Guide: Software for Art Streaming
There are plenty of “How to start streaming” tutorials online, but I wanted to make this guide to specifically 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! Twitch could always do with 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 captures your screen, and allows you to control video and audio settings for your stream. There are other programs available, but I highly recommend OBS as the best, and will be writing this guide with it in mind.
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 area to give 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. A list of your scenes. You can make multiple and switch between them freely to change the appearance of your stream.
3. Your sources. Sources are the name of the assets you use in your scene, like your camera, images, text files, widgets etc. This list acts like any other layer list, where sources that are higher in the list will visibly appear on top of those below.
4. Your audio control. When you have multiple audio inputs (desktop audio, music, microphones etc) they will appear here, and give you control over your volume.
5. This is the "Go Live" button. When you click this your stream will immediately begin.
6. Clicking this will start recording a video of your scene until you hit stop. You can change the file type, encoding, and save location of your recordings in the Settings.
7. Your main hub of settings
8. When you're live, your frame count will appear down here, so you can monitor the stability of your connection.
9. Similarly, when you're live your "Dropped Frames" will appear here. Every time you drop a frame (which creates lag and jittery video) it will track here, and give you a percentage of how much of your stream is dropping. We want this to be 0% as much as possible!
OBS settings and setting up your stream.
Here's a quick outline of the Settings window.
General: OBS interface adjustments like dark/light mode, software updates, and snap control in your scene window.
Stream: This is where you set up your Twitch connection! This is necessary before you can go live anywhere. Though this is a Twitch guide, you can also connect any service of your choosing, like Facebook Live or Youtube streaming.
Select Twitch from the drop down menu, and connect your account. You'll be taken to a safe Twitch login page.
Thankfully, that's all you need to worry about! Your stream is now connected, and whenever you hit the "Start Streaming" button, your stream will appear on your Twitch page.
Output: These settings are incredibly important, but vary depending on your internet connection and computing power. 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 my basic guide to setting up your 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 external microphones and your desktop audio (music etc). Desktop audio runs through OBS automatically on Microsoft computers, but if you're on a Mac you have to install third party software to capture it. Here's a recent guide on getting this set up.
Important note about music: DMCAs are an increasing issue across many platforms, Twitch included. You cannot play copyrighted music (like your regular Spotify playlist) while streaming, or you are at risk of a copyright strike and account suspension. Stick to copyright-free music, like Monstercat, Pretzel Rocks, and NCS playlists.
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 and what gets recorded. The "Output (Scaled) Resolution" is what gets streamed 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 lot of CPU. Unless you have a powerful computer, and are specifically wanting to record a higher quality video than what you're streaming, 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!