Multi Action God: Creating Effects
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Have you ever seen effects like this on a broadcast?
How about this?
Ever wish you knew the secrets to create effects like these? No, it’s not sorcery. And no, you don’t need to be a 5Head to pull it off (although it certainly helps).
What if we told you that you could trigger similar effects on your stream with a simple click?
OK, maybe you’re not about to become the next SushiDragon (literal GOAT), but you CAN put on one heck of a show for your viewers. And we’re going to show you how.
Follow the quick steps below and you’ll have mastered the basics in no time. Soon, you’ll be able to unleash trippy effects, rave scenes, and dance parties on command.
So let’s get started.
What Do You Need?
The answer: not as much as you think.
Believe it or not, you only need two main elements to create basic effects like these.
First, and most importantly, you need an Elgato Stream Deck. More specifically, we’ll be mastering the Stream Deck’s super-useful Multi Action and Delay tools. The steps below will work with all models: Stream Deck, Stream Deck XL, Stream Deck Mini, or Stream Deck Mobile.
Next, we’ll be using your favorite broadcasting software. We’d recommend Streamlabs OBS, OBS Studio, OBS.Live (StreamElements), or XSplit, but the choice is yours. We’ll be taking your source and scene management skills to the next level – manipulating layers and timing to create awesome animations.
One important item to consider is a green screen. It’s not 100% required to produce effects, but you’ll find the quality of your effects will improve greatly with chroma keying. Elgato makes a great green screen as well, but those on tight budgets can skip this ingredient for now.
On Multi Actions and Delays
Let’s take a closer look at your two secret weapons: Multi Action and Delays.
Multi Actions allow you to carry out complex processes with a single button on your Elgato Stream Deck. We’ll take complicated stream scenes, break them into individual actions within a timeline, then automate the entire series and map it to one Stream Deck key. Sound too good to be true? Let’s take this typical stream intro as an example:
Change to starting soon screen > Start stream > Wait 1 second > Tweet that you’re going live > Wait 1 minute > Post a welcome message to your chat
With multi actions you can chain all of these actions together and then trigger them with one key press. Crazy huh? No more manually managing sources and media, no more having to divert attention off-stream. Multi actions are an amazing time-saving tool that allow you to multitask without breaking a sweat.
Delays on the other hand, are time placeholders that can be plugged into your multi action sequences. They are measured in milliseconds, allowing you to set ‘pauses’ or timers between actions. For example, consider this basic intro progression:
Starting Soon Screen > Stinger Transition > Gameplay Scene
Let’s say you’re creating a multi action for the above but you want your starting soon screen to run for one minute. Easy. You just need to create a 60 second delay between the starting screen and the stinger transition. Starting to make sense?
As far as this guide is concerned, the real magic begins when we start combining the two; multi action and delays. Combined with some simple animations and your OBS software, your viewers will be tripping more than a Burning Man attendee.
Let’s see what we can create, yeah?
Tutorial: Creating Effects
Remember, nearly everything we’re about to create is made using the three actions below: multi actions, delays, and OBS sources. Familiarize yourself with the icons, as they’ll be appearing frequently.
Don’t worry, you won’t need any external plugins for your OBS software or Stream Deck. Just pure, vanilla goodness.
What you WILL need is a simple background animation. This will help give us that trippy, ‘kaleidoscope’ effect we’re looking for. We’ve provided a free sample animation below to get you started. Click below to download – you’ll need this video file before proceeding.
Later, once you’ve mastered the process, you’ll want to experiment with other styles of background effects. Try different colors, patterns, and speeds to produce unique effects. There are TONS of stock videos on the web that will work nicely – we suggest starting your search here on VideoHive. Just make sure you’re using a looping video that can repeat indefinitely without jarring cuts.
We’ve also created a fun intro animation for the occasion. Make sure to download it below – we’ll be using this in our multi action sequence today.
It’s wise to kick things off with an intro or stinger transition before diving headfirst into your effects. It will help build up hype and set the mood – without catching your viewers completely off-guard. A quick Google search should give you a number of options for stock intro templates, many of which allow for editable text.
Now you’re ready to create your first multi action sequence! Before long you’ll be a pro at making effects timelines like this.
And here’s us testing out a multi action sequence like the one above. This time using our new background animation, intro, delays, and OBS sources.
Want to make one of your own? Let’s get started.
Step #1: Sketch Your Timeline
Without a solid game plan for your multi action sequence, it’s easy to get lost. We’ve found simple sketches help to visualize the entire project and keep you on-course.
You don’t have to create a work of art or anything; a simple progression flow will work wonders. A blueprint like this will allow you to see the bigger picture as you’re rearranging complex actions and timing.
Step #2: Prepare Your OBS Sources
Now let’s add our sources into OBS. We’ll start with the kaleidoscope background animation. Click the ‘+’ button under your Sources dock, select ‘Media Source’ from the list and name it ‘Background’. Turn on the ‘Loop’ check box in the properties window, then click ‘Browse’ to select your WEBM background video (which you should have downloaded earlier). Once added, make sure this remains the bottom layer of your sources list; that way our effects and webcam captures will appear on top (and not be hidden).
[NOTE: We recommend using a clean, recognizable name for each & every source you add to OBS. This will help keep you organized down the line.]
Now add your new Intro animation (which can be downloaded above). Create a new media source, name it, but this time leave the ‘Loop’ property turned off (by default). Once you’ve selected the WEBM file, drag it to the top of your source list to make it the topmost layer.
Now let’s achieve that ghostly camera effect seen in the video above. If you haven’t already, add your webcam output to OBS. Create a new source, select ‘Video Capture Device’, and position it between the two existing sources (this way it shows up over your background animation, but below the intro). This will be your ‘main’ camera in the upcoming scene, but we’ll be making a few copies.
Next, create a duplicate of your original camera by right clicking on it, selecting ‘Copy’, then pasting it into your Sources dock. Click the “+” button to create a Group (we named it ‘Camera 1’ in the image above), then drag your new camera duplicate into the group to create a ‘folder’.
Why is it necessary to create a Group? Well, we’re going to be adding some filters to our camera sources to create neat effects. Any changes to the camera duplicate itself would also change the original cam and all other copies. By creating a Group, we can make sure that any filters applied are localized, without affecting the other camera layers.
Now take your new group and increase the camera size by dragging the corners outwards. (If you have a green screen, it will come in super handy here). We recommend resizing until it’s just a bit bigger than your original camera, but feel free to play around with sizes and positions. Make sure the group is layered just beneath your original camera in the Sources dock, so that only portions of it are showing.
Next, right click the group and select ‘Filters’. We’re going to get creative here, adding visual effects to customize camera appearance. In the next window click the ‘+’ button, then start by selecting ‘Color Correction’. Play around with ‘Hue Shift’; it’s one of our favorite options for adding neon RGB color glows. Next, experiment with ‘Opacity’ to add a ghostly, see-through fade (this one’s important!). Return to the main filters window and add ‘Render Delay’. This allows us to set brief delays (measured in microseconds, or ‘ms’) for each video capture, making the cameras appear ‘staggered’. Test out a few additional filter effects while you’re there, to create a unique look.
Once you’re finished, repeat the process to create more camera duplicates and ‘stack’ them behind your main camera (and underneath your other existing camera layers). You can add as many (or few) copies as you’d like, but generally the more you add, the trippier the effect. You’ll see in our example we created four new groups of duplicate cameras.
Now that your sources are in order, let’s make sure they’re easily replicable on other scenes.
Step #3: Manage Your Scenes
At this point, you should have a single scene storing all your new effects. If not, create a new scene (press the ‘+’ in your OBS Scenes dock) and move your recently-created sources inside. Let’s make sure to rename the scene something recognizable by right clicking on it in your dock and selecting ‘Rename’. In the example below, we chose ‘Dance Effect’.
Your Scenes dock will probably be full of other scene types, like an Intermission, Gameplay, Full-Screen Cam, Stream Intro, Stream Ending, BRB, etc. So what if we want to apply our trippy new effects to any of these other scenes? Well it’s easier than you’d think!
To copy over our new effects, select the scene where you want them to appear (for example, your full-screen camera), right click in that scene’s sources dock and choose ‘Add’. From the dropdown menu select ‘Scene’, then choose your effects scene. Now you’ve created a duplicate of your original effects, which means there’s no need to recreate the effects from scratch. From this new scene you can easily adjust the effect settings (such as position, color, size, etc) without impacting the original effects scene.
