Going Live

Setting up your stream before going live

The goal of live streaming will vary depending on each person. Some people want to turn it into a full-time career. Others want to connect with their friends. Whatever your reasons may be, live streaming should be something you do for the love of it, first and foremost. Whether you want to turn streaming into a career, or you do it just for fun, this guide will help you teach you everything you need to know to set up your first stream before going live.

Which Platform?

As a new streamer, you may be asking yourself which platform you should stream on. We recommend getting familiar with each platform. If you already have an established community on Facebook or YouTube, start there. You may find it helpful to multistream at first to see which platform gets traction.

While there is no right answer, we will focus on Twitch in this chapter. They continually break new streaming records and the most-watched streaming platform. They allow for a ton of customization and have tools to help you create and establish a unique brand.

Live Stream to Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook at the same time

Create a Twitch Account

Before you start creating content on Twitch, it is a good idea to reference the community guidelines. Any content that is deemed inappropriate or legal is grounds to get your account on Twitch and Streamlabs suspended. So read them carefully, and make sure you are streaming approved content for the website.

1. Create an account

On a desktop computer, simply click the "sign up" button and fill out the appropriate information.

2. Enable two-factor authentication

Before you can start broadcasting you'll need to enable 2FA. On a desktop computer, log into your account, navigate to security settings, and enable 2FA .

Download Streamlabs OBS

Download Streamlabs OBS here. Once installed, launch the program, and it will ask you to sign in, so it knows what channel you're going to stream with. Click "Twitch" and fill out your login credentials. This information is only used to link your account and authorize streaming from the Streamlabs software.

Configure Your Streaming Settings

Having settings that are too high for your computer's hardware can cause performance issues for your live stream. For new Twitch streamers, Streamlabs OBS has an Auto Optimize feature that automatically scans your internet speed and computer hardware to give you our recommended settings. Access this feature by opening Streamlabs OBS, navigating to Settings > General. It's a fantastic way to jump right in without having to mess with the finer details.

If you are more technically savvy, you can adjust settings within Streamlabs OBS to help ensure optimal quality.

Quality and Resolution

The output of your video resolution can have a significant impact on the quality of your live stream and the performance of Streamlabs OBS. For example, streaming at 1080p vs 720p will double the number of pixels, meaning your computer will be using more resources.

To adjust your resolution, select "Video" from the side panel in the setting window.

Live streaming quality

You can leave the base (canvas) resolution as your computer's native resolution. We recommended lowering the Output (Scaled) Resolution since streaming in 1080p can have a significant impact on your CPU. We recommend lowering the Output (Scaled) Resolution to 1280x720 for a good balance between performance and quality.

Choose your Encoder

When it comes to encoders, there are two types: software (x264) and hardware (NVENC). The software encoder (x264) will use your CPU to encode video, while hardware encoders like NVENC utilize a dedicated encoder in the GPU, allowing you to play and stream without compromising game performance. If you are using an NVIDIA graphics card we recommend you stream with NVENC.

Change the CPU Usage Preset

To change the CPU usage preset, navigate to "Output" in the settings window.

x264 offers a range of usage presets. This refers to how fast the CPU encodes video. The faster it encodes, the less CPU it uses. By default, this is set to "Very Fast", which provides the best balance between performance and quality.

NVENC presets range from low-latency, optimal performance, and max quality. We recommend starting with the "Quality" preset and experimenting from there to find what works best for you.

Enable Dynamic Bitrate

In a recent update to Streamlabs OBS, we included a feature called Dynamic Bitrate. This feature allows our software to automatically adjust your bitrate based on network conditions to prevent dropping frames.

If your computer and internet speed can't handle the bitrate you've set, you may experience dropped frames to improve the stability of your stream and minimize latency.

To enable Dynamic Bitrate, navigate to the settings window, and click "Advanced." Scroll down and toggle the box next to the option that says "Dynamically change bitrate when dropping frames while streaming".

Edit Bitrate Manually

You can also manually edit your bitrate. Below is Twitch's own recommended specs for NVIDIA NVENC depending on the resolution and fps you'd like to achieve.

Live streaming bitrate

1080p 60fps

Resolution: 1920x1080

Bitrate: 6000 kbps

Rate Control: CBR

Framerate: 60 or 50 fps

Keyframe Interval: 2 seconds

Preset: Quality

B-frames: 2

1080p 30fps

Resolution: 1920x1080

Bitrate: 4500 kbps

Rate Control: CBR

Framerate: 25 or 30 fps

Keyframe Interval: 2 seconds

Preset: Quality

B-frames: 2

720p 60fps

Resolution: 1280x720

Bitrate: 4500 kbps

Rate Control: CBR

Framerate: 60 or 50 fps

Keyframe Interval: 2 seconds

Preset: Quality

B-frames: 2

720p 30fps

Resolution: 1280x720

Bitrate: 3000 kbps

Rate Control: CBR

Framerate: 25 or 30 fps

Keyframe Interval: 2 seconds

Preset: Quality

B-frames: 2

Please remember, everybody's setup is going to be different so make sure to play around with the settings yourself to find out what works best for you.

Add Live Stream Alerts

Having alerts is a crucial element of any live broadcast on Twitch and helps you stand out from the crowd, keep viewers coming back, and encourage others to interact with your live stream.

