A Guide Book for OBS

Learn Open Broadcaster Software just got a whole lot easier

The Unofficial Guide to Open Broadcaster Software is a simple manual to help new and experienced OBS software users familiarize themselves with the latest features and improvements to OBS. The book reviews some of the most powerful use cases for live streaming and follows trends in the industry to set the scene through which this amazing software has taken the world by storm. This book is perfect for volunteers helping their churches live stream and video production professionals working to meet demanding client needs. Author Paul Richards is the Chief Streaming Officer for PTZOptics and below is an outline of what you will find in the book.

Take your OBS Skills to the next level

Live Streaming


Video Production


Online Video


Download The Book For Free Here!

What’s in the book?

What is OBS?

OBS is short for Open Broadcaster Software and it is the most popular free live-streaming software in the world. OBS is an open-source software application and the project is reviewed, maintained and enhanced by a community of volunteers. Anyone can use it for free and also participate in its development using Github, Dischord, and other online collaboration tools. If you find OBS valuable I highly suggest supporting the development of OBS using Patreon or OpenCollective.

A free audio and video recording and streaming tool

The OBS suite is a versatile tool for recording video and live streaming. It can be used to record presentations, screen capture sessions, esports gaming,  and much more. It can not only capture and record video, but it does a great job handling audio as well. OBS can eliminate the need for expensive internal capture cards with the integration of the NewTek NDI, and it simplifies the process of screen recording and online streaming. OBS was originally released in September of 2012 by its developer, Hugh “Jim” Bailey.  The project has grown significantly over the years as new features and contributors have enhanced the functionality of the application. Due to its wide acceptance, the initial OBS project has been updated and improved through the efforts of many online collaborators. In its current version, OBS offers users advanced live video production capabilities through a user-friendly interface that provides a robust set of features.

What Can You Do With OBS?

  • Record and Stream Live Presentations
    • OBS is a perfect tool for recording presentations. These could be PowerPoint presentations, speaker presentations, live meetings, conferences, and church meetings.
  • Record and Stream Educational Videos
    • These may include tutorials, training videos, and on-boarding sessions for new employees. 
  • Record and Stream games
    • OBS eliminates the need for expensive internal or external capture cards traditionally used for capturing high-definition video of gameplay. OBS has become the defacto standard for live streaming and recording eSports.
  • IP Video Production
    • With the newly released plugin support for the NewTek NDI, users can connect to a new world of IP video. This can allow OBS users the ability to connect multiple OBS systems together, to share video and audio sources over a standard gigabit local area network (LAN).

Who Is OBS For?

OBS is perfect for use by anyone who wants to make a dynamic video presentation online:

  • Schools and Educators:
    • A lot of learning now happens online and educational organizations are increasingly incorporating blended learning into their offerings to enrich student learning. OBS provides educators and schools with a free and effective means to get started with online teaching.
  • Churches:
    • OBS presents an easy way for churches to start streaming meetings online without having to do expensive system upgrades. With a few tweaks, the software can work with existing equipment to help churches reach new members, shut-ins, and community members on social media networks such as Facebook and YouTube.
  • Businesses:
    • Businesses and businesspeople can use OBS to record different kinds of video presentations and stream them to audiences to meet various objectives, including sales, marketing, internal communications, and employee on-boarding. 
  • Live Events:
    • OBS is suitable for any situation where a person wants to produce a video recording and stream it online, regardless of whether it is a sports event, a conference, or just a reunion.
  • Anyone:
    • Even if it is for something as simple as making a video invitation to a weekend hangout, streaming videos from your vacation, or about your pet or an interesting bio for dating site profile, OBS offers the capability to create video with relative ease.

Where Can I Stream With OBS?

OBS comes with preset settings for streaming on YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook, but it can be used for pretty much any streaming platform using custom RTMP.

What is The Power of Live Video?

  • Video offers an escape from our mundane lives and lets us momentarily share other people’s lives or be part of a fantasy world (Robson, n.d.; “The Psychology of Storytelling,” 2012a).
  • Video touches more parts of our brain; it combines visual and audio stimuli. Most people identify as visual learners and since 90% of information reaching the brain is visual, the video offers a chance for greater engagement(“| Professional Development for Primary, Secondary & University Educators/Administrators,” n.d.).
  • Video captures a wider range of emotional experiences when compared to text or other mediums. Humans are emotional beings. People watch to laugh, love, be happy, angry, or shocked, or simply to relax and learn something novel(Robson, n.d.).
  • Video stirs our curiosity. We want to know what the frozen image on a video screen is and to quell that curiosity, we click play and wait for the scene that contains the image(“The Psychology of Storytelling,” 2012a).
  • Video frees our imagination with content that is idealistic, inspiring, and bizarre or anything else apart from ordinary (“The Psychology of Storytelling,” 2012b).

The Live Streaming Landscape

What is Live Streaming?

Steaming is how much of the information you access on your internet-enabled devices reaches you. “Streaming Media” is a broad term used to describe technology that transmits data to your computer and mobile devices on the internet whether it be, music, video, or live communications. When content is streamed, it is possible for a user to access it immediately from an online server without having access to that file locally on the device. 

