March 2, 2021

Understanding Livestream Visual Design

As you plan your virtual event, your professional production partner will discuss building your show and creating the look for your livestream. During those discussions, you’ll may hear unfamiliar terminology. Review this guide to understand livestream visual design elements and feel confident using your new vocabulary.


Any element you want to include in your livestream production is an input. Inputs are often live camera feeds, pre-recorded videos, slide presentations, video callers, photos, music, design elements, and web page captures.


The layering of one input on top of another input is an overlay. Temporary text or graphic elements on top of the live feed are common overlays. Examples include logos, website URLs, hashtags, or presenter identification.

Caldera Arts: Stories of Change 2020

Lower Third

Overlays placed in the lower area of the frame are called lower thirds. A simple lower third is the presenter’s name. A second line of text added to identify the presenter’s organization would be a two-tier lower third. Adding a third line of text could make it a three-tier lower third. Shapes, logos, and images placed in the lower section could all be referred to as lower thirds. Synonyms for lower thirds are captions, chyrons, superbars, supers, nameplates, and L3s.

Edwards Center: Coming Home Benefit Gala. Partner: Raise Agent


Adding, removing, or changing from one input to another in your livestream is a transition. They can be quick (called a cut), more gradual (such as fading from one input to another), or inputs can be brought into view in creative ways such as zoom in or out, slide into view, wipe from one side of the screen, fly in, or expand to full-screen view.

Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum: Welcome to the Future 2020 Virtual Gala. Partners: gEvents, LLC; KPTV Fox12; Fox 12 Plus


Adding movement to any input is animation. A rotating logo, a lower third graphic that slides into view, an overlay of falling confetti, and transitions between inputs are all examples of animations.

De La Salle North Catholic High School: On the Move 2020 Fall Benefit Dinner & Auction. Partners: Artisan Auctions; Greater Giving

The Look

All visual elements including colors, fonts, shapes, backgrounds, layouts, and the speed and type of animations all comprise the look of the livestream. The look should align with the script, audio, and tone of the virtual event and all aspects of the show should support the emotion you want to convey. The look can range from a single input that fills the entire screen space (full screen) to multiple inputs combined in a single view (multiview). Various types of looks include:

  • Picture in Picture (PIPs): two or more inputs on the screen at the same time. The most common PIP is a full screen display of one input (such as a photo, video, slide, camera feed, or web capture) with a second input smaller and positioned in the top left or right corner. There can be more than on PIP at the same time.
Host of virtual fundraiser is shown as a picture in picture along with donations during the Eden Autism virtual event.
Eden Autism: Eden Dreams from Home. Partners: Swaim Strategies; Artisan Auctions
  • Side by Side: two inputs displayed in equal size next to each other, usually overlaid on a background image or color. Similarly, Split Screen are two inputs side by side sharing the full screen view.
Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East: Housing Justice in Portland
  • Titles: a text overlay of the presenter’s name, often with their organization affiliation.
Hillsboro Schools Foundation: Gala and Auction 2021. Partner: Graham Crow
  • Ticker: scrolling text displayed in the lower third; usually the text moves from the right side of the screen to the left side; also called news tickers, crawl, crawlers, or slide.

Special Olympics Oregon: Breakfast with Champions. Partner: Raise Agent

  • Timer: a design element that displays a countdown to a specific time; often shown before the start of the livestream or during a live auction to indicate the time left to bid.
Guide Dogs for the Blind: Virtual Holiday Celebration. Partners: Swaim Strategies; Liam Mayclem


During a livestream, the technical producer often transitions from one input to another very quickly. To do this seamlessly, scenes are created as part of building the show. Scenes are pre-designed multiviews that can be brought into the live feed instantly rather than selecting each input separately.

Clackamas Service Center: Harvesting Hope Virtual Fall Fundraiser

Building the Show

Designing overlays, preparing titles, defining all inputs, testing all assets, and creating all design elements to be used during a livestream is referred to as building the show.

Do you have questions about livestreaming virtual events? We are happy to help. Contact us anytime.

Shown at the top of the page: Planetary Society Watch Party for NASA’s Perseverance rover landing on Mars. Partner: Swaim Strategies