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When talking about streaming, especially in the context of “Getting Started,” the subject of software quickly comes up. While more options are becoming available, Open Broadcaster Software or OBS has been around for quite some time. OBS is likely to be robust enough to produce any kind of broadcast you’d want to do as a new broadcaster from a game stream to a creative broadcast or even a video podcast. All of this is possible with OBS. Even more seasoned streamers rely on OBS to be the cornerstone of their production. OBS has proven itself enough to be mentioned on here StreamerSquare not once but twice as a first option for broadcasting and we’ll talk about why that is in this article. I’m going to go out on a limb and say you’ll be convinced enough to give it a try so we’ll even walk through setting up your first broadcast if you stick around.

The Price

obs-website-screenshot-clipTo provide some context before we get started, a majority of the streaming community uses either OBS or another similar program called Xsplit. Both do the job of taking what you want and streaming it onto your streaming site of choice. The closest comparison I can think of is that of GIMP and Photoshop; both are photo editing applications but GIMP is your free, open-source option and Photoshop is your premium, more flashy option. OBS and Xsplit are very close in what they do but this brings us to the main benefit of OBS: It’s free.

One thing I tried to emphasize in past content creation guides is that a low barrier for entry is ideal. The difference between a casual streamer and a full-time broadcaster can be literally thousands of dollars and especially when streaming could turn out to be something that just doesn’t click for you or doesn’t pan out exactly how you’d like, spending $0 would be preferable wherever possible. Despite the fact that OBS is free, you’re not sacrificing at all when you decide to start broadcasting with it. You also have the comfort of knowing that if you like it enough and streaming does go somewhere for you, you could continue to use OBS if you wanted to.

A Robust Program

obs-sources-dropdown-menuI’ve mentioned that OBS is robust a couple times already and I wasn’t joking. A regular install of OBS comes with a wide variety of source options you can use, including the ability to capture your monitor, a specific window, a variety of different USB devices like webcams, mics, capture cards, and more. Sometimes the compatibility for specific devices is wonky but between the developers constantly working and the active community, you’re bound to find a solution to any problem. OBS has a very simple interface where you add all these elements into scenes and you can have different scenes for when you’re playing certain games or away from your keyboard or want a shot of just your cat for whatever reason. The open-source nature of OBS also means that any creative developer can come up with a cool plugin for OBS. The trend of software development has meant that many tools are web-based but you can load those too thanks to the included browser source.

To be honest, it’s harder to come up with a list of things OBS doesn’t have. Even things that I would only consider exciting because I’m a production nerd are in OBS. For instance, you can toggle on a “Studio Mode” if you need to edit an active scene but don’t want people to see it. You can also start a recording and stream separately so if your stream lags or drops for whatever reason, you’ll still have a local recording that goes on. Or, in the more basic of basics, you can add a scene into another scene if you have some complex grouping of scene elements.

If you were considering OBS and you aren’t downloading it right now, I don’t know what to tell you. What I can tell you is how to get a stream starting from square one. Stay tuned for our OBS getting started guide!