Friday, July 3, 2020

Clipping and Highlighting Your Streams

If you've been streaming for a while, you've probably had several amazing moments on your shows: an incredible match-winning headshot, the last-second boss victory, the perfectly timed chat-activated fart noise- truly legendary occurrences. But after each stream is over, what's to prevent these magical memories from simply fading away? You've decided you want to become more effective at using Twitch's clipping feature to save your show's best bits for fans to watch at any time. Twitch clips are of course incredible useful. They can help new viewers find your channel, they can be shared to social platforms to expand your reach, and they can be saved to speed up the editing of your compilation videos or channel trailer. You can extract an incredible number of uses from your clips if you're keeping an open mind, which you can find more info about in the entry Using Twitch Clips to Their Fullest.

But what's the best way to obtain Twitch clips? After all, while the stream is happening you're busy in front of the camera- it would be hard to grab, edit, and name your clips effectively. Of course the ideal scenario is for viewers to clip your show for you, preserving those great moments without you needing to do the legwork. But in reality, viewers won't necessarily think to clip everything you want them to. Sometimes when they create a clip it will have a problem, like being cut off in the middle of a sentence or rambling on way past the funny part. Maybe there was just no one in chat willing to clip your show at that instant. At the end of the day, your viewers saving clips for you should be treated as a privilege, not an expectation. In short, if there's a moment you really want to save, you should be prepared to save it yourself. In this entry I'll give you some tips for creating and managing your stream clips and highlights without missing a beat. 


Preserve that 360 No Scope! 
To create a clip, there is a button you can press while watching a stream either during the broadcast or after the fact to save a section of the show. You can then edit the length of the clip and give your creation a title. This is very useful for someone watching, but what about for you as the streamer? You wouldn't likely be able to clip something while you're in the middle of hosting your own broadcast, and wading through hours of content once your stream is over to find a single 30 second snippet would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. However, there is a tool available on Twitch to make this process significantly easier. 

Enter the 'Marker' function. At any point during one of your streams, you can place a marker and attach a note to it. Then, when your stream is over, you can go into the 'Highlights' section of your episode to see that marker and its note at the exact timestamp where you placed it earlier. As you could imagine, this is incredibly useful for keeping track of those top-tier moments that you'd rather not let slip away. Similar to how we started taking notes about potential stream improvements in the entry Fix One Thing About Your Stream Every Day, utilizing markers frees up your mind to focus on the stream, without having to worry about remembering to clip something and where that clip might be. I use markers on almost every broadcast I do, logging moments I'd like to share on social media, appearances of our channel's custom-voiced characters, and even potential problems I want to take a look at later. There's no end to the marker's uses. 

As to placing markers, you have a few options. Inside your Dashboard's Stream Manager, there's a widget you can click to add a marker with a description at any time. This of course requires you to be able to click on something outside your game, so its usefulness may vary based on how your particular shows function. Since most streamers only use one monitor, this would mean switching out of the game itself in order to open your dashboard, which might not be desirable during a show. What I've found more useful is using the marker command in chat. Inside any chat window of your stream, whether on your computer or phone, you can enter /marker to place a marker at that spot in time. If you follow /marker with written text, it will add that text as a note into the marker that gets saved. This is my preferred method, because I always have chat open on both my PC and my phone while streaming, so no matter what kind of game I'm playing I'm always able to type in the chat and add markers if I need to. 


Now that you have a marker placed on one of your broadcasts, it's time to decide whether that moment will live as a clip or as a highlight. Though ultimately similar in function- clips and highlights on Twitch both preserve segments of your streams for posterity- there are a few key differences between these two features. 

Keep your favorite shows in their entirety if you want!
First, a clip can be a maximum of 60 seconds long, but a highlight can be as long as you want. This is an important distinction, as a highlight will allow you to capture some moments which simply wouldn't work as clips. You can even permanently save an entire stream by making it into a highlight. I know streamers who do this with every stream they've ever done, so viewers can go back and watch their content later. This is especially useful among streamers like me, who focus on story-based games. If someone joins one of those games while you're 10 episodes into the storyline, they might want to go back and catch up. Saving a full broadcast also works well when you're making limited-run content, like a marathon stream or a world record attempt. For me, after returning from my trip to Japan, I highlighted all 18 streams where I walked around the Tokyo streets, so anyone can watch at any time after the fact. 

You might be saying, "But Nick, I already set up my channel to store Past Broadcasts like you told me to in previous entries! Why would I need to highlight a full episode if it's already saved?" Well, the wording is a bit confusing on that feature. When you tick the box to Store Past Broadcasts, it will save your previous episodes for between 14 and 60 days, but after that they'll be deleted. Having that window of time to watch your previous episodes as Past Broadcasts is incredibly useful for checking on your recent progress, and keeping shows around so you can clip them at your leisure, but if you want something to be saved forever, clips and highlights are the only way to do it.

When getting into shorter content, there are other distinctions between highlights and clips to consider. Funny singular moments and jokes are great for clips, but when you win your first Victory Royale it might not be enough to merely clip the final 60 seconds of the match. You might want to highlight that winning match in its entirety. This of course is doubly useful, because viewers can then watch your win at any time, and you yourself can also go back if you want to check your playstyle to see where you could improve. 


As of this writing, Twitch displays a tip whenever you visit the Dashboard: "32% of viewers that watch a highlight return to watch a live stream within a week." I can't say I've measured the difference from when I started highlighting to confirm this, but it's quite a staggering number if true. I've certainly found a huge amount of value in the highlighting and clipping features of Twitch, so I would always recommend taking advantage of these at every opportunity. And by embracing my workflow for marking and preserving stream moments, you should be equipped to clip and highlight like never before! 

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