How do I create the "newscaster" effect while streaming my video feed?

This guide will cover the process and gear needed to create a "newscast" style video, where software allows you to record two feeds at the same time, making it look like you are superimposed onto your presentation (without your webcam background showing up; this style of video requires a green screen).

With a little work to get up and running, this video style is a great way for students to feel more connected with you, since they can see you as you explain content. For other style ideas, see an overview of different formats for videos (and their strengths/weakenesses).

Before you begin

To create this style of video, you will need: 

How does this work?

For an example, review the "Field Work Films: Notes on Recording for Remote Teaching" (starting at 12:30) webinar on the Remote Exponential Learning Resources site for an example of how this style of video can be effectively used (thank you to Prof. Jay Pooley for letting us share his work in this guide).

In this example, Prof. Pooley is combining two input feeds - a camera feed and a display feed. In the session, he chose to broadcast the two feeds (as one) live in Bb Collaborate (you could also choose to record this type of set up).

Jay Pooley Screenshot

1. Configuring your Green Screen

Setting up a green screen at home is more time consuming than challenging. Ok, it might be a bit frustrating because it is a finicky process. We've covered some general tips below, but for a more in depth guide, see How-to Set up a professional green screen: 7 tips for video creators.

1.1. Choosing your Green Screen

Before you purchase a green screen, you will want to consider the space that you plan to film in. Make sure that the space is large enough to fit your camera and lights, and that you have enough space to fit a green screen that covers your background. Then, choose an appropriately sized screen, and get started on setting it up.

Don't have a green screen but still want to remove your background? If you don't have a green screen or don't want to invest in one, Chromacam is a free software that allows you to remove the background from your webcam, or insert a virtual green screen into your background. It doesn't work as well as a green screen, and there is a watermark in the free version, but it is an option if you aren't planning on making too many videos.

1.2. Setting up your Green Screen

Depending on the green screen that you have, it may or may not have come with a stand. If it came with a stand, simply set up your green screen with the included hardware. If it did not, you will have to find a way to drape or prop it up. You will want to position the green screen a couple feet back from where you plan to be positioned, to avoid having any green "spill" onto you, causing a fuzzy green edge when you go to remove your background. 

Next, secure the screen. Consider using clamps and fasteners to hold your screen in place. You want the green screen to be as smooth and taut as possible, since any wrinkles and shadows in the screen will make it harder for software to remove your background. 

2. Lighting the Green Screen (and yourself)

When using a green screen, it’s important to use lighting to create a solid color on the screen. Any inconsistencies in the green shade make it harder to process out your background, so it is important to eliminate as many shadows on the sheet as you can. Use your lights to illuminate the screen evenly and ensure that your surface is as smooth as possible. 

You also want to make sure that you are lit up properly as well. Avoid having harsh direct light shine on you, and instead aim to create a softer light by diffusing your light source with a lampshade, off a wall, etc. It works best if you have multiple sets of lights to light up you and your green screen separately, but if that is not a possibility, do your best to light yourself up while keeping the green screen evenly lit.  

Check out this video from LinkedIn Learning for a better understanding of how best to light your green screen.

3. Set up your Recording Canvas in OBS

This guide assumes that you have OBS installed on your computer (see OBS Download if not). If you'd like more information on setting up OBS, visit the OBS community for support. OBS is a free broadcasting software tool that allows you to both share content live (requires more set up) or to record content.

To prepare for broadcasting and recording, you need to tell the software what you want to share - for this example, this means identifying your camera feed and your display feed.

3.1. Add your camera (or webcam) as a device

  1. Under "Sources" in the bottom left-hand side of the screen, select the plus (+) button.
  2. Select "Video Capture Device."
  3. Under "Create new," select a name for your device (it's helpful to name it by device, to make it easier for you to remember what is what) by replacing the text for "Video Capture Device." In this example I've renamed the "Video Capture Device" to "Webcam."
  4. Select the "OK" button. After selecting this button, a new menu will pop up, allowing you to specify the type of device.

3.2. Select your recording device (camera)

In this example, a webcam feed is being added so the device was named "Webcam." A confirmation of the device is shown via the thumbnail video feed. Depending on your set up, you might have more than one camera (e.g. a built in webcam and an external webcam). If you have multiple cameras you might consider naming them by how you will use them or something else you'll remember easily.

  1. Select your camera from the Device drop down.
  2. Select the "OK" button. After this process is complete, the source (your webcam) should appear directly on the OBS canvas.

3.3. Confirm camera visible within application

  1. While this will be moved later to fit the type of recording, I can at least see that the input video feed has been added to my recording canvas.

3.4. Add your background content

After your camera device has been added to the canvas, we want to choose what content shows up behind you. This is typically a slide type presentation but can be any type of displayed content (e.g. a browser or other application). If you can see it on your computer, you can share it in your video.

  1. In OBS, under "Sources," select the plus (+) button.
  2. Select your background content from the list of sources. There are quite a few options, commonly used is "browser" or "display capture."

3.5. Reminder: Size your content before capturing

The content added to OBS is not always sized optimally. Sometimes you have to manually size it to ensure a high resolution recording.

  1. Use the red drag controls to size your content to the full canvas size.

3.6. Reminder: Ensure your content layers are accurate

Ensure that your camera feed is higher than the background content (you don't want the camera to be hidden by the content). The layers are sorted by the order that you add them, so sometimes your camera is hidden underneath the bigger display content area.

3.7. Confirm that your canvas is configured (per your preferences)

What you see on the canvas is what your audience/viewers will see. You want to double check:

  • Camera scale - Are you the appropriate size?
  • Content lay out - Is your camera feed covering any content?

4. Keying out your green screen in OBS

4.1. Key out your background

  1. Right Click on your Video Capture Device Source under the "Sources" tab.
  2. Select "Filters" from the dropdown.
  3. Under "Effect Filters" select the plus (+) button, and select the "Chroma Key" option. 
  4. Set a name for the filter, and hit "OK."

You should then be met with a preview screen of how your video looks, along with video settings.

Ensure that "Green" is selected under the "Key Color Type." Use the sliders to tweak the key - you want your entire background to be removed, with a clean edge between you and the green screen. Once you are happy with the result, press "Close" to complete setup.

4.2. Make sure your capture device has priority over your background

To make sure your webcam feed shows on top of your presentation, you will want to ensure that your video capture device has priority over of your background content. To do this, check your Sources section. Your video capture device should be above your background content. If it isn’t, use the up and down arrow indicators to shift the position of a selected source. 

You should now see your webcam with your background removed superimposed on your presentation content. If you can’t, double check that your webcam device has priority over your background content. 

When shooting with a green screen, make sure that you are not wearing anything that is close to green, or has any colors close to green. If you do, when you go to remove the background, you will also disappear into the background!  

5. Test your recording (or broadcast)

Before you get too far, as always, you'll want to do a full test. Schedule a demo webinar or do a short recording and confirm that everything is the quality you are hoping for.

6. Sharing your content via a Webinar tool

Now that you have your background removed and your content prepared, all that is left to do is share your content on a webinar tool (in this example, we're using Bb Collaborate - we're recreating the effect by Prof. Pooley from his session, Field Work Films: Notes on Recording for Remote Teaching). While this guide only covers sharing your OBS window through Bb Collaborate, this method can be easily adapted to other webinar tools without changing much.  

Set up your OBS window for sharing

In OBS, right click anywhere on your canvas, and hover over "Fullscreen Projector (Preview)." Select your monitor, this will project a fullscreen preview of your OBS window to the selected monitor.

7. Sharing the window (video stream) on Bb Collaborate 

Should you choose to host your lectures on Bb Collaborate, you may want to share your content from OBS on there using the "Share Content" function on Bb Collaborate.  If you're unfamiliar with Bb Collaborate and would like to learn more about this tool, you might start with the Get Started with Collaborate Ultra for Moderators guide.

  1. Navigate to the "Share Content" tab.
  2. Choose the "Share Application/Screen" option; this will pop up an option for your to select an application to share.

Choose the Fullscreen Projector Application

  1. Select the "Application Window" tab.
  2. Choose your OBS "Fullscreen Projector (Preview)" window.
  3. Select "Share."