Understanding Your Streaming Software: Keyframe Intervals

With Twitch’s recent new broadcast requirements, Keyframe Intervals is a setting a lot of people are unfamiliar with. What are your keyframe intervals and how do they affect your broadcast and your viewers experience?

The image that your viewer sees is not always a clear single frame. As your moving around that corner looking for your target, the frame is only being updated with partial images of what has changed in the frame. This is where your keyframes come to play. Keyframe Intervals are how often, measured in seconds, the image on screen is replaced with a full frame, instead of the partial updates.

So how do I know what keyframe interval I should use?” 

The keyframe you should use is based on the movement and speed of the game you’re playing. A fast paced game like Warframe or CoD would want a more rapid keyframe interval of 1. A game that has decent speed but still down time with no movement, like Siege or PUBG, would benefit from an interval of 2. The less things change on screen the higher your keyframe interval can be. The catch to this though, is the lower your keyframes, the more it affects your bitrate. Refreshing every 1 seconds with a full frame increases the data you’re pushing through your streaming software, causing your bitrate to jump up. For more information about your bitrate you can check out our other article here.

Why would I want one of those intervals instead of the Automatic (0) setting? 

The answer to this is part of the reason Twitch is requiring a set interval and recommending 2. The Automatic setting 0 keyframe intervals is a default setting of 250 frames (about 8.5 seconds) before it updates with a full frame image. Twitch wants to guarantee a certain level of image quality across the platform.

Is this something only for Twitch? 

No. Your keyframes are universal across any streaming software. Twitch is the only one right now requiring a Keyframe Interval to not be 0.

Thanks for reading!

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