Video calls are a critical part of working anywhere.
When interacting with people online, you turn on your camera and get on with your meeting. But when working anywhere – anywhere outside of the standard office – how can you maintain office continuity and the professional image of your business?
These things matter.
In our work, as we’ve interacted with others through video calls, we’ve realized that a video backdrop should reflect our brand and ideals, and not just show our home office’s closet door.
That’s not a good image to portray to a new client.
This led us on a journey of discovery: where can we find a cheap, portable, good-looking backdrop that maintains our professional image?
We began with a shower curtain.
Over video, the viewer had no idea that it was a shower curtain, it just looked like a fun, colorful background. Our initial objective was met; we created a uniform background that eliminated distractions in video calls.
This was a great start. But we wanted a backdrop that was professional, simple, looked good, and portable. The shower curtain failed the mobility test; who carries a metal pole around with them?
The next experiment was with trade show stands.
We started with the X-banner stand. It was lightweight, which made it easy to travel around with. But it was only three-foot wide, a major limitation. The backdrop wasn’t able to span the width of the computer’s video camera capture.
The X-banner stand failed the ‘look-good’ test.
Next, we tried a retractable banner stand.
The banner stand looks like a pull-down projector screen but instead pulls up from a floor stand. The good news was that this solution could be wider than 3 feet, the bad news was that it was not very portable, its canvas was too shiny for video calls, and you tend to get distracting ripples throughout the backdrop.
As a result, the banner stand also failed the ‘look-good’ test.
Next, we attempted to create our own backdrop mechanism.
We used canvas and stretched it with expandable curtain rods. While not a bad idea in theory, in reality, this homemade solution didn’t work. It was too fiddly and wasn’t practical.
So far, the best solution comes from the world of photography.
For you, this might be the obvious place to start. For us, well, hindsight is 20/20.
We found collapsible backgrounds, most commonly used for photo shoots. We chose Lastolite, one of a number of producers.