How to Use OBS Studio for Professional Video Streaming [2021 Update]

how to use obs

Anyone involved in live streaming needs to use a live video encoder. Encoding can be done at the software or hardware level. RTMP-enabled software encoders like OBS Studio provide the most versatility and are used by the majority of professional broadcasters.

OBS Studio is a free, open-source broadcasting software with an integrated video encoder application. This encoding software is quite powerful and used by many broadcasting professionals. 

This article will explain how to use OBS Studio for RTMP (real-time messaging protocol) stream RTMP ingest. We will cover how to add video sources, adding an image or OBS window capture to a broadcast, positioning multiple video sources, setting up hotkeys, and choosing the best encoder settings.

Please note that this article is based on the latest version of the classic OBS Studio Version 26.1.1 released in 2021, for free download for both macOS and Windows operating systems. 

For easier and faster setup, we recommend using the Dacast custom version of OBS Studio. If you decide to use our custom version of OBS Studio, check out this tutorial.

This post has been updated to reflect the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding the setup and tools of OBS Studio as of April 2021.

Table of Contents

  • Connect OBS Studio to Dacast
  • How to Add Video Sources on OBS Studio
  • How to Use OBS Studio Window Capture
  • How to Add Images or Text with OBS Studio
  • How to Arrange Multiple Video Sources on OBS Studio
  • Setting up Hotkeys on OBS Studio
  • Choosing the Right OBS Studio Encoder Settings
  • OBS Studio Video Tutorial
  • Conclusion

Connect OBS Studio to Dacast

obs window capture
In order to learn how to use OBS Studio with Dacast, you must first learn how to connect the two platforms.

Before we dive into how to use OBS Studio for live streaming, we’re going to quickly cover how to connect your OBS Studio encoder to Dacast. To ensure software compatibility, check out our post on the minimum OBS system requirements.

First, you’re going to want to open up “Settings” on OBS Studio. You’ll see a “URL” and “Stream Key.” Keep these two codes handy. 

Open up the Dacast live streaming platform and navigate to the “Encoder Setup” window and select “Other RTMP Encoder.” Input the URL and Stream Key into the fields labeled “Stream URL” and “Stream Key,” respectively.

Select “Use Authentication.” Fill in “Username” and “Password” using the login information of your live channel.

From there, you should be good to go.

How to Add Video Sources on OBS Studio

One of the simplest and most important tasks with OBS is to add video sources to your stream.

To add a video source, such as a webcam or a camera connected via a capture card, click on the “+” sign that is inside the “Sources” widget:

This will prompt you to add a type of video source you can add. Select “Video Capture Device” if you want to add a camera. Then you will be asked to name your video Sources and choose from an existing one or create a new one.

At this stage, you can also choose to flip the image vertically or horizontally, adjust the opacity, change the resolution, or set up a chroma-key (green screen) effect. 

When you are done click “OK,” and your video source will be added.

If there is blank space bordering your video feed, you may need to go to “Settings” and adjust the resolution of your broadcast to match the size of your video input.

How to Use OBS Studio Window Capture

If you want to share your computer screen during your broadcast, you can either use Display or OBS Window Capture.

Display Capture will broadcast everything that is on our computer screen in a certain area, although the size of that area can be changed. Window Capture for OBS will allow you to broadcast the screen of a particular application (Skype, Word, PowerPoint, Internet Browsers, etc.) and only that.

To set up a Display Capture go to the “Sources” widget, click on the “+” sign and select “Display Capture.” 

Give it a name and click “OK.” 

From there, you have the choice of whether you want the mouse cursor to be captured or not. You can also set the opacity and select a “Sub-Region” to create a smaller area of your monitor screen to capture:

OBS window capture

For Windows Capture go to the “Sources” widget, click on the “+” sign and select “Window Capture.” 

Name the source and click “OK.” 

On the drop-down menu, select which application you want to OBS Window Capture from. If you don’t see the one you wanted, try re-launching OBS or the program (or both). If it still doesn’t appear, use “Monitor Capture” instead.

Choose whether you want to capture the Entire Screen or the Inner Screen. You have the option to choose if the mouse cursor is captured or not, the opacity, and create a smaller sub-region. 

Click “OK” when you’re done.

Want to try Dacast with OBS Studio risk-free for 30 days? Take advantage of our free trial and the version of OBS that was designed to be used with Dacast.


How to Add Images or Text with OBS Studio

To add images to your stream, right-click under sources, then click “Add.” From there, select “Image.” This will give you the option to browse for the image you want to add and adjust the opacity.

Alternatively, you can add an image slideshow and select several individual files or an entire folder.

The process to add text is very similar. You can use the menu settings to choose color, opacity, font, size, and message text. Also, you can indicate whether or not you want the text to scroll and the scroll speed, 

How to Arrange Multiple Video Sources on OBS Studio

OBS allows broadcasters to create scenes with multiple inputs on the same screen. This allows you to create professional picture-in-picture broadcasts and bring in multiple guests/videos via different sources.

After adding a source, you can position it anywhere you like. To move a source, just click on it, and resize and reposition it the way you want:

OBS Multiple video sources



You can also do a right-click on your video source to change the order, rotate them, or even add filters.

If you want to rearrange the layering of your sources, go to “Order” and then select “Move up,” “Move Down,” “Move to Top” or “Move to Bottom.” Whatever is on the top layer will cover the sources behind it, with the bottom layer at the back.

To add a filter, right-click the video source, select “Filter” and choose the type of filters you want to add. You can choose from a video filter, audio filter, or effect filter on the image. 

