Monday, March 30, 2020

Free Zoom backgrounds you can use to disguise your messy remote work rooms

Now that people are finding themselves working remotely or setting up virtual parties to chat with friends and family while maintaining social distance, Zoom is quickly becoming the go-to source for those gatherings. But when you spend days quarantining at home, cleaning up for a Zoom call might be the last thing on your mind. 

Verge reviews editor Barbara Krasnoff has already told you how you can make use of Zoom’s custom background tool to hide messy backdrops or running children and pets. But if you need some resources on what backgrounds to use as your virtual teleconferencing room, here are a few places to browse, plus some of The Verge staff’s favorites.

CANVA

Canva is a design resource service, and it’s offered several free templates for you to use on Zoom to customize your virtual space. Choose from animated backgrounds (a word of warning that these will require more processing power to run smoothly) or static images like your astrological sign or a custom placard with your name and title. Personally, I’m a big fan of the Conference Call Bingo.

UNSPLASH

Unsplash is a free resource for high-quality stock images, and these have become super handy to use as Zoom backgrounds. Whether you want to replicate a workspace, “hang” in your favorite coffee shop, or pretend you’re on the beach, Unsplash probably has something that suits the mood.


MODSY

Redesigning your home at this moment might be a bit difficult, so e-interior design service Modsy has rendered a few pop culture homes for you to live in on Zoom. Pick from Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment from Sex and the City, your favorite Friends lofts, Seinfeld living rooms, and more.

We’re an eclectic bunch, so let some of my colleagues explain the reasons behind their favorite Zoom backgrounds that they’re sharing to create calm — or, in some cases, absolute chaos.


If you want to feel like you’re in an ‘80s yearbook, we’ve got two options for you: Headshot Gray and True ‘80s. I’d love to see a whole Zoom meeting of people posing like they’re taking their high school photos with this background. Feel free to cuddle a cat or dog to spice it up. —Michele Doying, multimedia designer

Use this background to pretend like you’re playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons when you’re actually working. And let’s be real, you’re really thinking about your island while you’re on that Zoom call, anyway. —Jay Peters, news writer

Show everyone what a true Zoom enthusiast you are by living inside a giant virtual Zoom call. —Jake Kastrenakes, reports editor



Let’s face it. If you’re working from home then it’s only a matter of time before one of your video calls gets interrupted by a pet / small child / housemate / significant other / all of the above. So why not get ahead of the curve and use your Zoom virtual background to ruin your own call with one of the most famous photobombs of all time? Robert Kelly’s daughter made international headlines when she swaggered through her father’s study door as he talked on BBC News, and now, thanks to the magic of virtual backgrounds, you can relive the magic on every call.
Bonus points if you can be bothered to photoshop Kelly out for a completely immersive experience. —Jon Porter, international news writer

Pee-wee Herman has been Zooming on Magic Screen for decades. We can honor him with the Playhouse background—Andrew Marino, audio engineer

This is not technically one you can easily download, but you can make your own by recording a video of yourself (or anything else, really) and making a GIF out of it to use as your Zoom background. (Here’s the guide to making a GIF, if you don’t know how to go about it.) I’m a fan of former Vox Media engineer / Mailchimp manager David Zhou’s rendition, where he walks in on himself casually enjoying a snack. —Natt Garun, senior reviewer


Who doesn’t identify with Confused Travolta in these trying times? Not only can you also look confused about anything and everything happening around you right now, but the meme is also a great way to pretend like you have a version of Mia Wallace’s vintage reel to reel tape deck in your living room. —Nick Statt, news editor