July 10, 2024

Should I use free animated stream overlays or static overlays?

Weigh up the pros and cons of using static or animated overlays

Should you use free animated stream overlays or static overlays? In this blog, we weigh up the pros and cons of using images vs animated stream overlays.

Are static or animated stream overlays better? In this blog, we briefly discuss the pros and cons of using both in your next live stream, including our wide range of beginner-friendly free animated stream overlays.

What are stream overlays?

Stream overlays are static and dynamic graphics that can be displayed over your live stream footage to help organize, decorate, and add a professional look to your broadcast. Overlays often used by streamers include:

  • Stream screens like Starting Soon or Be Right Back screens
  • Channel banners at the top of your screen
  • Social media bugs that display your social media handles  
  • Countdown timers
  • Lower third graphics that provide information and context for what’s happening on screen, for example an animated ticker

Whether you’re a gamer streaming on Twitch or sharing a live podcast episode via Facebook Live, using an overlay doesn’t just increase your production value. It also adds personal flair and character to the way your live stream looks.

Animated and static overlays can be easily integrated into streaming software like OBS and Streamlabs, which also allow you to control live streams to multiple platforms at once. Streaming overlays can be either static or dynamic, both of which have their own unique benefits and challenges.

Static stream overlays

Static stream overlays are still images that can be uploaded, usually in PNG or JPEG format. Static overlays decorate and frame the various sources on your screen, and can even act as the background for any chatboxes and other elements you want to add to your stream (for example, your webcam feed).

The main benefits of static overlays are that they are consistent, easy to use, and don’t take up as much CPU as animated overlays. If you’re facing internet speed restrictions or are using a lower-end system, static overlays can help you avoid lags. 

Plus, static overlays are usually easier to create. If you’re just starting out and want to try your hand at designing your first overlay, you can easily put together a quick design on a tool like Photoshop. 

While minimalism can be attractive for some viewers, static stream overlays may fail to attract and maintain your target audience. Moreover, without animation, you might end up with jump cuts between scenes and when revealing or hiding overlays – which drops the production value.

Animated stream overlays

Animated stream overlays can include videos, GIFs, as well as animated transition effects. You often see them on live streams as rolling text, looping social media details, animated alerts to thank viewers and subscribers, and much more! Animation is also used in live streams to seamlessly introduce or remove a static overlay from the screen.

With the right OBS animated overlay, you can boost audience engagement no matter what content you’re streaming. Add tickers to highlight top talking points during live podcasts, and update score counts and kills while gaming. Introduce an animated cam overlay to help frame your webcam feed, and ensure that your viewers are drawn to your reactions – which is especially useful for gaming and live commentary. And, if you’re live streaming sports, you can seamlessly update scores and game stats with dynamic stream elements. 

However, the downside of eye-grabbing animated stream overlays is that they can be a strain on your device and slow down the live stream. Plus, juggling layers of WebM files on OBS can be confusing and complicated. Many live streamers invest in additional tools like a stream deck to manage multiple levels of animations, transitions and scenes. 

Furthermore, using too many animated stream overlays can clutter up your screen. It’s always better to keep overlays tidy and contained to spaces like the lower third space on the screen, and allow your video feed to have the spotlight.

Find beginner-friendly free animated stream overlays

There are several paid and free animated overlays available online – including our free overlays! Check out this animated, fully-customizable Champion-themed Matchup overlay used by Katliente, or this animated Nebula-themed counter overlay inspired by EagleGarrett. You can also find a range of animated ticker overlays, lower thirds, and animated sports scoreboards in the uno overlays library.

Examples of animated overlays

Most animated stream overlays work by allowing you to download a file which can then be used as a source, for example on OBS. However, this limits you to only working from one device – and if that crashes, you risk losing all your resources. 

If downloading and setting up animated overlays seems overwhelming, uno overlays could be a good option for you. Our beginner-friendly animated stream overlays are easy to setup, completely free, and best of all require no downloads to install.

Make both free animated overlays and static overlays work for you

Ultimately, if it’s your stream, it’s your choice. Many professional streamers use a combination of static and animated stream overlays. The crucial factor for making both work for you is to make sure to choose overlays that match your content, your audience, and your brand identity. 

If you’re looking for free animated overlays that are customizable and easy to use, browse our library today.

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