How to become a Twitch Streamer

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Here is a quick guide and checklist to become a Twitch streamer!

  • MAKE SURE YOUR COMPUTER CAN HANDLE STREAMING

Twitch states the minimum requirements are an Intel Core i5-4670 or AMD Equivalent with at least 8GB of RAM and Windows 7. Other minimum requirements you should keep in mind is your graphics card being able to run the games you wish to play and a reliably stable internet. Also bare in mind if you want to stream at 60fps 1080p you’ll want at minimum 6 mbps download and 5 mbps upload rate. If possible it’s best to use wired connection when streaming. 

If you’re going to stream games that put a lot of stress on your PC it might be a good idea to use a 2nd PC set up to focus on streaming. To do this you’ll want a PC with a good CPU connected to your gaming PC through a capture card. You’ll also need a 2nd monitor as well for the stream PC. 

  •  GET A MICROPHONE AND/OR WEBCAM

You can either have a gaming headset or a dedicated microphone. You’re going to want something that gives you clear audio while avoiding picking up background sounds. A good setup for a microphone will need a stand, windscreen filter and will provide better sound quality then a headset. However, a microphone may also have issues picking up environmental sounds like your keyboard. This can be fixed with a noise gate device or software, but it isn’t a guarantee.  Headsets are lower quality for audio but are easier to set up. As far as webcams go, if you’re looking to hide your background you can either use a green screen, or purchase a webcam that provides automatic background removal. 

  • MAKE A TWITCH ACCOUNT

Go to Twitch.tv , sign up and create an account. Go to Settings -> ‘Profile’, add a profile picture, a custom banner, and quick bio about yourself. If you’re not very artistic I’d suggest paying someone to make custom art for your channel. Then click on ‘Channel and Videos’, grab your Primary Stream key (you’ll need it later) and set up a video player banner. Take the time to look at the other settings in ‘Channel’, ‘Roles’, and ‘Moderation’ and get them set up to your liking. 

  • DOWNLOAD STREAMING SOFTWARE

Under ‘dashboard’ in your Twitch.tv settings is a tab ‘Streaming Tools’. Download and install ‘Streamlabs OBS’. Go through the tutorial provided, choose which widgets you want to use, and let the program optimize itself. Go to ‘Settings’ -> ‘Stream’, select Twitch under ‘Service’, and post you stream key in the stream key box. Go to ‘Library’ and see if there are any free overlays or themes you’d like to use. The ‘Live’ section is where it’ll show recent events and chat while you’re streaming. A lot of streamers use this on another monitor, but there is also a streamlabs app you can download if you’d like to use it on your phone or tablet. Try to make yourself acquainted with all the other options in the dashboard as well as customizing your alerts and widgets.

  • EDIT AND TEST YOUR STREAM

Go to the ‘Editor’ tab in Streamlabs OBS. Click on the ‘+’ symbol for the ‘Sources’ box. Select ‘Capture Specific Window’ and select a game you want to stream (you might have to have the game running first for Streamlabs OBS to find it). If you have a webcam, click on the ‘+’ symbol for the ‘Sources’ box again. Then select ‘Video Capture Device’ for your webcam to appear on the stream. You can do this for images, texts, and your monitor as well. Familiarize and customize the settings and layout of your test stream. Test widgets and audio to make sure there isn’t any feedback or other issues. 

  • DECIDE WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO STREAM

Figure out what game you’re going to play. An existential crisis, I know. Then head to Twitch.tv ->’Creator Dashboard’. In the ‘Live’ tab fill out the appropriate information. Make a catchy title, a ‘Go Live Notification’, select a category, fill in some tags you feel are related to your stream and then hit the ‘Update Information’ button. Open up Streamlabs OBS in administrator, go to the editor for one last check up, hit ‘Go Live’ and start streaming!

  • SOME THOUGHTS FOR FOOD
  • Be consistent with your streams. Treat it like a job, make a schedule and plan what you’re going to stream and for how long. 
  • Have a streaming persona. Make some catch phrases and what not. It’s okay to be yourself but remember that you’re a stream host now and that comes with some personal responsibility in terms of public relations. Be someone people want to watch.
  • Interact with your viewers. People are more willing to watch you if they feel involved. Sometimes chat alone can keep a stream stable. Make friends and people you can talk with to make it more enjoyable for the hours of streaming. 
  • Don’t stress, it’s not like you’re being watched by some anonymous person who wants to criticize your every action. 
  • Game warm ups is a thing. Just like warming up before working out, try to prepare yourself to stream like a pro. 
  • Promote yourself anywhere you can. Be active on other platforms like twitter, youtube, discord, and reddit. Be patient and don’t quit your day job.
  • Above all else, have fun! 

