Zoom Virtual Backgrounds

Zoom virtual backgrounds - screenshot of the author on a Zoom screen with a virtual background. He has added a virtual pirate hat and eye patch.

I guess it’s not surprising that in our current locked down world of most of us are desperate for a change of scene. That’s not an option for the time being but we can at least change our Zoom virtual backgrounds. We can do it on Skype too. If you haven’t played with those options as yet here’s how you do it. 

In both of these guides I’m using the desktop versions of both programmes but they work on mobile too. 

Zoom Virtual Backgrounds and Effects

With Zoom virtual backgrounds and effects you have plenty to play with. They live under the settings gear icon on the top left of your opening screen. When you access the video settings and select backgrounds you are asked to tick the “I have a green screen” box. Fortunately I do have a green screen – a green wall in fact – but any solid colour backdrop will work. 

You can actually fine tune this within the app and the results are excellent. Not so much without a green screen of some sort though.  Depending on what your background is like you;ll either get no effect (in fact you won’t even be able to select a background) or a patchy “in and out” kind of effect. Not good.

The Green Screen Question

But assuming you’ve got the green screen thing sorted out you can now strat playing. Zoom provides a range of background images which are pretty useable in a variety of work or play scenarios. You can also hit the + sign and import your own. 

Alongside the background options are the effects. These range from Instagram style filters to comedy faces, hats, eyebrows, lips and beards. Again these all work well and I guess teachers of young children might well find a lot of use for them. Otherwise they are just a good laugh on calls with friends and family. 

Skype Backgrounds 

On Skype things are limited purely to backgrounds at present. They are accessed via video and audio settings on the drop down menu under the “Skype” tab. Like Zoom there are a selection of ready made images or you can selct your own. There’s no green screen option but this does actually work very well without one. If you have one though things will be always be better.