Screen Recording Software
Historically with screen recording software it has been a process of choosing between “Expensive”, “Complicated”, and “Dubious”. The best packages have long been commercial and rather pricey. The free solutions have generally fallen into the complicated or dubious categories. Dubious is a nebulous term that I’m using to indicate questionable quality, performance, or that it could be adware/spyware laden.
One open source project in particular has turned that paradigm on its head for me in recent days. My search for an open source screen recording solution began so that I could record tutorials and reviews for this blog; if I could record games while playing with friends, so much the better.
I admit that it had been a few years since I last looked for an open source screen recorder, so OBS hadn’t been on my radar prior to some recent digging around. It turned up quickly after a search or three.
Getting the software
When I happened upon the OBS website I was pleased to see that there was a recent beta build (v 0.65) available. I also noted that there is an ongoing project to recode OBS from the ground up to be multi-platform (Win / Lin / OS X) with an improved API and more extensive feature set. At first this gave me a moment of hesitation. Surely if it needs a complete code overhaul then the existing version must be lacking in some way, right? Thankfully that is very much false.
I grabbed the OBS 0.65 installer from the website (7.41 MB) and installed it – noting the GPLv2 license. What greeted me upon launch was a very powerful program with great customization options.
Using the software
OBS really is intended to broadcast your screen to the internet, but the add-on feature of outputting mp4 video in x264 format is so well implemented that it’s a winning use case for the software based on that alone. I will probably not use the broadcasting features of the program, since my purpose was for simple screen recording and I have no desire to live-stream my screen at this time, but again, for screen recording this program is a gem.
At first blush the software may look a little intimidating. Admittedly it’s not as intuitive as SnagIt or other commercial programs but it’s actually a lot more user friendly than it initially appears. Let’s take a quick look at the process required to start outputting video.
OBS will start with a default profile of “Untitled”, which is perfectly fine for the purposes of this tutorial, just note that you can have multiple profiles for different applications in order to streamline the capture process if you intend to use the software frequently with different software.
Let’s click on “Settings” and get started configuring this software so we can begin recording!
You can leave this alone, unless you want to create a different profile right off the bat.
Video: I ensured x264 was selected
Audio: I selected AAC, 48kHz, 48 bit, mono for my initial recording – which was a simple screen-cap with mono audio input from my headset microphone. Obviously you can set this to whatever suits your intended application.
I set this to File Output Only and gave it a path to my “Videos” folder with a default file output name of C:Users
EricVideosvideo$T.mp4 so that it will output the full date and time the recording was made as part of the file name. Choose whatever options you like.
Microphone Noise Gate
You can skip all the other options and head on down to the microphone noise gate to tweak your levels to eliminate background noise.
You’re almost ready to start your screen recording! The only thing left to do is select what source you want to record from. You can configure it to record the entire screen, show a single image, image slide show, video capture device, or just a specific application or game. To set the source simply right click inside the Sources region and select one of the available options; for purpose of this tutorial let’s select “Window Capture”.
There are 3 settings to configure on this screen.
- What window you want to record – you can launch a new program and hit the “refresh” button and OBS will update the list of running recordable program windows.
- Inner or Outer Window – do you want just the content of the window or the entire window with title, Min, Max, and Close buttons, etc.
- Set base resolution – Set this to only record the window itself, otherwise you will be recording the full resolution of your desktop with the content of the video only displaying the selected window and a black background.
I recommend that you select “Preview Stream” to verify it’s capturing correctly. Once you are sure it’s working correctly you can select “Start Recording”. You should get a video named as we specified previously and the video output should be working. You can see my test video below!
[bctt tweet=”OBS is an extremely powerful FOSS screen recording program that is actually very simple to configure.”]
I am barely scratching the surface of what it is capable of with this tutorial, but you should be able to start screen recording from your computer pretty easily if you followed along.
I was able to record some Minecraft and the video quality and framerate were excellent. I’m very enthusiastic about the performance and features OBS has to offer and highly recommend it! You can get OBS at the OBS website (https://obsproject.com). You are mere minutes away from your own screen recording!
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