tech: Managing Zoom and Meets Backgrounds

Well, it seems like I still spend an infinite time on Zoom (and Google Meets) calls and I’ve finally found a good system for doing backgrounds. There have been lots of janky things where Zoom doesn’t like videos in a certain format and of course Google Meets doesn’t support videos at all, but with the early 2024 releases most of that seems fixed. So here are some tips and tricks:

  1. Zoom Backgrounds live on your machine and one great pain is where to put them if you move around a lot. Since we have iCloud Drive, the simplest thing to do is to create in ~/Documents/Zoom Backgrounds everything you will need so that it works across multiple machines.
  2. Then you have to be a little careful till about what you put in there. For instance, I found this absolutely incredible video taken from the International Space Station by doing some Google searching at Videvo, so I downloaded it.
  3. Turns out that Zoom only wants videos which are 1080p or less, so I took this and used Handbrake to convert it from 4K 23.9 fps to 1080p and it works. You just move the video to that magic directory
  4. Then go to Zoom > Settings > Background & Effects. Now choose the + sign and add video and navigate there.

Now no matter what machine you have or are working on, you will have these backgrounds. Simple but easy!

For Google Meets, it only supports stills, but if you leave the backgrounds and still in that special folder, you will have a coherent look.

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