This covers everything you need to know to get started in streaming with Twitch and covers what you need, how to set up the software (Streamlabs OBS) and some tips for being a better streamer!
What is Twitch?
Twitch is a popular online service for watching and streaming live video. It has streams dedicated to things like games, artwork, music creation etc.
Originally it was created for streaming video games, but now it features tons of other things too!
A lot of Twitch is based around building communities, through having followers. You basically become your own TV show host, and if you’re interesting enough, people will even donate money to you to watch your stream!
Most of the stuff here is also usable for other streaming services like Youtube and Facebook live as well!
It’s free to watch streams, but you can subscribe to streamers in exchange for getting special chat emotes, as well as bonuses that the streamers offer, for example a chance to play games with the streamer. Think of it like seeing a busker on the street, you really like what they’re doing, so you throw them a few dollars.
Part 1 – What you need
Half Decent computer. The better the machine, the better the quality of stream you’ll get.
Ideally, you can get away with a GTX1060 or thereabouts for streaming games like Fortnite/Overwatch etc. You can do it with a lower specced machine, but you just need to keep turning bits down as you go!
For starting out, your normal headset mic will be just fine. It doesn’t require much configuration and should work pretty well.
As you get more into streaming, you might want to look at a proper desktop mic.
Some examples of popular ones, the Blue Yeti, Razer Seiren X or Rode NT-USB Mic.
You don’t really need a webcam to stream, but most of the pro streamers have them and it helps to put a face to the name/voice.
The one I use is the Razer Kiyo which helps out with lighting (with the ring light built in), but another popular option is the Logitech HD Pro C920 or the HD C270.
You’ll use your second screen for keeping an eye on your stream, so you don’t have to alt-tab to the other window.
Twitch Account (free)
– Your twitch account allows you to stream videos on Twitch.
– Minimum age of 13, between 13 and 18 you need parental permission.
– Free to create
To sign up, go to http://twitch.tv/
– Streamlabs is a bunch of extras for twitch that let you show all the extra fancy bits around the edge of your stream.
– Free to set up, same sort of deal as Twitch
To sign up, go to https://streamlabs.com/
Part 2 – Streaming Software Setup
There’s a few different programs you can use for streaming, OBS, Streamlabs OBS and XSplit are a few options. I prefer to use Streamlabs OBS as it includes everything that OBS does, but with more features, is a bit easier to use and is free too.
Installing Streamlabs OBS
1. Download Streamlabs OBS – Here’s the link: https://streamlabs.com/
2. Install Streamlabs OBS
3. Open Streamlabs OBS and login with your Twitch Account. This will set it up to stream on Twitch as well as log you into your Streamlabs account.
4. Next. Next. Next. It will also do a test on your computer/internet to automatically determine streaming settings for you.
Stream Quality and Bitrate Settings
A lot of this will depend on your connection and computer speed to handle. It’s always the most important thing to go for a stable stream than a high quality one.
You can set your streaming settings in Settings -> Output
Also, under output, there’s a few other cool options: Encoder, and Recording.
Depending on your computer, you can set your video card to do the hard work for your stream by changing the encoder to NVENC (only for nvidia cards). I found on my machine, this freed up a LOT of CPU resources and made everything run super smooth (for both the stream and for me!)
You can set up your recording options in here too, if you want to save a higher quality stream to your hard drive.
Twitch recommend between 3000kbps to 6000kbps.
A decent set of settings to start with:
Output Resolution: 1280×720
Rate Control: VBR
Quick note about Bitrate: The higher the bitrate, the higher the quality of the stream. But it’ll also be harder for people with slow internet to watch, and harder for you to upload (your internet will need to be able to handle it!). You’ll want your bitrate to be no higher than half your upload speed. Use a website like Speedtest.net to test your upload speed!
Not sure how your stream is performing? Check the inspector tool here: https://inspector.twitch.tv/
This tool is super handy in that it shows you how fast you’re uploading and if you’re having frame drops etc. In the example above, you can see that the stream is stable at 4766Kbps and that it’s rated Excellent. The frame rate is stuck at a solid 60fps. So it’s all good!
Here’s a page with more info on streaming settings, as well as some suggested settings: https://stream.twitch.tv/encoding/
This affects your video before it gets sent to the stream, since I play in 1440p, I have this set to downscale everything to 1080p before it gets sent to the stream (just to save on processing power, as I’m only streaming at 1080p and not 1440p).
This can depend a lot on the microphone you’re using, but is very important to get right! You will want your game audio to be audible, and for anything you say to be louder than everything else (so your viewers can hear you over the sound of the games!)
For my setup, I’ve got Desktop Audio turned down, and the Mic set on 100% volume. This way people can hear me talking over the game, but can still hear the game.
You can set your audio settings in the mixer, in the bottom right hand corner of the Editor (more on the editor later).
Two other super important bits to do with the Audio Mixer: Gain and Noise Gate filters! You can add a filter by hitting the cogwheel to the right of the audio source, then going to Filters.
The Noise gate filter will mute your microphone for quiet noises. This is similar to Voice Activation with Discord or other chat programs, and stops feint noises from coming through onto your stream. Here’s the settings I’m using for it:
The other one depends on how good your mic is. The mic I use has a slight issue of being a little quiet, so you can add a filter for Gain, and turn it up more than the 100% of the OBS settings.