When video content is recorded and broadcast simultaneously over the internet so that viewers can see the action as it unfolds, we are talking about live streaming. Live streaming video is highly diverse and applicable across a variety of scenarios. Users can adapt how they use it and make it do just what they need it to. This flexibility is a major reason for its quick rate of adoption (“Live Video Streaming,” n.d.).

The Future of Live streaming

Live streaming is absolutely exploding on social media as a new form of authentic communication. Neil Patel says “It’s one of the most genuine ways to connect with an audience and allows for levels of personalization that the marketing industry has never seen,” (“Why You Should Care About Live Streaming in 2018,” 2017). The same things that make Reality TV popular are also at play in live streaming. But, unlike Reality TV, live streaming is not rehearsed, censored or edited before delivery. While many “live streamers” focus on highly professionally produced content, various new unedited forms of “in-real-life” live streaming are becoming more popular. The immediateness and excitement of live streaming video make the medium a big draw for audiences worldwide (“Yahoo_The Live Video Opportunity_2016.pdf,” n.d.).

Here are just a few of the factors that make live streaming so powerful:

  • Exclusivity: Live streaming offers viewers a feeling of being part of a select group. New forms of premium access to behind-the-scenes action is opening up many profitable opportunities on the internet.
  • Capture Attention: A live stream audience is less likely to get bored and leave. Live streams can hold the audience attention for hours versus seconds and minutes, like other kinds of video.
  • Time-Bound: There is a sense of urgency associated with a live stream. Viewers know if they do not watch, they will be missing something that an active audience chat room is enjoying.
  • Community Building: Broadcasters can see and reference comments in real-time, allowing them to identify individuals by name.
  • Authenticity: Because it is not edited and cannot be rehearsed, live streams have become a way to genuinely connect with an audience and create a more authentic experience.
  • Control: It offers the audience a great deal of power because they can determine the flow of the interaction; they also have the chance to dictate the direction of future content.
  • Affordable and Easy: Creating a live broadcast no longer requires expensive equipment and software expertise. With a webcam, an internet connection and OBS, anyone can use their Mac, PC, or Linux computer for live streaming.

Live Streaming Platforms

A live streaming platform or “CDN” (Content Delivery Network) is where you send the live feed of your video and generally where the audience goes to view it. The biggest CDNs include, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Twitch, and YouTube. For good reason, most people stream to social media networks where they already have a substantial presence. In this way, content creators can grow their subscriber networks and leverage social media notifications on each platform as a way of organic communications with their followers. 

There are a multitude of other smaller, and sometimes niche, platforms including, Vimeo, IBM Cloud Video, DaCast, and StreamShark to name a few. In this book, our focus will be primarily on the top free live streaming platforms, namely, YouTube Live, Facebook Live, Periscope, Twitch, and Instagram Live. 

Let’s review some of the basic details you should know about the top CDN’s available today. 

Facebook Live

Facebook Live originally launched in August of 2015 to a privileged group of users, before it was rolled out to the wider Facebook community in April of 2016. Below are the most important features of the service:

  • Everyone on Facebook has the ability to go live.
  • Real-time interaction and streaming notifications.
  • Easily accessible on mobile and desktop.
  • Streaming content is available on-demand. 
  • Detailed analytics are provided about viewers and broadcast.
  • Exclusive live streams are available in Facebook groups.


The streaming app was developed for Android and iOS and acquired by Twitter in 2015 before its launch. It gained 10 million users in the first four months and hosted 200 million broadcasts the same year. Periscope producer now allows Twitter users the ability to live stream directly Twitter. Its important features are:

  • Live streaming directly to Twitter via Periscope Producer.
  • Incorporates notifications, chat function and social sharing.
  • Replays are available for 24 hours after event.
  • No restrictions on the length of the stream.
  • Popular with the age 16-34 demographic.

YouTube Live
YouTube launched the live streaming revolution with a live feed of a conversation with President Barack Obama back in 2010. The platform is known as one of the most advanced and user friendly streaming services available today. More recently, YouTube started to allow channels to live stream from the mobile app. Below are features of YouTube Live:

  • Streaming made available via custom RTMP and a mobile app.
  • Videos are archived to be used later.
  • Streamers share ad revenues with the platform.
  • Highest quality 4K video streaming.
  • Live streaming channel page with static streaming key.
  • No stream length restrictions.

Instagram Live

Instagram Live allows users to stream live content to their followers on the platform. It combines some of the features users are familiar with from Facebook Live:

  • Instagram has been designed to be a mobile-first platform.
  • Seamless integration with Instagram stories.
  • Replays are available for 24 hours after event.
  • Attracts a younger demographic between ages 18 to 34.
  • Great for Q&As and more flexible content.
  • Hair, makeup, travel and entertainment content thrive on this channel.

What Does It Mean For You?

It means you should take action. There are boundless opportunities available to organizations, small and large, with low barriers to entry.

