The best way to explain streaming is to relate it to one of my own experiences growing up. Back before the internet, there were gaming consoles such as NES, Genesis, Playstation, etc. My friends and I would watch each other play games, play with each other, or take turns. Game streaming is essentially the same thing. A group of gamers gather together, this time online, and watch someone play games. It creates a social community and talented streamers, such as Cohh Carnage, has fostered a large community that not only promotes a fun and mature atmosphere but also supports the streamer to the point where game streaming is his full-time job.
When deciding to begin streaming your gameplay it is important to realise that you will not be successful quickly. Building a community takes time and effort. The particulars of building a community will be the focus of another article. This article focuses on how to start streaming from the technical side. It will cover whether or not your PC can handle streaming, what software to use, how to split audio to filter out programs like TeamSpeak, setting up a Green Screen, and other tools that streamers use.
Live streaming on Twitch is demanding on PCs. The most important piece of hardware needed is the Processor. If you plan on streaming console games you will also need a capture card. Optimal PC game streaming will benefit from a second PC that is a dedicated streaming computer. The reason for this is, especially first person shooters, players will see a performance hit when streaming and playing. For instance: When I am playing Planetside 2 my normal FPS range is 100-144. When I am streaming my FPS takes a 50% hit on average. However, if you are streaming single player games, a second streaming PC is probably not needed. Other factors will also play into performance issues. These factors include how optimised the game is, and how much the game relies on the processor VS relying on the computer’s GPU.
I am a fan of Intel so my recommended PC specs are based on an Intel build. The important factor is how powerful of a processor the computer has. Think about it, the PC is rendering video live. That process is processor intensive.
Processor: Intel I7 with Hyper-Threading such as an: Intel I7 6700K Skylake
GPU: I use a Nvidia GTX 970. However, any medium to high-end GPU will work just fine.
RAM: For a PC that is both gaming and streaming a minimum of 16GB is my recommendation. For a dedicated streaming PC, you can get way with 8GB of ram. If you are running a Skylake system remember that your board will require DDR4 RAM. As always check your motherboard’s recommended RAM.
Those are the important parts when it comes to being able to stream with a computer. You can check my stream at http://twitch.tv/adapt1vegamer for my exact PC specs. I am currently in the process of building a dedicated streaming PC and will update this article as well as my twitch page with the specs.
How good your internet upload speed is going determine the bitrate at which you stream. As a rule of thumb, you want to have your bitrate no more than half of your upload speed. The recommended Twitch bitrate is 3500 Kps or 3.5 Mps therefore in order to have an effective quality stream you should have at least a 7 Mbps upload speed. There is a tool that you can download that will help you not only tell you what bitrate to use but also what server to select. This tool can be found at http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/tech-support/478845-twitchtest-twitch-bandwidth-tester
In order to get OBS Studio just head over to https://obsproject.com/. Download and install the package. Follow these videos to get your stream set up.
Sources tell OBS what to display on the screen. This term will be your go-to term for every aspect of your broadcast. Let us go over the types of sources. You have video sources which tell OBS what to display and you have audio sources that tell you what you and your audience will hear. In order to stream a game, you will have to assign a video source to your scene. Think of a scene as a profile. OBS lets you have multiple scenes that can be used to set up custom streams for each game. For example, you are streaming with a certain profile of sources for Planetside 2. During your stream, you decide you want to go play Shadow Warrior. You have certain camera positions and other sources for 1 game but not the other. Simply clicking on a scene will allow you to automatically select the sources you have set up for the new game.
The first source you should look at is the game capture. This source can be set to capture any single application. In OBS studio this can be set to capture any full-screen application. So if you play your games in full-screen mode, this setting makes it easy. However, if you play in windowed mode you can still and should use game capture. You will have to edit the properties and manually select the application you wish to capture. There will be some confusion and you will ask, “why not just use monitor capture?” In my experience, monitor capture does not perform as well and results in dropped frames. This will cause your stream to stutter and your audience to leave. Notice in the sources area game capture is now listed. You can add other sources such as camera, images, and other filters. In order to get them to display over the game capture, you will need to make sure these sources are listed above. OBS operates with a layer system. The layers closest to the top are displayed first. For instance, you add a webcam but have the game capture above the webcam source. Your stream will not see your pretty pretty face and will just hear a random voice on the stream.
There are times that you will either want to broadcast music and not listen to it, or filter out sounds from your stream such as Teamspeak, Discord, Ventrilo, etc. This is accomplished by setting up virtual audio cables. There are plenty of programs that can accomplish this. However, VB-Audio Cable is both robust and free. It is set up as donationware, you will get a free audio channel for downloading VB-Audio Cable, you get another free channel when you download and install VoiceMeeter. VoiceMeeter is the audio management component and is very easy to use. If a user donates to the project they will gain additional audio channels to set up.
VB-Audio Cable and VoiceMeeter are available for Download at these locations. The difference between VoiceMeeter and VoiceMeeter Banana is that Banana is a more robust version with additional built-in audio channels specifically VAIO and AUX. This means that without donating downloading VB audio cable and Banana will give you 3 total audio channels. If you do donate then you will gain 2 more for a total of 5 audio channels.
