How to create a meaningful background for a virtual memorial gathering

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

The background for your virtual memorial gathering will visually convey a lasting tribute to your loved one both during the live event and in any video recording of the service. As you prepare for an online funeral or memorial service, you may find the following tips helpful for creating a virtual memorial background.

Check the lighting

Set up a day or two in advance to see what your camera will be displaying on the screen. Try your setup at the same time of day as the live event will take place. This will give you a more accurate idea of the effect lighting will have on how you or your background display will appear. Avoid having windows directly behind you or bright lights that can create a silhouette effect.

Choose a theme that reflects the person you are remembering

A theme for your memorial gathering can be depicted through words, music and visual elements.

One example was a gathering we hosted for a loved one who was an artist. The speakers during the service displayed her paintings in their backgrounds. Some art was hung on walls and some displayed on easels. That was a simple but beautiful way to incorporate something special about their loved one into the background display. A slideshow of her artwork was also shared during the service and many of the verbal tributes mentioned her art.

Display memorabilia that depict the life of your loved one

When you think of your loved one, there will be certain aspects of their life that stand out. What are some of those aspects and what physical elements could help to visually tell the story?

Were they an avid sports fan? Think of displaying team memorabilia. Some family members like to wear the jersey of their loved one’s favorite team which further adds to the visual impact.

Were there other clothing items or accessories of significance? One family displayed a rack of hats and talked about their loved one’s hat collection.

Did they have a special talent, occupation, hobby, or a cause they supported? In one memorial that honoured a writer, books were displayed and family members read passages of the author’s writings.

Choose the right room for your background

The room you choose will help set the tone for the gathering and can be very

funeral in kitchen
A family used their mother’s table and the kitchen as the background to honor their matriarch. Photo by Francesca Tosolini on Unsplash

meaningful to family and friends. One especially nice touch was a family that honored their matriarch by sitting around her dining table with her kitchen in the background. Their shared stories about family gatherings in the past around the table and musings about her love of food and cooking were very impactful.

Effective use of photos in your background

If you have photos you’d like to display as part of your virtual memorial background you’ll want to to do this in a way that allows the photos to show up on camera.

If you have framed photos with glass, you may want to remove the glass or experiment with ways to angle the photos to reduce glare. Small photos may not show well.

An 8” x 10” photo or larger hanging on the wall behind you or sitting on a cabinet or shelf should display well.

Make your loved one part of the display

If your loved one was cremated, one family member may wish to have the urn as part of their display. Depending on your space, you may consider having the urn placed on a cabinet behind you or a table in front of you. Some people also like to add a photo and bouquet of fresh flowers to the display.

What about virtual backgrounds?

One of the features of having a Zoom account is that you can add virtual backgrounds. A virtual background allows you to add an image of your choice that will become your background and block out your physical background.

Here are some considerations for the successful use of a virtual background:

  • Try different images to see how they will look in advance. Try them when dressed as you will be for the live event to see how they will coordinate.
  • If you do decide to use a virtual background, check out Zoom’s resources to learn how to set it up. For the very best effect, use a green screen.
  • There are some affordable options for purchasing green screens on Amazon. Here is one example that can attach to the back of your chair.
  • Unsplash is a great royalty free resource for high quality images that might be suitable for a virtual background.

Positioning yourself in front of your background

Sit down in front of your web cam ahead of time and take some screen shots to see how you and your background will look, or connect with a family member or friend on Zoom to help you.

Center yourself in the view and arrange your background so that it appears how you wish on camera.

As a final tip, for the best audio quality you will need to be no closer than 12” and no further than 18” from your device’s built-in microphone.

We’re here to help. Use the button below to speak with an experienced Virtual Memorial Gatherings planner who can help bring your ideas to life.