Using OBS for Screen Capture PC and Mac
In this post we will detail how to use the free and open source software Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) to create video screen captures. There are several reasons you might want to do this whether it is creating a training video resource to provide to customers, documenting video calls, or creating a detailed video of a bug reproduction. More often than not providing a video is more informative and creates a good resource and reliable reference. We often try to a provide a series of training videos for HMI operation to our customers when possible along with detailed documentation to help cover the bases of all learning types.
OBS has been around for a while and can be used to livestream video to youtube or other services or simply just record your screen. With PC setup is generally simple but because of how the MacOS architecture is there sometimes needs to be a workaround to be able to capture desktop audio. I will walk through the setup of both so that whatever case you have it shouldn’t be a problem. (Sorry Linux users but you’re smart enough to do it on your own)
The download files for all platforms can be found here and installation should be pretty be simple. Just follow the general instructions to install for your platform and when you run it the first let the auto-configuration determine the ideal settings for you.
Setup with PC is generally simple and most of the auto-configuration settings should work. It should set you up with the Desktop Capture and Default Microphone device from you audio settings. After that all you need to do is add a display capture. Scroll down for the simple guide on that.
With MacOS things get a little tricky because to capture desktop audio you have to use a 3rd party software along setting up an aggregate audio device. First you need to download and install iShowU Audio Capture. From here you need to open the Audio MIDI Setup screen. The best way is to search for it with Spotlight(command + space). You click the “+” button at the bottom left of the window. Choose “Create Multi-Output Device”.
Check the boxes for Built-in Output & iShowU Audio Capture in the “Use” column. Also check the box for Built-in Output in the “Drift Correction” column to prevent audio sync issues.
Open System Preferences, then go to Sound. In the Output section, select your newly created multi-output device.
Open OBS. Go to Settings, then Audio. Select iShowU Audio Capture as one of your Mic/Auxiliary Audio Device.
Display Capture – Both Mac and PC
Next you will want to add a Display Capture device with you desired screen. Click the + in the Sources section and add a Display Capture and then select the number of the desired screen. You may need to resize or crop depending on your canvas size.
With this done you should be able to record audio and video from your desktop. Add any other audio devices you want such as a separate microphone. If you are using an external sound device you may need to set it up with that as well. I have headset with a built in audio-device that I use because I live in a noisy area so I have another multi-output device set up just for that. Most of this was taken directly from a tutorial on the OBS website so if you have more questions check it out here.
Don’t forget to hit Start Recording. It will uses the settings you have so be sure to check those out to know what your render size is and where it will end up and adjust those as necessary. 1920×1080 in High Quality encoded with x264 is pretty standard but this may not be optimum depending on your desktop’s resolution and your computers power. Auto-configuration should do the best to have adjusted those for what you’re working with.
With this hopefully you can do more to provide better feedback to your customers, or to us if you’re reporting a bug. We often overlook the benefits of technology like this and cell phone video often does not provide the quality needed.