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Good streaming gear options

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Good streaming gear options

The technical knowledge required and the range of choices for streaming gear can be extremely daunting to even experienced streamers.

There are so many ways content creators can reach and entertain their audiences these days. Streaming is one of the most popular, even though it can be daunting to know where to start. Especially when there are so many different products to help you create quality content: Audio, video, graphics, computer hardware, software, lighting, … even choice of chairs! It can get quite overwhelming.

I had the opportunity recently to help a streaming friend, kratomgaming with his setup and channel art. As I have never really worked with video, emotes or overlays before, I was definitely overwhelmed, even though my background is in computer science and very technical! I’d like to share what I’ve learned.

Computer, lights and ergonomics, oh my!

Chair: Most streamers will be sitting most of the time, just like writers and translators. After going through several ergonomic office chairs myself and having nothing but problems with them, I have chose a gaming chair and footstool and have not regretted this choice! The AK Racing Core Ex-wide series is a very comfortable chair, with a breathable mesh fabric, and good neck and lumbar support. To prevent problems caused by having feet down on the floor, the footstool is invaluable, especially as it is also on rollers.

AK Racing Core Ex-wide series chair and footstool

Desk: Staying in one position all day is a recipe for pain. Back pain, neck pain, arm and wrist pain … Being able to switch easily from sitting to standing and back is much healthier. A good standing desk should have motors on both desk legs, be able to handle the weight of the tabletop, monitors, and computer. I prefer buying my tabletops seperately so I have a choice of wood surfaces.

Monitors: This will depend on what you are creating. Gamers should look for fast refresh rates, but don’t need the top resolutions - streams are limited by internet speeds, and rarely can transmit in resolutions higher than 1080p.

Lighting: Lighting for streaming overlaps photography lighting. For streaming, it’s convenient to mount the light to your desk, especially if you have a sit-stand desk. One of the best is the Elgato Key Light, a professional studio LED light with a desk mount. It is often sold out because it is so popular, at which time unscrupulous resellers try to double its price.

Background lighting: Softer lights or coloured lights bounced off a wall add a more professional and interesting touch. Personally, I love Philips Hue, and have actually replaced all the lights at home with them.

Streaming hardware

Webcam: I like the idea of a privacy shutter, and a webcam capable of recording in high definition. The Logitech C920S HD Pro webcam fits this and is probably the most popular webcam available at this time.

Stream deck: Not a must have but very convenient, the Elgato Stream Deck allows you to switch overlays, screens, lighting and more at the touch of one button - no fiddling around with your streaming software.

Microphone: One of the more popular USB microphones is the HyperX QuadCast. Although personally, I am sticking with the microphone on my headphones until I can afford the Shure SM7B cardioid mic and the extras needed to connect it to a computer, partly because I will want to record instrumental music. A desk-mounted boom arm makes positioning much easier which helps to ensure audio quality.

Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II headphones

Headphones: The headphones I love are not the best for streaming or gaming, but I love them to pieces and wear them everywhere. The Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II are over the ear, very comfortable, have the best noise cancelling, and great sound. The microphone is relatively weak, unfortunately. Some other good options include the HyperX Cloud II and the Corsair HS60 Pro (both are wired though).

Mouse and keyboard: Ideally, you want something you don’t have to worry about charging, is comfortable and durable, and quiet. I’ve tried so many keyboards and brands over the years, but find myself always returning to Logitech. Although I like chiclet keys for writing (currently using the Logitech Craft wireless keyboard), they wear out way too quickly when gaming. Logitech’s G815 backlit keyboard has shown it’s quite durable, standing up to regular long gaming sessions without problems. The Logitech G903 wireless mouse charges from the matching mousepad (Logitech G Powerplay wireless charging system).

