Animated Background Tutorial for Twitch and YouTube

One of the most requested tutorials/tips recently has been how to make a nice animated background for use in a Twitch Stream, YouTube video, or other video related projects.  So, I’d like to share the exact steps I followed – and by the end, you should be able to make your own without any problems!  For this tutorial you will need beginner level knowledge of Photoshop. Yes, we’re going to do this in Photoshop.

Creating a custom animated background with Photoshop

Why Photoshop? Well, for one, when I made my video, Photoshop was what I mainly used.  Two, it’s very easy to do and can yield some great results with little effort.

1. Get inspired

To start, I was inspired by a background image I saw when I was checking out Razer’s new Chroma keyboards.  I really liked the dark background that had a sort of wave of colors come through every once in a while.  I didn’t want to recreate it exactly, but come up with something that I felt worked for me and my channel.

2. General designs / Gather resources

There’s two main components needed for my animated background: the main design image, and a preexisting looping video.  Of course we could create the looping video completely ourselves, but the goal of this tutorial is to be complete in around 10 to 20 minutes.  Anyways, let’s start with the main design image.

Main Design Image - Animated Background

While this design might look complicated, it was actually quite easy to create, thanks to some amazing free resources I found on DeviantArt – the first was this set of tech brushes by Z-design and the second was another set of tech brushes by Jaaaiiro. There’s a lot of great resources on sites like DeviantArt – just double check to see what sort of usage the creators specify.  In this case both designers simply asked for credit to be given, it’s the least we can do to thank them (thanks guys).

After I downloaded and loaded these brushes into Photoshop, I just took the time to make a nice black and white design.  It took me a bit to get exactly what I wanted, but in the end I was really happy with the result and think it tied together well with what I needed next… an already made looping video.

As with most things, I wanted to find a video that was available for use in any sort of project.  Fortunately, I stumbled upon MovieTools.info.  Movie Tools is a resource of free to use looping video clips!  I went through most and finally decided on this video clip.  Now, what we need to do is put them all together and use some Photoshop magic to make it look how we want.

3. Bringing it all together

First, open the looping video file directly in Photoshop.  If you’re have trouble opening .mov files in Photoshop, you might need to install Quicktime on your machine.  Once it’s loaded in, let’s go ahead and re-size it, we can do this by going to Image > Image Size.  Here, I’m going to type 1920 pixels for the width. Click the chain link since we don’t want to constrain the aspect ratio, and set 1080 pixels for the height.  You’ll be prompted with a question about converting the video layer to a smart object layer, hit okay.  Move the new video layer smart object out of the video group, and delete that group, since it really isn’t needed anymore.  Next, rename this layer to looping video.  It’s a good practice to name your layers upon creation.  Trust me.

Now is where the cool parts starts.  Bring in our main design image through your preferred method, such as File > Place.  Move our main design image below the looping video layer.  Next, change the blend mode of the looping video layer to soft light.  Now, when we hit play in the timeline we can see that we already have created a nice effect.  But, we want more colors than just orange in our background animation.

4. Tweak it

Create a new layer on top of all layers and fill it in with any color.  I use Alt+Backspace to fill quickly.   Double click your new layer to enter blending options, or go to Layer > Layer Style > Blending options.  From here, let’s check gradient overlay in the options, and for the gradient, select the default rainbow gradient and set the angle to -60 degrees.

Blending Options for Animated Background

Hit okay for everything and move the rainbow layer to the very bottom.  Set the main design image layer blend to multiply.  For me, it was all a bit too bright.  So let’s add a new layer on top of everything, fill it with black, and set the opacity to 50%.

Layer Structure

After all is said and done, make sure to go down to the timeline and ensure that all the layers are shown throughout the entirety of the clip.  This is really easy to do, you just make sure that all the purple bars that represent when they are active on the timeline are stretched the full duration.  If we don’t do this certain layers might not show throughout the entirety of the video clip.  The clip will already be the perfect length, since we started by opening the looping video.

Time line example

We can scrub back to the beginning of the clip if needed and hit play.  You can make any adjustments to each layer as needed.

5. Export to render

Once you’re all set, exporting the video is a breeze, just go to File > Export > Render Video, enter in a name at the top, and then double check that you’re using the Adobe Media Encoder. Use the preset of high quality and double check that the document size matches the size desired, in my case 1920 x 1080 pixels.  Click render, and viola, we’re all done!

Render Options

With most of these tutorials I hope that you don’t just follow a step by step process and recreate what I’ve made, but come up with some other great ideas yourself!   While Photoshop is not the greatest tool for animated graphics, it is very simple, and I believe it took me 10 to 15 minutes to make my background from start to finish.

As always, please let me know in the comments if you have any questions, or even suggestions for the next Stream Tips.