebook itself and we will discuss this in the next tip.
Tip 09: Stream key page
Requesting a stream key seems very complicated, but is quite simple if you again ignore all the possibilities and only look at the options we discuss here. Open Facebook on your PC and navigate to the page where you want to start broadcasting the live video. Press the button Live in the field where you can create a new message and click To connect at the top. Type the text you want to include with your live video and add a title. In the left part you will see the heading Stream key containing a key and a button To copy. Click this button and paste the key into the Stream key field in OBS. In Facebook click at the bottom Plan to indicate when you want to start broadcasting (the advantage of this is that you can announce a video long in advance, without being live immediately). A message will be posted on your page announcing your live video, but the video itself is not yet viewable.
Tip 10: Stream!
You are ready to start. You can mess around all you want at this point, there won't be anything on Facebook even when the video has started. It's time to prepare your video. Create scenes with all the parts you want to show in your video. So think of images that you want to pass by, videos that you want to show, possibly an intro ... you can make it as crazy as you want. Practice "directing" your video. See how the program responds when you click scenes, drag and drop resources, and so on. Turn on the sound on your PC to check which sounds can be heard (you can see this in the mixer). Drag the volume of desktop audio in the field mixer down if you don't want system sounds (such as received mails) to be heard. Have you practiced and are you ready to stream? Then click Start streaming. Once you've done this, the contents of the right pane will be visible on Facebook (but only if the scheduled post on Facebook is actually live). You are now streaming live on OBS!
Tip 11: Smartphone camera?
In this article we use a webcam to stream videos via Facebook. You may wonder if that isn't terribly old-fashioned in a world of smartphones with superior cameras? We understand the question, but in all honesty, the smartphone is so versatile these days, it's very impractical to make it part of your streaming setup. First, because you probably want the image you're streaming to always have roughly the same composition, and when you have to reposition your smartphone every time, your 'set' will look different every time. In addition, it is quite a task, although not impossible, to make your smartphone work with OBS, especially if you also use an external microphone. The last reason is that you are bound to forget to activate the silent mode on your smartphone, which causes you to get a call during a live video and the signal is interrupted. Live streaming with your smartphone is fantastic, but we especially recommend it for when you are on the road and want to stream off the wrist. For your planned videos, a fixed setup is much more practical.
Tip 12: Better wired
One of the reasons we find streaming via OBS such a powerful solution is that it is possible to stream via your computer and therefore via an Ethernet connection. We have absolutely nothing against WiFi, but we see quite often in live videos that are shot on smartphones the connection drops or the quality suddenly deteriorates as a result of a connection that is not optimal. Streaming via your PC can still be done wirelessly, of course, but we really recommend doing it via an Ethernet cable if you have that option. With normal internet usage, it's not that bad if the wireless internet drops for a while, but when it comes to live videos, every stutter has an effect on what your viewers see. That does not mean that you will never experience a hitch with an Ethernet connection, but in our experience (and the experience of tens of thousands of OBS users) streaming via an Ethernet connection is simply more stable.