VB-Audio Cable: http://vb-audio.pagesperso-orange.fr/Cable/
Voicemeeter Banana: http://vb-audio.pagesperso-orange.fr/Voicemeeter/banana.htm
Setting up VB-Audio Cable and Voicemeeter Banana is very easy. Simply download the cables and they will appear as audio inputs. You then use Voicemeeter to configure the cables. For instance, you have 3 voice cables A,B, and C. You want Spotify to go over cable C and Teamspeak to go over Cable A. Once the cables are installed then you simply open up those applications and set their outputs to the virtual cables you have set up for them. Voicemeeter is a very good piece of software that will save a new streamer time and money. A full tutorial on Voicemeeter Banana is included below.
Streaming does NOT require a webcam to be successful. However, having a webcam helps. It allows your audience to relate to you easier. Most of the successful streams on twitch utilise a webcam. Now the question becomes do you want to use a webcam? If yes, do you want your audience to see whatever is behind you. Things like: your messy unmade bed or last night’s pizza boxes? I am joking of course. However, there is a way to set up your webcam so that only you appear on your game and OBS can filter out a background. This is called green screening and I am sure most have you have watched twitch streams that use this. Green screening is reasonably cheap, and the hardest part is lighting the screen correctly so that OBS can filter it out.
In order to Green Screen your broadcast you are going to need a few key pieces of equipment. These are listed below. It is possible to find a green screen like material at a fabric store. However, ChromaKey is a shade of green that is easily recognised and filtered by cameras. Included below are some tutorials on how to set up and light your screen.
|Webcam||Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920|
|ChromaKey Green Screen||Photography Green Screen|
|Lighting||Continuous Lighting Kit|
|Optional: Green Screen With Stand||Chromakey Green Screen Muslin Backdrop Support System Kit|
There are various methods to attach a green screen to a wall. The above tutorial advocates the use of a curtain rod. The method I employed was to take velcro and anchor mine to the wall then use thumb tacks to pin the areas that sagged so that the cloth was stretched against the wall behind my computer, The result is a nice even screen with little to no bumps. I used normal office thumbtacks, however, if your space is limited you can get thumbtacks that are green so they won’t show up on your camera. To light my screen, I placed my home studio directly under the ceiling light. The effect is a nice even light across the screen and I have had to very little color correction in OBS. I plan to add umbrella lights in the near future, as my current lighting method forces me to wear a hat for shadow or my face will get washed out by the overhead lighting. You can watch my previous streams at http://twitch.tv/adapt1vegamer to see how well my green screen method works.
I used this method mainly because I have limited space and having a stand as well as the lighting to pull out every time I stream (which is 4-5 days a week) is a lot of work. Tacking the screen to the wall saves me time and effort.
Lighting the green screen is the most important part of using it effectively. Fortunately, correct lighting is easy too accomplished. Included below are a few tutorials on how to effectively light your screen. Important points to remember is to use the same kinds of light, diffuse the light, and ensure your light is spread evenly across the screen. Using the same kind of light means to not use a regular light bulb on one side and a LED on the other. This will cause different shades of light and this will affect your green screen in a negative way. Diffusion of light will cause the light to spread evenly across the screen and allow OBS to better filter the screen out.
For those of you looking for the cheapest possible method to set up a green screen, this video is humorous and informative.
A chromakey is a color that makes the subject (you) stand out on a camera. It is a solid color that OBS will use to filter out the background so you can project anything you want to show behind you. In this case, it could be a neat backdrop, or more commonly just show the game behind you. In order to do this, you will need to apply a filter to the webcam source. Below is another tutorial on how to set up the chromakey effect for your stream.
Streaming tools help the streamer automate part of their broadcast. They can notify you of new subscribers, followers, if another channel is hosting you, take donations, etc. Fortunately, there are completely free ways to accomplish this. Most of these options rely on donations themselves, if you like the product or service please consider supporting it so that they can continue to support you.
Formally Twitch Alerts, Streamlabs allows you to add notifications and other graphical tools to your stream. It is free and easy to set up. It uses the CLR browser on OBS studio to project the notifications onto the stream as you are broadcasting. It will notify you through OBS of new followers, donations, etc. The viewers on your stream will also see when people take these actions. This, in turn, will help build a community and allow your viewers to know when to welcome a new viewer. Registering for this service is easy. You have to have a Twitch Account and you simply log in to the site using your Twitch and it sets everything up automatically. When setting up your browser source remember to have the source layered above the capture source, just like your webcam source.
Night Bot is an auto moderator that babysits your channel and keeps the spammers out. It will auto time out, or even ban users. There are other options that improve channel interaction such as allowing people to command your auto DJ. You can also use Nightbot to run giveaways. Night Bot is a free application that relies on donations.
Twitch will filter out copywritten music on your VODs. So if you set Twitch to record your sessions, parts will be muted on playback. To combat this, Twitch has a playlist of authorised music that artists have given permission to use. These VOD friendly songs will not cause your replays to be muted. The playlist is available on Spotify and contains almost 2000 tracks. For more information, you can go to http://music.twitch.tv/.
I hope this tutorial has been helpful to you. If it was please share it using on the various social media platforms, it helps a lot. I will update this post as the twitch environment changes.