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How to Record Live Video Streams With OBS Studio (Tips and Best Settings)

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There’ll be times when you want to record your live broadcast or stream, whether it’s to watch it back and make improvements, or to repost later on other channels. Some streaming platforms, like Twitch, let you record there and then export, but if you’re using OBS Studio to stream then the best way is probably to record in the same software you're already using.

How to Record and Stream Simultaneously

Here’s how to record and stream video at the same time, and the settings to use.

SettingsSettingsSettings
Settings

Go to settings in the bottom right menu, or by clicking File > Settings in the top menu.

Output recording settingsOutput recording settingsOutput recording settings
Output recording settings

Under Output on the right, look at the Recording section.

Manually Record Stream

To manually set off your recording each time you stream you’ll need to click Start Recording.

Manually record your broadcastManually record your broadcastManually record your broadcast
Manually record your broadcast

Automatically Record Stream

Or you can choose to record every time you stream by going back into Settings and General and ticking the appropriate box.

Record every broadcast automaticallyRecord every broadcast automaticallyRecord every broadcast automatically
Record every broadcast automatically

Recording Settings

The settings in Output have two options, Simple and Advanced. Let’s take a look at the Simple recording options, first.

Simple Recording Settings

First set the Recording Path to the location where you’d like your recordings to save.

Simple recording optionsSimple recording optionsSimple recording options
Simple recording options

Recording Format is set to mkv. You might be tempted to change it to MP4 as that’s more than likely your desired output, but the problem here is that if your recording crashes or your computer does, because the MP4 won’t have been finalised as the metadata is only written once the recording is complete, anything you did manage to record will be useless. With a format like mkv, you’d still have the recording up until the crash. You can then remux the video to your required format, like MP4.

Remux is a container for your encoding, it keeps it untouched (lossless, though that's optional) and lets you convert it to another file format without reencoding your video or losing information.

You can use mkv or flv to record, though only the former supports multiple audio tracks and also might result in bigger file sizes. You can play either format back through VLC Media Player (also free and open source) before you remux it to MP4. The great news is that OBS Studio can remux recordings for you.

You can remux your video right in OBSYou can remux your video right in OBSYou can remux your video right in OBS
You can remux your video right in OBS

Just go to File > Remux Recordings.

Recording qualityRecording qualityRecording quality
Recording quality

You’ve also got a Recording Quality option which is set to High Quality Medium File Size by default. Click the dropp-down and will give you other options, including the wonderfully dramatic Lossless Quality, Tremendously Large File Size.

A warning about 'Tremendously High File Sizes'A warning about 'Tremendously High File Sizes'A warning about 'Tremendously High File Sizes'
A warning about 'Tremendously High File Sizes'

Selecting that will give you an equally dramatic pop-up warning that you could potentially be using up to 7GB of disk space per minute. Unless you have a very short recording and a really specific reason for wanting this, you’ll be safest with one of the other settings, most likely Indistinguishable Quality, Large File size, which should increase the bitrate and give you sharp, good-quality video.

It depends on your computer though; you don’t want to mess up your stream or broadcast by chewing up your resources and you don’t want to prioritise the recording of your stream over the quality of the stream itself.

Choosing the encoder settings will depend on your setup. If you’re unsure, you can read our Hardware vs. Software Encoder Guide. If you’ve used an auto-configuration setup when you installed OBS then it should pick the best one for your system, so if in doubt you can leave it on the default.

Advanced Recording Settings

Let's take a look at the advanced settings.

Advanced SettingsAdvanced SettingsAdvanced Settings
Advanced Settings

To see the Advanced Settings, click on Output Mode and change it from Simple to Advanced and then click the Recording tab.

Advanced Settings, Custom OutputAdvanced Settings, Custom OutputAdvanced Settings, Custom Output
Advanced Settings, Custom Output

The settings look much the same as Simple until you flip Type from Standard to Custom Output (FFmpeg).

From here you can choose whether you’re outputting to a file or URL, you can choose from a much more detailed Container Format and specify things like the Video Bitrate and Keyframe Interval. Rather than the Simple option of a x264 encoder and the related settings that are auto-chosen with that, Advanced is a bit like a mix and match of options, you can choose each encoder individually for video and audio, which means you really have to know exactly what you want and what works. Not all encoders will work with all container formats.

If all of these options look a little much then you’ll be absolutely fine using the Simple Settings, taking into consideration some of the things I’ve gone into above. You will need the Advanced Settings if you want to multitrack, but you can leave the Type at Standard. If you’re planning on using the Custom Output Type settings then chances are you know what you’re doing already and what the best settings are for your particular application.

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