You’re working from home, and you want a professional-looking background. You’ve already proven that you’re at the top of your class!
But what if you don’t have the space to build a TV studio in your home office? Or what if you’re working from a guest room, a kitchen, or your own bedroom? How do you make your space look professional for video meetings?
You need a pop-up backdrop & stand—something relatively easy to set up and portable, so it can be moved out of the way when you’re done.
From retractable banners to collapsible background kits, you’ve got a few different options for a pop-up background. In this article, we take a look at four of them, and how they compare with regard to convenience, appearance, and price.
Pop-Up Backdrops: Top 4 Options
Option #1: Retractable Banners
One of the easiest options for a pop-up backdrop is a retractable banner (also sometimes called a retracting banner, a roll-up banner stand, or a pull-up banner stand). Retractable banners are composed of a large metal base which contain a vinyl banner inside. The banner retracts into the base using a mechanical spring (or other tension-based mechanism) that pulls your graphic around a roller to store it.
To use a retractable banner, you simply place the metal base on the floor and pull up the banner out of the base. Then, clip the banner to a metal stand and crossbars to hold it in place.
The ease of setup makes this a very popular option for banner displays at trade shows and industry events. But how does it measure up as a portable video backdrop screen?
Retractable banners are extremely quick and easy to set up, especially compared to a traditional banner stand. However, the banner base is fairly heavy, with the average retractable banner stand weighing 20-25 lbs. This can become rather inconvenient to have sitting on the floor in the middle of your home office. Since you’re using it as a backdrop, the banner will need to sit right behind your office chair—setting you up for an ongoing game of bumper cars with a heavy metal case.
Also, retractable banners are not meant to be left up for long periods of time, which can weaken the spring that creates the tension. So you’ll need to take it down and move the base after each use.
The banners themselves are typically made out of vinyl. While vinyl is durable, it doesn’t look great on a webcam. That’s because it catches glare in a way that will create hot spots on camera. Hot spots are areas where direct light is concentrated and reflected back, giving a harsh and unflattering look.
Secondly, since there’s nothing supporting the sides of your backdrop on a retractable banner, they will sag. If you’re using a custom image or logo, this will deform your image. While this may not be a big deal at a trade show, it should be a consideration for use during video calls.
Also, most retractable banners are between 30 inches and four feet wide. While that seems big, it’s actually not enough to cover your background for a webcam in most scenarios.
For a retractable banner to be effective as a video backdrop, it needs to be at least five feet wide, making it a bit heavier (35 lbs) and costlier.
At the size you need for a pop-up video backdrop, retractable banners start at a price range of $600 to $700. Smaller banners are available at lower prices, but they won’t actually cover your whole background on a webcam.
Option #2: Banner Stands
A cheaper but less convenient option for a pop-up background is a non-retractable banner stand. Banner stands come in various styles (such as the L banner stand and the X banner stand) but they are all based on the same principle: a banner held up by a static frame, which must be manually assembled.
Banner stands typically have a heavy metal base which anchors a pole in the middle that holds up your backdrop print. The pole is typically telescopic (like a microphone stand), allowing you to adjust the height to different levels. At the top and bottom of the pole, crossbars screwed into uprights hold the backdrop up. The crossbars are fitted into pockets at the top and bottom of the backdrop.
Banner stands are inconvenient when it comes to setup and tear down. Whereas a retractable banner can just be pulled out of the case and be ready to go a minute later, a banner stand must be manually assembled every time it’s used, a process that can take 20 to 30 minutes.
Another thing to consider is that if you use an adjustable sit-stand desk, you need to be able to move your backdrop image up and down to fit your height. While that can work with a retractable banner, it’s not an option with a banner stand, as everything is locked into place once you choose a height.
One way around this is to get a banner large enough to cover your entire background. However, since the display is static, consider how your logo placement and background will appear on camera differently whether you are standing or sitting.
Cheaper banner stands also use vinyl backdrops, resulting in the same quality problems we mentioned above with retractable banners (glare and hot spots on camera). But by paying a little more to upgrade to a fabric backdrop, you can get a better image.
However, regular fabric can come with its own issues. Because these fabrics aren’t wrinkle-free, they will permanently wrinkle if you don’t fold them perfectly every time you use them. (Even a fabric that claims to be “wrinkle-resistant” requires careful treatment.)
The other issue with fabric is that, unless it’s a tension fabric, it will sag over time and warp your image. If you’re using a custom design, this can be especially frustrating. On a banner stand, you can help keep your backdrop in place by clamping the sides of the banner around the upright poles of the stand.
The major benefit of banner stands is that you can get them fairly cheaply. Instead of spending $700 on a retractable banner, you’ll likely spend around $200 on a banner stand.