Step-by-Step Guide to A Basic Setup of Streamlabs

Go to Settings:

General-

Check ‘Show confirmation dialog when starting streams’ and ‘Show confirmation dialog when stopping streams’

Stream-

If you logged into your Twitch account it should be set up already.

Output-

Set Output Mode to Advanced

Keep audio track on 1

x264 if you want to use your CPU or NVENC to encode with your GPU for encoding

Check Enforce streaming service encode settings

Check Rescale Output only if you’re recording

Rate Control to CBR

Bitrate – See details (2500-3500)

Keyframe Interval- 2

Preset- veryfast

Profile- Main

If you use NVENC:

Gpu- 0

Bframes 2

Audio-

Desktop Audio Device 1- Choose whatever you listen through

Mic/Auxiliary Device 1- Find your installed mic

Video-

Base Canvas Resolution- Whatever your computer’s resolution is

Output Scaled Resolution- See details (1080 if your internet is good, else 720)

Downscale Filter – Lanczos (Sharpened Scaling, 32 samples)

FPS Type- Common FPS Value

Common FPS Value- 30 or 60

All that said, there is no such thing as “best possible stream settings.” Based on your computer you’ll need to personalize these settings:

Bitrate-

Twitch’s suggested bitrate is 3000-6000. But most people with phones and lower end computers can’t watch that kind of stream. If you don’t have a transcoder you won’t get the benefit from streaming at higher bitrates. Even if your internet speed allows it. To begin with stream at 720p / 30FPS and 2500 bitrate. This way more people can watch your stream without buffering. You can increase the bitrate when you have followers and audience that can watch stream at higher bitrates. If you want to go higher than 2500 or test out the 60FPS it is good to first find the “buffer free” spot first. Then you can increase +100 or more to find the spot that starts to lag. Increasing your bitrate can improve your video quality, but only up to a certain point.: 3500.

Resolution-

1080p 30fps or 720p 60fps is most likely your ideal resolution. You want a higher resolution lower fps stream for games like Hearthstone or WoW that are largely static. You’ll want a lower resolution higher fps stream for games like FPS’s or cinematic games with a lot of movement.

Encoding Speed-

Start with your encoding speed (Settings > Output > Output Mode: Advanced > CPU Usage Preset) at ‘Ultra Fast’, and try to stream and play a game. Drop the CPU Usage Preset to ‘Super Fast’ and do the same thing. Keep noting the quality difference until you notice that your CPU encoding is overloading or that there’s lagging in game/on stream. Then go up to the previous one that didn’t have that issue. That will make sure you can get the most out of your computer. Make sure to be testing this with all the applications open that you’d be using while streaming. Otherwise, your test will not yield accurate results. Most basic gaming computers will land at ‘Very Fast’.

If You’re Having Frame Issues with Your Stream

  1. Dropped frames happen when network issues exist and could be caused by servers or equipment.
  2. Lagged frames caused by a compositor overload; common with high GPU usage
  3. Skipped frames occur when the encoder is overloaded, often with high CPU usage

To fix dropped frames:

Almost always a network issue. Try calling your internet service provider to let them know that you are experiencing issues with your connection. Or you can try the following:

  • Manually connect to the closest server on the streaming platform you’re using
  • Restart your networking gear (modem, router, and/or switches)
  • Check that the video and audio bitrate is not exceeding your internet upload speed

Here are a few additional things you could try to resolve issues with dropped frames/stream disconnects if the above does not help: 

Flush your DNS:

  1. While on the desktop, press the Windows Key and type CMD.
  2. Right-click Command Prompt and select “Run as administrator”.
  3. Type ipconfig /release in the command prompt.
  4. Wait for a reply that the IP address has been released.
  5. Type ipconfig /renew in the command prompt.
  6. Wait for a reply that the IP address has been re-established.
  7. Type ipconfig /flushdns in the command prompt.
  8. Close the command prompt and attempt to stream again.

Another potential fix is reinstall your network drivers.

To fix lagged frames:

  • Try lowering the quality of the game so Streamlabs OBS can better compose the frames of the encoder. You can also limit the FPS or use V-sync
  • Lock your settings in your game to 120FPS and 120Hz to nicely divide for 60FPS and 30FPS streaming

To fix skipped frames:

  • Check for high CPU usage. If you’re using software x264 encoding, consider using a faster preset or start using hardware encoding (NVENC/AMD)

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