A Virtual Background is definitely a thing now, and certainly was hardly known at all just a few short months ago. Yet here we are in a brave new world, and loving (or hating) these things. If you are a lover of them, then read on.

Here’s a Q&A guide to getting them in place and making you stand out a little bit more, with a static image or cool video.

Question: What size is a Virtual Background?

Well, this will depend on your web cam, so to find this out, you need to go to your camera and click on settings –  these are mine, they are left at default and do the job well enough

Screen shot photo sizes

If you can’t find the settings, then these settings will most likely work well for you. The key bit is the aspect ratio (that’s the ratio between width and height). Here we have 16:9, (1280:720), so you just need to make your photo or video that size and you’re good to go.

All that said, you can just upload a picture and it will do the magic for you, but you might lose the edges and that might be important.

Question: Image or video?

Well either work. It depends on how much you want to stand out, what you can do yourself, what time you have and so on, but I favour the video personally as it’s more eye catching and not yet overdone. This article though, is just about the image option

Question: How do I make an image background?

Quite simple really – you could do it in Powerpoint and make sure your slide is set up as “HD” (go to design tab, click on slide size), or use any imaging software you have, to create this space. You can add images that you have or can access from the internet (checking for copyright) and add your logo and away you go. (I’ve heard sites like canva are very good)

Question: How do I space out the image elements?

Usually you’ll be sitting in the middle, so make sure your background has important imagery and messaging to the sides (or to one side if you want to sit off centre), and think of splitting your screen in three. It doesn’t matter if you overlap your logo/message a bit as you’ll be moving around, especially if you place your logo at the top.

Virtual Background Example

Question: Where do I go to get the virtual backgrounds?

In the bottom left of your screen, there are the options to mute of video. Click on the chevron to the right of the video option and select “choose virtual background”

Choosing the virtual background

You’ll then see this option, where you can select the standard options or load your own, by clicking the “plus” icon

Where to add a Virtual background

Question: How do I make sure the image is not back to front on my Virtual Background?

If you make it the right way around, then it will come out the right way around. There is the chance to get confused by clicking the mirror screen option, which reverses everything and makes it appear like a mirror (you and your background)

To see what your audience sees, make sure this box is NOT checked

where to mirror your virtual background

You should now be good to go, but any questions, do let me know.

Question: Can you do it for me?

(can you tell I made this question up?)

Happy to help – just let me know your requirements. During lockdown I’m happy to create simple backgrounds free of charge for a few people if you’re happy for a small version of my logo to appear in a bottom corner

Question: I like the idea of a video virtual background, how do I do that?

There will be an article on this soon, but message me if you’re interested right now. Again, I’m happy to support a few local businesses free of charge, andy@photohello.co.uk