Twitch vs. YouTube: Comparing the Processes Behind Making Live Streaming Content vs. Pre-Produced Content


My big focus for 2020 is video content. I want to continue growing as a streamer on Twitch while also establishing a presence in the realm of pre-produced YouTube content. For those who’ve taken the time to check out my streams or my recent run at YouTube content, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Both platforms require creators to work with video, but the processes for creating content for each are very different. Here’s what I’ve learned so far based on my time working with both.

Planning

Some streamers may approach their shows with no plan outside of what game they’re playing. I try to be more proactive. For every show, I come prepared with talking points that I may or may not use when things get rolling.

Even so, it’s unrealistic for me or any streamer to plan for every minute of a multi-hour stream. That’s before you take into account what events might occur within the game you’re playing or what others might say in the chat. Sometimes, going down tangents will lead you towards the best content.

As a streamer, I draw from my experience in radio broadcasting for my approach to preparation. In radio broadcasting, we were always taught to soak up as much about the world as we could, such as news, world events, music, pop culture, and life experiences. Everything you observe in the world is a potential source of content. You don’t necessarily need to remember every announcement at the latest Nintendo Direct, but you create something compelling on the fly if you know that a Nintendo Direct happened and can recall one or two big announcements from it.

Creating content that works best on YouTube requires a fundamentally different approach. It seems to work best when the creator is able to take one story and present it perfectly in a matter of minutes. It’s really important to guide users through a story and be mindful of how that story unfolds in order to keep viewers engaged.

The level of detail that it takes to come up with something good feels a lot like writing a post. Start with an idea, then craft the intro, body, and conclusion. The process is so similar that I’ve been assessing my pool of ideas and determining which I’d prefer to flesh out as videos instead of as videos. In the case of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I did both.

Execution

On Twitch, there’s no redos. You want to present yourself as best you can, but there isn’t necessarily the expectation that you’ll be perfect. No need to be concerned if you stumble over a few words or draw a blank here and there.

However, they are expecting you to provide value from beginning-to-end. Doing so requires you to be some combination of entertaining, informative, motivational, and relational for hours on end. Even if you’re a social butterfly, being able to deliver that sort of value for an extended period of time is exhausting. For introverts who have a desire to stream, this aspect of the experience is arguably the biggest hurdle of all.

For pre-produced YouTube content, the margin for error is much smaller. Viewers want to see you at your absolute best for the duration of your video. Creating 10-minute videos has taken me well over an hour to record due to the dozens of outtakes created by stumbled words, awkward facial expressions, accidentally moving my hands in a way that causes the focus of the video to go out of wack, excessive noise from banging on my desk, or any other calamities that hampers the final product.

In our pursuit of perfection, it actually becomes incredibly difficult to sound natural. Even with my experience as a radio announcer, I can’t read a script without sounding like I’m reading a script. I use bullet points to guide my thoughts, but after a number of flubbed takes, I can sound like I’m reading a script as I recite the same intro for the 20th time. Right now, this is my biggest challenge when it comes to creating pre-produced video.

Production

Streaming production is not a set-and-forget affair. You’re constantly monitoring your PC specs to ensure that frames or other technical calamities aren’t ruining your output. You’re monitoring the chat and responding as best you can to every message.

Depending on the complexity of your stream, you might also have to juggle scene-switching, triggering animations, running ads, using voice changers, clipping highlights, or any other wizardry you take manual control of while you play a game and talk to the chat. On Boss Rush, I’m queuing up all of the b-roll for games we’re talking about, and switching scenes, and managing an entire game show while also acting as an on-screen talent. Playing games is the easiest part of the whole experience.

With produced video, you’re not working with a myriad functions and technologies at once. In exchange, you’re going through the arduous task of editing. Besides being a tedious and time-consuming process, it doesn’t help that editing can crush a PC. My computer crashes constantly when I edit. Until I’m able to upgrade my PC, I’m doing my best to reduce my file sizes and save a lot to minimize the inevitable damage from my program crashing.

The other trade-off here is production time. You might be on stream for 3+ hours, but you end up with 3+ hours of usable content. Take a few moments to chop out highlights for social media or as b-roll in your produced videos, and it can turn into a lot of different pieces in a relatively short amount of time.

For pre-produced videos, the disproportion of time to watch vs. time to make is crazy. Every minute of video you watch probably took hours of takes and edits. At the very least, this has been my experience thus far. Depending on how complex of a video I’m making, I can easily see how 5-10 minute videos can take multiple days or weeks to complete.


Each platform has its challenges. As a creator, it’s beneficial to get a grip on how to work within the medium you’re creating for. Then use your creativity break the boundaries. What are your experiences thus far with video? Which do you prefer? And do you have any ambitions of doing both? Let’s discuss!


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