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Lag Free: Low Latency Remote Video Setup for Live Broadcasts With OBS Ninja, OBS Studio

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In this tutorial, learn how to use OBS Ninja and OBS Studio to add low-latency feeds from remote video cameras to your streaming broadcasts.

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Latency is the delay in a signal, in this case video signal, as it travels from your camera to your viewers eyes. If you've tried to combine video feeds from multiple cameras in a single broadcast you've probably experienced latency. All kinds of things can interrupt the signal's path and cause issues, such as loss in quality, glitches or, worst of all, delays.

We covered the basics of remote cameras with OBS Ninja and how to broadcast with the free OBS Studio in previous tutorials: see the bottom of this post for more tutorial suggestions if you're getting started with OBS or streaming in general. In this one, we take a closer look at how to get the lowest latency for your live streaming event.

OBS Ninja and Live Streaming

If you have a spare smartphone or laptop, OBS Ninja and OBS Studio are a simple way to add another video source. This combo lets you inexpensively add more cameras and control all the feeds, boosting the quality of your broadcast greatly.

OBS Ninja is a quick, free, open-source, and easy-to-use way to add audio and video to your live stream, and with OBS Ninja you're able to do everything without anyone downloading anything additional or even needing to sign up. Working via your web browser – like Firefox or Chrome – OBS Ninja communicates between everyone in as close to real-time as possible. Basically, OBS Ninja turns your web camera or phone into a Browser Source stream of data that's easy share between computers. You then combine the streams using OBS Studio for your broadcast.

How to Add a Remote Camera to OBS Studio With OBS Ninja

Check out our previous tutorial for a step-by-step guide to remote cameras with OBS Ninja and OBS Studio. Here's a quick overview:

  1. Go to https://obs.ninja/ and click on Add Your Camera to OBS
  2. OBS Ninja will detect your camera and audio setup automatically, you can change the parameters or use them as they are, when ready click Start
  3. OBS Ninja will show you the camera and audio feed, along with a URL
  4. In OBS Studio, add a Browser Source using this URL

Streaming Video From Multiple Places With OBS Ninja

If you have several people who are streaming together at the same time to a single broadcast, and need to be as in sync as possible, OBS Ninja is great.

Audio-visual events like plays, dance, talks, or readings are solid choices for live streaming video broadcast, as they are possible to broadcast with high quality on basic gear. These events require low latency to keep a rhythm going, but won’t be adversely affected by small delays. Hosted shows with remote guests can also go well, like newscasts, talk shows, some kinds of podcasting, and variety music programs.

Simultaneous sign language interpretation is another live video application we've noticed growing in adoption, especially for health, politics, news conferences and announcements.

It’s currently very challenging for musicians to jam or perform together over live stream, as they need latency as low as possible, but people are finding ways to make it happen. The less data needs the better for this; for larger bands, choirs, and orchestras there's just too many things to go laggy, but it can certainly work for certain types of scaled-back performances, and one-on-one music lessons.

Troubleshooting Remote Video Latency Problems

Beyond the basics, there are several things that can increase the quality of your video feed, even if you’re using OBS Ninja.

Stable Hardware for Each Video Stream

Use a dedicated computer or smartphone for each stream. It doesn't have to be fancy, just a dependable platform for your webcam. An old laptop computer that's not doing anything else is a fine choice.

Good Connections for Each Video Stream

Use dedicated, hard-wired connections to your router for each computer if you can. If you're using a smartphone on wireless, move the router and the phone as close together as you reasonably can.

Reboot, Update Your Router

Your router is a little computer but, unlike your laptop or PC, it likely doesn't get regular software updates. Hardware makers do release them, though, and they sometimes come with stability, security, or performance gains. There is also open-source router software, like the well-liked DD-WRT, that can give you extra features and more parameters to control.

Lag, Pixelation and Freezing Streams

Try lowering the resolution during camera selection if you're experience visual delays or problems. There are three options in OBS Ninja: Max Resolution, Balance, and Smooth and Cool. Try the last one. Creator Steve Seguin notes that this may particularly be the case for H.264 streams.

Try Chrome

Give Google Chrome or Chromium browsers a try, rather than other browsers, for better bitrate control. As the live stream publisher you can set the maximum bitrate allowed by the viewer and this can work for both visual and audio bitrates

Disable Noise Cancellation

It’s also worth trying to disable noise and echo cancellation if you’re getting an audio lag. OBS Ninja refreshes streams that have frozen, automatically after a few seconds. If it doesn’t, try forcing a refresh to see if that helps.

Streamlabs OBS Lag on Mac

There’s a known lag in the frame rates when using StreamLabs OBS with OBS Ninja if you’re on a Mac. Unfortunately, according to the OBS Ninja help site this is a bug with StreamLabs, so if you experience this then you may need to try another broadcaster.

Incompatibility

Occasionally a camera might not be compatible with OBS Ninja due to a conflict in settings, which can cause problems including latency. If you find this is the case with your device, you can try a couple of things to see if it helps:

  1. Try a different browser
  2. Try default resolutions rather than inputting it manually
  3. Try using OBS Virtual Cam as a go-between

How to Add Multiple Remote Video Feeds

OBS Ninja includes a powerful feature for multi-remote setups called Rooms. You can invite multiple people to a shared Room and get all the video feeds into OBS Studio ina handy way. We'll cover this feature in our next tutorial.

Get More Help With Live Streaming With Our Learning Guides

Two of the most popular ways to stream are OBS Studio and Streamlabs OBS, both of which are free to download and use. Here are our guides to getting started with them:

Broadcasting software uses a built in encoder, but if you'd like to learn more about what type of encoder to use or which settings to try, then we have a guide for that too:

If you'd like to make some bespoke graphics for your stream, we've got you covered:

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