How to stream on Twitch.TV: Step by Step Streaming Tutorial
Streaming video games has evolved into a new profession at an impressive speed. It helps to be particularly talented or even an e-sport professional, but tournament success is by no means a requirement for a successful streaming career. A streaming program however, is one of the basic requirements alongside a fairly powerful PC. Many people choose the Open Broadcast Software (OBS) because it is free, but also highly functional once you are familiar with its possibilities. In addition, the Open Source project is constantly being improved and has overtaken paid providers such as Xsplit in many aspects.
Note: This streaming guide deals with the streaming of PC games. If you want to broadcast via a game console, then take a look at our guide “How to stream via game console“.
How to set up OBS for Twitch
The basic settings for Twitch, the leading streaming platform, are quickly done and OBS even supports it by displaying error messages when certain settings are not ideal. For other streaming services such as Youtube Gaming, Mixer, Smashcast etc. you can of course also use this guide since the basic settings are usually the same. If there are certain changes needed, the respective platforms usually offer set up guides themselves! Let’s go through the settings sections of OBS Studio now, so you know what’s coming your way and have the most important settings at a glance.
Here you can make some useful settings, such as a notification before going live to avoid an unwanted stream. You can also choose if you want to record your streams. For your first stream you don’t need to change anything here and just leave the basic settings as they are.
First of all, select the platform of your choice from the list and choose the closest possible server afterwards. There are usually several servers that can be used, so you are welcome to experiment here. Besides that, you need your stream key, which can be found on Twitch, at “Dashboard -> Settings”.
Note: Never pass on your stream key and change it immediately, if you accidentally show it on stream!
OBS supports different encoders if the technical requirements are met. However, since x264 encoding shows the most stable performance anyway, it should not be changed.
For Twitch, CBR should be selected as the quality control method. This function keeps the bit rate, and therefore the quality, constant. (If you are using a different platform and nothing else is explicitly recommended, you should choose CBR as well.) The other quality settings, however, have no effect because the quality factor depends on the bitrate or the maximum bandwidth. If your internet connection is good enough, you can go up to 3500 as maximum value for the bitrate.
Please keep in mind, however, that your channel will not have “transcoding” options available at the beginning. This means that viewers are not able to reduce the quality of the stream on their own. This may prevent viewers with a weak internet connection from viewing your stream if you have chosen a bitrate that is too high. Therefore, a bitrate around 2200 up to 2500 is often recommended, which of course leads to a lower display quality of the stream. You can change the bitrate during streaming, so you can always adjust the bitrate to suit your viewers if they can’t follow your stream without any problems.
As buffer size it is recommended to set the same value as your bitrate. However, the game itself usually needs some bandwidth and therefore a maximum of 80% of the total upload should be reserved for streaming. Use the table below to determine the required bitrate as well as the highest possible bitrate for your stream:
|Quality||Internet speed||Streaming rate|
|2160p||25Mbit||not available yet|
In most cases, it is enough to leave the CPU pre-settings on “very fast”, but if you have a CPU with enough power, you can also try out more powerful settings here or reduce CPU usage even further, if your CPU is not the newest one.
Here you can select your respective audio devices, e. g. if you have several output devices or microphones. You can also set Push-To-Talk or Push-To-Mute buttons and settings here. In most cases, however, you don’t have to change anything here for the moment.
The basic resolution should always be based on the resolution of your monitor (or the game, if you are not playing in full screen mode) to avoid annoying edges in the stream. However, in OBS Studio there is a second setting that defines the resolution in which your game will be streamed. This means that the video will be scaled down, allowing OBS to work more resource-efficiently, and your stream will also consume less bandwidth on both yours and the viewer side. Even among successful streamers there are a lot of streamers that still stream with a scaled resolution of “1280×720”, because it is considered more than enough.
The scaling filter allows you to improve your stream quality a little bit, but in most cases “bicubic” offers a good result. However, if your computer and your internet connection still offer room to move up, you can also try the “lanczos” setting.
An FPS rate of 30 FPS is usually enough to achieve a high-quality stream and also saves resources. Of course, there is a noticeable increase in quality at 60 FPS, but not by far as extreme as the jump from 30 to 60 FPS within a game. The best thing to do is to try it out for yourself and get some feedback from your viewers!
Note: We have ignored the “Hotkeys” section here, because it is not necessary for your first streaming session and you have to define the hotkeys at your own preference to make your stream as easy and convenient as possible. We have found a short video tutorial for you here, if you want to get started with it right now.
The Open Broadcast Software is also perfect for YouTuber and in the “Advanced” section you can customize some additional settings. Auto reconnect can be useful if there are smaller disconnections with your wi-fi for example.
