One of my favorite movies of all time is Forgetting Sarah Marshall, for a number of reasons—it’s filmed on the north shore of Hawaii, my happy place, and it has Bill Hader, my longtime celebrity crush. There’s a scene in the film where Jason Segel’s character video chats with Bill Hader’s, and the latter keeps changing the background on his screen. “Hey, I’m in Hawaii too!” Hader’s character says, as an island scene envelops the screen. I’ve always wanted to mess around with something like that on a video call and have long wondered why FaceTime doesn’t offer that option (it doesn’t, right?).
I’m sure the option to do so has been around for quite some time. But now, with apps such as Zoom being used so prevalently, I know I can.
I don’t know how long we’ll be working from home, but I do have a feeling the effects of this quarantine era will be felt for a long time, and many teleworking situations may prove beneficial (or at least, more flexible for some companies). And over time, we’ll see more social and technological trends that exemplify this new normal. Zoom is evidence of that—albeit, controversial—and it won’t be the only source.
The conferencing app has proven incredibly useful for not just business use but personal use too. It’s been experiencing some bad press due to its lack of transparency over privacy concerns, so we’ll see where that goes. But for now, one of its pluses is its ability for users to change their background scenes during calls.
The app itself offers a number of backgrounds, but you can also create your own. I would have never expected the next viral thing on the internet to revolve around themes people create for a conference app, but such are the times in which we live.
So why not get in on the fun and take a few little journeys of your own? It’s easy to create a conference call (and free!) and offers a good opportunity to connect with customers and friends while staying in.
Let’s set a theme for tropical vacation, shall we? Ask your invitees to don their best vacation clothes—don’t skimp on the jewelry—and send out a special cocktail recipe in advance. Or, create the image of stepping into your retail store, and share some of your latest arrivals with the customers missing their in-store visits, complete with wine and nibbles. No, it won’t be the same, but is technology getting us ever closer or what?
Zoom suggests that images work best with a green screen in the background, but it will still work without one. If you’re using the app on your phone, tablet, or laptop, park yourself in front of a solid color wall or drape a sheet behind you for the best effect. If you’ve created a special background for your entire group, you can enable it so that it shows up on all participants’ screens. For all of the how-to’s, visit Zoom’s website.
And for inspiration on making your own—and some of the best to date—check out this article, where you can also download the backgrounds to use for yourself (my favorite is the Bob’s Burgers one).
Happy Zooming, everyone.
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