Streaming and My Lip Sync Battle

Having pushed my existing streaming setup to the limit, I decided to take the next step by purchasing a graphics card. Doing so would ease the burden on my CPU and ideally allow me to stream higher quality video without my computer melting. At first, it seemed like it was working just fine. But then, a more nefarious issue began happening that has been racking my brain and wrecking my streams for the past month.

The issue first appeared on my Left 4 Dead stream. For about an hour or so, the stream would work just fine. But skip to the end, and my lips are no longer moving in sync with my mouth. I’ve learned to tolerate a few frame drops here and there as a streamer and viewer, as they’re almost inevitable. However, the de-sync issue is truly unsettling to look at. Whatever the root issue was, I needed to squash it ASAP.

Not knowing the root cause of the problem, I toyed around with numerous methods of getting the audio sync tighter. There were some streams where the de-sync would happen and others where it wouldn’t. Ultimately, I got to a place where the lip sync was better than ever, but as you can see in this recent Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu stream, the problem persisted.

It wasn’t until I re-watched the clip and saw exactly where the failure happened that I realized that the root cause wasn’t an audio problem. It was a video problem. Just before the audio falls out of sync, the video stalls while the audio carries on as normal. In reality, it was a video problem all along.

By learning how to read my OBS log files, I was able to determine that the de-sync was caused by encoder lag. When the encoder on my new graphics card overloads, the video drops while the audio carries on. Unfortunately, the video isn’t able to catch up, creating the core issue. Going forward, I know what causes it, how to prevent it, and how to spot it the moment it happens. This shouldn’t be much of a problem for my stream going forward.

Streaming is an uphill battle. Stuff breaks all the time, and even when I make meaningful steps forward, things happen to bring me down to earth. All I can do is continue to tackle each challenge one at a time and make the most of what I have.

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