Friday, July 30, 2021

See Your Twitch Channel For What It Is

When building our channels, we’re all looking to make something different. That’s what makes Twitch so exciting. Everyone has different interests, different life experiences, and different visual styles. We may all be on the same platform, but each of us is on their own separate journey. However, many never get the chance to start on the adventure of Twitch streaming, because they see other channels’ content and deem the whole process too daunting. Then there are other streamers who have already started, but become impatient when expecting the results they see in their peers. 

Comparisons can be harmful to a streamer- they stifle creativity and even sometimes damage motivation. Because every channel is on its own separate journey, we never know what someone else has gone through when trying to make their content work. Their features may not be compatible with our content. And we all have to fight our own demons when trying to go live. But the only thing we see when we look at our list of followed channels on Twitch is a bunch of people having fun and making entertainment. What does that say about us when we can’t muster up the courage to do the same, or feel down because we’re not making progress? In this entry, I’ll help you to see your Twitch channel for what it is, in order to grow more effectively and be more confident with the content you make.


Many new streamers run into two very daunting problems, which both stem from the same cause. Before starting their channels, hopeful streamers often overestimate the amount of effort and know-how it takes to stream. This dangerous assumption prevents countless people from ever getting their starts on Twitch. But for the streamers who can break through that mental block and begin streaming, a second issue comes into play. Once they have a taste for broadcasting, the scales tip in the other direction. They underestimate how much time it will take for them to reach their goals of becoming full-time streamers, famous celebrities, or just hitting their first milestone of followers. As I’ve talked about in other entries, this inflation of expectations can lead to bad results, like frustration, dejection, and an eventual loss of willingness to stream. But where do these two damaging mental blocks of overestimation and underestimation come from? There’s a single, unexpected concept which ties them both together. 

The things we see are only ever one part
of the full story.

During World War II, the United States military faced a baffling situation. In an effort to decrease losses among their aircraft, they put together a study. All returning airplanes were analyzed, and all the bullet holes they received were charted on an illustration. When looking at the resulting image, you can clearly see that the center of the plane, the edges of the wings and the tail were taking the most damage. So the US military added more armor to those hot zones and sent the planes back out. But contrary to what everyone expected, this didn’t change the amount of planes that got shot down. How is this possible? It wasn’t until the statistician Abraham Wald came in that things started to change. He suggested that they shouldn’t be adding armor to the areas where returning planes got shot- they should be adding armor to the areas where they
didn’t get shot. This is the classic example of a concept called ‘survivorship bias.’ The graph showing where bullet holes appeared was only showing one portion of the total amount of planes. Because the planes that got hit in the other areas never made it back to base. And therefore, the areas marked on the illustration were actually demonstrating where a plane was strong enough to get hit and still fly, whereas the blank areas showed the most vulnerable points. This flipped the thinking about the subject on its head.


Survivorship bias affects us every day on Twitch as well. Those who have never streamed before can only ever watch streamers who actually faced their fears and started streaming. This means they’re only seeing a small percentage of all those who have wanted to stream. A prospective streamer might consider the ugliest looking, least professional stream to be the bottom of the barrel- let’s say it’s represented by 1 out of 100 possible percentage points. But in reality, even that stream, which might be the worst they’ve ever seen, should get somewhere closer to 70 or 80 points. Because by simply being live on Twitch, it’s above the thousands upon thousands of other prospective streams that, for whatever reason, people wanted to make but never did. The streams that actually exist are only the tip of the iceberg. For every one person who had the courage to go live, there are scores of others that dreamed of doing it, but never started at all. So if you’re interested in starting a channel, take comfort in the fact that you don’t need to know much about the craft itself. As long as you can take that first step into actually going live, the hardest part will already be behind you. 

All the things that never got made form a larger
percentage than those that did.

