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The wall behind me - planning for video conference

 
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Up until now, I've successfully avoided doing video chats.  But I have a thing coming up in a few weeks where we have a series of video zoom calls.  UG!

What do I need to know to make things look not-too-professional but not-too-sloppy either?  

Higher camera:  I noticed if I use my tablet, it looks right up my nose.  Not a flattering angle.  So I'm thinking of getting something that can talk to the computer and sit higher up.

Connection: That's not bad because, while the wif-fi can handle audio, there's too much demand on it to handle video.  Computer it is.

Sound: which means, the computer needs a microphone.  And because the call is private, I need a headset.  

And the background.  I don't even know.  As I sit here at the computer, the bedroom is behind me.  Not the impression I want to give.  

I could do a backdrop, but then I would have to take it down after each call because it would be too much in the way from day to day.

So I could turn the computer desk.  Maybe.  But then I want the background to be not too distracting, but interesting enough that people will pay less attention to me.  I'm also thinking that I don't want it to be too much personal information but things that highlight the good parts of my personality.  Tough decision.

The room is scheduled for painting next year so I am thinking of putting up some slatboard (or is it slatwall? - board with slats that put hooks and stuff in.) and this would be good for storing my new headset and stuff that I never got because I didn't have anywhere to put it.  

I don't know.  This is stressing me out.

What do I need to know to make a video conference setup that won't stress or embarrass me too much?  
 
pollinator
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r, I don't use Zoom, so am not much direct help; but my company's IT guys did send out an email recently that might help.  There are virtual backgrounds available in Zoom.  You could put up a stock back ground or use a good photo.  He is a clip from the instructions they sent.  I hope it helps.



Zoom virtual background is available! This is a great tool to utilize, since many meetings with customers are taking place in a digital format. To use the virtual background, save the attached file locally, and follow the set up instructions below. Please note that this is a widescreen format.



Set up instructions:

1.       Sign in to the Zoom desktop client.

2.       Click your profile picture, then click Settings.
https://s3.amazonaws.com/zoom-support-cdn/images/en-us/desktop/generic/home/settings-button-under-profile-pic.png

3.       Select Virtual Background.
Note: If you do not have the Virtual Background tab and you have enabled it on the web portal, sign out of the Zoom Desktop Client and sign in again.
https://assets.zoom.us/images/en-us/desktop/generic/settings/virtual-background-tab.png

Click on an image to select the desired virtual background or add your own image by clicking + and choosing if you want to upload an image or a video.
https://assets.zoom.us/images/en-us/desktop/generic/settings/add-virtual-background.png
If prompted, click Download to download the package for virtual background without a green screen.
https://assets.zoom.us/images/en-us/desktop/generic/settings/download-smart-virtual-background.png
Notes:
a.       Ensure that you are using a solid background color.

b.       After you select an option, that virtual background will display during your meetings.

c.        To disable Virtual Background, choose the option None.
 
r ranson
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We're not allowed to use virtual backgrounds.
I should have mentioned.

But they sure are cool!  
 
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Personally, I'd put up a curtain that pulls across behind you, and pulls back easily when you are done.
 
pollinator
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Pearl Sutton wrote:Personally, I'd put up a curtain that pulls across behind you, and pulls back easily when you are done.



This is what I would do if you don't have a suitable wall/window you can use, behind me is a very dirty dog sofa with 2 dogs, the dogs are not an issue but the dirt would be!
 
r ranson
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A curtain is a good idea, but the layout of the room makes it impractical.

I was thinking of maybe a shoji screen, but the are too expensive.

I think for me, the plan is to turn my desk so there is a wall behind me.  not sure what to put on that wall as right now it is a poorly painted wall and mismatched curtains.  
 
Pearl Sutton
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r ranson wrote:

I think for me, the plan is to turn my desk so there is a wall behind me.  not sure what to put on that wall as right now it is a poorly painted wall and mismatched curtains.  


Can you run a quick curtain in front of the wall and curtains?
When I do curtains to cover messes, I run a wire from hooks and just slide the curtain on the wire.
 
r ranson
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That's a possibility.

I'm also thinking: if my background is interesting enough without being cluttered, then people will pay slightly more attention to that than to me.  

Then again, I don't want to give away too much of my inner life to these strangers.  

Then again, if I can get used to zoom then maybe I'll experiment with doing classes over zoom.  Do you think anyone would want to learn from me?  
 
Pearl Sutton
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Yes, people probably would LOVE to learn from you :)

A deeper question on this is who do you want to be on Zoom? What image do you want to project? No background can hide the fact that your face is showing and is the dominant feature. If you pull the camera back a longer distance, so you are the center but not the only thing visible, it may help, but the tech and system are designed to emphasize you.

The way I do curtains off of hooks, all I need to do it is any two anchor points on walls or ceiling. Even really odd shaped rooms can get a curtain. It doesn't have to sit exactly square behind you to be an effective backdrop. Diagonal works fine. Off the ceiling works fine. It doesn't require ability to hold a lot of weight if it will just have one layer of fabric hanging. Regular "curtains" require a lot of strength to hold up, as they tend to have the weight of the bar, the hooks and opening hardware, lined drapes and are engineered to maintain all of that for years. Quick light curtain does not take anywhere near that much structure to hold up, hooks in sheetrock usually hold just fine. Really might be worth seeing if you can do that. Making the fabric pretty would distract from you a bit, some of the quilting panels are lovely as is, pretty much a poster. Or an oriental print. I am currently using multiple shower curtains here for this, one is flowered, one has fish.
 
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