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How to use Zoom’s video filters to spice up your next Zoom call



If you’ve ever wanted to change your look during a Zoom call without having to download plugins like a Zoom camera, you’re in luck. Zoom now has its own ways to turn your look into a pirate or a cat right within the application as part of the new video filters and studio effects.

The new filters add the ability to surround yourself with a custom video frame using a video filter, or to put the ‘Deal with It’ sunglasses over your eyes. The Studio Effects (Beta) tool is more designed to add to your look, with fake lipstick, mustaches, and a beard. Both are fun and more than a little weird.

Here’s how to start both. (Note that if you access Zoom through a university or through a conversation managed by someone else, these options may not be available to you.)

zoom settings Mark Hachman / IDG

Click the Settings gear in the top right corner to open the Zoom Settings menu.

When you start Zoom, go to the Settings menu from the gear icon in the top right corner. Scroll down to ‘Background and filters’. Here you can select a virtual background: one of the stock backgrounds that Zoom uses, either as a static image or as a video filter; or a fun Zoom wallpaper you added yourself; or as an animated GIF you inserted as a Zoom background. (You can even loop a GIF of yourself for added effect.)

zoom video filters 4 weeks at Bernies Mark Hachman / IDG

Go here for a “Weekend at Bernie’s” atmosphere.

Instead of selecting Virtual Wallpapers, select the Video Filters option on the right. Here you will see a number of self-explanatory overlays, including “Theater” and “Analog TV”, among others. You can try out an unlimited number of virtual accessories, such as hats, halos, animal ears, masks and even 3D glasses. (But no “cat lawyer” masks just yet.) Play around and find one that suits you.

At the very bottom of the screen is another link, to Studio Effects (Beta). Clicking on this will open a sidebar with several ways to retouch your face. You can add thicker eyebrows of various shapes and sizes, as well as a mustache and beard. Finally, you can even touch up your virtual lip gloss. Zoom can “see” your lips and color them appropriately.

zoom video backgrounds 5 Mark Hachman / IDG

“This meeting could have been an email.”

Previously, the only way to add some of these virtual overlays was to download the Snap Camera plugin and combine Snap Camera with Zoom for fun, weird combinations like an animatronic potato. Now you can use Zoom instead. While we may not combine a handlebar mustache, halo, and yellow lip gloss, you can use Zoom’s video filters and studio effects to experiment. It’s 2021 and everyone can enjoy themselves online.

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