Even if you’re the most casual of media consumers, you’ve most likely seen graphic or text overlays in television broadcasts or online live streams. Common examples include news tickers, financial quotes (like stocks), sports scores, weather reports etc. These kinds of visual overlays are called “lower thirds”.
What is lower thirds?
Lower thirds refers to a static or dynamic visual overlay which typically covers roughly one-third of the screen’s lowest area – hence the name lower thirds. These dynamic overlays are used throughout the video broadcasting space to keep viewers informed while also directing their attention to the screen.
Caption: Lower thirds used in Live @ Epiphan episode 4: “Setting up lighting for your video”!
The benefit of using lower thirds for live streaming
Many AV professionals and video content creators use lower thirds in their live streams to help tell their video’s story and improve engagement with viewers through the power of dynamic visuals.
Lower thirds are often used in live streams to:
- identify a story or concept,
- identify the presenter(s) by name
- inform the viewer with additional contextual information about the video
- brand their content, and
- add visual richness to the viewing experience with dynamic video or graphics
Example of a lower thirds setup – with Pearl-2
Here’s how to create a lower thirds setup using our live production mixer, Pearl-2.
In the following scenario, the following equipment is required:
- A video camera (such as our LUMiO 12x PTZ camera)
- An audio mixer
- A laptop (this will be the video source used in your lower thirds overlay)
- A Pearl-2
Assume you need to live stream and record your program with a lower thirds layout while also recording a separate high-quality ISO of your camera source for convenient post-production processing.
To configure this lower thirds setup:
- Decide what you’d like to show in your lower thirds and design a static or moving information bar using software on your laptop.
- Connect your camera and laptop to Pearl-2.
- Create your lower thirds channel. Add the camera source and make it fill the frame. Layer over your laptop source, cropped to fit the lower third (or desired portion) of your screen. Configure your streaming settings.
- Configure an HDMI output port to display this channel for large-sized local monitoring of the lower thirds stream.
- Create your ISO source channel by adding only the camera (with audio) in full frame. Remember to pick your desired recording format (MP4, AVI or MOV).
- Be sure to test your stream! When it’s time to start your event, use the front touch screen or Epiphan Live to start streaming and recording your channel.
Get even more from Pearl-2!
Pearl-2 is designed to be highly customizable to meet the needs of any live stream. Here are a few Pearl-2 lower thirds “extras” you can use to enhance your live productions.
- Lower thirds doesn’t mean you *have* to use the lower-third area of the screen! Use Pearl-2’s custom layout editor to customize your lower thirds overlay to cover half the layout, the top of the layout – or anywhere you see fit!
- Don’t want the lower thirds overlay to show the throughout the whole stream? Add a camera-only layout to your live program channel and switch to this layout when lower thirds is no longer needed.
- Prefer to use a text overlay instead of an image or cropped video source? Pearl-2 lets you do that too! (We’re also adding chroma keying with full upstream key and downstream key support within the next few months – so stay tuned!)
Do you use lower thirds in your live streaming projects?