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How to make a custom personalised background for your Zoom and green screen-enabled calls

Ok ok, we’re now all used to the concept of video calls and if you haven’t accidentally conducted an entire meeting as a potato or wearing a velociraptor skull, then where have you been? So now, we’re looking to up our video conferencing game and use them to help achieve objectives.

With the ability to add backgrounds to your video feed on some platforms, you’re able to upgrade from the roller banner or cleverly positioned merch, and spread your message in an aesthetically pleasing and technologically-impressive way.

Video call platforms like Zoom and Skype allow you to upload custom backgrounds so you can hide your real location of the bedroom, and pretend you’re in a rather exquisite library or even the International Space Station. And if you’ve got the tech and the ability to learn, then you can use the likes of OBS to do this too across a wider range of platforms!

In fact, Giphy put together a library of GIF Zoom backgrounds for you to upload and many have since been made and uploaded to the channel.

But let’s pivot the situation and rather than rely on other peoples creations, let’s learn to make our own.

In a recent networking video conferencing call, Luke Quilter, our CEO, used a custom made background that hosted a QR code linking to his LinkedIn account. This worked really well, meaning the audience didn’t have to jump from one tab to another mid-call to connect with him, but could instead use their phone to scan, add and re-focus on the networking event at hand.

Luke Quilter custom zoom background

 

So how do you make a personalised and custom background for your Zoom’s/Skypes etc.?

First things first, you need the right dimensions for the screen size. 

You’re going to want to make an image that is 1920px by 1080px. You’re also going to want to make sure this photo is under 5MB in file size and in either of the following formats, JPG/JPEG, 24-bit PNG or a GIF. 

We, personally, use Adobe products to build out our graphic elements but understand that others don’t have access to these tools. Therefore we recommend the likes of Canva to make custom dimension imagery or Spark from Adobe has a free tool too.

You can use this tool to drop in images, change colours, add templates etc and make something fabulous to accompany your pretty face across the video-sphere world. 

Add your logo, a message, a photo… anything you’d like. Honestly, it’s as simple as that!

Position them cleverly, consider where you’ll be sitting in the shot so you don’t cover the main messaging. For example, use the rule of thirds. Understand you’ll probably take up two-thirds of the screen, so use the other third for your messaging.

An example of something you can add as a background is featured below: 

I’ve used Canva at the dimensions specified above, and simply added in our logo, a templated text structure and a QR code. Simple, yet effective to encourage people to further connect with me outside of the call so we can chat business or… other things.

Creating a customised QR code is nice and easy to do too. This can link to your social media profiles, to a page on your website or anything else you please. You can even UTM those QR coded links to track your website visits. 

We use a free web tool called QR Code Monkey to make our QR codes which is customisable, allowing you to add brand colours, imagery and change the shape of the code itself. 

Super easy to make, and a nice change of scenery to what’s been your video call norm for the last ten weeks or so.

Your custom backgrounds don’t have to be made like this either, they can simply be a GIF or picture from your office, event or somewhere else. And you can even chuck those into Canva or other tools too. 

To add these custom virtual backgrounds to your Zoom, simply click the video button in your call:

And then add a new virtual background, following the instructions it chucks at you.

 

You now know how to make your own custom background for your calls, but these will look a bit meh if you don’t follow other video conferencing best practices.

We’ve got a free guide on great video conferencing you can access here.

The guide speaks about:

  • Your branding (which we’re able to cover with customised backgrounds)
  • Your lighting
  • The setting around you
  • Your camera
  • Your microphone
  • And other video call etiquettes 

It’s important to consider all these things, as well as the aspect of a green screen when using custom backgrounds. 

Whilst you don’t actually need a green screen in this instance, you will need a relatively plain background so try and de-clutter your backdrop and have a practice before you go live. 

The better lit you are with either natural or artificial lighting, then better. You can order things like ring lamps on Amazon and eBay for less than £10, or you can simply face the sometimes-wonderful outdoors for the cheapest light source of them all… the sun!

And, depending on your settings, you might need to play with whether your custom background displays the right way round… this is why you always have a test run before going live. Good luck ✌️

 

And just like that, in a matter of minutes, you’ve learnt how to make a customised background, a custom QR code and even bagged yourself a best practice guide for great video conferencing. What a day, right?

For other ideas on filters and backgrounds, you can check out our blog on using and making Snap Camera filters. And if you’re feeling the burn from the number of Zoom calls you’ve been on recently, then check out our blog on why Zoom Fatigue is a thing and how you can tackle it.

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