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Webcam Filters for Streaming

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You’ve got lights, you’ve got camera, and you’ve got action, but something seems to be missing. When you hook your webcam up for the first time you may notice the image it produces is lacking in depth, sharpness, and character. Luckily, OBS and Streamlabs both have filters to help you tweak and personalize your webcam’s image so you can engage and build a connection with your viewers.

Easy to Use Webcam Filters for Streaming (OBS and Streamlabs)

At its simplest, filters are effects your broadcast software will apply in real-time. You can add filters to any source, but we’re going to focus on video filters to enhance your webcam. Once you’ve added your webcam as a Video Input Source you can either right-click on that source or click the cogwheel while the source is highlighted. Let’s go into a little more detail about each filter and the basics of what they do.

The Filter Screen for OBS
The Filter Screen for Streamlabs
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    Color/Chroma/Luma Key

    These three effects are used to remove backgrounds from live video but each goes about it slightly differently. With Color and Chroma Key you tell the software what color to remove like a green screen or a painted wall. Color Key tends to work best with a flat, solid color while Chroma Key works best for painted walls that may have some slight variations in that color.

    The Luma Key works best when trying to remove true black and white values, i.e. if you are significantly more lit than your background. So if you want to go borderless for your webcam all you need is a green screen, a green blanket, or some green paint and you’ll be well on your way. If you really want to get creative with it, you can wear a turtleneck the same color as your background and become a floating head!

  • paintbrush

    Color Correction

    This filter will help your webcam look more natural. There are a lot of options in this filter, but you really only need to worry about four of them: Gamma, Contrast, Brightness, Saturation, and Hue Shift. Gamma and brightness both make your webcam lighter and darker, Gamma will try to keep your darks dark and your lights light while brightness will affect your webcam as a whole. The contrast will emphasize the differences between dark and light colors. Saturation will affect how intense the colors are, and can turn your webcam black & white if lowered all the way.

    You can, if you want, turn yourself into the Hulk

    Hue Shift can help get rid of any weird color casts, like your skin appearing to have a green shade to it, or outright change the color of everything on your webcam. The amount of control you have with this filter is immense, and it will likely be the most important filter you can add while also being the filter you can mess up the most. When changing the values in any of these options make sure to do it in very small increments.

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    Sharpen

    This filter will help a webcam with a very soft focus appear to have a very sharp focus, hence the name. This is another filter it is very easy to go overboard with. You want to use this filter very sparingly as it will increase the amount of noise in your image and increase the workload of your GPU very quickly. It can help a softly focused image, but it can not fix an out of focus image.

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    Crop/Pad

    My webcam wasn’t cropped into my face enough so I used the Crop Filter to keep attention on the money maker.

    This filter adjusts the amount of your webcam that is shown. For example, if you’d like a square image or maybe there’s something just off to the side in your image that you’d like not be shown, this is the filter for you. Enter in a positive number to crop your image and a negative number to add blank space to it.

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    Scaling/Aspect Ratio

    If for some reason or another, you notice your webcam seems squished or stretched, it may be because your webcam is not communicating its aspect ratio (16:9/4:3) to your broadcasting software correctly. This filter will help you correct it.

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    Image Mask/Blend

    Using a mask I’m able to create a unique shape for my webcam.

    This simple sounding filter is, I would say, one of the most useful if you’re looking to really up the visual intrigue of your stream. With this filter you can reshape your webcam into just about any shape you think of. Want a circular frame? A hexagon? A diamond? This is how you do it. If you’re familiar with how masks work in an image editing program like Photoshop, then you know how they work here.

    This is what the mask itself looks like. Notice the black background is now completely transparent.

    For a circular cam, for example, you want to create an image with a white circle on a black background. Anything white will show, and anything black will be hidden. This also works for shades of grey, which will affect the opacity of your image. The Blending option isn’t used as much, but there are some interesting things you could do with it. You could add a watermark or “ghost” an image over your webcam by uploading an image and playing around with the different blend modes, Multiply, Addition, Subtraction.

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    Scrolling

    This is usually used for a text ticker or stream labels, but you could use it to create a carousel effect for your camera by having it scroll left to right or up and down, or a combination of the two.

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    Render/Video Delay

    If you’re having an issue syncing your audio and video this is one way to fix that. If you find your video is ahead of your audio, clapping is an easy way to tell, then you can add a video delay filter to bring the two back in sync. One thing to remember is that you’re using milliseconds, so you can really dial it in and get everything just right.

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    Apply LUT

    LUT is short for Look Up Table and is used in videography to color grade footage. When it comes to your webcam you can use these to enrich your image. The easiest way to think of them is like Lux filters you can use when uploading to Instagram. You can give your webcam a Cross Processed feel, enrich contrast, and change the mood of your image with these.

    I created my own LUT for my webcam. You can really see the difference it makes on the right as compared to the image coming from my webcam directly.

    You can make your own LUT with a program like Photoshop or Davinci Resolve, or you can find LUTs online for free. You simply save them in your broadcast software’s LUT folder and then adjust the strength of it with the “amount” slider.

    The Visual Presets drop-down in Streamlabs is located above the Filters option.

    Stream Labs comes with some LUT like effects included in filters under the Visual Presets dropdown. You have several options; Grayscale, Sepiatone (Old Timey Photo), Dramatic (Highly Saturated), Flashback (Desaturates the background), Inverted, Action Movie, Hearth, Wintergreen, Heat Map (Predator Vision), and Cell Shade (Comic Booky).

Why Using Image Filters is Important

Just like audio, the order of the filters is important. If something isn’t behaving quite the way you think it should, then try rearranging the order of your filters.

These filters can be applied to any visual source. Hue Shift, for example, is often used to change the color of overlays, like changing the color of your webcam frame from orange to blue without the need to use a program like Photoshop.

As mentioned above, these filters can eat into your GPU usage, so if you start seeing dropped frames, try toggling your filters on and off.

These filters won’t give you puppy ears or babyfaces like Snapchat, but if that’s what you were looking for check out this plug in.

Regardless of how useful these filters are, they can not make up for poor lighting.

StreamElements OBS Filters

If you’re using Stream Elements OBS you have even more options for filters thanks to the program being open source, sorry Stream Labs users. One of the most robust plug-ins you can use is StreamFX. This plugin has so many features it very well may require its own separate guide, but one of the most popular features is the blur filter.

After installing this plug-in you can add a blur filter to a portion of your stream to use with chat boxes and backgrounds, for example. The OBS Project website has a ton of useful and powerful plug-ins you can use. You’ll want to keep an eye out for a future article detailing how to let your viewers turn filters on and off using subs, bits, and channel points.

About the Author

Nick

Nick is a Graphic Designer, Photographer, Bar Tender, and Variety Streamer over on Twitch. When he's not explaining why you can't substitute vodka for gin in a signature cocktail to patrons just this side of being cut off; you can find him tweaking his overlay, being a pillow for his girlfriend, staring at one of his cats, or trying to "get gud" at a game at BrennivinAndCigarettes.

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