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How to Ensure the Compatibility of Video Files for OBS Studio (0.13.1)

Ensure Video File Compatibility

A streamer I moderate for ran into some problems with her outro video in OBS Studio version 0.13.1, where the video was just a black screen and wouldn’t actually play. Even playing the video in Windows Media Player resulted in hearing the audio but only seeing a black screen instead of the actual footage. What was even more confusing was her intro video worked perfectly fine.
It became clear that this problem might be related to the codec her video uses.

Thankfully, it is easy and free to get a solution for this problem. All you need is VLC media player and maybe a codec pack.

Step 1: Getting VLC Media Player.

The VLC player is not only a great free, open source media player for basically every operating system, but it also has some nice little tools that we will need for the following steps. The biggest advantage of this software is that it can play almost any media file without the need to download a separate codec pack. So make sure to get it if you haven’t already.

By the way: If you have the VLC player installed, make sure to check out this article by DrMorningWoody on how you can use VLC to watch Twitch streams.

Step 2: Analyzing Your Video File.

Now we want to find out which codec the file has been exported with.

If you only highlight the file in Windows or any other OS it will show you the file extension “.mp4”. A common mistake is to assume that this is the codec. However, mp4 is only the name of the container that keeps all the video, audio and additional data together in one file. The container format mp4 is pretty common these days and should actually be compatible with basically everything. The information Windows provides us with is not detailed enough.

This is where we need the VLC player. Simply start the VLC player and play the video by dragging and dropping it into the VLC window or simply double click the video file if VLC is set as the standard player to play it with. Pause the video right away and then follow these next steps:

From the menu choose Tools > Codec Information or simply press CTRL+J.

VLC codec information

– If not already highlighted, select the Codec tab from the window that just opened.

Below are two screenshots that should look similar to what you see on your screen. Keep in mind that the information you might see in your window depends on the file that you have open in VLC.

Codec Information of Streamer’s Intro

VLC Video Codec

As you can see, the intro uses the H264 codec which is pretty common in combination with the mp4 container. Since OBS itself uses this codec for your streams, this file should be compatible.

Codec Information of Streamers’s Outro

VLC Player Codec Information

The outro, however, uses MPEG-1/2 as codec which is a bit outdated these days. So to get our video to work in OBS Studio, we have to export or convert the file with the H246 video codec.

Step 3: Converting the File with the VLC Media Player

At this point I would suggest that if you have access to the editing project file your video was created with, you can simply export the video file again with the H264 codec settings. In case you don’t have the project file at hand, here is a quick and simple way to convert the file with the VLC Media Player:

  1. Open up your VLC Media Player without playing a video file and choose the following from the menu: Media > Convert / Save or simply hit Ctrl+R on your keyboard.

VLC Convert Video Codec2. Hit the “Add…” button in the window that just opened to add the files you want to convert to the list. After that, hit the “Convert / Save” button at the bottom.

3. In the Convert dialog window that opens up next, you can choose the Profile that the output file will have: the container format, video and audio codecs. If you are not sure what to choose, simply go with the “Video – H.264 + MP3 (MP4)” profile. The default settings work perfectly fine. If you are more advanced and want to change specific parameters like the bitrate for the video codec, click the button next to the profile drop down menu. Usually a video bitrate for H264 between 2000 and 3000 kbit/s is fine. The higher the bitrate, the better the quality but also the larger the file in the end. You can also set a destination folder for your file.

4. When you are finished with your settings, hit the “Start” button at the bottom and VLC will begin to convert your file.


You can follow the progress by watching the blue timeline of the VLC player extend until it reaches the end.

VLC Progress Bar

After that, your video file should be working with OBS Studio. If not, you might want to download the K-Lite codec pack and repeat Step 3 once more.

That’s it! Any questions, hop into the StreamerSquare Discord server. You can also find me on Twitter @AndreBauscher.

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