Not so long ago, there were these awesome things called conferences and gatherings that happened in person. Now - yes we all know why - we are stuck doing everything virtually. From meetings, to standups, conferences, talks, and even game nights.
You've probably seen that one, maybe two people, who come into your virtual meetings, or present at a conference and they have a killer setup. Everything looks super cool, snazzy, and they have these sweet looking overlays.
I'm going to walk you through how to setup your system so you can be that person.
You may have heard of OBS. It's an open source project that many streamers use.
OBS Studio - Free and open source software for live streaming and screen recording
OBS Studio <https://obsproject.com>
What is OBS Studio?
OBS Studio is software designed for capturing, compositing, encoding recording, and streaming video content, efficiently.
It's distributed under the GNU General Public License v2 (or any later version) - see the accompanying COPYING file for more details.
- Website: https://obsproject.com
- Help/Documentation/Guides: https://github.com/obsproject/obs-studio/wiki
- Forums: https://obsproject.com/forum/
- Build Instructions: https://github.com/obsproject/obs-studio/wiki/Install-Instructions
- Developer/API Documentation: https://obsproject.com/docs
- Donating/backing/sponsoring: https://obsproject.com/contribute
- Bug Tracker: https://github.com/obsproject/obs-studio/issues
- If you would like to help fund or sponsor the project, you can do so via Patreon, OpenCollective, or PayPal. See our contribute page for more information.
- If you wish to contribute code to the project, please make sure to read the coding and commit guidelines https://github.com/obsproject/obs-studio/blob/master/CONTRIBUTING.rst
- Developer/API documentation can be found here: https://obsproject.com/docs
- If you wish to contribute translations, do not submit pull requests. Instead, please use Crowdin. For more information read this thread: https://obsproject.com/forum/threads/how-to-contribute-translations-for-obs.16327/
- Other ways to contribute are…
Did you know, you can also use it for the ultimate virtual meeting. OBS has a feature called "virtual camera". This sets your OBS scene as a "virtual" camera so you can select this instead of using a USB or built in camera.
Firstly, you'll need to install OBS. Once you have OBS installed, you'll see there is a "Start Virtual Camera" option in the "Controls" panel.
Click this to initialise your OBS Virtual Camera. Now that your camera is "on" and "working", you can select it as a source. If you're in Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google meet, or on the web, you can select "OBS Virtual Camera" as your video source.
If you're using Zoom, Zoom will invert horizontally. your camera, but only for you. Don't freak out! Others will see you normally.
Now that you can select your OBS source, it's time to setup your scenes. Anything displayed on the OBS scene canvas will be shown to your audience. Firstly, you'll need to add a "Scene", and then add elements to it:
- Press the + button under "Scenes" to create a new scene.
- Type a name for your scene and press ENTER.
- Press the + button under "Sources".
- Add your desired sources.
For example, you'll probably want to add a "Video Capture Device" which is your camera. Then you can add overlays, logos, images, and more.
Here you can also select filters for each source, including things like "Chroma Key" if you want to use a greenscreen.
With your physical space, you need to make sure the background and the technology you are using make you look and sound awesome. Why is this important? Because if no one can see or hear you, it doesn't matter what you're saying or how important it is. This matters whether you're in a meeting or giving a keynote.
Number one piece of advice is to NOT use your built in camera. Built in cameras on MacBooks or laptops aren't useful because they are often low in quality and you don't have flexibility to move them around. This means people are probably looking up your nose or right at your forehead.
Get a decent webcam so you can place it in a desired location. My pick is the Razer Kiyo because it's good quality and has a built in light.
Most webcams these days are good so it's up to personal preference here.
Similar to the camera, DO NOT use the built in microphone from a laptop or MacBook. You can't move it to the desired location, it picks up a lot of static, and the quality of the audio is low. Invest in a good microphone and you'll notice a massive difference.
If you are recording or live streaming through OBS, add an "Audio Input" to capture your audio when you stream or record. If you're joining a call then choose "OBS Virtual Camera" as your video, and select your microphone as the "Audio" source.
Lighting is important if you're doing presentations or recordings. Good lighting helps to showcase who you are and what you're talking about.
Three points of lighting (in front of you, and each side) will help remove any shadows from your face. Lights with high lumens are great and there's lots on the market now with WiFi capabilities. This means you can control them from your computer while streaming or presenting.
Another thing you'll want to consider when live streaming or presenting is your background. If you're not using a virtual background, think about the types of things being shown on the screen. Do they represent you? Or your work? Are there little Easter eggs in your background? These little things will help engage the awesome and resonate with them.
Here's a couple of things in my background. A 3D printed model my GitHub Skyline showcases one of the products we have as also looks really cool! What can you add in that your audience will love?
Based on the type of setup you want and your budget, you might want to consider a few other things to add:
- Pop filter to help make your sound clearer
- Green screen if you want to do fancy virtual backgrounds
- Stream deck for ultimate control while streaming
- Audio mixer to fine tune your audio on the go
- Acoustic sound boarding for even clearer sound
If you want to read a little more into my setup specifically, check out my article on the ultimate work from home setup: