Zoom update aims to make video calls feel like in-person meetings

'Immersive View' allows hosts to move participants and add personal photos as backgrounds

Zoom has rolled out a video background feature called Immersive View that aims to make video calls feel more like physical, in-person meetings. 

The feature was unveiled last year at the firm's Zoomtopia conference but has this week rolled out to both free and paid-for accounts for meetings and webinars of up to 25 participants. 

Zoom already has virtual background options, but Immersive View - which is available on Zoom desktop for Windows and macOS - adds functions to select and move participants into more realistic scenarios. It can be enabled via the dropdown menu where you can find 'Speaker' and 'Gallery' view.

From there, users will have the choice to either automatically place attendees in a variety of built-in virtual scenes, such as a boardroom or auditorium, or do so manually. 

Zoom's Immersive View options

Each attendee can be resized by the host and moved around a chosen scene, and users can even upload their own. It's possible to use any image as an Immersive View background, but Zoom recommends that matching up file type, aspect ratio and resolution, as it has with its choices, will produce the best results. 

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"Whether you want to create the feeling of being in a classroom, a boardroom, a conference auditorium, or your favourite place to catch up with friends, Zoom's Immersive View assembles up to 25 participants in one fun, consistent meeting environment," Zoom product marketing specialist, David Ball, said in a blog post.

Unfortunately, there are some limitations; calls over 25 people will see remaining guests in a strip of video thumbnails at the top of the scene. Worse, participants that are not using the latest version of Zoom will simply see the standard grid. Recordings are also subject to these limitations; they'll be recorded in the standard Speaker or Gallery View, rather than a fun virtual scene.

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