How to Annotate with OBS

In a previous post I gave a quick introduction to OBS, if you are not familiar with OBS, I highly recommend checking it out. In this post, I’ll show you how you can easily annotate while recording or streaming with OBS.

Often while presenting we will use a pointer to bring attention to an area on a slide or a smart board/whiteboard to help illustrate a concept or idea and further engage our audience. In my quest to provide the same experience while using OBS for recorded and streaming demos I discovered there are several tools available that enable you to write and draw on your display capture device.

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Getting started with OBS

Earlier this year I took part in a Social Impact Hackathon organized by Valtech, CreateLabs, Contentful for the Henry Street Settlement in NYC. During the event I introduced OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) and shared some handy tips on how to get started using this awesome tool to improve your video content and/or presentations and client demos. I’ll share some of those tips over a series of posts starting with a quick intro.

What is OBS?

OBS is an open source video production and streaming application with a large community of developers. It can help you produce better quality recorded video and/streaming video content.

How could you benefit from using OBS? During the pandemic just about everyone has become familiar with video steaming services. Social distancing and lockdowns caused an unprecedented number of people to working or studying from home making services like zoom a household name in 2020.

This increased popularity of streaming video pointed out noticeable differences in quality. With the more professional-looking, having multiple camera angles, titling, effective lighting and crisp audio, VS other video streams consisting of one or more talking heads and poor audio. What’s the difference? Well it’s not exactly difficult to record and share a video of yourself these days. Most people can do it directly from their phone or laptop webcam. However, to produce professional looking recording requires a bit more time, and effort and some decent software to enhance the quality of your recording. That’s where OBS comes in as it can help make improve the quality of your video recordings, and presentations in general.

On my current Sitecore project our development team have adopted OBS to create short recordings to showcase each feature they have completed in the sprint. These are attached to the user story and then used in after Sprint Demo to showcase to the BA, QA and the client what has been completed in the sprint and how the new feature functions. This has the following benefits for the entire team:

  • Developer – this acts as a confirmation check as they read through stories acceptance criteria and as part of the as part of the recording prior to demoing the feature. This helps confirm feature has indeed been implemented according the defined Acceptance Criteria and identifies any short comings or issues. Which can then be addressed. Developers gain confidence in creating recorded presentations. We’ve also found developers gain confidence and those that might be slightly introverted can significant confidence and are less intimidated presenting in front of the client. Prevents developers simply throwing features over the wire to QA without ensuring it functions as expected – not that they would.
  • BA – This helps solidify features have been implemented according the Acceptance Criteria and identify any short comings or issues.
  • QA – They can see exactly how a feature has been implemented, how to test it and where to go if they need to configure or change anything in Sitecore. Reduces the amount of communications back and forth.
  • Program Management – gain confidence in what is being delivered and the quality.
  • Client – They can see the progress without waiting for it to go through QA. Reaffirms that the feature functions and is designed as they had anticipated and provides an opportunity to provide feedback earlier in the lifecycle. Also as its recorded and attached to the user story so it can be re-visited when they start their UAT testing or if someone is unable to attend the after Sprint Demo meeting.
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