In this post I’m going to show you how to use filters to modify your sources in OBS Studio. This will allow you to do things like cropping, green screen effects, image mask/blends, and even delay certain sources.
Adding Effect Filters in OBS Studio
The thing you need to realize about filters, is that they can be added to every source individually. However, if you apply filters to a source in one scene, they will carry over to any other scenes that your sources are used in. This means that if you want to have different filters applied to the same source, you’d have to add that type of source in again, and then name it something different, such as image 2. We’ll touch more on this in a future video, about setting up our scenes. Another thing I’d like to quickly mention is that there are two types of filters: Audio/Video Filters and Effects Filters. We’re going to start by going through each effect filter first.
To use a filter, let’s first click the source we want to apply it to, right click, and select Filters. If our source allows Audio/Video Filters, there will be a section for them at the top-left. But again, let’s look at the Effects Filters on the bottom-left. We can see our current selected source on the right. Now, we can hit the plus, to add a filter. Let’s work our way from the top down.
We’re going to notice that adding filters is pretty similar to adding new sources into OBS. For Image Mask/Blend we just select it, name the filter, and hit okay. You’ll see that filters have the ability to be toggled on and off, just like sources as well. Image Mask/Blend might seem complicated as a new streamer, but let’s take it slow and hopefully you’ll understand what uses you can have with it.
You will first be able to select what type of mask or blend you would like to use. Path will give you the ability to select a specific file to add as a mask or blend. Color you’ll generally want to leave on its default. Opacity can go from 0 to 100, where if you lower it from it’s default of 100, it will become more and more see through. Stretch image (discard aspect ratio) will actually take your image that you selected to use as a mask or blend, and fit it to the entire source.
Okay, so what does this mean? Let’s say you want to put your webcam in a circle shape. You can use a mask to hide certain areas of your webcam. To do this, let’s use a black and white image as an example. Let’s first take a look at the image.
You’ll notice that around the edges the image is black, and in the middle is a white circle. If I select this image as my path file, and select Alpha Mask (Color Channel) you’ll see that my webcam will now have where the black areas are hidden. The easiest way I remember how masks work, is that black hides and white reveals. Grays will actually cause transparencies. Also, if I checkmark stretch image, you’ll see that the circle is stretched, so that the mask image I selected fits the entire source.
You can also use filters as blends, meaning you can take advantage of multiply, addition, and subtraction blends. If you’re familiar with Photoshop layer blends, this achieves the same effects as that. If not, don’t worry too much – as this is something that isn’t extremely important.
You can remove filters by selecting it and hitting the minus button.
Let’s move on to an easier to understand filter, crop. Add it just like we did for the Image Mask/Blend filter, and we’ll see a familiar set up. Leave Relative check marked. Let’s pretend that our webcam has a bit too much showing on the left side and top. We can use the arrows on the right to slowly adjust the amount to crop by simply clicking and holding. So, if we start with left, we’ll notice that the left side is being removed from our source. We can also simply manually type in an amount, which is in pixels, to remove certain areas as well. So, after I get the left side cropped out as desired, I can just type in what I want for the top. Let’s actually close the filters panel and take a look at what happened in the final result. With my webcam cropped how I’d like it, I can move it to anywhere in my scene. If I need to make more adjustments to the filter, I can just right click the source, and hit filters to bring back up the filters panel.
Let’s apply some filters to my another source like a background video. After I open up the filters panel, I’ll add a color correction filter. The first thing we’ll notice is color. This will basically tint the source to the color we select. So, I can choose a red for example, and we can see the effect it’d applies. If I don’t like this effect, I can change it back to the default of white.
The sliders provide you the ability to adjust the contrast, brightness, and gamma of your source. These can be useful to adjust webcam settings or even potentially some media or games that you feel might show up dark. Getting into the differences of each can be a bit confusing, so we won’t be covering that here. However, you can always play around with these options and get something that works best for you.
The scroll filter can actually be used in some interesting ways. First, it’s very useful to make text sources move from left to right. Next, let’s say you have a repeatable pattern, or maybe a static image that you’d like to see move a bit, you can use scroll to make it move horizontally or vertically. To do so, just adjust the sliders with the speed of each direction you’d like to have it move. OBS will automatically make the source sort of repeat itself.
Scroll also includes the ability to limit the width and height of the source. This works similarly to cropping – but I’ve actually found myself using both limit width/height and crop together.
Color Key Vs Chroma Key
Let’s go ahead and move on to our next filter, the Color Key, but let’s actually talk about Chroma Key as well.
What’s the difference between color and chroma key?
Well, I’m going to make it quite simple for you. If you want to filter out or hide a green screen, use the Chroma Key. Chroma key is what more streamers will want to use. A color key can be useful with graphics with a specific color you’d like removed.
