Getting Started AKA Streaming 101


#1

So Billy, you want to stream?

That’s great! Streaming is a great way to have fun with your friends, make new friends, and show everyone in the world just how awful you are at Dark Souls. But getting started is rough, and even when everything goes right, something will probably go wrong.

What you will need

First thing’s first, you’re going to need an account at one of the streaming services to even think about doing this. You probably already have one, but for funsies, I’m going to list them anyway.

https://www.twitch.tv/ is the most popular streaming site around. It’s currently owned by Amazon, so it won’t be going away any time soon. It has a huge base to work with too. The only problem is if you’re going for viewership you’ll be drowned out by others. There’s a LOT of people on Twitch, even the ones who don’t use the service as their job. It’s easy to set up for though, and a lot of people being on there isn’t a bad thing either, just keep your expectations of e-fame realistic.

http://www.hitbox.tv/ is the next contender for most people. It was made as a Twitch alternative and competitor, boasting better lag times than Twitch, which at the time had a built-in 30 second delay. While I had problems with it recently, I used it for years, and the staff is friendly and helpful. It won’t make you as e-famous as Twitch though, if you’re going for that sort of thing.

UPDATE: Hitbox no longer exists and has been quietly replaced by https://www.smashcast.tv/ , which seems focused purely on an e-sports angle.

https://beam.pro/ is the new kid on the block. It’s cool. It has a mode where delay is half a second or less, but you need to have the planets align just right for that to happen. While the delay is great, there’s also a bunch of gamerfication stuff associated with it I don’t like. Still, if you don’t like the Twitch delay and Hitbox isn’t playing nice, Beam’s a good alternative.

https://www.youtube.com has streaming stuff. I haven’t seen enough to form an opinion.

Second thing you’ll need is either OBS (or OBS Studio) or XSplit. These are the programs that talk to the streaming services and get them to make the video games happen on the internet. While I haven’t used XSplit, some people swear by it. I, on the other hand, cannot recommend OBS / OBS Studio enough. It’s very easy to use and set up. I’ll probably make a dedicated post to help people with that later.

Third thing you’ll need is a PC or gaming console to stream from. PC is much easier to set up a stream from, but for gaming consoles, you’ll need a capture card. Those can cost a pretty penny, but are generally worth it. I’ve had good luck with the Elgato lineup of capture cards. The Elgato HD is a very versatile card, capable of capturing most game consoles, but the disadvantage for some people is that it caps off at either 720p30 or 1080i30, and for the true 1080p60 experience, you have to get the Elgato HD60 or the Elgato HDPro, which are both more expensive and incapable of capturing anything that doesn’t have an HDMI cable. There’s ways around that I can talk about later, but for now I want to keep it simple.

If you want to have guests on your stream, the fourth thing you’ll need is a way to connect to them and chat. These are easy enough to find, and the two most common programs are Skype and Discord.

More details

Setting Up OBS / OBS Studio
Virtual Audio Mixing
Console Capture Cards


#2

#3

On the Xbox One you can stream on Twitch without the need for a capture card, I don’t know if you can save those streams to Twitch though.


#4

Same for the PS4. I’ll be sure to include that later, when I write up how to set up streams specifically.


#5

Setting Up OBS Studio

This is specifically for OBS Studio, but OBS Classic shouldn’t be too different.

First off, you’re going to want to go to File > Settings, and click the Stream tab. Select the streaming service you want and manually select the server closest to you (I find that manually selecting it gives better results than letting OBS choose for you).

Next, you’ll want to go to your streaming service and find your stream key. If you’re using Twitch, you’re going to click your avatar on the bottom left, click dashboard, and from there click stream key. If you’re using Hitbox, it’s much the same. Copy your stream key and paste it into the stream key area of the window.

Next, go down to output. For now, we’ll stay with the simple format, but there’ll be a section near the end that details what some of the advanced stuff can do. Here you’ll simply want to change the video bitrate to something your internet can handle. Most places recommend 2000, as going higher than that while streaming can cause some serious framerate issues, or make it hard for people with slow internet to watch.

