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How do you record Zoom meetings using OBS?

Open Broadcaster Software is becoming an essential tool for companies requiring advanced recording features for Zoom. The software also makes it easy to livestream meetings.

One of Zoom's most popular features is its native video recording. Zoom users can record meetings to either their PCs or the Zoom cloud. Users can even get separate files for gallery view and full-sized speaker view if they record to the Zoom cloud. Yet, many people are using other options, such as Open Broadcaster Software, or OBS, to record video meetings.

Why use another piece of software when Zoom provides recording? There are several small benefits. For example, OBS supports recording into different video formats. But the main reason to learn how to record Zoom meetings using OBS is that the software can help companies get a step ahead on their video production.

OBS is the software of choice for many, if not most, of today's online video streamers. This free software lets users create scenes, using a webcam feed along with any other videos or images they elect to include. The result is then pushed live to their streaming platform of choice, like YouTube or Twitch, and/or to a recording. The original use case for OBS was simple: It let gamers overlay their webcam image on a corner of their video game during their online streams. Viewers could see the game at full size, as well as the real-time reactions of streamers, as they play.

OBS becoming a full-featured editor

Over time, OBS added countless features and capabilities as users sought to enhance their streams and stand out. Today, it is practically a full-featured live video editor. Just about anything you can do in post-production with traditional video editing software, such as Adobe Premiere Pro, you can now do live in OBS. We all know what Premiere Pro can do; it's basically Photoshop for video.

Just as Photoshop enables users to manipulate an image, Premiere Pro enables them to manipulate a video. An experienced editor using Premiere Pro can do just about anything with a recorded file. Traditional editing software can be expensive, however, and it requires a recorded video file. OBS is free and enables users to edit their live feeds.

What does that mean? Instead of recording on Zoom and importing that recording into Premiere Pro for production, users can employ OBS to do everything in one shot. Any backgrounds, title bars, flyover graphics, transitions or other video effects typically applied after the fact with editing software can be set up in OBS and applied during the recording itself. OBS also added a Nvidia-powered background removal filter, which makes it easier to bring guests from Zoom into OBS scenes.

How to record Zoom meetings in OBS

Before taking advantage of these features, users must first capture Zoom in OBS. There are a few ways to do this, but here are the quick steps to the method I use to record Zoom meetings in OBS.

1. Click the + button at the bottom of the Sources dock in OBS to create a new source. OBS enables users to edit and control Zoom meetings in real time.

2. Choose Display Capture.

3. Set the new source to capture the PC's second display.

4. Move the Zoom window over to the PC's second display.

Now, Zoom exists as a source in OBS. Anything that happens in the Zoom window also happens on this source in the OBS screen. Users can crop, resize, add filters and control the Zoom meeting in any way they choose.

Users can also make multiple copies of the meeting and control them all differently, which enables having one source for each speaker in Zoom. Users can then position speakers as they please over the background source of choice and already have a more produced and watchable video. From there, users can take it to the next level by creating multiple scenes, pop-up effects, transitions and other advanced OBS techniques.

Support for live and prerecorded meetings

These capabilities notwithstanding, when learning how to record Zoom meetings using OBS, perhaps the biggest advantage is how easy it is to stream live. Once scenes are set up and you are comfortable with switching between them during the session, OBS lets you stream just as easily as you can record. Rather than hit Start Recording, select Start Streaming -- after configuring OBS to connect to a YouTube or other streaming service account.

In fact, I produce several video podcasts that are sometimes live and sometimes prerecorded, depending on my client's needs for that particular podcast. From a production standpoint, I set up OBS the same way regardless. When the session begins, I can either stream live or record with full production values. Either way, it happens all in one step and with little or no need for post-production editing.

David Maldow is the founder and CEO of Let's Do Video. He has written about the video and visual collaboration industry for almost 20 years.

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