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Zoom Conferencing with Impressive Backgrounds: A Green Screen Tutorial

Zoom conferencing has become the new normal for meetings. Read this to learn how to enhance your virtual background with a little green screen magic.

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Due to the current state of the world, we are increasingly working from home—and as a direct result,  more and more of us are getting into Zoom conferencing.

Working remotely means we need a way to communicate with our colleagues and clients on a consistent basis, even just in the virtual space. Since face-to-face meetings are currently out of the question, Zoom meetings are the next best thing.

Video conferencing doesn’t really require much from us, if you think about it. (In fact, I think I’ve seen enough jokes about people “going to work without wearing pants” to last me all the way to 2021.) However, it doesn’t hurt to want to up your Zoom video conferencing game, especially if you want to project a more professional image or promote your brand.

Now, in my opinion, the best way to do that is to improve the quality of your audio, maybe invest in some good equipment. However, I won’t deny that looks also matter, so today, we’re going to look at how you can easily add some panache to your Zoom videos.

Zoom conferencing

Visual Enhancements for Zoom Conferencing

Actually, you won’t believe the number of people who’ve been asking me about how to effectively use Zoom’s virtual background options. Some want to make their digital backdrops look just a tad more convincing; others simply don’t know where to start! 

Thus, I decided to whip up a quick and easy tutorial for using Zoom background effects.

Zoom conferencing

So first, I set up a Zoom room. Of course, I was the only one here — though if you watch the tutorial here, you’ll find a certain somebody  making a furry cameo (and quite a ruckus)!

Now, at the bottom of your screen, you’ll find your video options. There, you can choose which camera you’re going to use as the main feed. In my case, I have two cameras: the built-in camera in my Mac (which I don’t really like, quality-wise), and my Logitech Brio, which is my camera of choice (and the one I used for this video).

You can also go into the Video Settings there. Click it, and you’ll see a dialog box that allows you to control your overall video settings, including your video size. 

Zoom conferencing

In your video settings, HD is disabled by default. You can enable it, though, and you’ll immediately notice that the difference in quality is quite significant. However, I would actually think twice about turning on HD. If you’re using your bandwidth to upload your video and you’re in HD as you’re broadcasting, that just puts tremendous strain on your system. Add that to the fact that, well, everyone’s online now—I’m sure I’m not the only person here who has noticed a degradation of performance in many apps these days—so imagine just how much of a burden an HD broadcast would be. My suggestion? Keep things low-end, for efficiency’s sake.

One of the things we tend to forget is that if our cameras aren’t set properly, our video transmission ends up being mirrored: Left becomes right, and vice versa. Fortunately, you can easily fix that in your Zoom conference, too. You have the option to mirror your video, flipping it to ensure that it’s properly oriented and to prevent further confusion from your audience.

Zoom conferencing

There’s also an option to touch up your appearance, which sort of softens the focus on your face. Think of how they hide the age wrinkles on Hollywood stars’ faces through the camera, and you’ll get what I mean. Now, that’s useful for movies and TV shows, but I don’t really see it as a necessity for a video call. Still, whatever works for you—the important thing is that the feature is there.

Enhancing Zoom Conferencing with Zoom Background Effects

Now, it’s time to get to the real meat of this discussion: the virtual background!

Setting up your virtual background on Zoom is easy.

In the Settings dialog box, click on the Virtual Background tab. You’ll see a list of background options you can use, as well as the capability to upload a background. Basically, you can pick presets or upload your own (for instance, an image you really like, or a branded background for your business).

Zoom can discern what your actual background is, to a relatively satisfactory degree. After it does this, it can block it out and bring your preferred virtual background in. 

However, while setting up your virtual background is simple, making sure it works the way it’s intended to, isn’t as easy… especially if, like me, you have a very busy background in your home office.

Zoom conferencing

You’ll quickly notice that as soon as you move your head around… well, pandemonium strikes. Chunks of your flesh disappear, with chunks of your actual background appearing in their place. 

Zoom conferencing


Unless you have a solid color or clean background behind you, Zoom will have a bit of a hard time distinguishing body from backdrop. And while having a busy office background might be great for making your audience feel more at home, you might want to keep things clean, especially if you’re trying to project a more professional image.

Zoom conferencing

In other words, if you have a fairly neutral background, virtual backgrounds will work like a charm. Otherwise, you might want to set up a green screen.

Zoom Conferencing: A Green Screen Tutorial 

Zoom conferencing

I set up a simple “green screen” background behind me, with a large piece of green fabric positioned right in front of my backdrop and behind my chair. You’ll notice in the video that I zoomed my camera in a little bit using my camera settings, because the field was too wide.

Zoom conferencing

With the green screen in place, even if I move around, the background looks very natural. Almost realistic, in fact.

Zoom conferencing

However, I should point out that despite the green screen, you may still have trouble. For instance, it might not pick up the color of your green screen right away, turning yourself into a rather bizarre and somewhat hilarious horror show (or perhaps a Terminator—eat your heart out, Arnold!), as you can see in this screenshot: 

Zoom conferencing

Fortunately, there’s an eyedropper tool here that you can use to remedy this. Just go  into your Settings again, find and use the crosshair tool, and click on the green screen or whatever solid-colored background you have. This tells the app what color to pick out of the background. After that, you can easily plug in any static image or video. 

Zoom conferencing

Seriously, check out how the aurora borealis looks behind me – pretty awesome!

So if you want to improve the quality of your video conference, it’s pretty easy to change your background in Zoom. Aside from making your home office look more professional, it also makes these dreary conference calls significantly less boring. Wouldn’t you agree?

If you want to check out the full Zoom conferencing green screen tutorial on YouTube, click here.

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