Stream Setup for Twitch.tv
There are plenty of “How to start streaming” tutorials online, but I wanted to make this guide to help artists who want to start streaming, or make the move over to Twitch but don’t know how, and of course to encourage it! The Creative section of Twitch is still a fairly new area, and could do with plenty more artists to share their skill and communities, and help remove the stigma that Twitch is just a site for gamers.
I’ll be writing this section as if you’ve never streamed before, and have never used a program like OBS. OBS, or Open Broadcast Studio, is the program that you run your screen through, and control video and audio settings for your stream. I can only vouch for my experience with OBS, but a list of alternate programs can be found here. Not listed is also StreamlabsOBS, a newer software for PC.
First, download "OBS Studio” from https://obsproject.com/download
Your OBS window may look slightly different when you first open it. I've labelled each section and given a basic description of what these sections do.
1. Your canvas, or "Scene". This is where you arrange your screen, camera, plus any images or text you want to display on your stream. Whatever you see here is what your viewers will see.
2. Your list of scenes. You can make multiple and switch between them freely when live or offline.
3. Your sources. Sources are the name for your camera captures, screen captures, images, text files, widgets etc displayed in your scene. This list acts like a layer list in an art program, where sources at the top of the list will visibly appear on top of other sources.
4. Your audio control. When you have multiple audio inputs (desktop audio, music, microphones etc) they will appear here so you can control volumes and settings.
5. This is the "Go Live" button! When you click this your stream will immediately go live.
6. Clicking this will start recording your scene until you hit stop. Great for recording streams to upload or edit later.
7. Your main hub of settings
8. When you're live, your frames will appear down here so you can monitor stream stability. There's also a small colour box (green, yellow or red) for a quick-glance view at how the stream is doing.
9. Similarly, when you're live your "Dropped Frames" will appear here. Every time you drop a frame (lagging, making your video jitter) it will show here, and give you a percentage of how much of your stream is dropping. We want this to be 0% as much as possible!
Setting Up Your Stream
General: Make OBS interface adjustments like dark/light mode, automatic updates and snap control in your scene window.
Stream: This is where you connect your OBS to your Twitch page! First connect to Twitch's servers as shown, then paste your Stream Key into the section. Your Stream Key is your password to streaming on your account, don't let anyone see what it is! You can find your SK by going to https://www.twitch.tv/USERNAME/dashboard/settings/streamkey . Be sure to swap "USERNAME" with your own Twitch username. We'll talk more about this Dashboard later.
Output: These settings are incredibly important but will vary from user to user. This is where we control our stream quality and make adjustments to reduce lag and buffering, by deciding on our Bitrate. The bitrate is how much of your internet uploads you're allowing OBS to use. You can't use all of it, or you won't be able to use other aspects of the internet while you're streaming. You also can't use too little, or the stream will buffer. Here's a basic guide to Upload/Bitrate.
You can also customise the file type, quality, and save location of any recorded videos in the "Recording" section.
Audio: Here is where we connect up any audio devices, like USB/AUX microphones and desktop audio. Desktop audio should run through OBS automatically on Microsoft computers, but if you're on a mac you have to run it through another software called Soundflower. The setup is easy and quick, and a tutorial can be found here.
Video: This is where you control your resolution. How high you can go depends on your computer and internet quality. If you're not sure about what your internet can handle, check the Bitrate guide linked above. The "Base (Canvas) Resolution" is the resolution of your scene, of all the sources within it, and is the resolution of any videos you record. The "Output (Scaled) Resolution" is what gets pushed to Twitch, and is the maximum quality your viewers can watch. Your FPS should be at 29.97 or 30 fps for creative streaming on Twitch.
IMPORTANT: If your Base and Output resolutions are different, your computer will constantly be converting your scene to the output resolution while you're live. This takes up a huge about of CPU. Unless you have a new, powerful computer, and are specifically wanting to record a higher quality video than what you're streaming for later editing, make sure these two numbers match the same.
Hotkeys and Advanced are further OBS settings that won't affect your stream. Have fun digging through these with a guide one day if you'd like to further customise your OBS experience.