Regardless of whether you just want to:

  • Increase your personal or business brand followers on social media.
  • Direct attention to a social cause that is close to your heart.
  • Find new clients to hear your business proposal.
  •  Become an indie news reporter.
  • Report on local sports events and concerts.

All of these can be achieved via live video. And to do that, we are going to prepare you with a course on Open Broadcast Software – The Unofficial OBS Live Streaming Course. In the busy world of the internet, only those who separate themselves by executing professionally will stand out and achieve their goals.

This is why you should invest the time it will take to learn the best techniques from our team here at StreamGeeks. When the time comes, we want you to be well prepared to profit from the opportunities of working with video.

In the rest of this book, we discuss how to use OBS to become a live video producer. This book includes an accompanying online course: ( The Unofficial OBS Live Streaming Course), with lecture sessions designed to equip you with the little tricks and skills that will separate an average video from a phenomenal one.

Do not forget to reference the included glossary at the back of this book as needed. This book should help you pick up the important vocabulary often used in live video production. Understanding the language of streaming media will be the foundation you can use to help you achieve your next live streaming project.

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OBS Live Streaming Course

What The Course Will Teach You

The StreamGeeks OBS Live Streaming Course is one of the few courses of its kind on the internet. Most OBS courses are geared toward video gaming, which, interestingly enough, is the main reason OBS was originally created by Hugh “Jim” Bailey. When we set out to create this book and online tutorial course, we found few beginner courses that cater to the needs of regular people, businesses, and brands.

You can find the course here – https://www.udemy.com/obs-live-streaming-course

At the end of this four and a half hour, self-paced video course, you will have a better understanding of:

  • The skills to create professional live streams and video recordings using Open Broadcaster Software.
  • How to stream live to Facebook or YouTube
  • Advanced video production techniques like:
    • Making Tickers – the horizontal text that usually crawls along the bottom of TV screens, especially during the news.
    • Adding Annotations – texts, comments and emojis that often appear over a video to explain something or just make it more fun.
    • How to make Picture-in-picture (PiP) layout – display supporting media in an inset window on the screen, while the main program continues to run.
    • Other Graphical Assets you will need to create stunning live streaming presentations
    • How to set up your audio to sync perfectly with the video using a tool that gives accuracy up to a hundredth of a second.
    • Tools used to enhance your voice and make it sound crystal clear in your recordings.
    • How to use a virtual set – a background you can manipulate and change to suit whatever you need it to be.
    • How to integrate your live chat room and display on the screen.
    • How to use Adobe Photoshop and After Effects with the included course files to create a fully branded live video production setup.

The course is designed to take you from OBS “newbie” to OBS rock-star in record time. Or as we say, we want to take you from “zero to 60″ with your OBS knowledge as fast as possible. This is the ideal place to start your learning journey if you are serious about using OBS for video production and live streaming.

Who Is The Course For?

This course was created with the needs of non-techie people in mind. It is ideal if you are:

  • A business
  • A house of worship
  • An educational institution
  • A Not-For-Profit
  • A film or video production studio
  • Or a hobbyist

You will also learn “Creative Ways People Are Using OBS,” “Uses in Education,” “In Business,” and “In News, Sports And Entertainment.”

Origins & Development History of OBS

Open Broadcaster Software started in 2012. It is a free and open-source software for recording and streaming live video. OBS is written C and C++. The software provides users with a cheap and efficient alternative to paid software. OBS was born out of its author’s own frustrations. In 2012, Hugh “Jim” Bailey wanted to stream Starcraft and other games to his friends online. Somebody told him about an application he could use to do that. But when he discovered he needed a subscription to use the app, he decided to build his own and make it free for anyone to use. What came out of that decision was Open Broadcaster Software.

In the author’s own words:

“When I first had an interest in streaming Starcraft and games for my friends to see, I heard about a certain another app out there, and I thought, “A subscription? Seriously? I could probably write this myself”. .. and that’s exactly what I did. 

So, two or three months later, after much learning and much toil, I have completed the first public alpha version of my streaming application. This application supports capture cards, webcams, as well as software desktop capture. You can make scenes, bitmap overlays, and it even has a plugin API so developers can add their own functionality to the application. It’s fairly simple in design, and relatively easy to use. It’s also written entirely in C/C++ and Direct3D 11 to maximize performance. Best part is it’s entirely open-source and free.(“I made a streaming application so I could stream starcraft. Now it’s open-source and free for everyone : starcraft,” n.d.)

Since that first version created in 2102, OBS has taken a life of its own and grown far beyond the small project for live streaming games conceived by its author. In his initial post on Reddit (https://www.reddit.com/r/starcraft/comments/z58e9/i_made_a_streaming_application_so_i_could_stream/) inside the Starcraft section, he had asked the community to test the software and report back any bugs or issues they discovered. The response was immediate and overwhelming. From that point, OBS took off in a big way.

With the help of an army of online collaborators, development on improved versions of the software began in 2014. The work focused on producing a rewritten version of OBS to be called OBS Multiplatform. OBS multiplatform was designed to offer multiplatform support, a more robust feature set, and a more efficient API. OBS Multiplatform was later renamed OBS Studio.