But what if you want to make a sweeping adjustment across all effects and their copies? Do we need to adjust them one by one across all scenes where they were duplicated? Nope! All you need to do is make changes to the original effects scene. This will automatically adjust all copies at the same time, saving you tons of time and headache.
To illustrate this, we created a test simulation featuring three example scenes: Scene, Scene 2, and Effects. The effects scene features a simple red box. We can easily add (or duplicate) this within Scene and Scene 2 – and can manipulate the visuals without impacting each other. However, if we want to change the box to blue, we don’t have to make this change one-by-one. We just have to go to the original Effects scene and make a color change, which is automatically applied to the effects on Scene and Scene 2! Pretty neat, huh?
Once you’re comfortable with managing sources, effects, and scenes, it’s time to create your Multi Action timeline.
Step #4: Create Your Multi Action Timeline
Open your Elgato Stream Deck software. In the right-hand menu, scroll down to the section labeled ‘Stream Deck’. Now click and drag the ‘Multi Action’ option into an open slot on your Canvas. From this new window, we’ll be able to create a custom list of actions.
Our effects scene begins with an intro, so let’s start there. Scroll to the OBS Studio section (or Streamlabs OBS, XSplit, etc), then drag ‘Source’ into the multi action window. Make sure your OBS is open so Stream Deck can access your files. Give the action a title (Intro) and make sure it is set to ‘Activate’ (so Elgato knows to show the animation). Now just locate your intro by choosing the correct OBS scene, then selecting the ‘Intro’ source inside. Congratulations! Your first action is complete.
So what now? Well, the next step in our effects scene would be to turn on our background animation. But we don’t want to turn it on immediately. Instead, let’s let our intro animation play for a bit, as a smooth, gradual lead-in for our viewers. This way we have time to build up hype and set the mood.
So let’s add a delay. Locate ‘Delay’ within the ‘Stream Deck’ section, then drag it into our multi action timeline (underneath the intro). Delays are measured in milliseconds (1,000 milliseconds = 1 second) for ultra precision. Now take out your stopwatch and estimate how long you want your intro to play before the effects kick in. For us, 4.5 seconds seemed about right, so we created a 4,500 millisecond delay. Your delay might be slightly shorter or longer depending on personal preference.
Now we can unleash all our carefully-crafted effects sources. First drag a new ‘Source’ action into our timeline, just underneath the delay. Name it ‘Background’, then navigate to your background animation source. Great! Now your trippy, kaleidoscope background will play (on loop) precisely 4.5 seconds after the start of your intro.
Next, repeat the process for each of your cameras. Start with your main (original) camera source, the topmost layer without effects. Then carefully activate each of your camera effect groups (in our example Camera 1, Camera 2, etc), going in order from smallest to largest camera sizes. Your filters will carry over into the multi action as long as you’re selecting the group (not just the source).
Normally, we might consider adding a delay between each of the camera actions. However, Stream Deck multi actions already have small delays built-in between actions, and that default timing worked fine for us. If you’d like a shorter or longer delay, just repeat the step above, dragging a custom delay action between each camera group activation.
Poggers! Our timeline is complete. But how does it look in action?
Step #5: Give It A Test Run!
Lastly, you’ll want to test out your new multi action. To test, just go to your Stream Deck and press the newly-created button within your canvas. Make sure all your sources are appearing in the correct order and with proper timing. If you spot any issues, just hop back into the software, open up your multi action, and make the necessary adjustments.
[NOTE: Be careful not to spam-click a Stream Deck button, whether you’re testing or in a live environment. This can result in actions not triggering or malfunctioning. Wait for the visual confirmation from your Stream Deck, which indicates the button is refreshed and ready to be used again.]
Once you’ve got everything fine-tuned, you’re ready to start using your new effects on-air!
You’ve done it! Your first effects creation. Pat yourself on the back. If you’ve made it this far you’re ahead of 99% of creators, most of whom never dreamed these kind of effects were possible.
Sure this first creation might be simple. But now the fun really begins. We’ve shown you the ropes; now you can start exploring and unleash your creativity. Play around with different filters, camera layouts, green screens, delay timing, intros, and background loops. Watch streamers like SushiDragon for inspiration and grow your effects repertoire.
And make sure you share the final product with us! Tag us on Twitter @VBI with your homemade or viewer-created clips. We’ll share our favorites to the live streaming community.