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Switching to/Using OBS Studio as a Virtual Cam

This guide was initially written with switching from ManyCam in mind. It should help regardless of having used screen sharing software before.

First start up & overall settings

  • Ignore the auto-config guide if it comes up when you first start OBS. That is if you're recording or streaming (like to Youtube, Twitch). Choose the option for just using the virtual cam.

Settings → Video
Settings → Video

  • There's two ways people mask the content on their screens for personal and privacy reasons.
    • Keep the display mirrored so it is backwards for every one. This can be done in the video app itself like Zoom.
    • Dilute the pixel rate. You specify the output pixels in Settings -> Video. Base resolution is your default computer resolution. Output is what you can lower. Try to keep the same aspect ratio, but it is not necessary.
  • You can lower the frame rate to a number between 1-10 with minor side affects to help lower cpu usage.

Sources

Sources list
Sources list

Adding Sources

  • Add Source -> Display Capture for screen sharing.
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  • Source → Video Capture for adding your cam.
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  • You can change the preset resolution size of your cam. The two screenshots below show the visible difference
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Adjusting and moving around

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  • Move and resize sources as you like in the preview section. Short video examples below.
Example 1 gif
Example 1 gif
Example 2 gif
Example 2 gif

Visibility

  • The sources closest to the top will be on top of sources lower down the list.
  • In the first screenshot, the cam isn’t showing because it is listed below the display capture that is taking up the entire area. It is moved to the top of sources in the second screenshot and now shows up.

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Virtual Cam

  • Starting the virtual camera is in two spots for Windows. In the controls to the bottom right of OBS and under Tools in the menubar. On Mac it is only in the former spot.
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Tips/Tricks:

  • Rename sources to your liking
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  • The eye next to sources is whether they show or not.
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  • The lock icon is for keeping a source in its place. It cant be moved if you lock it. The outer red outline area around sources allowing you to resize or move them goes away when the source is locked.
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- Can create another scene called “Empty”. Sometimes it is easier or helpful to switch to a blank OBS view while adjusting things or save some cpu usage.

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- Hide the likely useless audio and transition sections under View -> Docks or right clicking any of the title bars like Sources or Audio Mixer as the screenshot shows

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- OBS will tell you how much CPU usage it is using at the bottom right of its window.

- You can right click the preview section to hide the preview from showing. Or preview how the output will look if you changed the output scaling.

Other/Advanced

  • Screen share only a window
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  • To update/add on to:
    • Other source possibilities like how @@Saadh has a spotify/last.fm browser source showing current playing media.
    • Windows specifically allows one window capture regardless of if the window is visible or not.

Extra extra tid bits:

- If you want to control the basics of OBS from your phone in case you want to turn your OBS sources off or something, go to Tools in the menu and Websocket Settings. Turn it on. It’ll be on in the future. Install "OBS Blade" on iPhone and “Streamcontrol” on Android. If you’re on the same wifi, you can connect and save the connection.

  • You dont have a lot of power. Mostly you can hide sources or switch scenes. This is where the Empty scene can help.
  • Streamcontrol has a bit more power. It can edit text and browser source urls.