How to use the Zoom Virtual Backgrounds When Working From Home
There are times when you are going to have a zoom video conference and you don’t want the area behind you to be displayed during the video. Perhaps it is messy, or you are in front of something that should be kept private. Whatever the reason, that’s when you need to know how to use the Zoom Virtual Backgrounds.
The Zoom Virtual Backgrounds feature can be used with or without a green screen. A green screen is simply a green-colored backdrop used behind you to allow features like the Zoom Virtual Background to work effectively. Before we cover how to use the Zoom Virtual Background, why should you use Zoom for your video meetings in the first place?
Why Should I Use Zoom in my Home Office?
- Ability to communicate with your team — Meet with your entire team instantly or just have a one-on-one video meeting.
- Easy to set up, manage, and use — The Zoom solution keeps the tasks simple. Pick the plan that is right for you and set it up without the help of an IT professional.
- One resource that can do it all — Video meetings, phone conferences, and chat sessions. As your work at home business needs increase, the Zoom platform can accommodate the requirements.
- Flexibility and Versatility — Connect via a variety of platforms and operating systems. Users can operate on PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android Devices.
- Affordable and scalable — Offers plans and integrations for every situation. It will surprise you how many capabilities you’ll have within one affordable monthly plan.
How to use the Zoom Virtual Backgrounds
The Zoom Virtual Background – How it Works – And how to use the Zoom Virtual Backgrounds
It is a fairly straight forward technique regarding how to use the Zoom Virtual backgrounds. The Virtual Backgrounds feature allows you to use a video or an image as your background during a Zoom meeting or chat. The correct lighting and physical background are required to gain the best overall effect. This article covers the details of how to use the Zoom Virtual Backgrounds.
The Zoom Virtual Backgrounds feature works best with a physical green screen that is placed directly behind you and it should fill the entire frame of your camera. This allows the feature to detect the difference in contrast between you and your background.
Many processors that come with computers allow the use of Zoom’s Virtual Background without a physical green screen. This article will cover how to use the Zoom Virtual Backgrounds with a green screen and without a green screen. However, the following Intel processors will require a physical green screen:
- i5-5xxxU/5xxxH/5xxxR/5xxxC series processors with 2 or 4 cores
- i7-5xxxU series processors with 2 cores
There’s no need to be too concerned about which processor you are using because during this set up it will be apparent early on whether you need a physical green screen. Physical green screens are very inexpensive. They can be found online for around twenty dollars, including a collapsible frame.
And, of course, a high-quality camera will result in a better Zoom Virtual Backgrounds experience. Depending on the virtual background image or video you choose ensure that your clothing is a color that has some contrast to it. and, don’t forget about good consistent, and uniform lighting.
Incorporating the above tips is how to use the Zoom Virtual Backgrounds.
Characteristics of a Good Zoom Virtual Background Image
- Although there are no size restrictions on images, per se, it is important to keep the aspect ratio of your image similar to the aspect ratio of your camera. For example, if your camera is set for an aspect ratio of 16:9, then image sizes of 1920 by 1080 pixels or 1280 by 720 pixels have the same aspect ratio.
- Most consumer cameras and webcams are set to a default of 16:9 aspect ratio. If your not sure what the aspect ratio of your camera is always go with a minimum size of 1280 by 720 pixels.
- The link below will download a .zip folder containing a few images and videos I have put together that can be used. Also, Zoom has a collection available for you to use. Other sources like Pexels, Unsplash, and Pixabay, also offer a variety of royalty-free images.
How to the Zoom Virtual Backgrounds -First step, Enable the feature
Once the feature is enabled within the Zoom Portal users may need to sign out of the Zoom Desktop Client and then sign back in for the Zoom Virtual Backgrounds feature to take effect. The Zoom Virtual Background can be enabled at the Account, Group, and User levels.
Account Level – Activates feature for all users in the account
- Once you are signed in to your Zoom web portal with administrator privileges’ you can then edit account settings.
- From the navigation menu, click on Account Management then click Account Settings.
- Now, in the Meeting tab, make sure the Virtual Background option under the advanced section is enabled. If not, slide the toggle to activate. You may get a dialog box to verify, if so, then choose the Turn On to verify.
- If you activate the lock icon then the setting will be mandatory for all users in the account.
- If you want the users to have the option of using video backgrounds then click the Allow Use of Videos, and then click Save to confirm.
- If you want users to have the ability to upload custom backgrounds then check to Allow users to upload custom backgrounds, and click Save.