Then there are those who have started their channels, and get discouraged by the amount of time it takes to grow. This problem is caused by survivorship bias as well. As I’ve mentioned in past entries, streamers often look to the most successful channels to gather inspiration for their own shows. This can be highly detrimental to motivation for some of us, because it skews our perspective about what a Twitch channel should be like. When only watching a stream with 100 concurrent chatters, it’s easy to think that any stream without such a flow of conversation isn’t a real stream. When we see a streamer who gets new follow or cheer alerts every few minutes, we can’t help but feel that our own channels could be the same way if we only act like those streamers on their shows. But of course, what we don’t see is the incredible amount of time and effort that led those streamers to where they are. I can guarantee that any channel at the top bracket of Twitch didn’t look or act in the same way when they were starting out. In entries like 3 Easy Tips to Network on Twitch, I suggested looking for channels of a similar size to your own. It’s easier to form a good relationship with streamers who are going through similar experiences on the platform, and you can get a more realistic picture of things that might work at your own channel’s scale. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with watching large channels if you enjoy their content, but you should keep in mind that their practices are usually not going to be compatible with your own content.  


As I’ve mentioned in other entries, it’s helpful to put on blinders when making your content. These two problems connected to survivorship bias I’ve mentioned are only able to occur if you watch other Twitch streams. And the more you watch, the heavier your mental burden becomes. So if you find yourself having a hard time with creative blocks on Twitch, try cutting back on the amount of streams you watch in general. inspiration doesn’t always have to come from other sources after all, it can also come from within. But we all love watching Twitch streams, so just try to be careful that you don’t form harmful expectations about your own content based on the creations of others. If you keep that in mind, it will help you to see your channel for what it is. 

Friday, July 23, 2021

Allow Your Streams to Evolve


While I’ve covered a large range of topics throughout The Twitch Playbook, they all ultimately fall into one of three major categories. First, what allows a Twitch channel to continue growing? Second, what makes a Twitch channel better than it was before? And third, what makes us happier while making our content? And tying them all together is the most important question of all: What happens when it’s necessary to sacrifice one of these three categories in order to let the other two thrive?

Some people are content to chase growth and improvement, finding happiness in their popularity if not necessarily in the act of streaming. Others are willing to let quality fall behind in order to grow fast and enjoy the ride. And a third subset, which includes myself, find that they don’t mind slowing expansion if it can let them produce better work and be happier while doing it. There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong choice here- everyone has different life goals and interests. But it’s useful to know which aspect can be dialed back on your own streams when life comes knocking. 


Throughout the lifetime of my channel, my content has continued evolving. My channel today doesn’t resemble the channel I had when I started streaming. And even though I often talk about how many times I’ve changed or pivoted my own brand in these entries, Twitch Playbook listeners who visit my streams may sometimes be surprised: many of the features I described in early episodes are no longer in effect on my channel today. 

Here's a franchise that certainly wasn't afraid to
evolve with every successive entry.

It’s easy to forget, especially for those who just recently found The Twitch Playbook and binged the episodes, that this podcast has been coming out every week for the past two and a half years. In that time, I’ve described successes, failures, iterations and all sorts of other experiences. These entries aren’t a postmortem, describing a channel that I ‘finished’ when I started producing the podcast- they discuss a living, breathing, and constantly shifting piece of content week over week. In this entry, I’m going to talk about how my channel has evolved since beginning the podcast, and demonstrate how even good features sometimes have to go, if they don’t further our life goals. 


I’ve often spoken in this resource about one of the big changes I’ve gone through on my channel: my focus more and more toward appreciating video game storylines. But what does that really entail, and how far have I gone with it? Yes, I never talk over cutscenes. And yes, I’ve become more confident in playing longer, less conventionally exciting games on my channel. I’ve also decided to jettison many of the features that have worked for me in the past, in order to create more space for the aspects of streaming that I enjoy most. I’ve described all these changes before. But while I’ve detailed each of these individual things, and how they helped me further my goals on their own, I haven’t necessarily gone into what all those combined changes have made the channel look like today. So let’s take a look at the channel as a whole.

