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How to Stream on Your Computer using an External Video Source

Whether you're live streaming on Twitch, going live with a video podcast, or hosting a webinar with multiple cameras, knowing how to connect an external video source to your computer (as opposed to just using your webcam) can take any project to the next level. Unfortunately, most professional and prosumer cameras cannot be directly plugged into a computer. But never fear! Keep reading for our tips for how to connect external video to your computer.

stream multiple cameras and games online

1) Use a Capture Card

A Capture Card is a must-have for any live streamer. It's the best tech for streaming if you only have one camera and/or are connecting a game console to your computer. We highly recommend our go-to Capture Card made by Magewell. This card has one HDMI in and uses USB out to connect to your computer. This is ideal for "plug and play" (meaning you don't need any drivers for your computer). Basically, the Capture Card does all the hard work of transcoding, deinterlacing, and converting the video content for your computer. This drastically reduces the amount of heavy lifting that would otherwise need to be done by your graphics card (thus slowing down your stream and the entire computer's functioning). Using Capture Cards can also be a huge asset when streaming video games. While many modern consoles allow you to stream directly to Twitch, they don't allow for any additional video input. Using a Capture Card means you can stream your gameplay AND webcam to Twitch. Capture Cards even make it possible to livestream retro consoles (GameCube, NES, N64, SEGA, etc)--just use an HDMI cable the way you would connect to a television.

2) Use a Live Switcher

If you're streaming multiple cameras, a Live Switcher is just the thing. We recommend the ATEM Mini, which is perfect for YouTube, Twitch, Facebook Live, Zoom, and more. This Live Switcher allows you to integrate up to 4 cameras in a stream. Connect the cameras via HDMI into the Live Switcher, then connect the USB C to your computer. One of the fun things about a switcher is that it's literally a physical box. It has buttons to switch between cameras and presets like picture-in-picture. The fact that there are distinct physical buttons on the switcher makes alternating between cameras incredibly user-friendly. This is perfect for switching shots when live streaming a multi-person interview or featuring co-op guests on your Twitch channel.

3) Use an OBS for More Control

If you're looking to really up your streaming, we suggest using OBS from It's an open-source software that offers a variety of features and far surpasses the more commonly-used Streamlabs software designed for Twitch, TikTok, and other social media sites. With OBS, you can cut between multiple sources including Webcam, Capture Card inputs, screensharing, and pre-recorded videos. The software also allows you to add graphics (like title cards and lower thirds), stream picture-in-picture, and mix multiple audio inputs. You can even use OBS as a "virtual camera" on Zoom calls. This enables Zoom to connect to the OBS directly, instead of having to use a webcam or the app's cumbersome built-in screensharing feature. You can also use OBS to stream directly to Twitch, YouTube, and other sites by using the platform's streaming key code.


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