Spectacular Secrets from Story Crossroads Spectacular – Part 1 of 5

This is the first of five parts on tech skills needed to transform the live 5th Annual Story Crossroads Festival into a virtual one called Story Crossroads Spectacular.

Secrets to be Revealed:

  • Part 1 – OBS…Software Worth the Struggle
  • Part 2 – Sound and Lighting
  • Part 3 – Trial & Error – Test Runs
  • Part 4 – Involving More Than One Language
  • Part 5 – Multi-Streaming and “Scenes”

OBS…Software Worth the Struggle

I never heard of “OBS” until we needed to live-stream our storytelling festival. I only knew we had to stream this festival somehow. Facebook Live and YouTube were popular, though the thought of being confined to one platform or another did not sit well. Besides, I needed to look into Twitch due to what I learned from Julie Barnson, Executive Committee Member and a teacher with the Jordan School District. That school district banned Facebook and was not supportive of YouTube. Twitch was allowed for virtual field trips.

So not only did we need to stream a festival, but we needed to multi-stream. Though…shhhh…that is part five of this blog series. Let me tell you about OBS now so we can eventually get to that part five.

Story Crossroads got a free account on Twitch, which is famous for video gamers in showing themselves playing while simultaneously displaying their screens so you can follow along. I used to watch my brother play video games and actually enjoyed it. I never had to play it. His video game character was the hero in the story, and I was always rooting for a “happily ever after.” Nowadays, people stream these experiences. Instead of seeing someone’s back–like I did when my brother played–you can see facial expressions.

I was delighted to find that Twitch expanded to be a platform with thousands of performing artists, mainly musicians. Not many storytellers are on Twitch, though I hope to see that change. To stream on Twitch, I needed some kind of broadcasting software. OBS is not the only choice, but many people choose OBS because, well…it’s free. OBS stands for Open Broadcaster Software.

I decided to download OBS onto the laptop as my laptop was newer than my desktop AND it had a built-in camera. There were many videos on how to download OBS. Yet, some people sometimes mentioned “capture card” or “scenes” or “studio mode.” Those phrases, besides “OBS,” were new. I may be decent with technology, but I do not consider myself technologically-inclined.

If I was going to understand this, I needed to call someone. An expert. A neighbor kid.

This same neighbor kid would babysit our kids – back before COVID-19 – and he is so smart that he could hack into any computer or software. Now, he has this knowledge but does not do anything with ill intentions. He simply is a curious person.

Anyway, I needed his advice.

When I attempted to download OBS, it would not happen. This neighbor kid emailed me different software to upload first so that OBS would be smooth. Nothing. He wondered what was going on, too. I went to the start-up menu of my screen, clicked the Windows symbol on the lower left, clicked on PC Settings then to “System” and finally to “About.” I rattled off that my laptop had Windows 10, 64-bit, up to 8 GB, etc. Although listed in the “About,” it was really the sticker underneath the keyboard that caught my attention. “And,” I continued, “I have intel CORE 17 inside.” I looked at the “About” stuff again and saw that intel was listed there so I could be more specific: Intel (R) Core (TM) i7-6400HQ CPU @ 2.60Hz. My neighbor was impressed with that and knew that my laptop was compatible for OBS.

Then he asked the important question, “Are your drivers updated on your intel?” Instead of responding with, “What?!? Huh?” I calmly stated, “That is a good question.” I did not know what a driver was though I told him that I get updates automatically. He searched around, did his magic, and emailed me a direct link to update. I discovered I had 4 drivers that needed updating. When that was done…THEN I could download OBS. Yes, I did pay my neighbor kid at a higher rate than when he babysits my three kids.

The first time you open OBS, it can be a little scary. Prepare yourself. Here is an image to help get acquainted:

Normally, it is all black in the center and not the split screen and, of course, not with the Story Crossroads logo. I then had to click on “Settings” under “Controls” towards the bottom right. Please learn some important ways to do this at this video. Keep in mind that the video is a couple years old so things will be similar but could vary slightly in how things look.

You will be tempted to touch the “Start Streaming” or the “Start Recording” buttons under “Controls.” Recording is less scary than streaming. When working out OBS, I accidentally recorded myself but thankfully did not stream as my hair was crazy, I had on no make-up, and you could only see my forehead and eyes because…well, I didn’t realize the button was pushed and I was a little overwhelmed by the buttons and settings. I ended up deleting that recording, but now I kind-of miss it. That could have been great when Story Crossroads has a documentary of how we started.

I am not kidding about the documentary. We have videotaped and interviewed people every year during the Festival. This year was different as we live-streamed and recorded.

I will return to OBS in the fifth part of this blog series. Plenty of adventures await me–and you–on these spectacular secrets.

Want to discover more secrets beyond this 5-part Blog Series? Rachel Hedman will represent Story Crossroads at the National Storytelling Network’s CONNECTED Virtual Storytelling Conference & Festival on Saturday, June 6, 2020 from 3:00pm-4:30pm CDT (2:00pm-3:30pm MDT). You can register for this session only or a conference package.

Check out the the next adventure on Saturday, June 20, 2020 from 9:00am-10:30am MDT from your computer- The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities.

See our 5-video playlist from the Story Crossroads Spectacular by clicking here.

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