Adding an overlay to my webcam via OBS 26.1

| geek, linux

A- likes to change her name roughly every two months, depending on whatever things she’s focusing on. In 2020, she went through six names, giving us plenty of mental exercise and amusement. Pretend play is wonderful and she picks up all sorts of interesting attributes along the way, so we’re totally fine with letting her pretend all the time instead of limiting it to specific times.

A-‘s been going to virtual kindergarten. So far, her teachers and classmates have been cool with the name changes. They met her in her Stephanie phase, and they shifted over to Elizabeth without batting an eye. A-‘s been experimenting with a new name, though, so I thought I’d try to figure out a way to make the teachers’ lives a little easier. We use Google Meet to connect to class. A- likes to log in as me because then we’re alphabetically sorted close to one of her friends in class, the high-tech equivalent of wanting to sit with your friends. So the name that’s automatically displayed when she’s speaking is no help either.

It turns out that OBS (Open Broadcast Studio) has a virtual webcam feature in version 26.1, and it works for MacOS X and Linux. I followed the instructions for installing OBS 26.1 on Ubuntu. To enable the virtual webcam device on Linux, I installed v4l2loopback-dkms. I was initially mystified when I got the error could not insert 'v4l2loopback': Operation not permitted. That was because I have Secure Boot on my laptop, so I just needed to reboot, choose Enroll MOK from the boot menu, and put in the password that I specified during the setup process. After I did that, clicking on the Start Virtual Camera button in OBS worked. I tested it in Google Meet and the image was properly displayed. I don’t know if we’ll need it, but it’s handy to have in my back pocket in case A- decides to change her name again.

Yay Linux and free software!

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