Article from Issue 204/2017

Graham reviews the best free software, including OBS Studio 20, Green Recorder 3.0, gtop, Bitcoin Core v0.14.2, Natron, Solarus, and more!

Screen streaming studio

OBS Studio 20

Screen recorders have become almost mainstream with so many people sharing their thoughts and screencasts on the Internet. Which may explain why we're looking at two this month – Green Recorder 3.0 on the next page and this, Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) Studio 20. OBS Studio has considerably more ambitions than simply turning your mouse wiggling into a file, as its name implies, and consequently does far more than simply stream your screen to the Internet. Alongside being completely cross-platform, it offers the kind of functionality you're more likely to find in a nonlinear video editor; you can capture, composite, edit, encode, and stream video content, directly from your Linux desktop.

When the application starts, the size of your canvas can be different from the size of your screen. The canvas size is important because you can add lots of different sources to this canvas, all with their own resolutions, and the final output will always be scaled to your overall canvas resolution. You can even set a different base and output resolution for the canvas, effectively oversampling your output for higher quality, which is an excellent option if you have the system to handle it.

The background organization of a recording or stream is mirrored in the application window layout, especially in the lower panes. Sources, in the bottom left, are the containers for each recording setup, just like presets, allowing you to switch between them easily and save configurations for how you want to use the application. This involves a set of sources, which are listed in the pane to the right. This Sources pane can behave like a clip manager in a video editor, containing image, text, and video files – but, crucially, sources can also be real-time inputs. You can choose different audio inputs and outputs, for example, alongside different video inputs and output, and not just video capture devices – a window or entire screen can be used as an input source, alongside images for overlays and text. In this way you could create a webcam overlay of yourself alongside the screencast, for instance. As with Gimp, these elements are layered, so you'd put the webcam source at the top if you wanted this to sit over a window capture. As you add sources, they appear in the preview window above, where you can rearrange them and resize them for the capture or stream.


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