Amaze your friends and irritate your work colleagues by setting up your own custom video background to webcam calls for a total outlay of £5!
Commercial software is out there which will attempt to extract your image and replace the background – but it’s (a) expensive to buy and (b) demanding on the processor. Far cheaper to go old-school and use chroma keying – this will enable you to use open source software to replace your background, and seems to run fine on my pre-i3 box which I got off eBay for £50 a few years ago.
1. Get Green Screen Fabric
Search eBay for “green screen fabric”. You should be able to buy 1×1.6m / 3x5ft fabric for around £5 – larger amounts will cost more correspondingly but I managed to get it working with this size.
You can jury-rig a way to hang it behind you (my own solution involves a stepladder, mop pole, g-clamp and 4 large paperclips) or buy a backdrop stand for around £20 more (search eBay for “photography backdrop stand”).
2. Install Open Broadcaster Software
This is free. Go here: Open Broadcaster Software project
3. Install the OBS-VirtualCam Plugin
This is also free. Go here: OBS VirtualCam Plugin
4. Set up ChromaKey output based on your camera feed, and make that available as a virtual camera
- Set up a profile with 3 sources – your webcam, your microphone (for audio) and a media source (which should be below your webcam in the layering order).
- On the webcam, right-click, pick “Filters” and add “Effect Filter” of “Chroma Key”. You may need to tweak the settings slightly to get a clear image
- On the media source, set up whatever you want. Don’t worry if it’s wider than the camera.
Some more detailed instructions (the latter includes how to make the output available as a camera):
5. Pick your background
Both static backgrounds and videos are possible by setting them up in OBS.