Setting up a green screen with OBS Studio
Let’s work with the chroma key filter. We can work from the preset colors under Key Color Type, or we can pick a color of our own. Fo green screens, this is generally the best idea, to select the closest color to your screen possible. So, with Custom Color selected, let’s hit select color. Here, we can select colors in various ways, or we can actually use Pick Screen Color to pull up a sort of eye dropper that will match the color we’re hovering over. Go to your source and select the most common color shade you see in it, that you’d like to key out. Simply click it and you’ll have the color you need. You can hit Add to custom colors, to save this color selection, and then Okay. If you’re using a green screen, you might already see some good results, if not, don’t worry, we can do some tweaking to the options.
First, if you plan on using a green screen, I can’t recommend anything better than properly lighting it. Having a more consistent color of green screen will produce the best results. Ideally the entire screen is the exact same color/shade. But, in reality this isn’t possible. So, let’s talk about what each option does.
Chroma Key Options
First, we have similarity. These simply means how close to our selected color we’d like to filter out. Where 1 is that exact color, and increasing it from there increases the range of colors to key out. Next, is smoothness. If you slide this input around, you should be able to see what’s happening. It’s basically blending out colors around the color that you’re keying out. So if you’re having trouble keying out areas where the color you’d like to remove is meeting colors you’d like to keep, smoothness might help you out. It basically turns the colors around what you’re keying out transparent as you increase its value. So in essence it smooths out the areas around the edges. Finally, we have Key Color Spill Reduction. This option is for those of you that might experience a “spill” of your key color. It’s possible that you might see some green tint reflected on certain areas in your source, or maybe some of the key color is showing between hairs or some sort of fabric. Increasing this value will help with these types of issues. Color spill is sometimes tricky to remove, but use your best judgement.
Again, I want to reiterate how important it is to use proper lighting if you plan on using a green screen. In my opinion you’d be better off buying a cheap piece of green fabric and investing in some lighting to make sure the colors are as even as possible.
Finally, for graphical sources, let’s move on to possible the easiest filter, sharpen. If you have a blurry image, webcam, or similar, just simply increase the sharpness to a desired effect. Be careful with sharpness, it can make things look a bit unnatural if you use too much. So again, play around with the values and use your best judgement.
Audio/Video Filters in OBS Studio
As I mentioned at the start, only certain types of sources allow these filters. Let’s go through them quickly one by one.
The first is Gain. Put simply, gain will increase or decrease the volume of this source. So, if your sound is just too low, you can increase the gain to compensate. It’s best if the source volume is set properly, but gain can be useful.
Video Delay (Async)
Next, is Video Delay (Async). This will basically tell a specific source to be delayed a certain amount of time in milliseconds. So, let’s say you have a capture card such as an El Gato, that has a built in delay of 1 second. You could add a 1,000 millisecond delay to your webcam, to ensure that your reactions are matched with what is happening in your game capture. Personally, I use this option to match my webcam with my mic, as I run my audio through Adobe Audition to clean it up a bit. My audio is technically delayed 250ms to have enough time to process the tweaks that I make to it live, so I add a 250ms delay to my webcam to match my voice with what’s seen on my webcam.
The last filter is Noise Gate. You may be already familiar with these options, but let’s take a look. If you have a source that you’d like to automatically filter out some loud noises, or only play noises that are above a certain level, then you want to set up a noise gate filter. Close Threshold represents the amount of decibels that need to be coming from the source in order to play a noise, or “Close this gate if the audio is too low”. Open Threshold is the decibels that the audio will need to be at so that it can play through the source, or “Open the gate at this volume”. So, you’ll notice you can have audio in between open and close. This simply means that you can open the gate once you hit a certain audio level, but it won’t close unless it falls below another audio level.
This is where the other options come in. Attack time is how long it will take the the source to play audio after the gate is breached. So, you’ll generally want this amount to be quite low. Hold time is how long after that gate has been opened to play audio from the source, regardless of the decibel level. This time will be reset each time you the source has audio that is loud enough to “breach” the gate. Release time will lower the volume over time after it has cut out. This helps remove abrupt cuts from audio, which makes it seem more natural.
Okay! Well, if you’ve stuck with me this entire post you should be a master of filters. Filters are something that I think a lot of people look over and dismiss when streaming, but mastering them can really make a huge difference in your stream set up.
The Core OBS Studio Tutorials
- Introduction to our OBS Studio Tutorial Series
- OBS Studio Vs OBS Classic
- Installing and Setting Up Profiles In OBS Studio
- Best OBS Studio Settings
- In-depth look at OBS Studio Sources
- Using OBS Studio Filters (current post)
- Setting Up OBS Studio Scenes
- What Notification Should You Use With Twitch?
- Setting Up Your Twitch Account Before You Stream
- Streaming Live on Twitch and How to Improve Your Stream
- OBS Studio Updates – Alt Cropping, New Transitions, and Source Snapping