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Stream a scene live

New Starter mode is now available! 

Character Animator 22.5 (released June 2022) introduces Starter mode to get you started animating now without any prior experience. Update now to the latest version to try this out.

This document describes the basics for streaming scenes with Character Animator.

For tips, tricks and workarounds related to streaming, see Tips and tricks for streaming.

Stream Workspace

The Stream workspace is used to stream a scene live to an external device or application.

The Stream workspace displays a limited set of controls for focused live streaming. Transport controls (Play, Stop, Go to Start, and Go to Next Frame) are not visible in the Scene panel. The Timeline panel is stacked to the left of the application.

To access the workspace, do either of the following:

  • Click the Stream button in the workspaces bar.
  • Press Shift + Alt (Win) or Option + 4 (Mac).

Stream a scene live to other devices or applications

Character Animator supports the following major workflows:

  • Output the content of your scene to the full screen of a TV or second monitor using Mercury Transmit.
  • Output a character, optionally, with a transparent background for later compositing over a live video or another background.
  • Output to professional SDI video using a Mercury Transmit plug-in device. Output to live web services using a software switcher like Open Broadcaster Software or Telestream Wirecast. NDI plug-in from NewTek can also be used.
  • Multi-character live broadcast workflow using multiple machines, one for each character, is also supported. It's preferable to use a dedicated device for the software switcher. NDI is used to connect the video signal. As of Character Animator version 1.1, audio isn't sent over NDI. Audio is routed separately. A fast network is highly recommended for this setup.

For diagrams showing typical one, two, and three machine setups, see Machine setups.

Working with Mercury Transmit

Character Animator uses Mercury Transmit to send a live feed to other video devices and applications. Mercury Transmit can send the contents of your scene to an external device, third-party plugin, and other applications.
The transfer to external monitors is done using plugins provided by video device manufacturers such as AJA, Blackmagic Design, Bluefish444, and Matrox. You can use any of the following external monitors:

  • A video monitor connected through third"party video hardware such as AJA, Blackmagic Design, or Matrox I/O devices.
  • A computer monitor connects your video display card via connectors like HDMI, DVI, VGA, and DisplayPort.
  • A NewTek NDI compatible application on an Ethernet-based LAN.

IP-based technology providers, such as NewTek with NDI technology, also provide plugins for transfer. Thes plugins direct the video frames from Mercury Transmit to other applications.


Note: Download the NewTek NDI for Adobe Creative Cloud software to use a NewTek NDI"compatible application. To download, visit"creative"cloud/

Working with Mercury Transmit

Learn how to work with Mercury Transmit to stream your scene.

OBS and streaming on Twitch

OBS and streaming on Twitch

Working with alpha channels

You can use an alpha channel (per"pixel transparency) to composite multiple characters together or to composite a character over live video.

Alpha channel can be passed to a compatible Mercury Transmit device. The alpha channel is automatically recognized sometimes, such as with NewTek NDI. In other cases, such as with AJA devices, you have to configure your video device to support an alpha channel. If Mercury Transmit device does not support an alpha channel, like a secondary display, the background appears black.

  • Live Streaming output is set to full"screen resolution regardless of your Scene panel zoom settings.
  • The video device or application does not receive the background color settings in the Scene panel. It receives an alpha channel.
  • Output the scene's audio separately. The Live Stream output can introduce minor video delay. If audio and video are streamed together, add delay to the audio to sync them in time. The delay is usually around 60 milliseconds. You can do it with an external hardware delay or with a delay within streaming applications, such as Telestream Wirecast or OBS Studio.

Streaming with OBS

Learn how to stream with OBS

Starting a live stream

To enable live streaming, click the Stream Live button () at the bottom of the Scene panel. Only the current scene displayed in the Scene panel is streamed. Content outside the Scene panel is not rendered and displayed. To view the list of active devices and applications, hover the cursor over the Stream Live button. A tool tip is displayed, which includes the list of active devices and applications.

Live Output preferences

You can select the active devices and applications from Live Output preferences. To set live output preferences, follow these steps:

  1. Select Edit > Preferences (Win) or Character > Preferences (Mac). The Preferences dialog box is displayed.

  2. Click Live Output and choose the streaming output option. Available options and their specifications are listed.

    Live Output preferences
    Live Output preferences

    Following are the Live Output options and their specifications:

    Enable Mercury Transmit to allow streaming output to external video devices when Character Animator is running in the foreground, select this option.

    Video device includes a list of video devices that you can use for video output.

    • Adobe Monitor x: The list of attached computer monitors that can receive video feed through the graphics card. To view this option, set the external monitor as  separate or extended display.
    • NewTek NDI output: Select this option to use NDI"enabled devices on the LAN.
    • Third"party video hardware: Shows the list of third"party hardware that you have connected.

    To view the options available for each hardware, click Setup.

    Disable Mercury Transmit output when application is in the background

    To prevent streaming output to external video devices when Character Animator is not running in the foreground, select this option. 

Machine setups

Live stream one puppet using single computer

One puppet live stream
One puppet live stream

  • A USB microphone qualifies as both a microphone and an interface. Character Animator and OBS/Wirecast can address the microphone simultaneously. Check with your audio device manufacturer if you cannot use your device with both applications simultaneously.
  • Make sure to adjust your microphone audio delay within the NDI software compositer for the lip sync to match the character's audio.

Live stream two puppets using two computers

Two puppet live stream (two Computers)
Two puppet live stream (two Computers)

  • In this scenario, the same audio is required to come into both the computers. The diagram shows the use of an audio mixer which splits a microphone signal. The split lets the source machine to control the lip sync and the destination machine to output the broadcast audio.
  • Character Animator does not support audio over NDI, but applications like NewTek NDI Studio Monitor (Windows) and NDI Scan Converter (Mac) does.
  • Adjust your microphone audio delay within the NDI software compositer so that the lip sync matches the character's audio.

Live stream two puppets using three computers

Two Puppet Live Stream (three Computers)
Two Puppet Live Stream (three Computers)

  • This setup is similar to the two computer setup, but it dedicates a separate machine for the software compositing and live broadcast of the NDI scenes.
  • A separate audio interface is not required if you can send audio over NDI (Studio Monitor or Scan Converter) on the Character Animator machines.

Multi-puppet live stream

Character Animator tutorials

Technical assistance

Need help with your live stream? Contact us through the Adobe Character Animator forum.


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