What makes for a good streaming overlay? With streaming as a medium still in its infancy, the answer is rapidly-evolving and highly-subjective. Once upon a time, overlays weren’t a thing. Then we moved into a phase where streamers filled the screen with design elements and widgets. These days, the new wave is a larger camera view within your gameplay scene so that viewers get a better view of the streamer.
Furthermore, overlays aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. As one example, I greatly prefer the look of streams that put the camera overtop of full-width gameplay. However, that particular presentation style doesn’t work for speed-runners who display their time splits on the side or for retro games that are presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio.
Based on my experiences of watching Twitch and tinkering with my own overlay, here are aspects of overlay design that I like. There are links to every streamer I reference in case you’re interested in checking them out. I’m by no means an expert on overlay design. Just using this post to share design elements that I appreciate!
During the peak of my Among Us frenzy, my wife and I stumbled on a jacksepticeye video of him and a number of other top gaming content creators playing the game together. During the voting phase, the camera punched inward to focus on Jack, making for a better viewing experience in that moment. Other streamers do this with their VODs as well, such as Pokimane, Disguised Toast, Ninja, and more.
The thing is, this zoom effect is done after the fact in a video editor. But could an entrepreneurial streamer implement that same effect in a live environment?
I have implemented it on my stream and I love having for the sake of having an “aside” with viewers without taking them completely out of the game. Here is how you can implement this zoom-in during gameplay!
Rounding off the corners of your camera view is a slick effect one can implement on their stream to stand out. One could achieve this effect in the old days by creating an image mask. Image masks are still great for custom shapes, but there’s an easier way to achieve that effect thanks to an OBS plugin. Here’s how to do it!
Colour gradients are a great way of adding design elements that fade into different colours. Until recently, this effect was only possible within Photoshop or other external photo-editing apps. As a streamer, you’d have to bounce between your streaming software and your photo editor to create and implement gradients in the right size.
Now there’s an easier way to create simple gradients within OBS without having to use an external photo app. Let me show you how!
In a world where 16:9 is the norm, retro games created with the old 4:3 aspect ratio can be a pain to stream. Having to fit a square gameplay feed into a rectangle overlay leads to a lot of empty space, forcing streamers to create overlays specific to retro gaming.
One potential way to fill the extra space is to mirror the gameplay and blur the background. This effect is most commonly used when displaying vertically-shot videos on a widescreen display. Here’s how to implement this look on your stream!
“Kelsey’s view of herself is…very large.”
I made this observation as my wife was watching KelseyDangerous stream Animal Crossing: New Horizons (she’s a great streamer by the way and you should check out her show!). Unlike the thumbnail-sized streamer views I’ve seen in the past when the streamer has overlaid themselves over-top of their gameplay, Kelsey’s view was a large square that covered up a sizable portion of the screen. It was also cropped in such a way where you could see more than just her face. In this view, you could everything from the torso up.
As I’ve continued to explore Twitch in recent months, it’s become apparent to me that Kelsey’s overlay strategy is not a one-off. Streamers of all sorts are making the view of themselves larger, even if that means you see less of the gameplay underneath.
Can you spot the differences?
It’s that time again to break down the new items making their debut on my wall! Next time you pop into one of my streams, make sure to be on the look out for these new additions!
As I watched Nathan Salmon create a pair of amazing art pieces with spray paint for me, two thoughts swirled through my mind.
- Holy cow this process and end result look incredible!
- The basics of what he’s doing don’t look that difficult…
Though I figured that I wouldn’t be able to make the Ninja Turtles pose in front of a city skyline anytime soon, the fundamentals of creating planets, space, and stars seemed doable for a hack like me that’s never spray painted anything in his life. After watching a number of tutorial videos on YouTube, my wife and I bought a bunch of supplies and dedicated an afternoon to creating some spray paint art of our own.
I’m still playing (and for the most part) enjoying Skate, which I’m playing at a very leisurely pace. While it’s a lot of fun to just cruise around the world and bust tricks, there are some very awkward design choices that can annoy the heck out of you when you play Skate. The inability to walk can be infuriating due to the way the world is designed. Bystanders always seem to get in the way of your objectives, which leaves you skating into them more than you would like. But I wanted to talk about one very specific case of poor game design that drove me nuts.