Can I add an overlay to my video?

I am making a timing overlay to be used in a Toastmasters meeting.

This is what I have currently have
Its issue is that it requires the installation of OBS and OBS VirtualCam. Also, OBS VirtualCam only runs in Windows

What I want is to find a no installation, easy to use solution for adding an overlay.

I have been thinking of streaming a canvas element, but I can’t seem to be able to find hot to interface that with zoom.

I have also been thinking of just making a dedicated user for displaying the timing output which would get around the installation and ease of setup issue, but then once again how do I interface it with zoom? Room Connectors are too expensive for this purpose.

Virtual Background could be an option if I could figure out how to control it programmatically and if the users had a background on which this feature worked nicely.

Screen Share is not an option as this will not be used by the presenter

Hey @rakusan2, thanks for posting and using Zoom.

You can certainly do this with the Web SDK or any of the SDKs if you are able to build and distribute your own application. There are a number of public apps on our Marketplace which are using the Web SDK to do this, including Docket.

We do not yet have an API to change Virtual Backgrounds, as these are stored on the user’s client.

Thank you for the quick reply

Unfortunately, my intention was to simply modify my video output stream or completely replace it.
It was not to create a new web app as this overlay is required to be visible by everyone no matter how they are connecting.

As for the Virtual Backgrounds, it would be nice if at some point they could be controlled through either IPC or the command line

@rakusan2 - gotcha, providing overlays to video streams is something we’re exploring, but this is not currently on our road map.

I agree on the Virtual Background point. We’re working on how to extend this - the core function blocking this would be the authorization to the user’s client to control that, which we currently do not expose.


If you do find a good way to do this, please post how.

More important than a goofy background, I’d gladly trade the feature in order
to provide a Title Overlay with a logo and name, similar to major TV news
organizations. [Logo] [Name and optionally Title, Location].

I’ve been able to replace a background, but then have to be very careful
to stay anchored to a specific spot on camera, so as not to “step” over
a logo or name.

Having a title overlay option would go a long ways to replace the function
that physical nametags played when we met in person, as well as provide
a professional-looking branded video that we could share via a variety
of live and archived mediums.


Hi Tom,

As of now, I have not been successful at finding anything better other than my current solution using OBS.

This solution requires you to be able to install OBS and Virtual Cam, while also having some basic knowledge on how to use them.

Three weeks ago I have discovered Mac and Linux versions of VirtualCam so please have a look into the usage section of my project to find them.

As for OBS, if you do not care about programmatic control, then OBS supports adding PNG, GIF, and others. Otherwise, you can take my project, change the html, remove everything from web/src except for web, settings, socket, params, and types and make it to your liking.

Other than that, I will update if I find anything better.

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Last night, I discovered “ManyCam”, which has versions for MacOS, Windows, iOS, and Android devices.

This can source the video from multiple sources (built-in camera, iPhone, etc), and then presents the modified video (with overlays and special effects) to the operating system as another USB-Camera.

This makes it compatible with Zoom, but you need to ensure that ManyCam starts BEFORE Zoom, then select the “ManyCam” from the choice of video sources. Standard features in ManyCam include Title overlays (Called LowerThirds), Up/Down timers, camera transitions, and quite a lot of other features.

Only drawback is that it only affects YOUR camera output, so you can’t overlay other folks’ video easily.
Seems easier than OBS though.


Hi Tom,

I had a look at ManyCam to compare it to OBS and see whether or not it can be a replacement. Here is what I found.

First I need to correct you as ManyCam needs to start before zoom takes the video stream. This means that it will work if in a zoom meeting you disable your video, then start ManyCam, and then select the ManyCam Virtual WebCam in Zoom video settings or just the video dropdown.

Next, I have also found that it does not look like it supports hiding the background of a website and seems to glitch whenever I try to make it hide it.

Furthermore, in the free version, it adds its own logo onto the stream and constantly asks for me to upgrade whenever I try to make changes to the second layer.

Finally, it does seem that it supports flipping the image to make text readable or at least I am unable to find it.

Overall for my usecase, I find it better to stick with OBS and set its config using a premade file as ManyCam does not have the features that I require.

Thanks for the comparison with OBS. Very helpful to have a comparison from someone knowledgeable with OBS.

I think your correction is saying the same thing I was – you need to start it BEFORE Zoom.

There IS a video-flip (Hit the magnifying glass at the top, and under the magnification slider
it will allow you to rotate the image, flip vertically, or horizontally).

Agreed that the free version has a watermark.
I haven’t attempted hiding the background of a website - It may be missing that feature.
I’ll have to do install OBS this weekend and try out some of the advanced features you mention.

Thanks again.


Thanks for sharing your research @TomG @rakusan2! :slight_smile:



Looks like Zoom will be discontinuing the use of virtual cams like ManyCams soon :frowning: Back on the hunt for another solution to drop bottom thirds, overlays and alternate video sources.

OBS DOES work, it’s just not as user friendly as MC or type products.

Hey @emailjakejordan,

We have reenabled some virtual cameras like Snapchat Camera.


@rakusan, your comment has been very helpful to me. I’ve set up OBS with Virtual Cam and it works beautifully. I wanted to have a narrow Notepad window floating above my head at all times. That way, while I’m teaching I can quickly type code snippets, urls, etc. without having to share my screen or switch to annotations. I also have a MS Paint window floating next to my head because annotations can be laggy and I’m also I’m used to Paint (having over twenty years of experience with it). The only minor gotcha is that Zoom Virtual Background feature no longer works. That is, when I enable it, I lose my Notepad and Paint windows.

Happy to hear you found @rakusan2’s post helpful! :slight_smile:


Hi Tom,

Great insights. Could you unpack “Only drawback is that it only affects YOUR camera output, so you can’t overlay other folks’ video easily.” a little?

Would you ideally like an overlay visible on each person’s screen? It seems like for this to happen it would be the responsibility of each user.

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Sure thing. As the host of a meeting that will be streamed to YouTube and other sites, I really want to be able to overlay branded name-cards onto the 6 or so (now remote) presenters or panelists that we are interviewing live. (I don’t need this for the few hundred attendees that may join networking, Q&A, or discussion groups afterwards, just my main interviewees/hosts).

I don’t want to require my guest speakers (and co-hosts) to have to install/configure software and load in custom branded graphics just for one interview with us.


Hey @saph13, @TomG,

This is a common flow now, and one in which Zoom has done when it comes to virtual backgrounds for our Webinar guests.

Virtual cameras will be reenabled in Zoom Client version 5.1.1.


Thanks for the notes.

Just a small clarification - we use this in regular meeting format (non-webinar),
and in overlay graphics, rather than virtual background.
(That way, we can still show the background of where an interviewee is located,
especially if they are onsite doing on-location commentary).


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Thanks for the clarification! :slight_smile:


Found this discussion in looking for a frame over multiple participants in Zoom (saw one in use on a call this morning but did not know how they did it). But it was interesting to see this article, as well: