What is Streaming?
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, which has fostered a large community that not only promotes 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 realize 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.
PC Specs for Streaming
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 optimized the game is, and how much the game relies on the processor VS relying on the computer’s GPU.
Recommended PC Specs for Live Streaming
Most streamers will begin their forays onto twitch with a single PC. Gaming and streaming at the same time, and depending on the game, can demand a rather beefy computer. The processor, GPU, and RAM are the most important parts to consider if you wish to start streaming with a quality watchable stream.
Single PC streams need to be aware of some potential pitfalls. If you are playing single-player games this will not be as big of an impact. However, when streaming and gaming on a single machine you will typically experience an FPS drop.
The drop in FPS happens because you are engaging your computer in two processor-heavy activities unless you have a newer Nvidia card.
Typically the computer has to process the games information so you can see it and play it. It also has to render the video in real-time and send it to Twitch’s server for your viewers. This means if you are playing CPU intensive games like an RTSs (Real-Time Strategy) or FPS (First Person Shooter) then you will experience some form of bottlenecking.
However! If you are running a 2000 series or newer Nvidia card you have the option of their NVEC encoder. This puts a large portion of the rendering load on the GPU which can make your system run better and still provide a quality stream.
Since you will be streaming and gaming off one machine the beefier the processor the better. You will want a multicore processor with threading at the very least. In the processor world, consumers have two choices AMD or Intel.
However, we would recommend the AMD processor over the Intel. Price per performance you can not beat these Ryzen chipsets.
The Ryzen 3900X is a beast of a processor. 12 cores with 24 threads are enough to stream and game comfortably. It also beats its rival the Intel I9-9900k in most benchmark tests and is only marginally more expensive. You can view a side by side comparison of the Ryzen 3900 and the I9-9900k here.
Nvidia is the brand you want to look at when looking for a GPU that works well for streaming. The simple reason is that Nvidia’s NVEC encoder is amazing for single PC streams. It manages the rendering load with little impact on your gameplay. However, you will need an RTX capable GPU to take advantage of the new NVEC encoder.
I recommend at least an RTX 2060, but if you can afford a 2070 or 2080, obviously the better the card the better the performance.
Since streaming is a system intensive activty you will want a good amount fo RAM. The minimum I would recommend is 16GB. However, 32GB of RAM is going to provide a much better streaming experience for you and your audience.
Before upgrading your RAM it is important to go with the RAM your motherboard recommends to avoid unwanted system errors.
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.
Recommended Internet Connection for Streaming
How good your internet upload speed is going to 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 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 https://r1ch.net/projects/twitchtest
How to test your Live Stream Bitrate using https://inspector.twitch.tv/
To get your broadcast online, you will need to use a streaming software package such as OBS or OBS studio. This guide is going to cover the use of these products as they are free and easy to use.
OBS or Open Broadcast Software has a myriad of tools that are great for new streamers as well as veterans. With OBS, a broadcaster can add overlays, set up green-screen effects, link with outside apps for alerts and donation messages.
It is a powerful piece of software that is completely free. If you enjoy using OBS please consider donating to the project as it will help keep the software up to date and robust.
How to Set Up OBS Studio
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.
Setting Up Sources
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 that tell OBS what to display and you have audio sources that tell you what you and your audience will hear.
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 cameras, images, and other filters. To get them to display over the game capture, you will need to make sure these sources are listed above. OBS operates with a layering 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 face and will just hear a random voice on the stream.
Nerd or Die’s Source Setup Tutorial
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 VoiceMeter Download Locations
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: https://www.vb-audio.com/Voicemeeter/potato.htm
How to Set Up VB-Audio Cable
Setting up VB-Audio Cable and Voicemeeter Potato 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 Potato is included below.
How to Set Up Video and a Green Screen for Streaming on Twitch
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 utilize 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.
Equipment Needed for a Green Screen
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 recognized and filtered by cameras. Included below are some tutorials on how to set up and light your screen.
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 thumbtacks 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 use LED Photography Lights. The effect is a nice even light across the screen and I have had to very little color correction in OBS.
Green Screen Lighting Methods
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 are 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 not use a regular light bulb on one side and an LED on the other.
This will cause different shades of light and this will affect your green screen in a negative way. The diffusion of light will cause the light to spread evenly across the screen and allow OBS to better filter the screen out.
How To Set Up Chromakeys for Your Green Screen in OBS
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. 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.
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.
How to Set Up Stream Labs
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.
I hope this streaming guide was informative and helps you get started on Twitch or whatever streaming platform you chose. As always! Please like, comment, and share!