Zoom is rolling out a video background feature called Immersive View. The Immersive View is designed to make video calls feel and look more like an office meeting.
The feature was announced last year at its Zoomtopia conference, and it is already getting rolled out to Free and Pro accounts. Immersive View is designed to work with meetings and webinars with up to 25 participants.
According to a post on Zoom’s official blog, Immersive View builds on the virtual background features Zoom already has, but focuses on actually placing meeting attendees in a realistic-looking location, instead of merely switching between flat backgrounds.
To activate Immersive View, the meeting host will have to switch it on from the same menu where you can find Speaker View and Gallery View.
Zoom will, thereafter, automatically place attendees in a variety of built-in virtual scenes that look like a board room or auditorium. The meeting host can, as well, manually place attendees.
The videoconferencing company says the host of the meeting can also resize attendees, move them around the scene, and upload their own scenes if they get bored of Zoom’s options.
In theory, any image could be used as an Immersive View background, however, Zoom says matching the file type, aspect ratio, and resolution recommendations it has for virtual backgrounds will produce the best results.
The Immersive View sports a couple of limitations, however. For example, in a meetings with more than 25 people, after the 25 participants are sorted on the view, the remaining participants will be placed in a strip of video thumbnails at the top of the scene.
Also, for anyone not running the latest version of Zoom on desktop or mobile, the background will default to whatever setting it was on before Immersive View was turned on.
Recordings of Immersive View meetings is another limitation encountered as videos would be recorded in Zoom’s standard Speaker or Gallery View, rather than a fun virtual scene.
Although, Zoom was the superhero of videoconferencing at the break of the pandemic, rival services like Microsoft Teams and Skype beat it to background options like Immersive View.
Microsoft updated both Teams and Skype with a feature called Together Mode in 2020. The Together Mode puts meeting participants in the same virtual scene as Immersive View – using computer vision to cut out faces and shoulders for easier placement in a virtual scene.