OBS Studio - An Amazing Free Video Software

Many years ago, when I needed to record my screen, I always had to choose between paid commercial software or free product, in fact I preferred free product because recording screen is not essential to do every day, only occasionally, but the problem with the free product is that product crashes at the end of recording. And the good part is that it saves the recorded video in the working directory before it crashes, which makes the otherwise regular job thrilling and unprofessional.

Fortunately, in recent years (actually ten years ago) a product called OBS Studio (the full name is Open Broadcaster Software Studio) turned out, which is an amazing free software, because it solves almost all the functions related to video recording. All of the features, and indeed a few less relevant ones, include screen recording, and the virtual camera.

Finally found a professional screen recording software

OBS Studio is a feature-rich software, which makes it not so easy to get started with at first. Once familiar with it, you will admire the author of the software to make these features so logically.

Let's directly demonstrate the use steps through specific operations.


Suppose you want to record the currently playing video, the logic of OBS Studio is that you need to provide it as a source, and then it will perform subsequent operations on this source, including saving this source as a recorded video (which is what we want), or using this source as a video source for a virtual camera, or even playing the screen of this source when you start the live stream. I've seen late-night livestreams selling skydiving tickets and mountaineering, and apparently that's what they do.

The interface of OBS Studio is divided into two parts, we first find the small pane called Source below, click the "+" sign and then you can see that the variety of sources available for adding is quite rich, the most commonly used should be Window Capture. You can also capture the entire desktop (called Display Capture in OBS Studio), and you can also do specific things, such as capturing specifically for VLC (video player) and capturing specifically for browsers. Another interesting option is to add an image-type video source, and you can specify a GIF image, which loops especially well as a virtual camera and confuses your online meeting partners.

Suppose we have added a window source, then a new dialog box will be displayed.

In the "Window" drop-down list box, almost all the software currently running on the system is listed, you just have to select the window you want to record, and then even if you switch the window to the background or even minimize it, OBS Studio will record it normally. For different Windows Systems, OBS Studio provides two capture methods. If you don't want to choose the "Automatic" mode, you can try switching the capture mode yourself, and you will always find that there is a black screen in one mode. Please choose the one that does not have a black screen. The other options either have a very clear name that explains their role, or they are not so important that I will not dwell on them.

After clicking the "OK" button to close this dialog box, you will find that the window you want to record appears in the upper part of the interface, with a red frame outside. The entire red frame can be freely dragged and enlarged. This can be confusing, but the area inside the red frame is the size of the collecting window. As the window gets bigger, the red frame gets bigger, and when you enlarge the red frame yourself, it means that the window is enlarged in the target video. A whole black area outside the red frame is the size of the output video, in other words, the black seen now will also be black in the final video. So if you want to avoid this happening, you can drag the red frame and let it increase the proportion on its own, or simply make the video source window larger.

At this point, you may have an idea: can you add multiple video sources and have them superimposed on top of each other in the output video? The answer is absolutely yes. We can add another image as a video source, and then adjust the order of these video sources so that the output video is stacked in this order, your image will replace the black background, and then the top of the image will show your recorded window.

A video is made up of a combination of picture and sound, so you can see a pane called Audio Mixer next to the video source pane. The Audio Mixer pane displays two bars representing volume, one for your computer's microphone and one for the sound on the system desktop itself. If you do not want to record the sound of your surroundings in the output video, you can mute the sound representing the microphone, of course, you can also do the opposite - mute the computer's own sound, only the sound of the external environment is recorded, which is especially suitable for adding your own voice to a video. By the way, if you want to record a video that is playing, and want to do something else during this boring time without being disturbed, you can completely mute the computer, which will not affect the sound of the OBS Studio recording system, because the sound is captured directly through the sound card, you do not need to hear them in person.

There is also a pane below the window in OBS Studio called Scenes. As the name suggests, you can save a scene for the video source you just created, such as a combination of a video window superimposed on a background image. Then create a new scene and join another browser's window as the video source. This way you can switch between the two scenes at any time with a click of the mouse, and the video you recorded or the live broadcast via the virtual camera will switch accordingly. When switching, you can add the necessary transition effects to make the window switch not so abrupt, and this transition effect can be set through the Sence Transitions pane at the bottom of the interface.

Well, we have covered four of the 5 panes below the main interface of OBS Studio. The remaining control pane is the final output target. When you need to record a video, you just have to tap the "Start Recording" button. At this point, OBS Studio has started converting the content on your video source into a video. When you finish recording, you can click on the File menu and Show Recordings. If you just want the video source to be displayed as a virtual camera, then click the "Start Virtual Camera" button. At this point, you need to select "OBS Virtual Camera" in any software that calls the system camera, such as video conferencing software, or chat software, and your video source will provide a continuous picture like a real camera.

In fact, the main function of OBS Studio is "Streaming", that is, providing streaming for the live broadcast platform. Because the OBS Studio introduced earlier can merge multiple video sources together, it is especially suitable for overlaying your own footage (by setting the physical camera as the video source) and footage during live broadcasting, and then pushing it to the live streaming platform. However, I will not introduce this feature here, because I believe that users with this need are more familiar with the use of OBS Studio than I am. Please click the button below to download the free OBS Studio.