Friday, February 21, 2020

Three Useful Scenes for Your Stream

With streaming software like OBS, you'll typically find the ability to create 'Scenes' which you can switch between during your show. These are layouts you set up before your broadcast, which allow you to easily display important or entertaining things on your streams. In the two most common examples, you could have one Scene to show your game in fullscreen with a small facecam in the corner, and another Scene to show your facecam in fullscreen with your game window small in the corner. Then, during your streams you'd switch to the fullscreen facecam to talk more directly to your audience, and switch back to the fullscreen game when you're going to start playing. You can set up keyboard shortcuts to cut between various Scenes, use external hardware like a Stream Deck if you have one, or simply click on the different scenes with your mouse. Scenes are very useful tools when you want to make your streams more dynamic.

But aside from helping with a show's entertainment value, I've found a few other Scenes which help make my shows run smoother. These useful layouts have helped me to make my shows look and feel more professional, as well as prevent myself from making embarrassing mistakes on camera or on microphone. The following three examples are from my personal experience and may not work for you in the exact form described, but try to understand the underlying logic behind my decisions and see if there's something in them which can help your shows.

Please note that, while I have found these to be incredibly useful, I advise you not to set them up too early. If you're still starting out, especially if you haven't done ten full broadcasts on your channel yet, do not attempt to add these kinds of extra Scenes. (See the entry Surviving Your First Ten Streams for more details on this matter.) If you're starting out, just do your streams and get the experience. Trying to improve the shows before becoming consistent is nothing but sugar-coated procrastination. Now, let's explore these useful Scenes for your streams.


Early into the lifetime of my channel, I found it necessary to begin my streams in a new way. Originally, I would press the 'Go Live' button and immediately I'd be on camera, introducing my show and then playing the game. A few months in however, I started noticing that some of the more dedicated people in my community would be saddened to always miss the beginning of my shows. I wanted to see if there was a good way to change the beginning of my shows to help people see the whole thing without compromising the quality of the stream. As I've mentioned in previous entries, even if a problem like this doesn't seem like it's your 'fault,' seeing multiple people have the same issue on your streams is usually a sign there's something you should look into. So I did.

Sometimes you don't want to immediately hit the
ground running.
I started thinking about it from the viewer's perspective: short of camping out on my Twitch page and waiting for a show to start, there would be no way for them to see the beginning of any of my shows. The streams simply started too quickly. I needed something that would let people get notified about me going live, and give the most dedicated fans time to join the show before it started. To do this, I created a Scene in OBS which would show up as soon as the stream started broadcasting, one which simply played calm elevator music and said 'The Show Will Be Starting Soon.' This solved the problem immediately, and reaped a few unexpected benefits as well. During the few minutes when this Scene was playing, viewers now had a chance to join for the beginning of the show, and could say hello to their fellow chatters before the stream proper began. In addition to this, I was given a few extra minutes to do some simple tasks while that opening screen was displayed, like sending my 'Going Live' Tweet or setting up the game client. Adding a Start Screen to my streams was a very simple change, but one that took a lot of pressure off myself and the community.


Sometimes you might find it necessary to take a break during your streams. Whether answering an important phone call, going to the bathroom, or the ever-important quest for a new cup of coffee, various real-world things might require the streamer to walk away from their computer area. At the beginning of my channel, I stubbornly tried to simply avoid taking breaks during my streams at all. I originally thought it was 'unprofessional' to do so, and I was afraid to lose viewers during the interim. But over time, I realized that was a ridiculous uphill battle not worth fighting.

Give yourself a chance to take breaks
every once in a while.
I then created a Scene in OBS similar to the openings of my shows, in which elevator music would play and say 'Stay Tuned.' It would give people in chat a moment to talk to each other, get themselves a snack, or just take a break from the action of whatever was happening on screen. I also created commands in my chatbot, like "coffeebreak" and "laundrystream," which could explain some of the more common things I might do while away, and these became favorites for viewers to plug into the chat as I was leaving. Yes, sometimes my view numbers would go down during these moments, but I was surprised to see how quickly they'd raise back up after I returned. (Don't forget- this was early in my channel, before I learned not to be so neurotic about things like view count.) Adding a standby Scene created a major benefit to my psyche as the streamer as well, because there was no longer this insane pressure to do the whole show without stopping. It actually made it easier for me to get motivated to go live every day, because I didn't need to take care of so many things before starting the show. It was now okay for me to stop mid-stream and get more coffee, and to someone like me that's a priceless gift.


Finally, I found that ending shows on my channel felt a bit abrupt. I'd thank everyone for being there, speak my outro, and then the stream would jarringly just cut out. I then used the principles outlined before to add a simple outro screen. It had the same elevator music, and a different message saying 'Thanks For Watching,' and this allowed me to cut gracefully away from my camera shot to this other screen before ending the show, where people could wind down for a minute and say goodbye to each other in chat. It was also a place where we could organize raids at the end of a stream, without me having to talk the whole time. Ending screens like this are also a great place to display your other social channels, remind people to follow, and show any other info you want to convey to viewers as they're leaving.


As you can see, all three of these Scenes aren't the usual entertainment-boosting things you'd quickly switch to in order to hype up your shows. But by taking pressure off yourself during your shows, they're arguably even more important. During all three of these Scenes, my camera and mic audio are completely disabled- it's simply a clean break from being the stream's host for a few minutes. And this is important if you want to clear your mind and increase your general stream stamina. You don't have to do these Scenes the same way I do- I've seen streams do all sorts of creative audiovisual displays on their standby screens, using videos, graphics, visualizers, all sorts of bells and whistles. But whatever you do, I think you'll find that giving your streams these moments to breathe will work wonders for your channel as a whole.

No comments:

Post a Comment