It took me a long time to wean myself off the habit of trying to grow my content quickly, since in my professional life that’s what I’ve always been hired to do for other brands. But once I came to that conclusion, I realized many other ‘growth’ aspects of my channel could go as well. Raiding on my channel is no longer a factor, in either direction. I don’t raid at the end of my streams, nor do I allow raids to come in. I’ve scaled back many of the big, bombastic moments I’d previously done, like custom character voices and celebrations. I don’t write ‘going live’ Tweets anymore, and I’ve cut down my brand’s social presence to a select few platforms. I even take a less active role in engaging with my chat, choosing to maintain a much slower rhythm and respond to things in batches rather than constantly scan for incoming messages. These were all very distinct choices I’ve made over the lifetime of my channel in order to focus more on the games I play, and I’ve described all of these changes in various entries. But it also means that my channel may be completely unrecognizable to someone who joins in the hopes of seeing how I raid, or the celebrations I’ve described, in earlier episodes of the podcast. 


All the changes I’ve described have helped to make me happier with my content, even though I was fully aware that each one would further limit my potential for growth. But it’s also important to understand that just because I cut certain features from my own streams doesn’t mean I no longer endorse them, or that they weren’t good ideas at the time. Everything I’ve written about in The Twitch Playbook has worked for my channel at one point or another. I’ve never written about anything unproven, or things I had just started doing recently and thought might be a good idea going forward. By the time something makes it into The Twitch Playbook, it’s already been in effect on my streams for over a hundred broadcasts. If I tell you that something worked for me, I’m not being premature about it- it’s been heavily tried and tested. But some things worked for an old version of me- one that had different priorities. When I was trying to grow faster and build connections, things like raiding, being more active with my chat, and expanding social media all worked wonders. And for anyone who wants to do those things on their own channels now, those methods still work just as well as they did when I wrote about them. The entries about those things, even though I don't still do them, are completely valid.

If raiding will further your goals, then by all
means do it! Don't take my own channel's
removal of the feature as a condemnation.

I have no interest in maintaining my channel like a museum, trying to keep every good idea in effect in case someone wants to watch and learn from them. As I mentioned in the entry Your Content Should Make You Happy, my broadcasts are not an extension of the podcast. I don’t answer questions about how to stream, nor do I talk about or give advice to other channels. My streams aren’t a pot of gold at the end of the podcast rainbow, in which a listener can see all the things I’ve described in effect at once. My content would be nothing if it wasn’t constantly evolving. I continue to pursue new interests and ideas, just as I’d hope that everyone listening would feel comfortable pursuing their passions in their own content.


As I’ve spoken about before, I try to ensure that no feature on my channel is sacred. Anything, even the oldest or most successful idea, can find itself on the chopping block if it doesn’t further my long-term goals. As I mentioned in the growth check-in entry called Simplify Your Streams, it’s just as important to continuously remove things from a channel as it is to keep adding things. All this allows for true evolution and creativity. Because after all, we can always add things back in if we decide we really miss them. So consider your own channel: Out of the three previously mentioned tentpoles of Popularity, Improvement, and Happiness, which two are most important to you? And is your channel evolving to allow those two priorities to flourish? Sometimes you may feel locked into certain features because you’ve gone on record saying you’d always do them. But in order to keep pursuing our passions it’s often necessary to know when to break certain commitments. When you allow your channel to evolve with your priorities, you’ll find that the results fall into place.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Learn About Streaming from Mark Twain

Most of us are familiar with Mark Twain. He’s written some of the most famous pieces of literature ever to be released in the United States. In fact, his 1884 work ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ is widely considered one of the candidates for THE ‘Great American Novel.’ Whether we were made to read something of his during our school lives, or we became aware of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn through popular culture, we’ve all been exposed in some way by Twain’s body of work. But in addition to writing classics of literature, Twain was also a highly active public speaker, and in that capacity he’s become even more inspirational to me personally. This man has pumped out more incredible quotes than any other human being I’ve heard of. Seriously- take an afternoon sometime and just scroll through a list of his one-liners. Of course, if you’ve engaged with The Twitch Playbook up to this point, you know I love a good quote, and I’ve sprinkled many of my favorites throughout these entries. Something about a quote’s ultra-condensed nature makes it even more inspirational to me, because it’s open to all sorts of interpretations. Case in point: In this entry, Mark Twain, a man who could never have dreamed of video games or the internet, is about to teach you about Twitch streaming. 