Finally, go down to Video, and change both Base and Output resolutions to 1280 X 720. Most places that try to stream at 1920 X 1080 also make it hard for people with slower internet to watch, plus even with games in 1080p, 720 is perfectly fine to see what’s going on in a stream.

Now that you’re done with the settings, it’s time to set up OBS proper.

Sources and You

Now that you’ve got the settings done, take a look down at the sources box. Here’s where it starts to get complicated. We’ll just start out with the most basic thing to get you started: Getting the game set up.

This all depends if you are streaming from your PC or a Console. If you’re streaming from the PC, hit the plus button and select Game Capture. If you’re doing a modern game in full screen and don’t mind out missing out on stream interaction with chatters, then you can keep “Any fullscreen application” selected. However, if you are going to want to talk with chat, you probably won’t want the game to be full screen, so you can select a specific window. Select your window and be done with it. Make sure “capture cursor” isn’t selected and you’ll be good!

If you’re streaming from a Console that doesn’t have the built-in Twitch integration (or it does and you don’t want to use it because it’s severely limited), you’re going to select Video Capture Device instead. From here you should be good as long as your capture device is plugged in right.

There’s a bunch of other sources you can do, such as text, images, and such, but that’s not necessary for streaming just the game. I might go through and explain some advanced stuff such as chat capture, but for right now if you just want to stream a game, you’re good.

Advanced Settings

OBS Studio can do some impressive stuff in its settings, but let’s talk about one I use frequently: Recording in a different bitrate from your stream.

You might want to do this for different reasons, but I personally use it because I record my VODs directly to my computer at a higher quality than I stream at, so that when I upload them to Youtube, Youtube doesn’t tank the video quality.

For this, go back to File > Settings and go to Output, and where it says simple next to Output Mode, click and choose Advanced. A bunch more stuff will pop up. This can be and probably will be intimidating, but don’t worry, for this we won’t have to touch much.

Click the recording tab and select your new bitrate. I personally use 3500, but if you think you need it to be higher go hog wild. HOWEVER, keep in mind, OBS Studio will be working EXTREMELY hard to record in one bitrate and stream in another. Don’t go too high, and DEFINITELY don’t do a different resolution. Doing this is very resource intensive. Luckily OBS Studio will warn you if it’s having trouble.


#6

Youtube came into the streaming biz really late and unprepared, which is why not a lot of people use it. It’s pretty solid now though, and out of the box it gives every viewer of every stream the option to watch at a lower resolution. At source resolution, lag is about 5-10 seconds, scaled down it goes up to 15. Also, if you’ve fallen behind, the red dot by the LIVE button goes grey, you can click it to catch up really quickly. In my experience it works a bit faster than Beam’s catch-up feature. Showing chat in stream like on Twitch isn’t supported, though there are tutorials out there to let you do that in OBS.

It’s still not as fast as Beam, what with them having their own customised fork off OBS that magically gets less than a second’s lag on Beam’s own super-fast server, but Youtube is genuinely really good.


#7

I wrote some guides on the SA stream thread about setting up something for virtual audio managing. And I created a program that displays music you are listening to from soundcloud. If that sounds interesting to anyone let me know, and I can copy them over for this.


#8

#Virtual Audio Mixing
So in the past I have had issues with audio volumes/balancing, today I tried out this virtual audio mixer that helped me make sure that everyone in skype, myself, and the game audio were correctly balanced. Both xsplit and obs make it a little hard to balance audio, so if you have had issues with that, I recommend this.

