Hi guys, today I want to help you step up your live video teleconferencing game. If you are using programs like Zoom or Skype it is actually really easy to drastically improve the video and audio quality even if you are just using your laptop. I noticed because of the pandemic that a lot of people’s work has changed to remote, from home setups. Often using programs like Zoom or Skype. Seems even now as life is starting to go back to normal, many companies see the benefit of using remote video conferencing applications to do a lot of what before they used to do in person.
My wife for example is part of an exercise club with members in different cities and countries who all connect using zoom. Her teacher connects online and can show everyone the exercises but can also interact with them all using just her laptop. It’s all great except the one thing that is really annoying to me is the quality you get on applications like zoom. Especially in this case where the teacher needs to be able to be heard by the students but she also has music that she wants the students to hear since they exercise to the beat. Since applications like skype or zoom just use your laptops built in mic and camera by default, I will show you how you can do a simple and free upgrade to improve the overall quality.
First thing I’ll show you is how you can make the video better using OBS Studio. It’s a free open source program for live streaming that I and many people online use to live stream to places like YouTube, Facebook, Twitch etc.
Just go to obsproject.com and download the program for your operating system. Install it and once you start it up you can create a scene. I’ll do a simple one here. Click the + button in the scene section. Give it a name. Then in sources click the + again and select Video Capture Device. Name that something like “webcam”. Then in the settings, under device, select your webcam. Now to improve this video, you can add graphics or information that is relevant to your presentation. Maybe you want to promote your website or a product you are selling. Real simple to do. Just click the + in the Sources window, then select image, or a slideshow or even video. Give it a name and then browse for the file source you want to include in your presentation. Can be a simple image file like what I have here. Then you can adjust the size and position of this graphic. You can adjust the position of the video. Maybe place the video in a small window on top of the graphic. You get the idea. You can do a lot more in OBS than you can do in a program like zoom.
Pretty much anything you want to do to customize your video you can do in OBS. There are so many possibilities that I would recommend that you look up some of the many online OBS tutorials.
Another thing you can do right away to improve your video quality is using something better than just your built in webcam. Get a video camera and also an HDMI video capture device that allows you to connect that camera to your computer. Then in OBS you add that as a source but instead of selecting your webcam you can now select your video capture device. Add a nice large light like the one I have here and you got yourself a video that looks a lot more professional than your standard webcam.
Of course video is only as good as the audio. To improve your audio you want to use a microphone that is closer to the presenter’s mouth. When you use the built in webcam microphone on your laptop and you step away from your laptop like when doing an exercise then the quality of the audio will right away suffer. Also you don’t want to listen to the incoming audio on your laptop speakers since that may create feedback echo, especially if you are also playing background music for your presentation. So the easiest way to fix this is to first just use bluetooth earbuds that you may already own. Just make sure they also have a microphone. I use these earbuds from Tribit which have a long lasting battery. They are comfy, have no audio delays and are cheap. I connect them to my laptop using bluetooth and then in OBS in the audio mixer section next to the Mic levels I click on the little gear icon to open up the settings. Under device settings I select my Tribit headphones.
If you want to further improve your audio quality you can also buy a wireless clip on microphone like the Rode Wireless Go that I use. It improves the audio quality even more and you can plug in the receiver of the mic directly to your laptop’s microphone jack. If you have a laptop that has only 1 mic/headphone jack then you can get this audio splitter cable that will let you plug the mic separately. Then again in OBS microphone settings you select this microphone instead of the webcam or your headphones.
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If you want to add background music in OBS you can just play some music on your laptop – maybe a website where you like to stream music. In that case you will hear the music in your headphones so if you are doing an exercise class it will be helpful but you can also adjust the volume for your audience separately from what you hear in your headphones by adjusting the levels in the Audio Mixer section. You will see the audio meters moving in the Desktop Audio levels. Adjust the volume for your audience by moving the slider there.
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Alright once you got everything looking and sounding great in OBS Studio, the final thing you need to do is to transfer your whole presentation to a program like Zoom.
For that you will first need to download a virtual camera plugin and virtual audio cable so you can “virtually” connect the two programs. Follow the links in the description of this video for the downloads.
Download the OBS Virtual Camera Plugin
Download Virtual Audio Cable
For the virtual camera, just download the installation file to your computer. Then install it and restart OBS.
For the virtual audio cable just download the free VB-Cable driver for either windows or mac. You don’t need to get the paid AB or CD versions. Install the program and then you should probably restart your computer so the drivers load into your system.
Then back in OBS click on TOOLS and select VirtualCam. You can adjust your settings if you want. I just leave it in default. Then for Target Camera just pick the first one and click START. Then close that window. Under SETTINGS go to Audio and in Advance section for Monitoring Device select CABLE Input VB-Audio Virtual Cable. Then in the Audio Mixer click on one of the gear icons and select Advanced Audio Properties. Then under the MIC channel make sure you have Monitor and Output selected. If you are also playing background music on your laptop then enable Monitor and Output in the Desktop Audio channel.
Then start up Zoom and next to the microphone icon click to show the settings. Then under Select a Microphone pick the CABLE Output VB-Audio Virtual Cable. This will take whatever sound is coming out of OBS and plug that into your Zoom presentation. Then click next to the camera icon also to show the settings. Then for the camera pick OBS-Camera. Now whatever video presentation you have in OBS it will show up in Zoom as your webcam. You would pick the same mic and webcam if you are using another program like Skype for example. That’s it. You are ready to do your pro looking and sounding video conference.
Of course because your video and audio is coming from OBS it means that each time you do a presentation now you can customize how it sounds and looks using the powerful tools built into OBS Studio. You can also create multiple scenes that you can switch between. Maybe one that has graphics, one without another that has a video clip playing like a short demo. Again you can make it as elaborate or as simple as you want it to be. Just look up one of the many free OBS Studio tutorials online. Best of luck guys and I hope you make me and your audience happy by improving those really cheap looking and sounding video conferences.