Streaming to twitch with NDI and FFmpeg

My girlfriend has recently been streaming PUBG on Twitch, she asked me to set everything up for her so of course I had to overcomplicate it.

What is NDI?

NDI is a standard designed for low latency video feeds over a network. Why is this useful?
Well streaming to services such as Twitch requires a decent amount of processing power due to the encoding required. NDI is an almost “lossless” stream meaning that we can offload the encoding to a second “streaming” PC leaving more CPU for playing games which is especially useful for games such as PUBG that are very CPU demanding.

Why not RTMP?

RTMP would work fine but it doesn’t offer the same latency benefits of NDI.


OBS already has NDI plugins which can be obtained from here but I wanted to use FFMPEG on the streaming PC so I didn’t need to have another GUI application open, OBS has a lot of unnecessary features for the use case of just rebroadcasting a stream. OBS will still be used on the gaming PC as it offers some very useful features such as scenes and it’s the easiest way to stream on windows.

First of all the NDI SDK from here or using one of these direct download links to avoid having to give any personal details:

Now we have downloaded the sdk we need to extract it and move the libary files to the correct location.

cd ~/Downloads/
sudo cp -r NDI SDK for Linux/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/* /usr/lib/
sudo mkdir /user/include/ndi
sudo cp -r /usr/include/ndi/include/* /usr/include/ndi/

Now we need to build ffmpeg with NDI.

# clone ffmpeg in to ffmpeg-ndi
git clone --depth 1 ffmpeg-ndi
cd ffmpeg-ndi
# configure ffmpeg pointing to where the NDI sdk is installed
`./configure --enable-nonfree --enable-libndi_newtek --extra-cflags="-I/usr/include/ndi/" --extra-ldflags="-L/usr/include/ndi/" --enable-libx264 --enable-gpl

Now we should be able to use NDI, first Start a NDI input such as OBS and the type the following command to list NDI inputs on the network

./ffmpeg -f libndi_newtek -find_sources 1 -i dummy

Lets preview the NDI input to make sure everything is working, replace the given input name with the result from the previous command.

./ffplay -f libndi_newtek -i "DESKTOP-18HJ647 (JessPC)"

The following script can be used for streaming to twitch, change the variables according to your setup.

INRES="1920x1080" # input resolution
OUTRES="1280x720" # output resolution
FPS="30" # target FPS
GOP="60" # i-frame interval, should be double of FPS,
GOPMIN="30" # min i-frame interval, should be equal to fps
THREADS="0" # use as many threads as possible
CBR="3000k" # constant bitrate (should be between 1000k - 3000k)
QUALITY="ultrafast"  # one of the many FFMPEG presets
AUDIO_CHANNELS="2" #1 for mono output, 2 for stereo
AUDIO_ERATE="360k" #audio encoding rate
STREAM_KEY="" #your twitch stream key goes here
SERVER="live-lhr" # for list

~/ffmpeg-ndi/ffmpeg  -f libndi_newtek -i "$NDI_INPUT" -s "$INRES" -r "$FPS" \
-vcodec libx264 -g $GOP -keyint_min $GOPMIN -b:v $CBR -minrate $CBR \
-maxrate $CBR  -pix_fmt yuv420p -s $OUTRES \
-acodec libmp3lame -threads $THREADS -strict normal \
-bufsize $CBR "rtmp://$$STREAM_KEY"

Sources and useful resources