Capture cards: Elgato again leads on quality and reliability in this category too. The Elgato HD60S Game Capture works via USB3.0 and can stream and record at 1080p from consoles. As it is external, you don’t need a free slot in your computer, which is convenient. The Elgato Cam Link 4K works with DSLR, camcorders and action cameras - great if you are recording interviews or just chatting.

Streaming software

Pretty much the only good choice is some flavour of OBS, with the free OBS Studio being the most popular choice. It works on Windows, macOS and Linux, and connects easily to various streaming and video platforms.

Bots and chat management

My streaming friend, KratomGaming mostly uses Wizebot and Streamlabs. I would love to get to know nightbot.

Graphics, emotes and overlays

If you are streaming art, then you’ll probably want a more professional graphics tablet and software like Photoshop. But for creating icons, avatars, emotes, overlays and other graphics, I have loved getting comfortable with my tablet.

iPad and pencil: For all of the above, I use my iPad Pro 3rd Gen and its pencil. It was a huge step up from the first gen iPad’s pencil, and I’m currently lusting after the new iPad Pro (4th Gen) with its backlit keyboard.

Procreate app: I’m not a graphics designer - I work with words. But I would love to be able to draw! The Procreate app for the iPad has been the most intuitive drawing app I have tried.

Procreate running on the iPad Pro

Sizes for emotes, channel art and overlays

Graphics for Twitch and other content and social media platforms need to be specific sizes to work correctly in browsers and on their mobile apps.

Twitch image sizes

For several of the graphics, you will need to submit three different sizes, to display them well on various devices.

  • Avatar (profile): 256x256px
  • Profile banner (profile): 1920x480px (4:1 ratio)
  • Twitch panels (profile): 640x640px, images will be scaled to 320px wide
  • Cover image: 1200x480px
  • Cam overly: This depends on which webcam you are using, but usually 1280x720px
  • Offline banner and in-stream screens: 1920x1080px (16:9 ratio)
  • Subscriber badges: 18x18px, 36x36px, 72x72px, PNG format
  • Channel point icons and custom emotes: 28x28px, 56x56px, 112x112px, PNG format
  • Twitch VOD thumbnail: 1280x720px (16:9 ratio)

Tip: If you want to use emotes and other channel art for merchandise, the image sizes must be drastically increased.

Graphics for other content creation sites use different sizes again. At the time of writing (July 2020), these are the recommended image sizes for various platforms.

Facebook image sizes

  • Facebook profile picture: 180x180px minimum (will be atomatically resized to 170x170px in a browser, 128x128px on a smartphone and 36x36 on other phones)
  • Facebook cover photo (banner): 820x312px, file size less than 100KB
  • Facebook image post: 1200x630px.

Twitter image sizes

  • Twitter profile picture (avatar): 400x400px minimum, file size less than 2MB
  • Twitter header photo: 1500x500px, file size less than 5MB
  • Twitter image tweet: 440x220px minimum (2:1 ratio), maximum 1024x512px, file size less than 5MB

Instagram image sizes

  • Instagram profile image (avatar): 110x110px
  • Instagram thumbnails (auto-generated from your posts): 161x161px
  • Instagram posts: 1080x1080px
  • Instagram stories: 1080x1920px, file size less than 4GB

LinkedIn image sizes

  • LinkedIn profile picture (avatar):400x400px
  • LinkedIn background image: 1584x396px
  • LinkedIn image or link: 1104x736px

Pinterest image sizes

  • Pinterest profile image (avatar): 165x165px
  • Pinterest pins: recommended aspect ratio 2:3, width max 236px
  • Pinterest boards: 222x150px (large thumbnail) 55x55px (small thumbnail)

YouTube image sizes

  • YouTube profile image (avatar): 800x800px
  • YouTube channel cover photo (banner): 2560x1440px
  • YouTube videos and screens for insertion into videos: 1280x720px minmum, 16:9 aspect ratio

Tumblr

  • Tumblr profile picture (avatar): 128x128px
  • Tumblr image posts: 500x750px


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22 Jul 2020