Recording videos with Open Broadcaster Software

Are you one of those flight simulation fans that would love to share your flights with the rest of the world but you cannot afford a paid video recording software? Are you using your phone to record your videos? Did you know you can get a great FREE software to record and share those great sim moments? Enter Open Broadcaster Software.

Open Broadcaster Software, or OBS is a free and open source program that allows you to record what's happening in your screen, including games and flight simulators. In fact, you can not only record videos but you can actually stream them directly to YouTube or Twitch. That's actually its primary function!

OBS will not hog your computer and you should not find any performance hits while using it with your sim. I've used it with FSX, X-Plane, ARMA and DCS and didn't find any issues. The video and audio quality is also very good, making this a great package.

We use Open Broadcaster Software to make our YouTube channel videos (please feel free to subscribe!) so you can see some examples of the quality of the recording there.

Downloading and installing Open Broadcaster Software

The first thing you need to do is to head out to the OBS website. Once there, you have 2 options: to get OBS Classic or OBS Studio. OBS Studio is the multi-platform version. So, if you're using Windows, you can get any version. If not, you'll have to use OBS Studio.

I use OBS Studio as I found it a bit easier to use and with a better UI. I advice you to use that version regardless of the operating system you have in your computer.

Once you download the file, simply double-click and follow the instructions. Pretty straightforward.

Configuring OBS Studio

After installing OBS, you'll have to configure a few things such as what window to capture, what hotkeys to use for capturing the video and where to save the video files. Let's open OBS and start setting everything up. But, before we move on...

Important tip

open-broadcaster-software-run-as-admin

There's something that we must do prior to opening OBS: we need to configure the shortcut (which should be on your desktop) so that we always run the program as the administrator. This is probably only true on Windows.

We must do this in order for OBS to be able to access our simulator and capture the image. If we don't do this, we'll just see a black screen.

We could right-click the icon and select "Run as administrator" but this is just an extra step and. Also, it's very easy for us to forget to do it on future recordings. Configuring the program to always run as administrator is easier and will save us a lot of pain.

Follow these steps:

  • right-click the OBS icon and select Properties
  • Select the "Compatibility" tab on the top
  • Click (enable) "Run this program as an administrator"
  • Click "Apply" or "OK"

And we're set.

Double-click the icon to start the program and you should be ready to start configuring all the settings.

Capturing your simulator

Before we move on, please note that your simulator should already be running so we can target it later.

Once you open the program you will be presented with a screen like the one below (please click for a bigger version). The black rectangle is where the image will be once we set everything up. It's also the black screen I told you about above. If we don't run OBS as an administrator, this rectangle will always just be black.

Open Broadcaster Software - main window

On the bottom of the window, you'll find a few controls. From the left, you'll have Scenes and Sources. This is where we are adding our new source. Click the plus sign "+".

Open Broadcaster Software - selecting source

A popup will open. This is where you will enter the name for the source. For this example we will be capturing FSX, so that's what I wrote. Please note that the name does not have to be the same as your sim. It can be anything you wish.

open-broadcaster-software-selecting-source-name

After we click OK, yet another window will open. This will be where we will indicate what window OBS should capture. By default, the "Capture any fullscreen application" is on. I prefer to actually force OBS to find the window I want to record. So we disable this option and, in the Window drop-down, we'll select [fsx.exe]: Microsoft Flight Simulator X, which is already running.

open-broadcaster-software-selecting-source-window

Your black rectangle should now display what you see in FSX. We successfully configured the game capture.

Open Broadcaster Software - capturing FSX

Saving to a specific folder

You may want to save your video files to a different folder other than the default one that OBS uses, which is located in your main drive. I prefer to have my videos saved in my D: drive, which has a lot more room.

To do this, we click the "Settings" button on the bottom right corner of the main window, or access this through the "File -> Settings" menu on the top.

We then click on the "Output" item on the left, and we change the setting in Recording > Recording Path to a folder of our choice.

Open Broadcaster Software - output folder

Setting hottkeys

Setting your hotkeys is very handy. By using the keys you indicate below, you may start and stop the recording at your convenience. Each time you start a recording, a new video is then created in the folder you indicated above.

For FSX I use CTRL + SHIFT + F9 to start my recording and CTRL + SHIFT + F10 to stop.

open-broadcaster-software-hotkeys

After you configure your hotkeys, simply hit them and check your output folder. Your videos should be there.

Editing your video

Once you have captured your video, you may want to edit it to remove some long parts, change the position of some scenes or even join some separate takes.

There are a few open source (and free) video editing programs out there that you can use. I haven't checked any of the ones below but, after some research, a lot of people are saying great things about it. Please note that the list was not done in any particular order. I would advice you to try, at least, 2 or 3 of them before committing to use one.

A piece of advice

Are you considering uploading your video to YouTube? If so, see if the editor you're using allows you to save to mp4 format. YouTube will process your videos dramatically faster if you uploading them in this format.

Sim, camera, action!

With this tutorial, you should be all set up and ready to start making your amazing flight simulation related videos. If you have any questions or doubts, please post them in the comments section.

Also, if you're making some amazing videos, let us know! Post them below for us to check out! And don't forget to visit and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Have fun! And fly safe!

Sérgio Costa

About Sérgio Costa

Sérgio has been a flight simulation enthusiast for nearly 25 years. His passion with helicopters developed during MSFS 2000 when he discovered the complexity of these aircraft and the challenge it was to control them. Since then he has been primarily a helicopter flight simmer, trying his best not to crash and kill all his virtual passengers. Sérgio is HeliSimmer's editor and writer and one of the Three Grumpy Simmers, a YouTube series and Podcast produced together with YouTubers Bel Geode and NovaWing24, obviously dedicated to flight simulation.

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