I’ve spoken before about finding interesting angles for your content. Twain had this to say on the subject: “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).”  It’s often not desirable to ‘fit in’ with everyone else on the platform. It’s difficult to give people a reason to care about what you’re making if your shows look and feel exactly like everyone else’s. Twitch is a big place, and there are thousands upon thousands of people already broadcasting whenever you might choose to go live. Why should a viewer engage with your channel over the flood of other options out there? I personally think the answer to that question lies in two subjects: honesty and specialization. When you’re creating content that incorporates your authentic passions outside the games you play, like-minded people will have something to identify with when they watch your shows. And if you narrow your focus to cover less ground, it will make you a stronger authority on what you do choose to zero in on. In entries like Don’t Be Afraid to Be Yourself on Stream and Your Channel is Not a One Stop Shop, I spoke about these two ideas and how you can best utilize them for your brand. 

Open your eyes to the inspirations all around you.

In order to come up with engaging ideas at all, it’s useful to draw inspiration from a wide variety of places. Most new Twitch streamers assume they should be watching and studying other streamers who focus on the exact same games or content styles as their own channels. But this can put you into the same position as the previously mentioned problem- your shows will start to look the same as everyone else’s. Instead, try pulling from more sources, whether it’s Twitch content you’d never do yourself, entertainment outside of Twitch, or even everyday experiences. There’s no limit to what can inspire you, as long as you don’t shut off your brain. As Mark Twain said, “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” Think of ‘reading’ in this context as ‘seeing,’ in the sense of truly seeing something for the inspiration it contains. You have the capacity to leverage so many experiences for inspiration, but that capacity is worthless if you don’t utilize it. I explored this concept further in the entry
To Improve Your Twitch, Get Inspired By Everything. Make sure you’re really seeing the things around you, and paying close attention.


But what about those of us who haven’t started streaming yet? Twain has you covered as well. One of my all-time favorite quotes of his is deceptively simple: “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” Think about it. For every content creator out there making things, there are a dozen others on the sidelines who wanted to give it a try but couldn’t muster up the courage. In many ways, actually making that first stream on your channel is the biggest step you’ll ever take in streaming, because it’s exponentially more content than you’d been producing before. I’m a huge supporter of the idea that you should begin streaming as soon as possible, no matter what kind of equipment, skill or time commitment you have. That’s why the entry I wrote on that subject, titled Start Your Twitch Channel With No Money, was the first episode of this entire podcast after the introduction. It doesn’t matter how grand your plans are, or how beautiful your channel designs are- they all amount to nothing if you never actually stream. So take this ‘secret to getting ahead’ to heart, and just stream. 

Get it?

But what’s the reason most people put off beginning their Twitch journeys? It all boils down to one thing: fear. There’s just no way to know in advance what will happen. “Will people watch my shows?” “Will my content look good?” “Will I make a fool of myself in front of everyone?” These questions are what make streaming hopefuls put off their dreams until tomorrow. But then tomorrow they put it off until the next day, and then the day after that. Then after months and years, they still haven’t started. But it’s a waste of time to worry about things that haven’t yet come to pass- those thoughts only keep you on the bench while you watch everyone else play. As Twain put it, “I've lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” This anxiety about the unknown, in which we play out fictional scenarios in our heads, can affect streaming veterans just as easily as it can hamstring beginners. After all, trying to change something about an established channel two years into its lifespan can be just as scary as doing your first ever stream. Personally I try to use my streaming fears as beacons, which point me toward the things I want most. After all, if I didn’t care deeply about those new ideas, why would I be scared of them? You can find more information about this concept in the entry Fear is Great for Streaming

