OBS Twitch

How to Use the Image Mask Filter in OBS

When it comes to improving the presentation of your stream the OBS effect filter tool, image mask, can be a great effect way to personalize and give your stream layout its own identity by making sources such as images or webcams to have the appearance of other shapes such as a circle. In this guide I’ll be going over what an image mask is, and how to attach an image mask to a source in OBS.

What is an Image Mask?

An image mask is where you take an image and lay it over a source such as a video or image to take on the shape of the image. To understand what an image mask is below is an example.

Rounded Edge Rectangle Image Mask

An image mask will traditionally come in black and white. The white area represents the area of the source that will be visible. The black area represents the area of the source that will be masked.

Making an image mask template can be created using paint or photoshop applications such as Affinity, Adobe Photoshop or GIMP.

Adding an Image Mask

Once you have created or downloaded your image mask follow these simple steps in OBS to add the image mask filter.

Add Your Sources

First add and place your sources where you want them to be on your layout.

We’ll be adding a rounded edge rectangle image mask to the Darksiders III logo
Select Filters

Right click on the source that you want to add the image mask to and select Filters.

Select Image Mask/Blend

Click on the + sign in the lower left corner and select Image Mask/Blend. A pop-up window will appear where you can name the image mask filter. Then press OK.

Set Image Mask/Blend Settings

For the basic black/white image masks, set the Type to Alpha Mask (Color Channel). Then click on Browse and select the image mask file. For the Color setting, set the color to white (known as #ffffff in hex code). If you would like to make the image transparent, adjust the opacity to your preference. Then click Close.

For the path the image mask used was the Rounded Edge Rectangle

And that’s it! You’ve successfully added an image mask filter designing your stream.

Image masks are great to personalize your stream and customize your layout. You can make subtle changes to stream such as using rounded rectangle image masks or circle image masks. Or make your stream stand out by adding a star shaped image mask to your webcam. The limits designing your stream are up to your creativity.

Politics Twitch

Who is the Protecting Lawful Streaming Act For?

On December 27th, President Donald Trump signed into law an omnibus bill that contained the Protecting Lawful Streaming Act of 2020. The Protecting Lawful Streaming Act makes it a felony with a 5 year jail sentence for a first violation and 10 year jail sentence for a second.

Before we get ahead of ourselves here is the actual legislation of the law as sponsored by Senator Thom Tillis from his own website.

Also, I’d like to make it clear that I am NOT a lawyer and if you have questions regarding copyright then you should seek out a lawyer who specializes in copyright law. The point of this article is to build a better understanding of the law and to become aware of the potential damage this law can do if you stream on websites such as Twitch and Youtube.

So, what does this have to do with streaming video games on Twitch? Currently as of 2020, not much. Whether it is your hobby or career, the intent of the law is not aimed at the individual who is playing Valorant, Among Us or retro games.

When it comes to the law however, there are four factors that you as an individual should be aware of when it comes the law: The intent of the law, the application of the law, the interpretation of the law, and the enforcement of the law. The Protecting Lawful Streaming Act of 2020 is a perfect example of how a law of good intentions could have dangerous results.

Intent of the Law

The intent of the Protecting Lawful Streaming Act of 2020 has a simple goal, to stop people from generating private financial gain from offering or providing to the public a digital transmission of copyrighted content without permission from the owner.

I know I said simple but let’s break down what the law’s intent is with a hypothetical. Say for example you have a friend who buys a pay-per-view ticket of a boxing match from his cable company. Because your friend is tech savvy, he setups up a website and sells access to his website for half the amount of the pay-per-view ticket.

Your friend would be the intended target of the Protecting Lawful Streaming Act of 2020. He is providing a service to the public for his own financial gain using copyrighted content that he doesn’t have the authority to stream from the copyright owners.

However, the reason that every tech website and political website that talked about the dangers of the Protecting Lawful Streaming Act of 2020 is because of the application of the law and the interpretation of the law.

Application and Interpretation of the Law

If you’ve ever read a law it is one of the most complicated document you will ever read as it was written by lawyers for lawyers. Each law constantly references other sections of the law without providing the documentation and is written as specific and at the same time as broadly as possible. Which is why organizations like the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) are worried with the Protecting Lawful Streaming Act of 2020 passing. Because the intent is one thing, but how the law is applied and interpreted is another.

