Since the beginning of the lockdown, many of us rely on video conferencing platforms to keep in touch with colleagues, friends and loved ones.
Whether the video call is for personal or business reasons, it’s easy to feel aware of background elements appearing on the camera when you’re making a call from your home.
You never know what people will think when they see your pile of dirty clothes or a messy living room at 9 a.m. And doing video calling from home every day is a bit boring. Not that you get the pleasure of meeting people in a picturesque park or rustic cafe when you are practicing social distancing.
But with popular video call platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, you can actually change the background of your calls. Although stock options are available, you have the option to upload your own. We’ve rounded up the top 20 free virtual backgrounds for personal and commercial use.
If you are a fan of BBC, you will be glad to know that the broadcaster is providing its own video call backgrounds. There are some stunning wildlife shots, including a cute sea turtle and 100 empty sets from the BBC Archive. Should you want to spin in the TARDIS or drink the Old Vic, you’re in luck.
With a collection of over 200 million stock images, Getty is one of the largest visual media companies in the world. It is also offering virtual background for remote workers. Hand-picked and aimed at brightening up your Zoom calls, they include Jurassic dinosaurs, the pyramids of Egypt, and red carpet photographers. All backgrounds are completely free and can be downloaded directly to your device.
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Using Adobe Spark, you can access a wide range of professional designs and resize them to use as Zoom virtual backgrounds. There is also an option to create a custom background by adding photos, text, icons and logos, which only takes a few minutes. You can sign up via Gmail, Facebook, Apple ID, email, or an Adobe account.
Free stock image website Pexels has more than 500 eye-catching video conference backgrounds, including everything from office and co-workers to friends working together and people celebrating their birthdays. They’re free, high-resolution, and easy to download to any device.
The BBC isn’t the only media giant to release its background for video calls; Disney wants to “brighten up your next video call” with a series of Pixar backgrounds. These include scenes from iconic films such as Toy Story, Finding Memo, Monsters Inc. and The Incredibles. It’s like re-living your childhood!
Disneyland wouldn’t be a bad place to be right now, but when the lockdown makes it impossible, you can travel there virtually as you can download video call backgrounds of globally iconic Disney Park locations.
Fox “Animation Supremacy Zoom Backgrounds”
If you’re a fan of cartoons, it’s definitely worth checking out Fox’s Animation Domination Zoom backgrounds. The American broadcast giant is offering a selection of backgrounds taken from shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy, and they’re completely free. Simply save the backgrounds to your device and upload them directly to Zoom.
According to Marvel, video calls from your home background are “normal, mundane, and not dangerous at all”. So, with more and more people using their computers for work and entertainment, it has released cinematic shots of its most iconic locations. For example, you can download high-resolution backgrounds of Wakanda. Again, you don’t have to pay a dime.
A bit of a Star Wars fanatic? Then you will be thrilled to know that you can download free high res backgrounds from iconic movies. Whether your calls are personal or professional, we have all dreamed of traveling the galaxies. Backgrounds include the Millennium Falcon, Death Star, Cloud City, and Jakku.
For anyone using Microsoft Teams, you can download over 300 custom backgrounds to choose from from this website. They are sorted into bundles in areas such as graffiti, offices, buildings, nature and popular TV shows. You can download them on both Windows PC and Mac.
Despite the fact that we are living in lockdown and unable to go anywhere in the sun, it does not mean that you cannot look good during a video call. In fact, Airbnb is aiming to “take you out” through its virtual background collection. It’s full of stunning views, including the Balian Treehouse for an old house in Hollywood.
Space lovers will rejoice at the fact that NASA is allowing people to download free galactic backgrounds over video calls, including the launch of the Mars parachute, aerial shots of different parts of the world (including the Dnieper River in Ukraine). Glimpses of Jupiter and other wonders of space.
Since the lockdown, a lot of people are going on virtual dates and catch-ups. Of course, the background of your bedroom or living room isn’t as impressive as the great outdoors or a fancy bar. But dating app Hinge has your back with some free background to “make your Zoom dates feel a little more like real dates,” which she posted on Twitter.
ITV’s Coronation Street
Fancy down a pint at Rover’s Return? It’s possible thanks to these free Coronation Street backgrounds from ITV. They feature iconic scenes from soaps, such as The Cabin, Roy Rolls, and the various houses of the show’s characters.
Lego is another high profile company that has its own background images for video calls. To make video calls fun, it has released high-resolution images of its toy characters traveling galaxies, sailing on pirate ships, roaming the woods and many more. They are great for anyone who has kids.
Walking around Ikea is truly an adventure and it sometimes feels like I am on a film set. Now you can showcase its famous designs on your video call. The furniture giant has a vast collection of video call backgrounds, which include offices, celebrations, ideas, romantic dates and venues.
Canva, a graphic design platform, offers a range of free Zoom backgrounds and animations. Whether it’s a custom business card, classroom blackboard, moving stars, city backgrounds or cute dogs, there are tons of fun and professional templates to choose from. You can even create your own virtual background if you can’t find one for yourself and are feeling creative.
Shutterstock is another popular graphics website that offers free backgrounds for customizing Zoom and Skype calls. There are 50 static backgrounds available as part of the downloadable pack, which ranges from office shots for professional business calls to stunning geographic photos that make you look like a destination far away rather than lounging in your PJs at home.
Like many others, moving image art platform Niio has released a collection of complimentary 40 Zoom backgrounds in response to COVID-19. These include pieces by major artists, such as Quiola’s camouflage abstract landscape algorithmic painting and Joe Hamilton’s Cézanne Unfixed. According to Niio, its purpose is to motivate people during work from home.
Unsplash is probably the best resource for premium stock images that don’t cost a dime, covering everything from business to architecture. You can easily use them as backgrounds for video calls, and there are thousands of options available. If you don’t want to spend hours searching for the perfect picture, it’s definitely worth browsing Unsplash’s dedicated Work From home page.