Sunday, May 19, 2024

Colorado Plays

Playing in Colorado in all forms.


Streamlabs Prime: Finding a Stream Overlay that Fits

Now that the custom tip page is set up, perhaps the next step is adding a good stream overlay. And Streamlabs Prime has a long list of aesthetically pleasing layouts to try. The hardest part is finding one that we like the most.

Of course, there’s nothing saying that we have to stick to just one overlay. With so many to choose from, I’ll probably have to keep track of some numbers to see which one works the best when we play.

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What is a Stream Overlay?

A stream overlay is the visual element that sits over video of gameplay. For example, a camera and the alert box are elements of a stream overlay. Essentially, this covers any element on top of a game.

In Streamlabs Prime, you have access to a very long, and constantly updated, list of overlays. Ranging from minimalist designs to animated layouts, there is something for everyone regardless of the type of stream you’re creating.

Personally, I like to match the stream overlay as closely to the game as possible. And I’ve made a few of my own using Photoshop and saving them as PNGs.

If you’re interested in how to do this, leave a comment. I might be swayed to do a Photoshop or Photopea tutorial.

Finding the Right One for the Stream

When looking for an overlay, Streamlabs gives you two methods: 1) install from the website, or 2) install directly in Streamlabs OBS. You can also search for overlays using either method.

Personally, I prefer to search over themes using the actual website. It just seems that I have more control and the examples are much larger to view.

In either case, this is something that is more than likely going to be an ongoing strategy for the next year. That’s because I do intend on finding the best overlay theme per game we play.

And because we are all over the map when it comes to genres, I’ll no doubt have quite an extensive list of scenes in Streamlabs OBS for each game.

Searching Through the Themes

Searching Overlays

Some themes are developed specifically for certain games. This means you can search for the game’s name and come up with a few that might work for the stream.

Unfortunately, some of the games I play don’t really have themes that jump out at me. For example, I want to play Minecraft tomorrow. And what the search is showing really isn’t standing out.

With hundreds to choose from, though, I’m sure I can find something that fits eventually.

What I’m thinking about doing is having a generic stream overlay for when we play games that I haven’t found a theme for in the meantime.

Installing a Stream Overlay

Install Overlay

So, clicking the “Install” button from the Streamlabs website doesn’t install the overlay into Streamlabs OBS. Instead, it prompts a message that you need Streamlabs OBS, gives you the option to download the software, or has an option for you to open in Streamlabs OBS.

When you open the theme from the website into the software, you can install the overlay right from there.

In other words, it’ll be faster to search for overlays in the future through the Streamlabs OBS software.

Making Adjustments

When you install an overlay theme, Streamlabs OBS will automatically populate it with everything you’ll need. However, there are some adjustments you’ll want to make.

For instance, the theme automatically added YouCam instead of just using the Aluratek 4K webcam. This means I’ll need to go through each element and select the correct values.

Though, YouCam does add quite a few filters and images to the webcam interface that might be fun for a live stream.

This is probably one of the most time-consuming aspects of setting up your live stream. You can simply go with the default positions and settings the theme gives you.

Or, you can spend a bit of time resizing and moving the on-screen elements to fit your needs.

Alert Box Library

Alert Box Themes

A newer feature of Streamlabs OBS is the Alert Box Library. This is for Streamlabs Prime users and adds themed alert boxes to your stream.

Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with using a custom alert box in Streamlabs.

But, since I paid the $149 for the entire year, I’m going to make use of them. Besides, there are a couple of alert box themes I kind of like.

After installing the widget theme, you can customize the alert box with your own images and sounds. It works in much the same way as customizing the alerts directly in Streamlabs.

Add the Game Play

After installing a stream overlay, you’ll need to remove the background image and replace it with the game. The background is essentially just a placeholder to show you what it may look like when live.

In fact, the background image is even titled, “delete me.”

It’s not all that difficult to add a game capture to Streamlabs OBS. Just remember that when you add a new source, you’ll need to move the game to the bottom of the list.

Otherwise, the game itself will appear over top of any overlay elements you have in your stream. You can do this simply by dragging the game source to the bottom of the list.

Do You Need a Stream Overlay?

Adding a stream overlay is essentially more of a personal preference and according to what an audience wants to see. 

I know some streamers who have a great deal of success without having fancy graphics. But, I also know streamers who plaster on the visual appeal for viewers.

If you’re unsure if an overlay is right for you, try a few streams without and a few streams with one. Take a look and see how many concurrent viewers each stream gets and the average time they spend watching your content.

This can also show you what kind of games are the most effective at keeping an audience interested, by the way.

For the most part, though, adding a bit of visual appeal can go a long way to keeping the attention of viewers. A lot of people are attracted to flashy glitz and glamor…just take a look at Las Vegas at night.

Besides, the overlays you get with Streamlabs Prime are pre-made and come with everything you need to run your stream. It takes a lot of the work out of the process and lets you switch back and forth without effort.

For this case study, I’m keeping track of the overlays I use, the games being played, and the audience retention of each. This will show me if something I am using is working and whether it’s better than what I was doing before buying Streamlabs Prime.

What Ever Works to Engage the Audience

Every creator has a unique audience. Sure, many people who watch you are going to consume content elsewhere. But, the kind of people you maintain is going to be unique to the kind of content you create.

Whether you’re trying to be successful on Twitch, YouTube, or Facebook, it all comes down to keeping people watching. Because even the best stream overlay can only do so much for you as the creator.

Michael Brockbank
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Michael Brockbank

Michael developed ColoradoPlays to help various charities through his favorite pastime. Since then, the blog and Twitch channels have donated several hundred dollars to Extra Life, Geeks of Grandeur and Operation Supply Drop, to name a few.