What makes the Protecting Lawful Streaming Act of 2020 dangerous is how broad and open-ended the law is written. In establishing the definitions within the law, all computer programs, musical work, motion pictures, and other audiovisual work is within the jurisdiction of this law. Which means a lawyer could easily interpret computer program to mean video games as they can be defined as computer programs or audiovisual work.

Another problem of the Protecting Lawful Streaming Act of 2020 is how open ended “without the authority of the copyright owner” is. Applying this law means that any copyright owner can claim that any person streaming their content does not have the authority. The dangers of broadly defined and open ended laws leaves open for multiple interpretations that can be argued with is biased for the companies that claim ownership of the content.

Enforcement of the Law

In regards to the Protecting Lawful Streaming Act of 2020, this is the last barrier as you can have a law but it has no power unless it is enforced. A good example is that a police officer could decide to not give you a ticket if you were caught speeding.

With the Protecting Lawful Streaming Act of 2020 however, it will be up to the copyright owners and the companies that own the copyright to decide if they wish to enforce this law as well as coordinate with law enforcment to detain the person they are accusing that is in violation of the law.

Companies Have Their Eye on Streaming

I want to re-emphasize that in the short term this is a new law and the intent is not focused on people who are creating content on Twitch and Youtube. However, now that there are streamers like Ninja who made $30 million from their Mixer contract. Companies now have their eye on the few content creators that are able to make a living from these platforms.

If you are a person who streams be it a hobby or are able to have it as a career, you need to be aware of laws like the Protecting Lawful Streaming Act of 2020 because any lawsuits that come from this act will affect the streaming industry and your ability to make any revenue.


Twitch Community Challenge: Boost This Stream

Twitch’s help section on December 1st 2020, just posted a new program for Twitch Partners / Affiliates to have their stream be promoted. Now if you’re a streamer, you already know that discoverability on Twitch is effectively non-existent. With the primary means of discoverability being having a high viewer count so you are seen in the category you are streaming in. Extremely effective for those who are already have an established viewership, but not so much for smaller partners and affiliates that stream unique or dynamic content.

As this is an experimental program, here is how Boost This Stream is meant to work. Due note as Boost This Stream is an experimental program, expect this to be a limited timed program as Twitch is trying to create solutions to the discoverability program on their website.

As a Twitch Partner or Affiliate, you’ll get an e-mail if you are eligible to test Boost This Stream. Boost This Stream is treated just like other community challenges, viewers have a limited time to use their channel points to meet the required amount in two days. If successful, your content will be listed as a promoted content on “highly visable parts of Twitch”. Meaning that your stream will likely be at the top of the list when it comes to their existing recommendation algorithm for viewers. The example the Help Guide uses is “Live Channels we think you’ll like”. So your stream will appear on the front page if the viewer watches content that matches content they already watch likely based on categories such as Just Chatting, Retro, or specific games you have streamed.

Two things I’d like to emphasize about the Boost This Stream Challenge from the help article.

  1. The time window for Boost This Stream is 48 hours. It’ll only start when you start streaming. However, the challenge will NOT stop if you go offline during that 48 hour period.
  2. The channel point requirement of Boost This Stream will be varied by the channel determined by factors such as average size of your channel and the number of viewers you have.

One part where I am concerned about Boost This Stream that isn’t answered is how long will the streamer be promoted when the challenge is successful?

Say for example that you’ve started the challenge and your viewership is successful at the end of your stream. Does that mean that the challenge and your promotion will be wasted if you don’t keep on streaming? Will you be promoted again if you go back online within the 48 hour period? Because the main concern I have is that this challenge will result in Partners and Affiliates to develop unhealthy streaming habits.

Overall, it is good to see Twitch try different things to increase discoverability for everyone. Given that the reach of the promotion will likely be based on a recommendation algorithm, it’ll be interesting to see if streamers will be willing to share their analytics to see if the challenge is effective in both the short and long term.

If you would like to read the help article for yourself, you can click this link below.