So both of these programs are dontionware, so they are free. You will need both Virtual Audio Cable and Voicemeeter from http://vb-audio.pagesperso-orange.fr/Cable/index.htm

So voicemeeter is a virtual mixer, that has 3 inputs and outputs. You should mess around with it, but how I have it set up is:
Input:
Cable Output(this is for skype, I have Cable Input as my output in skype)
Microphone
Virtual Cable(I have this set to default in the playback device)
Output:
Speakers/Headset(I route skype and the virtual cable to this)
Virtual Cable(I route everything to this for xsplit)

Because everything is handled with this, I set the virtual output as my microphone on xsplit, and mute the computer audio

If you have any questions feel free to PM me, or try to hit me up on my twitch channel, I have the IRC channel open almost 24/7.

So they have a better version out now, it has extra inputs/outputs and has other features, you can download it here It’s called Voicemeeter banana. I think this installs Virtual Audio Cable, so try downloading just this to start with.

#SoundCloud Display
So I used to play music while I streamed, depending on the game, and I used Pandora. I wanted to move away from that and start using royalty free music, and I found there is a lot of it on SoundCloud.

So I wrote up a little program that will start up chrome and open up SoundCloud with a separate window that will display all the song info. You can use Xsplit/OBS to hook into that window so you don’t have to worry about another screen overlapping it.

SoundCloudViewer
I have included the exe in the project so you do not have to compile it, but you will need chrome installed and be running windows. You can just download the whole thing as a Zip, under the “Clone or download” button, and run the exe. The exe is located at “SoundCloudViewer/SoundCloudViewer/bin/Debug”

Also I have added a feature where it will output all the songs played, and the URL for them into a text file that will live in C://temp I’ve been using this so I can give credit when I export to youtube. You can ignore it if you don’t care about that though.

Hopefully some of you find this useful, you can PM me if you have any questions.


#9

I’ve added this post to the OP. If anyone else has stuff they want to share (like setting up xsplit, something I am woefully inexperienced with) I’ll put it up there as well.


#10

I’m using OBS Studio 17.0.2; I can’t find the option to change my Recording bitrate you mentioned in Advanced Settings. Did they change it in this version?


#11

It’s not in Advanced. In Output, there’s an option at the top to switch from Simple to Advanced. This should cause your Output options from one tab to three tabs. The tab you’ll be looking for is in Recording.


#12

I found it. The separate box and “Control Buffer” option above it was throwing me off. Thanks for your help.


#13

I’m just chiming in to agree that Youtube’s streaming service is pretty alright, and conveniently saves the entire stream to my Youtube channel so I can easily publish it later if I want to. Unfortunately some of my viewers have reported having problems watching my streams on that service, so I may give Twitch another shot and see how it behaves for me.


#14

So Im super new at streaming, i say after having a small private lesson and am able to stream coop games where they are in fact playing the same game as me and reacting live, but a single player game with things to react to in story, seems to be a lot more difficult to pull off authentically. What sort of set up should I do to make sure I avoid the stream double-sounding them so they dont hear themselves talk on the call, and simultaneously still have sound so they can hear the game as it happens for them, accounting for delay. Ive heard of the “side stream” before but dont understand if its needed or ideal for the circumstance of, my friend thats also my roomate, but recording in the same room picks up the game doubling as echo.
Any tips? and apologies for the text wall, its been a stressful night trying and failing to get a streamplay started.


#15

So what exactly is the issue? Some sort of echo is going on because you are both recording in the same room?

If you are wondering how to sent audio to someone else so they can hear the game but not themselves, I made a reply about virtual audio mixing. The basic run down is to have different channels for game audio, and voice chat audio. You can then send game audio and your audio to your voice program, and send the game, voice chat, and your voice to the stream. With the program I linked before, you can set one virtual device to default sound and the other virtual device to default communication device. If you need to show them the game screen you can do something with sharing your desktop on skype, or something else. Most streaming services will have a longer delay then that though.


#16

The issue im having is knuckling down and figuring it out with a friend who can confirm sound for me as i have nerve damaged hearing, so patience is part of it.


