I had a great time attending our virtual festive office party this week. A kind team of University colleagues designed a creative agenda, stuffed full of genuine LOL moments for us all.
Traditionally we’d all have a wee quiz and fancy meal in an Edinburgh restaurant. For 2020, our virtual equivalent had some very thoughtful inclusivity considerations:
- Captions on pre-recorded performances/videos.
- Virtual/digital alternatives to any physical activities.
- Multiple catering options for different dietary restrictions.
- Detailed agenda published in advance, crucially combined with very good time-keeping (thank you Kevin).
What also helped me enjoy it was the animated elf avatar I had designed for respite purposes. I’ve undergone multiple major eye surgeries this year and am living with a hidden visual impairment. Reducing my screen time is one solution that helps mitigate my symptoms.
Whenever I needed to rest my eyes I’d turn off my web camera and activate my digital elf equivalent (a LEGO minifigure of course). This broadcast solution allowed me to stay active (i.e. listen to the stream) but also remain visible/engaged to others in the Microsoft Teams room.
Helpful to others
I suspect this same solution could also be attractive or beneficial to others. Our event took place over five hours and this would allow anyone to take comfort breaks without virtually leaving the party.
Hopefully the following set of instructions will assist others to create their own avatar. I won’t pretend it’s a quick or simple technological task, but I thoroughly enjoyed researching and designing it.
Create your own avatar
- How to get a moving background in a Microsoft Teams meeting
- Super helpful blog post tutorial from Amanda Sterner that started my journey off.
- OBS Studio (Windows, Mac, Linux)
- OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) is a free and open source software for video recording and live streaming. It’s also very handy for expanding our own limited virtual meeting options.
- OBS Virtual Camera (Mac)
- Free add-on that creates a virtual webcam device from the output of OBS Studio.
- Videvo free stock video
- Great range of free and premium videos for your backdrop. There are currently over 14,000 open licensed clips to choose from.
- How to Remove the Background in OBS Without a Green Screen
- This short video tells you how to use Skype, or Zoom, for a virtual green screen. Removing your background without the need for hanging any physical green paper behind you.
- MS Teams camera bug fixes (Mac)
- I experienced technical issues with MS Teams on my MacBook where it failed to recognise any external cameras other than the laptop’s inbuilt camera. Thankfully this MS discussion board post has a quick and easy solution.
Thanks again to my university colleagues for organising such a memorable and inclusive event. Part of me genuinely hopes next year’s party also has a virtual component.
Jingle Bells Acapella
Here’s the talented Lauren Johnston-Smith playing Jingle Bells, accompanied by some singing elves!
‘Snow Close-Up‘ by Mattia Lo Bianco (MattiaM) has the following licence: Creative Commons 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0).
‘Falling Snowflakes Background Loop‘ by Videvo is royalty-free.
‘Looping News Style LIVE Lower Third 40a‘ by Videvo has the following licence: Videvo Attribution License.
This blog post is not affiliated in any way with or endorsed by the LEGO Group. LEGO, the LEGO logo and the Minifigure are trademarks and copyrights of the LEGO Group.