Introduction: Step Up Your Zoom Presentations With Open Broadcast Software (OBS)

Here is how you can add some class and professionalism (or a hilarious bleep button!) to your Zoom (or any online) meetings using OBS just like a Twitch Streamer. I'll be using Zoom in this Instructable because that's what my organization uses, but this will work with any platform that utilizes a webcam. Just make sure you have the most up-to-date version of your software of choice.

Everyone is probably pretty familiar with Zoom's built in Virtual Background settings but it has some limitations. At the time of the writing of this Instructable Zoom only allows you to upload an image or a video as a virtual background. Zoom's content sharing is also limited to screen sharing in a separate window (See the Harvard Image Above). This creates a subtle disconnect between you and your content because people's eyes have to do a lot of traveling. Zoom with OBS will allow you to combine Zoom's webcam view and its screenshare function so that all of your content (face and visuals) is happening in one screen.

In this Instructable I'll be going over:

  • A brief overview of Open Broadcast Software (OBS)
  • How to connect OBS and Zoom
  • How to add lower-thirds and screenshares to your webcam output


Required Hardware:

  • Computer (If you can run Zoom without issues this shouldn't be too much of an additional burden on your computer)
  • Webcam
  • Microphone

Optional Hardware:

  • Green Screen
  • Stream Deck

Required Software:

Step 1: OBS Introduction and Installation

What is OBS?

OBS is a piece of open source studio software primarily used for livestreaming (Youtube Live, Twitch, etc) and recording. Its very easy to step into, and has a lot of cool features under the hood when you've mastered the basics.

For this step just:

Once you've run through the installation of both, verify that the VirtualCam plugin is installed by clicking "Start" in the VirtualCam menu (See Photos). This plugin will turn the output of OBS into a selectable webcam option in Zoom.

Step 2: Adding Sources in OBS

Open up OBS and you'll be greeted with a blank Scene. You can think of Scenes as different layouts you might want during your presentation. For example during your presentation you may want a Scene/layout of just your webcam for when you're doing introductions, and then transition to a Scene that has your webcam feed with your PowerPoint in the corner, and finally you might want to add a Scene of just your PowerPoint full screen so you transition to that if text in the presentation is hard to read.

Scenes are comprised of Sources. Sources are the individual components of the Scenes. They are things like your webcam, images, screen shares, text, etc.

The OBS wiki has a list of all of the Sources and their descriptions.

Let's start building your first Scene by adding a "Video Capture Device" (webcam) Source by clicking the plus sign under Sources. Select your webcam from the dropdown accept the configuration (you can change it later if you need to) and click okay. You should now see your webcam feed in your Scene. You can click on the webcam feed and move it around and resize it. For a simple layout, go ahead and resize so it fills the whole screen.

Lower Third:

To create a news-style lower third graphic for your name and title, add a color source, and a text source.

PowerPoint (or any content share):

To share a PowerPoint (or website, etc.) You can select a Window Capture (which you'll have to select a specific window to share) or a Display Capture (to share a whole screen).

The order of your sources should be:

  1. Text (containing your name)
  2. Color Source
  3. Webcam
  4. Content Share (Window Capture, Display Capture)
  5. Any kind of background you want (especially if you're using a green screen)

Every item in the Sources panel will be it's own layer, so the order of the panel is important to how your sources are displayed.

Step 3: Optional Fun: Green Screens and Bleep Buttons

Green Screen usage in OBS:

If you have a green screen, you can use a Filter in OBS on your Webcam Source to make the green transparent. This way you can have your webcam on top your PowerPoint, or make use of a nicer background.

Bleep Button:

If your coworkers have a good sense of humor, nothing will be funnier then adding a bleep button to your next meeting.

  1. Download and install VoiceMod
  2. Go to Settings, and create a keyboard shortcut for the "Bad Language" Voice Control. (I chose the num pad plus sign)

Similar to the OBS VirtualCam plugin, Voicemod will create a new microphone on your system. When you connect your audio in your Zoom meeting, make sure you select the VoiceMod microphone for the bleep button to work.

Step 4: Bring It All Together

  1. Open a Zoom meeting
  2. Connect your Audio. Make sure you select the VoiceMod microphone if you're using it.
  3. Connect your webcam. Make sure you select OBS-Camera.

If you're webcam feed is blank, make sure:

  1. OBS is running
  2. You hit Start on the VirtualCam plugin and OBS-Camera was selected as the output

Well there you go! Here are a couple of things you can do take this even further.

  • Create multiple Scenes in OBS and switch back and forth between them in your meeting (Full screen webcam, full screen PowerPoint, etc)
  • Use VoiceMod to add sound effects to your presentations (Applause, Rimshots, etc.)
  • Get a StreamDeck and map all of these features to custom buttons for easy access.
Work From Home Speed Challenge

Participated in the
Work From Home Speed Challenge