Part 2.5 – Streamlabs extras and overlays for your stream
This part you’ll need to think about and decide what you want to do with your stream.
When you’re just starting out, you can either go with no overlays on your stream at all, or use one that’s prebuilt with Streamlabs.
A Source is an item that appears on your stream. This can be the game capture, a webcam, a label showing your latest follower and much more!
A Scene is a collection of sources all laid out how you want.
A Scene Collection is a group of scenes that you would use in your stream. Most of the prebuilt ones come with a couple of scenes for things such as game capture, a scene of just your webcam (with no game in the background) or an AFK screen.
To use a Prebuilt one, go to the themes tab up the top, find a theme you like, and hit install.
They’ll get added as a scene collection, so you can try a few out to see what you want.
One little issue I’ve had with the prebuilt scenes is that they have too much on there. You can turn off bits and pieces in the editor, but it’s not perfect (you end up with chunks of graphics that are there for no reason). I ended up creating my own from scratch.
Editing a Scene, or creating from scratch
Hit the + button on the scene selector to add a new scene
In the sources, you can add as many as you like, ideally, you’d start off with your very bottom layer being the game.
Adding the game -> Hit Add Source -> Game Capture -> Give it a name -> Add New Source
Then you can add as many elements as you like on top of that, here’s a few common ones:
Display Capture – Captures your entire screen (useful for showing lots of things, but means if you’re playing games and alt-tab out, everyone on stream will see that too!)
Game Capture – Will capture just the game you’ve set it to. This means when you quit the game, it will just be blank.
Video Capture Device – Will capture a device, usually this will be a webcam
Image – Will show an image, this is useful as a background for your stream labels
Stream Label – Will show a label that dynamically updates based on what you’ve got it set to. This is the one you use for showing latest follower and latest donations
Alert Box – This is the one that shows you when people follow you or subscribe. It’s invisible unless something’s happening!
There are other options in here to experiment with, but these are the most common ones.
The options on the right side called Widgets, can be customised further too.
You can combine a bunch of Sources together to get some nice effects, eg. An image (the background) with a Text Label (that says Newest Quacker!) and a Stream Label (set to show the latest follower)
Ideally, you’ll want to have a scene set up for each game you play. For example, when playing World of Warcraft, I block the chat out with an image and put my notification items in the top right hand corner out of the way of anything in the game. I also have a scene setup that’s just my webcam, so I can talk to the camera without any games being distracting, as well as a BRB screen, for when I’m not at my machine and I want to hide what I’m doing.
Part 3 – Building an audience
This is by far the hardest part of being a streamer. Getting someone to watch you!
A good way to get followers is to do something special to make you different from all the other streamers (ie. a niche)
– Entertaining: Eg. Burke Black, dresses up like a pirate or Rudeism who plays games using interesting custom built controllers
– Extremely skilled EG. Any of the Overwatch Pros or Ninja (Fortnite Pro)
– Play with a bunch of entertaining friends. Eg. Crayator + Loserfruit
– Engaging/Interactive – Talk to your followers. Eg. Crayator + Loserfruit (again!)
When starting out, be prepared for no one to watch. It takes work to really take off!
Part 4 – Extra Tips and Tricks
Connect your Discord
In Discord, go to Settings -> Connections and connect your twitch.
This means when you stream it’ll show that you’re streaming next to your name.
Being a Twitch Affiliate means that people can subscribe to your channel using Twitch Prime, this gets you about $2.50 per subscriber.
People can cheer on your channel with bits, one bit = one cent.
You must be an affiliate to earn money through twitch, however if you’re not planning on earning money, the other advantage you get is priority access to transcoding (lets people watch your stream in different qualities, which is handy for people who have slow internet!)
It’s also a bit of a badge of honor, as you have to fulfil these requirements to get there:
1. Stream for 8 hours in the last 30 days
2. Stream on 7 of the last 30 days
3. Reach an average of 3 viewers per stream
4. Grow your audience to 50 followers
You can check your status in achieving these things by going to the Twitch Website -> Dashboard -> Achievements
For more info on the Twitch Affiliate program, see here.
Laggy Streams or Games
If your game is stuttering when you’re trying to stream, your viewers are going to see that too! Change your graphics settings in the game to lower options, as it takes more power for your computer to be able to handle streaming.
A couple things to check if you’re having issues with your stream or games is the Windows Task Manager in the Performance tab. If anything is over 95%, then you might have problems! In the below example, the CPU Usage is at 17% (Good!), Memory is at 45% (Good!) and the GPU is at 8% (also good!). If you find your CPU is maxed out, but your GPU isn’t, check the encoder settings to see if you’re using NVENC as your encoder, this will shift the load from the CPU to the GPU. You can also go the other way with this, and set your encoder to Software encoding, which will move the encoding from the GPU back to the CPU. It’s a balancing game!
You can see a quick indication of your stream lagging by looking at the bottom of the OBS window. It shows how much CPU is in use by OBS, the framerate it’s running at, the amount of dropped frames and how fast it’s uploading.
Another good tool for checking if your stream is handling the load properly is the Twitch Inspector tool here: https://inspector.twitch.tv/
I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide!