Due to the nature of its open-source design, and backed by a passionate community of developers, OBS Studio has evolved from its humble beginnings into what would become the de-facto standard of live streaming software. In fact, it is widely considered to be one of the best programs for the purpose of live streaming.
It gets better. Did you know that there are certain optional additions, in the form of OBS Plugins, that can further expand what the program can do? There are so many different plugins available, and to make things easier for you, I’d like to highlight the top three that I find are extremely useful in some way.
Did you know that there are certain optional additions, in the form of OBS Plugins, that can further expand what the program can do?
The intent of these plugins is to add certain elements to your live stream that your audience can appreciate. For example, an Input Overlay, which will show your mouse clicks, and keypresses on an overlay element on your canvas. This is a feature not natively available on OBS but was made available as a plugin to expand the functionality of the software to include it.
How I chose these 3 OBS Plugins to feature
To start the selection process, I began with ten different plugins. These tools consisted of those that I have personally used at some point, back when I actively streamed in 2018. Each and every one of these plugins adds something that stands out from what you typically see on streams. However, some of them take this a step too far and are just… too much.
When choosing what ultimately ended up as three plugins on this list, I considered:
- The impact that they will have on attention
- How easy they are to use
- How useful they actually are
The impact on Attention
Everything must come in moderation. Try to stuff the screen with lots of cool things, and you’ll quickly overwhelm your audience with information. As a result, I ended up eliminating some pretty snazzy plugins, simply from the fact that they were too distracting from the main content.
Of those ten, I eliminated three of them because of this. That isn’t to say they were bad, I just felt that, in the seat of an audience member, I would have been inattentive with them in place, and as a result, less likely to be actually watching that stream. Maybe I flip through Twitter or browse YouTube for some interesting video about some crazy breath of the wild lore theories.
Side note, those theories are pretty cool if you’re into The Legend of Zelda as much as I am. Check out Zeltik if you’re interested.
Point is, they aren’t watching you, nor are they engaging with you in chat over your content.
How easy they are to use
I’ll admit that some of the plugins available for OBS Studio aren’t the easiest to figure out. They aren’t necessarily designed by a team of professional software engineers, who are paid tens of thousands to develop their plugin to the standards of the mass market. That said, some plugins are so unintuitive to grasp that they need their own set of articles to explain how to use them properly.
Of the Seven remaining, only one plugin fits that bill of being too hard to use, and simply not worth the effort.
Eliminate Edge-case plugins that aren’t useful for most
Great, now we are down to six. Eliminate those edge-case plugins for things like NDI-OBS for two PC streaming setups, ASIO device support, and Media Controls docked into OBS and we have the three winners.
Let’s get into the list!
#1 – Spectralizer, an OBS Plugin for Audio Visualization
Confirmed working for OBS Studio Version 26.0.2 running Plugin Version 1.2
Remember the old days of using the Win-amp audio visualizer to have something to watch when listening to music, being bored out of your mind?
No? Just me? Okay, I guess I’m just old.
Anyways, I do, and I am sad that they aren’t nearly as popular as they once were. Well, this plugin adds an incredibly low latency audio visualizer to OBS Studio. The visualizer style is a bar graph, but it is extremely customizable:
- You can Increase the detail (Number of bars) theoretically infinitely, however, anything past 255 tends to not really be visible
- The width, height, and spacing of the bars can all be adjusted individually
- Color changes are a button away
- Stereo mode available
- You can change how fast the bars change by modifying the Gravity & Falloff sliders
- Set it to monitor any audio source
- You can apply filters to the source (It counts as a source, and things like chromakey work with it)
There are a ton of different ways you can utilize this in your scenes to spice up the look of your stream, making it appear more professional. This plugin costs you nothing but a little bit of your time to set it up, and once it is, you never have to touch it again until you decide to change the look of your scenes later.
This plugin can be a bit complicated to install, so I strongly recommend paying close attention to the installation instructions.
#2 – Input Overlay, an OBS Plugin to show your Key Inputs on stream
Confirmed working on OBS Studio Version 26.0.2
|Useful for||Not Useful for|
|Competitive Gameplay||Standard “Casual” Gameplay (Distracting)|
|Tutorial videos for YouTube|
Next on the list is Input Overlay, which was mentioned briefly at the beginning of the article. This plugin will show your audience on-screen what buttons are being pressed, as you press them. In fact, you can even make your own overlay image to set yourself apart. Just be sure to follow the instructions on how to do so in this video.
Technically, it also works for X-input-enabled Controllers, however, there is a better solution for that particular use case. What this is great for, is those of you who play competitive games, like League of Legends or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. It’s also handy if you are making a tutorial on Blender or something that uses a million and one shortcut keys.
This plugin won’t really help anyone outside of the gaming or tutorial scene, and was in danger of being eliminated from not being useful enough. My decision to include it was simply due to the massive size of E-Sports by itself.
#3 – Move Transition, an OBS Plugin to add motion-based scene Transition effects
|Unique scene transition effects that can Wow your audience||Does not work with Streamlabs OBS|
|Able to display multiple scenes at once||Your Scene structure will change a bit|
Last, but certainly not least, we have the Move Transitions plugin. This is a plugin that fundamentally alters the way that scene transitions are handled, in a super professional-looking effect you’d sooner expect to see in a high-budget TV show. It does not remove the standard transition effects, merely adds a new one that is highly configurable.
When I streamed, I actually used a different plugin at the time, known as “motion-effect”, but I believe that one was discontinued by the original author. However, this new variant does more or less the same thing, but better.
I strongly recommend watching the video by nutty on YouTube above to get a good idea of how to set it up, and how the effect itself looks. He does a fantastic job of showing the plugin’s ins and outs. If you’re interested in adding this to your own setup, or at the very least, trying it out, here you go! The installation instructions are on the same page.
Also, please note that this plugin is quite a bit more complicated to use than the other two. It was almost eliminated because of that, but the effect that you get out of the transition is worth the complexity, in my opinion. There are a few tutorials on YouTube available for it, so feel free to check those out if you are having a hard time
Thank you for reading to the end! If you found these plugins helpful, or have another plugin you want to let the community know about, leave a comment down below. Be sure to include your stream URL as the Website field, and maybe you’ll see me hop in your stream one day. Good luck with your streaming endeavors!