Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) is Fantastic!
During my long period of WFH, I realize that with Google Meet, I couldn’t see the audience when I’m presenting my screen / window / browser tab. I’m not sure about Zoom and others, but when running live presentation in physical meeting rooms, I’d like to see my listeners when I’m talking, e.g. to check whether they’re still engaged. I don’t have a second screen. Sometimes, I also want to record my discussions (screen + cameras + audio), which is not available in some systems like my gnome linux.
Long ago, I used to mix audio & video outputs of cameras, computers, etc and present it to a screen. This process needed a specialized hardware. Today, video streaming has become more popular with the rise of YouTube / Twitch / Facebook / Instagram. One thing I learn from the streamers is that it’s now possible to mix these sources with just a software. Introducing, Open Broadcaster Software (OBS)!
OBS is available for Windows, MacOS, and Linux. In GNOME Manjaro (an Arch Linux distribution) which I use daily, it’s available in official manjaro community repository. Currently, you’ll need to install the v4l2loopback-dkms package as well if you want to use OBS virtual camera, more on this later.
We can add sources, e.g. our opened windows, audios, texts, images, to OBS, and control how these sources should appear, e.g. resizing, changing the layer orders. In my case, I use Google Slides’ presenter view, then add my presentation and Google Meet windows as OBS sources. I use Meet’s window because primarily I want to see the audience. However, Google Meet also has background blur, which is a nice and easy to use addition for my camera.
Get in Action
Once we’ve configured the sources, we should be able to see both our sharing material and Google Meet in the big, middle section of OBS main screen.
If we want to also record / stream the session, click the button on the bottom right corner. If we want our spectators to see what will be in the video, we have two options: using windowed preview, or virtual camera. The latter basically creates a.. virtual camera, that will be available in the OS and can be used by google meet / other softwares. I feel it’s quite awkward to ask people to zoom my (virtual) camera in Google Meet, so I prefer the first option.
“Show me more!”
OBS has other advanced features like filters, scenes, and transitions, which might be very useful in certain cases. Go ahead, explore them! As for me, I’m good, for now. All I need is a green screen, and I can start my life as a YouTuber.