As you continue streaming however, there will always be hardships which are out of your control. But these are few compared to the amount of hardships within your control. Surround yourself with people who inspire you and lift you up. This is true in the community you form, the way you handle your chat rules, the other streamers you get to know, and even the people you follow on social media. Not everything in life is within our power to change, but a surprising amount of things are. As Mark Twain said, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” You can find more info about meeting other streamers in the entry 3 Easy Tips to Network on Twitch, and you can remove negative social media influences in entries like How to Easily Free Up Time for Twitch.  


So take some streaming advice from a man who lived over a century ago. Getting inspired, forcing yourself to start, facing your fears, and cultivating positivity are all universal concepts after all. Just because someone has never picked up a controller doesn’t mean that their wisdom can’t give you the motivation you need to make your channel as good as it can be. Streaming is a very new form of entertainment, and if you limit your perspective to only those who have streamed themselves, you’re robbing your channel of thousands of years of brilliant ideas. So let Mark Twain teach you how to stream- in many ways, he knew how to do it better than we do. And of course, keep in mind his most sagelike piece of wisdom: “All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.”

Friday, July 9, 2021

Chronicle Your Twitch Progress

When running a Twitch channel, it’s difficult to track all the moving parts. Yes, there are statistics you can look at, but these can only tell you very external things. Who watched your show? How many times did they comment? Which games perform best? These are all fine things to keep track of, but they’re only one small part of the bigger picture. What’s the best way to gauge your personal feelings about your channel as you go along? In earlier entries like Fix One Thing About Your Stream Every Day, I helped you keep a checklist of large and small scale fixes you want to make on your channel. This is a very important step toward keeping your content polished and fresh. But as I continued streaming, I realized that it was just as important to keep track of my progress on an even broader scale. In this entry, I’ll help you regularly take time to chronicle your channel’s progress. 


Everything is scarier when it's out of sight.

If you’ve been following The Twitch Playbook so far, you’ll know that I’m a very big fan of quantifying things. Wherever possible, I make sure nothing on my channel is left to chance. My daily schedule is neatly laid out on a calendar, my stream issues are all written onto a checklist, and my pre-show setup routine is the exact same every time. The way I see it, tasks become much easier when you shed light on them. When you don’t write things down, they have power over you, because everything is more daunting when it can’t be seen. That’s why horror movies are always scariest
before you see the monster. At that point, the creature could be anywhere, at any time. Once it’s on screen, it might be gross, and it might be violent, but it’s never as scary as your mind made it out to be while it was lurking somewhere in the shadows. This same phenomenon happens when you leave all your ideas and experiences about streaming in your head. You can’t really see the big picture, and that makes it easy to make the same mistakes over and over again. When you write things down and specifically define what they are, suddenly you’re on the offensive. Like the xenomorph in ALIEN or the shark in JAWS, your problems can still be formidable when fully visible in the spotlight, but they’re nowhere near as frightening. 

Chronicling your progress doesn’t merely involve jotting down fixes though. It’s more of an overall snapshot of where your head is at, during a specific moment in time. Which things do you like about your recent streams? What do you think you need to work on? Which moments stick out most vividly? If you take a little bit of time every once in a while to put down your thoughts on your channel’s progress, you’ll soon realize that it’s more than just a time capsule. It’s an active learning experience.


I personally believe very strongly in this concept of chronicling progress. You should know this as well as anyone. After all, you’ve been listening to me do it for the past two and a half years. As I mention in the intro to each episode of the podcast, these entries “log all the triumphs, failures, discoveries, missteps and course corrections I’ve made so far” while building my Twitch channel. Though I don’t write in the same format each week, I always dive into some subject that I think I did wrong, something that worked well, or something I’ve learned from my time on the platform. I connect my Twitch experiences to those in my personal life, as well as books I’ve read, movies I’ve seen, music I’ve listened to, and all the stories surrounding them. I spend 30 minutes every day just writing about my channel. And at the end of those 3.5 cumulative hours each week, I emerge with a finished Twitch Playbook entry. But I also learn an incredible amount about my own channel. 

