OBS was blurry. This fixed it.

OBS was blurry. This fixed it.
Photo by and machines / Unsplash

I've been working on my streaming setup in OBS. Unlike most people, I'm not recording games on my PC. I'm using a CamLink 4K to send output from my Xbox to my Mac laptop. I have an HDMI splitter, and all my cables are HDMI 2.1.
I encountered an issue where my CamLink was sending a blurry image to OBS. Not consistently always blurry, just sometimes blurry, like text wouldn't be legible. It was weird and looked like this:

Notice the text at the top center of the screen and the environment in the distance

I first thought my HDMI splitter needed to be higher quality. I got a better one that can split to 4K 120fps resolution, the highest possible output from my Xbox. Then, I got new HDMI 2.1 cables to make sure there wasn't any data transfer issues. I messed around with the display settings on my Xbox; I noticed that turning on HDR broke the CamLink's output. I was getting a black screen rather than content. But I turned the HDR off, and the image was still blurry. Not only that, but I was also running into some audio issues.

It sounded like all of the audio that I was recording was muted. You could hear gun shots slightly, but there were some artifacts, and sometimes the shot would be inaudible. So, I figured my OBS settings were bad. I looked online, and people were saying, "Adjust the bitrate." I thought, "I'll give it a shot." So, I followed all the instructions for advanced recording and streaming options. I reset OBS's configuration. I went to the tools menu and did the Auto Wizard configuration again. It seemed like nothing was helping.

I decided to dig a bit deeper. Was this only an OBS issue? I opened up Elgato Camera Hub, and the picture quality was perfect. Same with QuickTime. Neither had blurring, so I knew that the output from the Cam Link to my computer was at native resolution.

So I scratched my head on this one until I realized something very dumb. So dumb and niche it probably won't help you because you have to be using macOS. Anyway, I went to the camera settings in the menu bar on macOS, and I realized that the portrait mode for my iPhone's camera, which I was using as a webcam, was applying to all of my video sources in OBS.

Portrait mode was on

For some reason, Apex was also blurred by portrait mode. Why? I wondered if it had something to do with OBS, which I'm going to look into.

But then I realized, "Wait, this might apply to my audio issues too." It did. I went over to the mic mode setting, turned off noise suppression, and suddenly, the game audio came through nicely and clearly. I am baffled. I'm still baffled. I do not know why applying a mic mode to my iPhone would change the audio signal from an HDMI capture card. Why Apple? Why?

My guess is that OBS is creating a virtual video device to consolidate all the video signals. Mac OS has no idea that this is happening. It can't differentiate between my iPhone camera and HDMI input, so it applies voice isolation or portrait mode to both outputs. Strange times indeed.

Everything came in nicely and clearly when I turned them off, so now I'm a happy streamer. It probably won't help anyone, but if you run into the same problem as me, give it a shot and let me know if it works.

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OBS was blurry. This fixed it.
by u/tenhittender in BCELabs