#17

Someone made a more fleshed out voicemeeter guide in a different subforum: [Guide] Voicemeeter & You: Partners in Audio

The one I posted here is a little out of date and not as comprehensive. If you are good with computers you should have little problem getting it to work. But if my guide isn’t enough check out this other one.


#18

I have been having trouble streaming lately since apparently I need a new CPU I’m using the elegato HD 60 pro but the PS4 isn’t to bad just saving your stuff to add to YouTube is a pain the ass


#19

UPDATE: I forgot that hitbox turned into https://www.smashcast.tv/ so I updated the OP to reflect this.

I’ll probably work on some of the stuff I said I’d work on, too.


#20

You know what? I’m going to double post to talk about

Capture Cards For Your Console

In order to stream from your console, you’ll need a capture card. While this isn’t necessarily true if you have a Playstation 4 or Xbox One, which have streaming features built into them, their utility is extremely limited compared to using a capture card that you buy. So what are your options, exactly?

OPTION 1 - THE ELGATO
Elgatos are a trusted brand among streamers. They’ve been around for a while and have a bit of a reputation. But what exactly are the pros and cons of the Elgato?

Pros:

  • Great audio and visual quality. Elgato is going to give you the best audio and visual stuff at a reasonably affordable cost. Speaking of affordable cost…
  • Fairly inexpensive. You can buy a used one for, depending on the model, $110 to $125 refurbished, or $115 to $175 brand new.
  • Simple to set up. There’s literally three holes to plug things into. It’s fairly idiot proof.
  • When using the program it comes with to record and stream, it works fairly well.

Cons:

  • It crashes OBS a lot. Like… a lot a lot. I had a 100% crash rate towards the end of my ownership of my last Elgato.
  • It’s hard to get it to work with OBS at all, honestly. Sometimes I had to fight with the damn thing for 15 minutes before I could get my streams to work.
  • I can’t confirm for sure but I’ve heard similar horror stories from XSplit users. (If possible, can someone please confirm or deny this?)
  • Depending on the model you get, you’re going to have to do some wacky things to stream anything without an HDMI cable, or hell, something WITH an HDMI cable and HDCP enabled.
  • If you don’t want to do those wacky things, you’re going to have to live with your games being capped with a capture rate of 30fps and your only 1080 option being interlaced.

OPTION 2 - AverMedia Cards
I use an AverMedia now and it’s really good. But just how good?

PROS:

  • Very versatile. It’s capable of capturing damn near any system without any of said wackiness needed from the Elgato HD60.
  • Reasonably priced. I use the AVerMedia Live Gamer Extreme and it cost $170.
  • Fairly good audio and visual. While it’s the worst of the three options I’m listing here, it doesn’t look terrible.
  • Very OBS friendly. I haven’t had a single issue with my AverMedia card and OBS… well… I had one…

CONS:

  • For some reason the most recent firmware doesn’t work properly with OBS on all computers. If you have this issue you’re going to have to deal with an older firmware in order to fix this.
  • It’s also a bit complicated to set up in OBS, and can’t automatically change resolutions. You’ll have to manually change that, like a sucker.
  • Kinda cheap feeling? I dunno, it feels kinda flimsy to me, but I don’t move it around too much so it’s not too bad, but it might be a turn off for some people.

MAGEWELL
I’ve never used one before, but I’ve heard good things.

PROS:

  • EXTREMELY good audio and visual quality. While the Elgato is the best one for the price, this one is the best hands down.
  • Plays nice with OBS and XSplit.
  • Simple to use and read.

CONS:
I haven’t heard much in the ways of cons yet, except…

  • Holy hell this thing is expensive. The most basic one is going to set you back $300, and certain cards from Magewell cost up to $800.

Other than that I haven’t heard much about Magewell. Maybe someone else can weigh in and help out?

That’s it from me. If anyone else has any experience with other cards (Like the Happauge, which I haven’t used in up close to 7 or 8 years now) feel free to talk about them and I’ll edit them in here for you.