Option #3: Collapsible Background
You’ve probably seen these disk-shaped backdrops if you’ve ever gone to a professional photo studio. They’re a modest 19 to 30 inches when closed, but when you untwist them, they explode into their full size, which is usually 5 feet by 7 feet.
The good thing about collapsible backgrounds is that you can set them up ridiculously fast (and clear everything out of your path while you do it!). Simply untwist to use, and twist again to close.
To use these as a pop-up background for your video calls, you will need a collapsible background kit, which comes with a stand and clip to support the backdrop. Once pulled out, clip the backdrop onto the support stand. This telescoping pole connects to a tripod stand based on the floor, which allows you to tighten or loosen a knob to adjust the height of the backdrop.
While this design makes collapsible backgrounds easy to set up, it also makes them unstable. The backdrop is a giant fabric surface that resembles a sail, and only attaches to the stand at a single point, leaving it free to move around.
As a result, a collapsible background behind you isn’t going to always stay straight or square; this may not be the best option for custom images.
An advantage of collapsible backgrounds is that they can be double-sided, which is great as you get a second option for your background image.
However, trying to print a logo or custom image onto a collapsible background is very difficult. Because it isn’t tension fabric, any variation in the sewing process of the fabric will distort your image. We ordered ten collapsible backgrounds with the logo for our company Nectafy, and the logo was so warped on all ten that they were unusable.
Another drawback is their shape—they have rounded corners on all sides, each with a significant radius. Since your webcam is square, you need to get within the radius of all four corners to get the backdrop fully behind you on camera.
Because of this, even a background that’s 5 feet by 7 feet will barely be big enough to cover your background on video, even if it’s right behind your chair.
On the bright side, collapsible backgrounds are fairly inexpensive. You can buy one for around $40–$50, and buy the cheapest stand and clip for around $20.
However, if you want something printed on a collapsible background, the price goes up substantially. A stock print will be around $270 for both sides, not including the stand, which will bring it closer to $300. And this is for a stock print, which is usually a textured wall like you see in a school portrait. While this may look cool in your fifth grade yearbook, it’s definitely not going to impress anyone on a video meeting for your business.
While you can find cheaper options from overseas manufacturers, the shipping cost, shipping time, and lack of quality control or customer support make it not worth the effort.
Option #4: Anyvoo Video Conference Background
While searching for a video call background for video calls for my team, I tried all three of the options mentioned above. However, none of them met all my criteria. I wanted a backdrop that:
- Could be set up extremely quickly
- Looked amazing on camera
- Was big enough to fill a webcam field of vision—but no bigger than needed
- Didn’t require extra care—it could be tossed it in a closet when company arrives
- Could be used while sitting and standing
We created the Anyvoo video conference backdrop with these criteria in mind.
Anyvoo backdrops are made out of a tension fabric print which is slipped over a lightweight aluminum tube frame. The frame is then placed on an adjustable stand, or can be mounted directly on your wall using a simple mount.
While the banner stands and collapsible backgrounds are primarily designed for other uses, Anyvoo’s portable backdrops are specially designed for the needs of home office video backgrounds.
At 67″ by 51″ inches, their size is optimized to take up as little space in your office as possible while filling your webcam’s field of vision when placed about five feet away, giving you space to work. The lightweight aluminum frame can easily be disassembled or moved when you need to clear your background out of the way.
An adjustable backdrop stand allows you to adjust the height of your background to use whether you’re sitting or standing. The stand can extend to a height of 87″ tall and collapse to a height of less than 21″.
Like collapsible backgrounds, Anyvoo’s backdrops are double-sided, giving you two options for a background image. You can choose one of our in-house designed professional backgrounds, add a logo, or print any image you want.
Whatever image you choose as your background, Anyvoo’s tension fabric ensures your backdrop stays beautiful and aligned on camera… even if you scrunch it into a ball and throw it in your closet once the day is done.
At $249, an Anyvoo backdrop costs a little more than a basic banner stand or collapsible background, but is less expensive than a suitable retractable banner or a customized banner stand.
Is Anyvoo the right option for you?
If you just need a basic background, then one of the first three options may be your best bet.
- You’re a high-performer who needs to look your best on video meetings.
- You need the focus to be on you (not on the weird stuff behind you).
- You need to present a branded, professional appearance on virtual meetings.
- You want something that looks unique to you as a person.
- You want the best-in-class option for appearance, customization, and convenience, and you don’t mind paying a little more for it.
…then Anyvoo’s backdrops were made for you!
If that’s what you’re looking for, take a look at configuring your Anyvoo backdrop today. Every one of our backdrops are custom-made in our shop in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. If you have any questions, give us a call — we’re real people who are happy to answer the phone and talk with you.