For example, below is an example of an image blend filter and a color correction filter added on the video capture device source:

OBS studio filters


To remove anything that has been added in your OBS Studio software—a filter, a video source, or an audio source—just click on the “eye” icon to mask it. For instance, after clicking on the “eye” icons of the effect filters previously added, my video source is back to its original state:

OBS effect filters for video capture device


Setting up Hotkeys on OBS Studio

Hotkeys are a key feature for OBS Studio that will help take your streams to the next level. 

Essentially, setting up hotkeys allows you to switch between multiple scenes instantly, at the touch of a button. This allows for smooth, precisely-timed cuts between different pre-recorded or live video streams.

If you’ve followed our instructions above, you’ve already created your first scene. To use hotkeys, start by creating another scene, by clicking on the “+” within the “Scene” widget:

Choosing the Right OBS Studio Encoder Settings

Now that you’ve created your scenes and set-up your video sources, you’re almost ready to begin broadcasting. It is time to make sure your encoder settings are correct. 

Dacast has a few required encoder settings that apply to OBS Studio and any other encoding software you may use.

These are the required settings:

VIDEO CODEC H.264 (x264 may work)
FRAME RATE 25 or 30
KEYFRAME INTERVAL 2 secs (or 2x frame rate)
SCANNING Progressive
AUDIO SAMPLE RATE 48 kHz (48,000 Hz)

Check out our live encoder configuration post for a complete list of suggested settings to optimize your audio and video streaming.

Next, we need to connect OBS to Dacast. To do this, go to “Settings” select “Stream” on the left side Menu. Select “Custom Live streaming server“:

OBS studio settings - custom streaming server

The URL and Stream keys are available in the RTMP encoder set up a section of your Dacast last channel.

Once you have copy-pasted the information related to your Dacast live channel, check “Use authentication”.

OBS studio settings - user authentication

You will see that you need to enter a username and a password. These are the login and password of your Dacast live channel, available in the encoder set up a section where you found the stream URL and stream key. For more details on those 2 steps, you can always check this tutorial for connecting Dacast with OBS.

Finally, make sure your encoder settings are correct. We recommend the following:

  • Resolution: match your camera/source resolution
  • Frames per second: use 30 unless you have a specific reason not to
  • Keyframe interval: 2 seconds
  • Video codec: x264
  • Bitrate: Check out our bitrate guide for multi-bitrate streaming
  • Audio codec: AAC
  • Channels (audio): Stereo for all streams above 360p resolution, Mono for below
  • Audio sample rate: 22 Khz

Now do a test stream to make sure your broadcast looks and sounds the way you want.  If it all works the way you’d hoped, you’re ready to go!

OBS Studio Video Tutorial

We recommend checking out our OBS Studio video tutorial for a visual recap of this step-by-step walkthrough of how to use OBS Studio.


Once your encoder is all set up and you’re familiar with all of the features that OBS Studio has to offer, run a test stream to make sure your broadcast looks and sounds the way you want.  If it all works the way you’d hoped, you’re ready to go.

Using OBS with Dacast is a great option if you want to stream live video on your website since it is fully loaded with the features you need to run a professional-grade broadcast.

New to Dacast and interested to try out our white-label streaming platform for yourself? Sign up today for a 30-day trial to test out all of our features for free. No credit card required.


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6 thoughts on “How to Use OBS Studio for Professional Video Streaming [2021 Update]

  1. Mark Hicks says:

    Thank you for the post. Two things would have been helpful:

    As a MAC user, I struggled a bit before getting the broadcast to work. Much of the OBS tutorial did not make sense when applied to the version of OBS I downloaded (OBS Multiplatform for OS X) and I suspect that your tutorial was for the earlier Windows version. If so, then it would have been helpful to make that explicit. Things I learned: Need to click Use Authentication, OBS Stream Key = DaCast Stream Name, Broadcast settings is now Settings > Stream, OBS Stream type is what you call “Mode and Streaming service”, ect.

    You remark “If you want things to be easy and simple, and don’t mind paying for that convenience, then I recommend another encoding program.” Well, what are the limitations of OBS? And what will it do without any trouble? It would be helpful if you would provide a feature and quality comparison with FMLE and Wireframe. I like what I see, but if it’s not-production-ready then I’d like to know that or at least understand where the landmines are.

    I’m encouraged. Thanks for sharing this tool.

    • Dacast Team says:

      Hi Mark,

      Yes this was done for a Windows computer. MACs are few and far between in this office! We will look into adding details for MAC users.

      As for limitations to OBS, there aren’t any really! You can have multiple videos sources. Layer, and arrange sources. Use the best codecs for audio and video and it has lots of custom setting options. It’s very similar to Xsplit, and certainly has more options than FMLE.

      It’s only short-comings I would argue are its usability and learning curve. It takes an effort to learn how to use it, which isn’t what everyone wants, hence my comment which you mentioned.

      Perhaps we will do a feature comparison for a number of encoders in a future tutorial. Thank you for the suggestion.

      Let me know if I can answer any other questions for you (although I have not used the MAC version myself).

      – Eliot

  2. John Curtin says:

    Just a comment, xsplit WILL show right clicks and pop ups. You have to disable “Exclusive Window Capture” by right clicking on the source in Xsplit.

  3. Marc DiBenedetto says:

    Hello, I love this walk through it was very helpful.
    One question I have is how could I run a stream with three people from three separate video sources having a conversation with each other for a ~30 min period while also allowing an audience of viewers to ask questions in a Q&A type of format for the last 10-15 min of the stream?
    Is this something that is possible? Maybe something that can get close to this?
    Any tips would be great!

  4. Mark says:

    Reply to Marc
    This is my setup. The laptop camera points to me. The 2nd cam points to the two guests. Create scenes for each other person. Crop the 2nd cam twice to focus in each person. This will give you a scene for each person (3 total).

    If from 3 different physical locations, use OBS Ninja for your inputs.

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