Virtual Backgrounds: Should You Use Them?

Virtual Backgrounds: Should You Use Them?

One of Zoom’s popular features is the virtual background. At first glance, it seems like a fantastic concept. Why appear from your dining room when you can look like you’re in a fancy office conference room, a garden, or even at the beach?


However, there are perils to the technology. For one, the algorithm that keeps the virtual background in place is only so smart. Depending on the contrast between yourself and your surroundings, you’ll experience clipping when you move. There’s a good chance that at some point you’ll lift your arm or reach for something and everyone will see the clutter behind your desk instead of those palm trees in Key West. Even something as simple as your hairstyle can confuse the background.

The other, greater issue is that keeping the virtual background running takes up bandwidth. Depending on your internet strength, that bandwidth could be the difference between no issues at all, and having your video or audio freeze during a crucial moment.

Audio and video troubles don’t only affect you. If you are speaking and your audio cuts out, your audience will miss what you say.  Even if the presentation is being recorded, it only records what Zoom sees and hears.  If you lose audio, no post-production editing can get it back. In the legal industry, our videographers see this happen frequently. It’s crucial for court reporters to take down every word spoken, and if the words are garbled on Zoom they’re lost for good.

So…what to do? The best answer by far is to forget the virtual background and put your back to a neutral wall.  There is no cleaner way to ensure all of your bandwidth is dedicated to your audio and video output.  If you are in a position where you absolutely must use a virtual background, choose a single color like blue or black rather than an image.  The “blur” background is very popular, but but that still requires a lot of work for Zoom to continually judge what is you and what is your surroundings and only blur your background.

Another option is to purchase a foldable backdrop. They are typically grey, blue, or green and can easily be propped up against the wall behind you. Legal videographers use them every day and they are extremely versatile and easy to use.

If you absolutely do not have the space and need to rely on a virtual background, plug your computer in via an ethernet cable (rather than using WiFi) to give yourself the best signal strength possible.

But if you have a usable blank wall, and you are in meetings where you must have your camera on frequently, it may pay off in the long run to spend the time to clear yourself a “Zoom space” in your home so that you have the peace of mind that all of your available bandwidth is going to keeping your video and audio running smoothly.

If you need a neutral wall and fast internet, or you know your witness will not be able to appear from their home without clutter in the background, call us today to reserve a room! We’ll set up the technology and be on hand for questions, so you can focus on what matters most: your work.


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