Useful Zoom Tricks with OBS Studio

Yes, we have a lot of time in Zoom these days. And while there are a lot of people who use the built in options for a fanciful or exotic virtual background, with a little bit of experimentation using an open source broadcast tool, you can do more like adding a logo overlay, a temporary “away from the camera” animation, and advanced things like picture in a picture.

Let Ryan Straight (University of Arizona) explain it:

The software includes Open Broadcast Studio (a desktop streaming tool for Mac OSX, Windows, and Linux)-- but it’s not even being used here for broadcasting, just for managing multiple camera sources. Ryan’s method makes use of the VirtualCam plugin for OBS.

I’m going to experiment myself, but please share here what you are able to do with Ryan’s tips.


OBS is powerful stuff. We use it to create video recordings of BigBlueButton (open source alternative to Zoom) sessions, for publishing or streaming, because BBB’s in-built “recordings” are not normal videos (they’re a composite of video recordings of participants video feeds, plus images of shared presentations, plus chat logs, plus collaborative notes - this makes them very compact on the server from which they can be played subsequently).

I’m enjoying seeing that people are doing OBS experimentation. It’s fab to have as open source the ability I remember using in commercial software like Wirecast.

Being able to assemble inputs/outputs as scenes satisfies the fun it was to do live mixing in internet radio streaming too. It’s a bit of a step for people to set up, and I am still looking for the best way to manage running things like presentations while still being able to be in the session (maybe this calls for a 2 machine set up).

Regardless, it certainly shakes up what one can do in Zoom; I like the approach and thinking of Mike Wesch on making this feel doable, and a bit fun.

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