It’s funny how that works. People usually don’t write because they think they have nothing to say. But what you quickly realize when you start doing it, is that you will begin to have things to say because you write. By pushing myself each week to go into detail about the things I’ve learned throughout my journey, I suddenly begin to create a clearer picture of them even for myself. You’ve probably noticed that I often make an entry about a subject, and then return to that subject several weeks later to go into more specific detail. This is often because I only realize new things about that subject by having written about it in the first place. Even though I knew something intuitively to some degree, I will only start to truly understand it when I’ve put it into words. I might see how something I did two years ago relates to something I’m doing now. Or how the many iterations of a stream concept contributed to its ultimate success. I can even gain a concrete understanding of my own viewpoints on chat interaction, where before there was only a vague outline. With each Twitch Playbook entry, I end up learning as much by writing it as you do by listening to it. 


What you write doesn't need to be Witcher 3 length.
Just enough to get your thoughts down.

Let me be clear: you don’t need to write for 3.5 hours every week like I do, and you certainly don’t need to publish what you write. These compositions can be as tightly written or as loose as you want. They can be long or short. They don’t need to be seen by anyone but you. The act of committing your mind to writing it is where you’ll gain the real benefits. 

Of course, when writing anything, it’s often very hard to know where to begin. So if you’re having trouble starting the chronicling process, try using this template. Resolve to sit down once each week, for just ten minutes. It can be during your Friday lunch break, immediately after one of your streams, or on a Sunday before starting the work week. As long as you stick to doing it once every week. And when you sit down to write, answer these three questions:

  • What about your streams this week went particularly well?

  • What’s an example of something that went wrong this week?

  • Describe one interesting moment that happened on stream this week. It can be good, bad, funny, exciting, or anything else.

And that’s it. You don’t need to write with style, proper grammar or correct spelling. Just write down three little stories about your streams this past week. If you’re able to stick to that regimen, you’ll begin to see your channel from a broader perspective. You’ll find that you’re able to see the mechanics of your stream, which weren’t clear before. You’ll have a much easier time identifying what needs to be changed about your shows by being honest with yourself in writing. And by praising your strong points, you’ll have more self-confidence about all the things you produce. 


Chronicling your progress sounds too simple to actually work, but I can say it is a huge help. You may think that spending only 10 minutes a week won’t bring the benefits I get from the 200+ I spend writing this show, but I’ve had great success in other endeavors with smaller time commitments as well. In my language learning journey, any time I have a conversation entirely in Japanese, whether it’s a random encounter in person or through a scheduled Zoom call, I take ten minutes afterwards to write down on a private Google Document what I thought went well, what went badly, and what I thought was an interesting moment. Sound familiar? It really works! It’s helped me immensely to boost my confidence in Japanese conversation, and I immediately know what I need to focus on the next time. So however long you spend at your writing desk, try chronicling your Twitch progress in the way you’re most comfortable with. You might just find that the best person to teach you… is you. 

Friday, July 2, 2021

Advanced Green Screen Techniques

Many Twitch streamers opt for green screens to spice up the look of their content. This tool allows a broadcaster to cut themselves from the background and insert themselves into any scene they choose. They can appear above (or within) the game they’re playing, and they can create all sorts of interesting shots for other moments of the broadcast. I already helped you to set up and troubleshoot basic green screen features in the entry Using a Green Screen for Streaming, but there are of course unlimited directions you could go with such a tool. This time, I’ll help you to solve some more complicated issues, and hopefully inspire you to go further outside the box with your green screen ideas. Let’s go over a few advanced green screen techniques. 