- Next, if you like, you can upload default background images that users can use. This is done by clicking Manage Virtual Backgrounds.
As mentioned, Zoom’s Virtual Background feature can also be managed at a Group level. If needed further documentation can be found here.
Using Virtual Background
Following is how to use the Zoom Virtual Backgrounds feature as a user:
- Sign in to the Zoom desktop client. If not installed the user can get it here.
- Now, click on your user profile picture, and click Settings.
- Select Virtual Background. And remember, if you don’t see the setting make sure it is enabled in the web portal and then sign out and sign back into your Zoom Desktop Client.
- You’ll now see I have a green screen option, now check it. You can now click on your video being displayed to select the right color for your green screen.
- Now you can click on one of the available images for your desired background or add your own by clicking the + sign.
How to use the Zoom Virtual Backgrounds during a meeting.
Once enabled in the web portal, the Virtual background feature can be turned on during a meeting.
- While already in a zoom meeting, click the arrow (^) right by the Start/Stop Video button.
- Then click Choose Virtual Background…
- Then, if prompted, click Download to download the package for the virtual background without a green screen.
How to use the Zoom Virtual Backgrounds without a green screen
If your having issues due to lack of virtual support by your computer hardware go to the section below (Hardware workaround)
Although it may seem that using a green screen with the Zoom Virtual Backgrounds is the best option during a meeting or presentation, that is not always the case. As we learn how to use the Zoom Virtual Backgrounds we realize there are times when it is better to use Zoom Virtual Backgrounds without a green screen.
Typically, when you use the Zoom Virtual Backgrounds feature without a green screen you will notice the video glitching a little bit. That is caused by the software not being able to distinguish between your body and the background. That’s where the green screen comes in.
When to use the Zoom Virtual Background without a green screen
There a times when you should not use a greenscreen like in a professional meeting or a job interview. The reason is that the use of a green screen is easy to spot and that can create a sense of something not being quite right. A green screen when used with the Zoom Virtual Backgrounds often creates a view that puts the subject in a different perspective than the background. This effect is somewhat obvious when used on televison news and weather casts.
While most virtual backgrounds look better with a green screen as we learn how to use the Zoom Virtual Backgrounds feature we realize it still looks like a fake background. Your actual space that you are in and the virtual background space often have differences in coloration, focus levels, and lighting.
a lot of the time, it’s a matter of trial and evaluation. Always test your setup by viewing it from a separate video system on another system. The differences in video platforms may cause your background to look phony when using a green screen. Also when using video conferencing in remote or portable situations may not have a green screen, so it’s best to create a realistic virtual background without the use of a green screen if possible.
How to use the Zoom Virtual Backgrounds even if your computer hardware is not compatible with the software
Even if you have a quad-core processor the Zoom Virtual Backgrounds feature may not work without a physical green screen. The software also requires a compatible Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). So, if your computer does not have compatible hardware the best solution is to use a Virtual Camera (VC).
There are several options available, and I have tried them all. The best overall solution is XSplit VCam. Although the free version has a small watermark when using it, it is easy to set up and the overall picture quality is good. The upgrade to premium offers three different plans, including a lifetime plan for as little as $49.95. When you take into account that a physical green screen costs around that, it’s a smart solution.
Here’s a screenshot of Zoom Virtual Backgrounds without a green screen using XSplit VCam on a 5-year-old Toshiba laptop with the following hardware:
The Processor is an Intel(R) Core(TM) I3-312 and the onboard graphics card is an Intel(R) HD Graphics 4000. The hardware is not compatible with Zoom Virtual Backgrounds, but it works when using the XSplit Virtual Cam injunction with the Zoom software (as seen below). This is using the onboard laptop video cam. That background is included as part of the background folder I put together. Get the .Zip file here.
How to Troubleshoot the Zoom Virtual Backgrounds
◙ If you do not have the Virtual Background tab in your desktop client settings after enabling it, sign out of the client and sign in again.
◙ Manually pick the background color to ensure the correct color is selected. This option is only available after you click an image.
◙ Ensure that the background is a solid color with minimal shadows. Also, ensure the background is uniform in lighting. A 3-point lighting setup is ideal.
◙ Ensure that your green screen color does not match your shirt or eye color.
◙ Make sure you have the latest Zoom updates. New updates may add additional functionality for the Zoom Virtual Background Feature.
If you continue to experience issues, contact Zoom Technical Support.
Featured photo by Maurício Mascaro
Updated on November 23, 2020 by Kirby Allen