Welcome back fellow idiots, this week is all about running a test stream. I hope you are all well and had a good week preparing your stream. This week we are starting the final steps before you start streaming. However, before you go any further check out last week’s article on audio and sound.
Also if you are nearly ready to start streaming check out this checklist.
Firstly why do we test stream?
Primarily the purpose of testing in any discipline is to identify errors, mistakes and flaws in the hope you can remedy errors that affect the reputation of your brand. But what does that mean for a streamer.
As a novice streamer making their way in the cramped world on streaming. The first thing you want to do is get people watching your stream and have those same people continue watching your stream.
Consider this, visit a person’s stream and the sound is not quite right, visuals; a little bit off or even there is no stream at all? Are you returning to watch that streamer? Unlikely.
This is more important when you are just beginning your streaming career than when already established. When established you have a reputation to fall back on. A loyal fan base who will come back even after one dodgy stream.
Four essential areas need checking when running a stream. Here we are going to look at each one in isolation and hopefully, give you fellow idiots some starting point of what to look for when testing.
There are two ways you can run a test stream. On twitch use the built-in test function:
Get your stream key from the Twitch Dashboard.
In the encoder (such as OBS), add a parameter to where the stream key is added: e.g. type “?bandwidthtest=true” after the stream key.
Start Broadcasting. Using the “bandwidth test” flag allows you to broadcast without appearing online to viewers or sending notifications. This helps to test new settings or stability before a broadcast.
This option is specific to Twitch if you are using YouTube or Mixer or even Facebook gaming you can record a test stream on Streamlabs OBS.
Let us start with our most recent weeks’ topic, sound, and audio.
Firstly let’s focus on the mic and the gameplay sounds is it in sync with the visuals.
A few things you can do to test this. Complete an in-game action and watch it back on the stream. Does the action, let’s say a punch in this instance happen in sync with the sound effect.
Next look at the mic, repeat a simple phrase and re-watch it back. Does the sound happen at the same time your lips move? or do you look like an extra in a kung fu film? Also is the same statement happening at the same time as in-game events are occurring? Most of the time this isn’t a big deal but occasionally in-game, you need these to be as close together as possible when describing actions of reactions.
Here is a great guide to troubleshooting any sync delay issues you experience when streaming.
Finally, are the mic and gameplay audios harmonious? if one is too loud viewers may have trouble listening as they cannot turn it up lest one be deafening. At the same time, they cannot turn it down lest one be inaudible.
Be mindful your microphone may also have a volume knob you can adjust or omnidirectional settings. You ideally want it only to be picking up your voice rather than game sounds or background noise.
Quick Tip: Switch off your webcams build-in microphone by muting it here too. The webcam sound will never be as good a quality and can have interesting effects on your overall sound.
When monitoring this there are a few things to look out for.
Is it pointing at your face? It is showcasing what you want people to see? Some streamers may want to more of them in the shot, some may want just their face. Consequently, I am not here to judge, you do you. Whatever makes you comfortable.
Is it up to the quality you expect? You may have to log in to your webcam’s user interface and adjust these setting. You can even flip the camera image around on stream if you think your face looks better from a particular angle.
A quick tip: careful if your computer has a built-in webcam as the stream will often default to this. You may have to specifically select your webcam or disable the other.
Finally, good lighting is essential. In our webcam and visual guide, we discussed ways to improve your lighting set up.
Your alerts may seem like a luxury, in actual fact they are essential. They will tell you and your viewers when people are donating, hosting, following and subscribing. This is key as it allows you to thank your viewer’s building rapport with them.
Luckily this is a really easy thing to test.
Next, to the record button from earlier, there are test widgets buttons. These widgets can be assigned by logging into the streamlabs website and under alerts, you amend the alerts based on visual alerts and sound alerts.
I recommend having both as this will let you know in two ways if someone is contributing to you. You can download GIFs online to use as alerts and even sounds. I use myinstants.com for sound notifications and Giphy for alert GIFs.
Quick tips: Make sure your alerts are set to be the top layer on your layout. This ensures that you can see them all times. Double-check this every time you add a new layer.
This is something you may find yourself regularly toggling with depending on the game you are playing. This is because there is a difference between important areas of the screen of different games.
Generally, the webcam should be bottom left or right on an FPS or raised slightly if it interferes with build mechanics or weapon types. For an MMO this should be slightly raised and can be elevated to the top corners as the bottom half of the screen usually has a lot of key battle and item information in it.
Finally, consider whether you want your chat on screen. I personally don’t have this, on the other hand, if you have a large community that or talk together this can be useful.
A quick tip: It may sound counter-intuitive but I would recommend having your game capture right at the back of everyone else in your layout.
The options at the bottom of Streamlabs OBS allow you to drag and drop the sources in their hierarchy. Allowing you to prioritize certain layers. (for instance the alert box).
On the left you can also use different scenes for different situations including intermissions, stream starting, offline, and obviously live stream. It is worth double-checking the settings on these layouts too to ensure maximum aesthetics.
Like this article?
If you enjoyed Part Two of the Idiot’s Guide to Streaming feel free to visit my website for more articles of a similar nature. Also, check out my latest articles on game character creation mechanics vs pre-written characters
Let me know in the comments below what else you look for in a test stream.
I am a streamer, blogger. reviewer and most importantly a Dadder!!