First, it’s important to make sure that parts of you aren’t being cut off in your camera shot. In past entries, I’ve spoken about the importance of composition within the frame of an image. With green screens, this topic is just as necessary, but in a different way. When you key yourself out of a background, you no longer need to make sure the shot within your camera is a good composition, because you can move the keyed image however you want in your streaming software. The important aspect of placing your camera, when it comes to green screens, is to ensure that you’re capturing everything you want to see, in its entirety. This parameter will of course be different for every streamer. If you’re sitting at a desk, the camera is probably able to see your head, shoulders and maybe a little bit of your chest. When you're using a normal (non-green screened) camera shot, it doesn’t look that strange if the top of your head goes past the top of the frame, but when you’re keyed out from a green screen, this is suddenly very noticeable. There’s no longer any natural border for the viewer to see in your camera shot, so you’ll simply look like you’re missing a chunk from the top of your head. For this reason, you might want to either zoom your camera out, move the camera further back, or adjust the crop you’ve created in-software, to capture your entire head. 

This looks good here, but if he was in front of
a green screen, his left and right arms would
be cut off.

You also want to keep in mind the places you might move to. For many of us, streaming isn’t a completely stationary activity. You might shift left or right in your chair, you might swing your arms, or you might even be getting up and dancing your heart out. It’s worthwhile to experiment by moving around and seeing whether you’re being cut off by the green screen. This will depend on what kind of shot you’re going for. If you’re sitting at a desk, maybe make sure that you won’t be cut off if you accidentally shift to the other side of your chair. If you’re capturing a zoomed out shot of your entire body while playing VR, then see how far to the left and right you’re able to move without leaving the shot. These are instances where watching your stream after the fact can be helpful as well. Were there any unexpected places where your green screen cut you off? Of course, you’re not filming a movie- the point of a streaming green screen is not to completely trick the viewer into thinking you’re somewhere else- but making sure you’re not hitting the edges of the key wherever possible will certainly help to make your stream look more professional. 

One other technical issue to watch out for is unwanted blurring. Your streaming software is looking for a hard edge between yourself and the green background, so it can cut you out. If your camera goes out of focus, that edge will become fuzzy, and it will ruin the look of your key. There are various reasons a camera might go out of focus, and when setting up a green screen it could be useful to return to the entry I wrote on this topic, called Focusing a Streaming Webcam. Blurring can also be caused by insufficient lighting, and you can find more info about how to get better lighting for your stream (even just by using household items) in the entry How to Make Your Camera Look Better


Snake is always the designated driver.

There is, of course, a lot you can do with a green screen. It’s most common to simply project the streamer in front of the game they’re playing, but there are plenty of other uses for this tool, especially when you’re taking a break from your game. You can make it look like you’re sitting within the environment of your favorite movies, anime, games, and all sorts of other things, while you talk to chat for example. I’ve seen streamers do fun things with layers on their green screens as well. With creative use of a background behind them and a foreground element in front, I’ve seen streamers make it look as if they’re sitting behind news desks, inside spaceship cockpits, and other fun scenes. 

Using layers in front of you as well as behind can create much more interesting effects for your scene that you can’t do by simply cropping your shot in-software. If you wanted to make it look like you’re in a wild west jail cell for example, simply finding an image of prison bars with transparency would allow your body to appear behind each blank space between the bars. You can place video smoke effects in front of yourself on a cyberpunk street to add more atmosphere, or have a car dashboard in front, with a moving background behind to create the effect of driving around. Try to think outside the box with your ideas, and you might just stumble upon a whole new signature look for your channel! 


Whether you’re solving issues with your green screen or coming up with new creative concepts, the most important thing is to take your time. Don’t try to make big fixes or changes right before going live- give yourself a nice open-ended chunk of time to really put your mind to the challenge. There’s a whole world of possibilities out there, as long as you’re willing to look for it. So give some of these advanced green screen techniques a shot.