21 Mar New: One Button Blur in Zoom
For those who use Zoom for meetings, podcasting, or school, there is a new feature that allows you to blur your background on the fly instead of using virtual backgrounds. Now, you don’t have to invest in a green screen, create your own backgrounds, or buy into the third-party apps to quickly and easily hide the clutter in your background.
by Bill Hood, Senior Lecturer, and Research Fellow, SPTRC.org
The blur effect is available with the click of a button if you have the latest version of Zoom, i.e. 5.5 or better. There are other updates in the newest version of Zoom as well, so it is worth updating. Simply click on your avatar icon and check for updates. You will be prompted to install the update. In most instances, this will shut down the Zoom app and either restart it automatically or you may have to restart manually, depending on your computer or phone operating system.
Once you have restarted the Zoom app, click on the Setting Icon which is a small gear just under your profile photo in the upper right of the Zoom window. Next click on Background & Filters and you will see an additional item named Blur under the Virtual. All you have to do is click on this button to blur your existing background.
The blur effect does a pretty good job in handling the outline of your body compared to using one of the supplied virtual backgrounds. The jagged edges are much softer, particularly with your ears. And, if you are wearing headphones the effect is even better.
One factor is that if you are quite animated in your movements or if you move your hands when you speak, you will see that while it does a reasonably good job. However, if you move your hands rapidly, it may show bits of background for a nanosecond as your fingers fly over the background. The workaround for this is to keep your hands in front of your body when you are moving them, rather than over the background.
The bottom line is that the blurring of the background will provide a bit of privacy of your background or declutter it. For those who do not want to use unrealistic-looking virtual backgrounds, the blurring effect is a great new addition from Zoom.
Update: Other video conferencing software took Zoom’s lead and have now installed a blur feature in their software.