Recording Online Conferences With OBS

This year has become The Year Of The Online conference.

Yuck.

I’ve always enjoyed attending conferences – the networking, dinners and drinks were fun to me.  The travel – eh, I can do without the 1-stop flights and winter weather than can strand you in a layover town for a day.  I’m a man of routine, that messes me up.

I didn’t enjoy the feeling when I know I just missed a nugget from the speaker.  In my old life as an equity analyst, it was particularly bad if the information was market-moving.  I’d get a call from our trading desk asking what happened, and if I ddidn’t know….well, it’d get ugly.

So one awesome side effect of all these conferences is we can make recordings – video and audio – of the presentations for our own personal use.

Let me repeat that – for our own personal use. 

Don’t be a dick and steal the hard work of others by uploading it somewhere.

However, if you suck at notetaking, and want to go back after the initial presentation to make sure you didn’t miss anything, let me introduce you to….

OBS Studio.

The Open Broadcaster Software is a free, open-source software project that’s used by many streamers to throw their streams up on Twitch or YouTube.

That’s not what you want it for.

It has the ability to:

A)  Record your desktop to disk and

B) Set a filter so it only records a certain part of your screen.

Those are the requirements you need to record any webinar. I’ve only used it with Google Meet and Goto Webinar, but I’d assume it will work with any video that appears on your desktop.

Before we begin – make sure you have enough free disk space to do this.  You don’t need tons – I recently recorded a day worth of presentations and it came in around 3GB – but I know I’d be mad if I were relying on going back over a video for notes, and finding out it didn’t record because of lack of space.

We are going to record this Google Meet window as an example. It’s in the right monitor of a 2-screen setup.  I want to be able to keep working in the left monitor during the presentation.

Steps To Record An Online Presentation:

  • Download OBS Studio and install
  • Open the program. Select from the menu Profile->New.   Name it MyConference
  • Create a new scene by pressing the “+” under the scene dock. It’s the orange arrow in the awesome graphic I created.
  • Create a new Source.  Click on the “+” under the Source Dock.  It’s the green area in the graphic.  Create New and name it “monitor”.
  • If you have multiple monitors, you’ll have to select the monitor your conference is displayed on. I turn on “Capture Cursor” – you be you.
  • The obs interface will have a live picture of the monitor your conference is currently displayed on.  The outline is red.  Position the conference window as you would like it – it’s easiest if you leave some space around it in case the presenter decides to increase the display size.
  • hold the ALT button and select the red outline.  Drag it to “crop” to only cover the area you want to record.
  • Right click on the area inside the crop in OBS. Select resize output (source size).  Select Yes
  • Now you just need to make sure that your audio is ok.  Usually just leaving it on Desktop Audio is fine – it works for me when I run my audio through my headset.  Make sure you have your microphone off – unless you want to leave yourself notes, which is what I do.  OBS will record your open mike.
  • Select the “Settings” button in the lower right corner of OBS if you want to change the default location for saving the recordings.  That’ll be under the output tab.
  • Finally, when it’s time to record, select the “Start Recording” button on the lower Right hand side of OBS.  Hit stop recording when you are done.

I hope this helps you to navigate online conference season.  Any questions, please leave them in the comments.

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