I never really explored virtual backgrounds until I started playing around with Zoom video conferencing during the Coronovirus Pandemic. My first attempts were a little rocky. Zoom sometimes makes you invisible, you certainly don’t want to end up looking like this guy on your video conference:
I also don’t always use Zoom, most of my conference calls are on GotoMeeting, so I went looking for a better solution that would work on multiple platforms.
The idea is to basically have a program create the green screen background feeling without having to go out and buy a green screen. I really don’t want to showcase my messy office to everyone.
After a quick google search, I found and tested Chromacam. This software did an “ok” job, but I found that it wasn’t so good at replacing the space between my head and my headset as invisible and made things look clunky. The good thing here is that their free version does an ok job, so if you are using earbuds, this one might be enough for you.
Then I found XSplit VCam. (affiliate link – 10% off with Code: VOB10OFF). I really liked XSplit’s VCam software because it did a great job of masking the space between my headset and my head and had a lot more options. With VCam you can use any of the following as backgrounds (Still Images, Video Files, Youtube Videos, Websites). Additionally you can select the Unsplash photo option and search a wide selection of stock photography that meets the mood of the meeting. One final setting I really liked about VCam was the the option to either show or hide my desk chair from the shot. At their current promotion of $10 off the lifetime membership (better than the 10% off code above), bringing the cost to $39.95, it was a non-brainier bargain decision for me and has made my online meetings a lot of fun.
The way programs like VCam works, is that once they are installed you choose them as your video source in your meetings. So instead of choosing my Logitech Cameras as the source, I chose VCam, and VCam is setup to pass through the Logitech Camera’s feed. Then you can control the settings, backgrounds, zoom and panning, directly from the VCam control panel. It really is simple.
When you are in a Zoom meeting, the organizer has the ability to turn off virtual backgrounds, but using your own software like VCam, you have full control over the video you are sending out and these settings can’t be controlled by the host.