On-screen alerts are often your viewer's first impression. We recommend spending time to make them unique and memorable.

Add an Alert Box Widget

The first thing you want to do is add an Alert Box widget to your live stream. Widgets are features you can add in Streamlabs OBS to help you interact and engage with your community. You can learn more about the top widgets we recommend adding to your live stream by watching our video here .

To add an Alert Box, press the plus sign in the "Sources" section of Streamlabs OBS.

Streamlabs OBS Sources

Now select "Alert Box" from the pop-up menu.

Adding Alert Box widget on Streamlabs OBS

After you are done adding the source, viewers will see our default alert appear on the screen when you get a new subscriber, bit, follow, host, etc.

Our default alert will appear after you add an Alert Box widget

Use this opportunity to acknowledge your viewers for contributing to the stream. Recognition makes your viewers feel good and also encourages others to support you.

Pre-Made Alerts

If you don't want to use the default alert, Streamlabs offers pre-made alerts created by top designers in the industry like Nerd or Die, Visuals by Impulse, and OWN3D. You can visit our Alert Box Themes page to browse the full collection of alert themes.

Featured Custom Alerts For Your Stream

Create Custom Alerts

If you don't want to use a pre-made alert, you can manually customize your own by navigating to the Streamlabs dashboard and clicking on "Alert Box" on the left-hand side.

Streamlabs Alertbox

This page is your command center when it comes to editing your alerts . From here, you can choose to edit your "General Settings", which will affect every single alert type and/or further customize specific alert types.

Depending on the platform you choose, your alert types will differ. For example, in the picture below I'm logged into Twitch, and therefore have options to customize my alerts for Follows, Subscriptions, Hosts, Bits, etc.

Streamlabs Alertbox Dashboard

Choose to edit your General Settings or specific alert types here

Alert General Settings

General Settings apply to every alert type. You can edit the alert delay, mod approvals, profanity filters, add custom bad words, etc.

Streamlabs alert settings
Alert General Settings

Customize Specific Alert Types

To customize an alert click on the specific event type you wish to edit. In the example pictured below, we are editing alerts for new Twitch followers.

On this page, you can customize the layout of the alert, the image or gif that's played, sound, font, animation, duration, etc. Now when I receive a new Twitch follower my viewers will see a sweet gif of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Create a Consistent Brand

As we mentioned previously, creating a unique look or aesthetic for your channel is a good way for people to remember you. The best ways to create a unique brand include:

  • Social Media
  • Overlays
  • Twitch Panels
  • Alerts

In this final section, we'll walk you through how to create a consistent brand using Streamlabs OBS.

Social Media

Your brand starts with social media. There are many social media platforms to choose from, but we recommend starting with Twitter because that is most popular in the creator and gaming space. Start communicating with the world about your stream. Promote your social channels when you stream. Plug your handles when you are live. Include links in your about section. Social media acts as a way to amplify your reach when you stream and gives your community a place to interact with you.

Stream Overlays

Stream overlays make it easy to grab people's attention while showing off your personality and unique style.

There are over 250 free overlay themes available in Streamlabs. You can also get access to hundreds of stream overlays, assets, and templates designed by top artists in the industry like Nerd or Die, Visuals by Impulse, OWN3D, and more when you subscribe to Streamlabs Prime.

Visit our theme library to browse all of the overlay assets available to you.

Twitch Panels

Panels help keep your brand cohesive and consistent throughout your channel. Panels provide viewers with links to important websites that you want them to see. This can be everything from your Twitter, Instagram, tip page, and anything in between.

Twitch panels

TimTheTatman's recent rebrand is a great example of Twitch panels with a consistent theme. While not absolutely necessary for everyone, a professional-looking stream can encourage new viewers to stick around and drop a follow.

Streamlabs' Twitch panel icons

If you have skills in photoshop you can create Twitch panels yourselves. Or, you can use Streamlabs' new Twitch Panel Editor.

Our Twitch panels are professionally designed and come with over 50 different templates.

Each template comes with a panel for your donations, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, merch store, and Creator Site.

Don't see a panel for a website you want to promote? There are 20 different additional icons you can choose from to match the website or social media you want the panel to link to. Completely customize the font style, text, size, and position.

Logo Maker

This new tool allows streamers to create beautiful, customized logos that you can use in your stream, on merch, or anywhere else.

To start designing a new logo immediately, visit the logo maker dashboard.

Choose from templates, start from scratch, add shapes, change colors, add symbols, use your own images, select from hundreds of fonts, and create the perfect logo for your brand. To get started, follow the steps below.

After you select Logo Maker from the left nav, you'll see two tabs. 'Templates' and 'Your Logos'. Browse through the professionally created templates for inspiration, or create your own from scratch.

Logos for twitch channel

Once open, you can edit any of the components individually. Resize them, copy and paste if you'd like a duplicate, or change the color using the edit bar at the top. If you are modifying a shape, you can also add a gradient.

Once ready, select from thousands of different symbols to add to your logo. From animals and shields to ships and trophies, add as many elements as you wish to make your logo unique and memorable. You can change colors using the bars, or input the hex code for matching. For orientation, simply drag and drop the items into place or adjust them manually using the dials.