OBS also offers the option of a stream delay, allowing the stream to be broadcasted with a delay. This is especially useful for live tournament broadcasts or if you want to avoid people watching the stream to gain an in-game advantage over you (“stream sniper”). Since this is already offered directly by Twitch, this setting does not have to be made in OBS.
Note: If you stream with delay and your show ends, don’t close OBS immediately, otherwise your viewers might not see the end! The program must remain open for the duration of the delay, even if the delay is set on Twitch.
Saving the stream as a file is always recommended to create highlight videos for YouTube or complete VODs later on. Setting a path on the computer before that, is self-explanatory anyways. However, if you don’t want to overload your PC with countless files, you can make highlights directly via a video manager on Twitch as well.
With the replay buffer, a recent action can be saved and displayed as “instant replay” at the push of a button. You can now also include your viewers interactively by using boom.tv instead. This allows viewers to create their own replays, which are then shown live in your stream.
For a decent stream, it is of course not enough to only connect to Twitch correctly. A whole range of other settings have to be made in order to create a professional look for your channel.This includes a webcam, certain advertisements for tips and subscribers, a countdown, sponsor logos or simply the score of the current tournament series. This article shows how to set all this up on OBS in no time at all.
Caster overlay in cooperation with Barcraft Austria
Here we see a typical caster scene for a Hearthstone tournament, which is used for the review and pre-discussion of the actual games. With the help of a simple graphics program, a large image was created, which gives the scene a frame. GIMP is a free solution and the game developers usually allow to use most of their graphics for a suitable stream without any copyright claims. After creating this image and quickly resizing it to fit the size of the screen, this scene is almost set up.
Note: The size can be adjusted either by right-clicking on the image -> position/size -> “fit to screen” or by selecting it and using the Ctrl + F shortcut.
At this point, the only thing missing is a slide show with your sponsors’ logos and a webcam. Adding a source is easy by right-clicking in the source section, where you can select both, the slideshow and the recording of the video device. The slideshow allows you to select different images, which should have an identical size and rotate at a fixed interval.
If only one webcam is connected to the streaming PC, OBS usually finds this device automatically anyway. The basic settings are generally fine and the size can be easily adjusted in OBS. But before we come to that, let us briefly explain the importance of the order of the individual sources. The large background image is quite high in this example for a good reason, as the webcam can be adjusted much better that way. Only the slideshow is still above it, because otherwise this display would be hidden by the background image.
As soon as the video device is selected and “Edit scene” is clicked, a red frame appears showing the size of the respective window. With the mouse you can now easily resize the image at its corners, just like with a normal folder window. As you can see here, the red frame goes a little bit beyond the given section for the webcam. However, this is not a problem because the video device is last in order. Only the area defined by the background image is used.
Note: The order can be changed with the displayed functions simply by right-clicking on the relevant source.
All size settings can be adjusted in this way by simply editing the scene. The position of the source can also be determined using drag & drop. For example, you can set up a webcam in a corner of the image. In another example, we show how the sequence affects the order.
The Text option in OBS
This very simple function opens up many possibilities. Among other things, in-game scores can be displayed. To do this, simply create a text file with the usual editor and save it in a folder of your choice. In OBS, the path to the file is specified and every saved change is immediately used live. This makes it easy to display individual announcements for upcoming matches, as well as similar settings.
Note: In this example, the line between the two scores has been created as a separate text source without a file (because it remains constant). This procedure reduces the risk of a typo in the heat of the cast.
These text files seem surprisingly simple, but that’s exactly what makes the Open Broadcast Software so appealing. Numerous extremely simple functions work together to create a professional image.
Discover the true power of OBS with the browser plugin
Actually, with the Open Broadcast software it doesn’t get much more complicated than with the use of text files. Nevertheless, some future streamers might wonder how all the automatic triggers work. Streamers can’t always look at new subscribers or check donations during the action, but they still appear very reliably on the screen.
The solution is: Plugins! The basic structure of OBS can be extended individually. Meanwhile there are own plugins for a countdown function and also for the various stream notifications (subscribers, follows, donations etc.). While in earlier OBS versions (so-called “OBS Classic”) this has been done via an external plugin, in OBS Studio you only have to select “Browser Sources” from the source directory. There you can add a link to Streamlabs or any other websites to provide your stream with information, notifications or similar things. Apart from that, there are many other possibilities to make streaming easier and to create a high quality channel. Here you will find many helpful plugins that are currently available for OBS Studio.
Click here for a video tutorial for Twitch Alerts!
Note: The big advantage of the Open Broadcast Software is that it can remain very slim and additional options can be integrated via simple plug-ins from external sources. OBS combines all the services of third-party providers on your own computer very cleverly (Games, webcams, output to streaming platforms, integration of notifications and much more!).