Picture-in-Picture Videos for Teachers

Picture-in-picture allows you to put yourself on top of a video lecture. This technique can be done using OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) and your favorite presentation software.

The process is relatively simple. I’ll assume that you have OBS installed and have some working knowledge of it. OBS can be overwhelming, but hopefully this information will help you understand how powerful it can be.

My Computer Setup

I have a three-monitor setup. This allows me to see multiple things at the same time, while still keeping my presentation full screen. I put my presentation up on the left-hand screen. My OBS software is running on the right hand screen. I project the picture-in-picture output onto my middle screen, which is just below my webcam. This helps keep my eyes near the camera rather than looking off to the left or right.

OBS Software Setup

The OBS screen is divided into several parts, as seen in the image below.

The OBS window is divided into several regions as described in the text.

The two top areas are the preview and program screens. The preview is what is “on deck” and ready to go out next. The program is what is what will go out into the world if you are recording, streaming, or attending a virtual meeting. You can transition from one to the other by clicking on the “Transition” button between the two.

OBS Scenes

In the lower left corner is your list of scenes. Scenes are a source or a collection of sources that are put together to make the video that you want to record or broadcast.

To make a new scene, you can press the “+” symbol. You’ll be given the option to name it when you do. You can use the minus sign to remove a scene. The up and down arrows allow you to rearrange the scenes. This doesn’t prioritize scenes. It just gives some flexibility in organization.

OBS Sources

Sources are things like cameras, displays, browser windows, programs, and even other scenes. These sources appear in the window just to the right of the scenes. You put one or more sources together to make a scene. That’s what we will be doing to create our picture-in-picture video.

To add a new source, use the “+” sign. When you do, several different options will appear. To remove a source, use the minus sign. The gear allows you to change settings for the source. The up and down arrows allow you to rearrange sources. The sources that are higher in the list will be on top of items lower in the list.

Controls (or Outputs)

The controls are located to the far bottom right of the OBS window. You can start and end streaming or recording from here. You can also start a built-in virtual camera that can be sent out to virtual meeting software like Webex or Zoom. There’s an option to switch in and out of “Studio Mode”. That hides the preview window. I prefer to stay in studio mode.

Setting the Scene(s) for Picture-in-Picture

Making the Camera Scene

The camera scene contains a Video capture device source.
The camera scene contains your video capture device and perhaps your microphone.

The camera scene is going to contain your “Video Capture Device”. Click on the “+” symbol and choose “Video Capture Device”. You can rename it if you’d like. On the next screen, pick the camera that you’d like to use. If you only have one camera, the choice shouldn’t be difficult. If you go down the options, you can adjust the sound input/microphone option. Otherwise, you can add a separate microphone as a separate source if you’d like.

The Presenter Software Scene

The presenter software scene contains a display capture of the monitor that has your live presentation.
The presenter software scene captures the monitor that contains your presentation software.

The Presenter Software scene is going to capture your presentation. My preference is to set this up as a “Display Capture” source. Click on the “+” symbol to add this. Chose the monitor that will hold your presentation. I prefer to have this as my left-hand monitor.

There is an option to only capture a particular software window, but I avoid that. If your software window becomes minimized, it can make your OBS output go wonky.

The Picture-in-Picture Scene

The picture in picture scene contains the camera and presenter software scene.
The picture-in-picture scene puts the camera and presentation together for broadcast.

The picture-in-picture scene combines the camera scene and presentation scene software into a single video. This scene is then recorded, streamed, or sent out in your virtual meeting software.

Add the camera scene as a source in the picture-in-picture scene, again using the “+” symbol to add a source. Next add the presenter software scene as a source. Make sure that the camera scene is at the top of the sources list. Sources at the top show above sources below.

Adjusting the Camera

Now that you have set the scenes, go back to your camera scene. Position your camera properly. Make any adjustments to the exposure, white balance, brightness, contrast, etc.

Start your presentation software. Make sure that it is being displayed on the screen you will be broadcasting. If you have only one monitor, this may be difficult. It helps to have the presentation running so that you can place your camera output effectively.

Next go to your picture in picture scene and select the camera scene from the list of sources. If it isn’t already at the top of the list of sources, use the up arrow to move it to the top.

Cropping the Camera Source

Your camera source, when selected, will have a red border with red squares at the corners and middles of each side. Hold down the “alt” key and left-click and hold on the center square on the left side of preview window. Holding the alt key allows you to crop the video feed. As you move the square, the border will become green. Move it to the right so that it is just to the left of your left shoulder.

Do similar things with the other sides of the camera scene. Crop in so that there is a little bit of room around you on each side. If you are an animated speaker, you might want to leave a bit more room to each side.

If you accidentally click on the presenter software, just click back on the camera region.

Placing your Picture-in-Picture

Now that you have the camera scene source cropped, you are ready to place it. Let go of the alt key and select one of the squares. Move the square in to make the selected area smaller, move it out to make it larger. Adjust the size to what you would like.

After you find a good size, move your mouse onto the camera, hold down your left mouse key and move the camera to the position that you would like. I usually place it in the upper-right corner of my presentation. You may have to iterate the cropping, resizing, and placement several times to get it just right.

Before Presenting or Recording your Picture-in-Picture Lecture

Before giving your lecture, make sure to run through each of your slides. Check to make sure that your picture in picture isn’t overlapping any important information. You may need to adjust bits of your presentation.

If you have a slide that you don’t want to appear over, you can simply transition to the “Presenter Software” scene using the transition button in OBS. (It is located between the preview and program displays.) You’ll need to remember to do this during the presentation, and then transition back to bring up the camera.

Presenting the Lecture with Picture-in-Picture

Most virtual meeting software platforms like Webex and Zoom will allow you to share your screen. However, this can make it difficult for students to see you, the presentation, other students, and the chat all at the same time. I’ll describe the following using Webex, but it works similarly for other platforms.

By setting up this picture-in-picture option, you can keep tell students to set Webex to meeting software on their end to prioritize the presenter. You set your camera in Webex to be the OBS Virtual Camera. During the meeting, you transition from scene to scene within OBS. You can choose between any of the three scenes, Camera (which is you alone), Presentation Software (which is your presentation monitor), and Picture-in-Picture.