Quick-start Guide to Using OBS for Church

OBS is a powerful and free resource that many churches use to improve and coordinate their livestreams.  However, at a first glance, OBS can be a bit daunting with its seemingly endless options and detailed customization settings.  Don’t let that turn you away - here’s a quick start guide to using OBS for churches that will walk you through from first opening the dashboard to running your first livestream.

First Launching OBS

When you first open OBS, you’ll be greeted by the auto configuration wizard.  If you have your stream provider ready, this wizard will find the best settings for your setup.  If you don’t have your service ready, you can skip this step for now.

Note: OBS is a livestream studio - it connects to a stream provider such as YouTube via RTMP or other protocols.

Tip: You can access the wizard at any time by going to Tools > Auto-Configuration Wizard

The OBS Dashboard

The OBS dashboard is made of 3 main parts: The Viewer, the Source Controls, and the Livestream Controls.

The Scene Controls are where you control and set up what will be (or if you’re already live, what is being) broadcast.  This is where you’ll add cameras, text, images, etc. to your stream.

The Livestream Controls are where you start and stop the broadcast.  Underneath these controls you can also find information about streamtime, fps, and CPU usage.

The Viewer is where you can arrange and preview output before a livestream (or, if you are live, what is currently being outputted).

Preparing to Go Live with OBS

Before you go live, you’ll want to set up your Scenes and Sources.

A Source is any sort of media you want to output.  This could be images, text, or most commonly a camera input.

A Scene is a collection of sources arranged and organized how you would like them to appear on the screen.

Let’s set up a simple scene together - a webcam and logo.

Step 1: Press “Add Source”

Step 2: Select “Video Capture Device” 

Step 3: Name and select the camera you would like to use.

Tip: The name of your source is just how it will appear in the Sources tab, and does not have to be the same name as the file/driver/etc. you are connecting.

Step 4: Adjust the position of the camera source so that it takes up the entire viewer.

Looks great! Now, let’s add a logo.

Step 5: Add a new source, but this time, select “image”.

Step 6: Name the source and select your logo file.

Step 7: Resize and drag the logo to where you would like it to appear.

And that’s it, you’ve set up your first scene!

Tip: You can set up multiple scenes each with their own layout and sources.  Then, you can switch between them in real time during the livestream.  This is great if you want to use multiple cameras or display Bible passages.

Starting and Ending an OBS Livestream

Now that you have a Scene set up, you’re ready to go live!

Note: Before going live, make sure that you have a stream source added under Settings > Stream.  If you’re streaming to Altar using RTMP, you can check out this article on connecting OBS to Altar Live.

Step 1: Double check that you are connected to a stream service, and that the viewer looks the way you want it.

Step 2: Once you’re ready, press the “Start Streaming” button in the Livestream Controls.

Step 3: You’re Live!  Audience members should see the stream shortly, but it can take 1-2 min.  Now that you’re live, you can switch between scenes, cameras, etc., and your audience will see the changes in real time.

Step 4: When you’re ready to end the stream, hit the “Stop Streaming” button.

That’s it, congratulations on your first livestream with OBS!

Want to learn more about using Altar Live with OBS? Check out this support article!

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