How to use Zoom's Video Filters to spice up your next Zoom call

Just a few button clicks, and you can change your appearance in Zoom for a quick laugh.

Credit: Mark Hachman / IDG

If you ever wanted to change your appearance in a Zoom call without having to download plug-ins like a Zoom camera, you’re in luck. Zoom now has its own ways of changing your appearance into a pirate or a cat, right within the application, as part of its 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 overlay the ‘Deal with It’ sunglasses on your eyes. The Studio Effects (Beta) tool is designed more to add to your appearance, with fake lipstick, mustaches, and a beard. Both are fun, and more than a little weird.

Here’s how to launch both. (Note that if you’re accessing Zoom via a university, or via a call that someone else administers, these options may not be available to you.)

zoom settings Mark Hachman / IDG

Click the Settings gear in the upper right to access the Zoom Settings menu.

When you launch Zoom, enter the Settings menu via the gear icon in the top right. Scroll down to “Background and Filters.” It’s here that you can select a virtual background: one of the stock backgrounds Zoom uses, either as a static image or as a video filter; or a funny Zoom background that you added yourself; or as an animated GIF that you’ve inserted as a Zoom background. (You can even loop a GIF of yourself, for added effect.)

zoom video filters 4 weekedn at bernies Mark Hachman / IDG

Going for a “Weekend at Bernie’s” vibe here.

Instead of selecting Virtual Backgrounds, though, select the Video Filters option to the right. Here you’ll see a number of self-explanatory overlays, including “Theater” and “Analog television,” among others. You can try on any number of virtual accessories for size, such as hats, halos, animal ears, masks, and even 3D goggles. (No “cat lawyer” masks, though, yet.) Play around and find one that works for you.

At the very bottom of the screen is yet another link, to Studio Effects (Beta). Clicking this opens a sidebar that provides various ways to touch up your face. You can add thicker eyebrows of varying 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 by downloading the Snap Camera plug-in, and combining Snap Camera with Zoom for fun, weird combinations like an animatronic potato. Now, you can use Zoom instead. While we might not combine a handlebar mustache, halo, and yellow lip gloss, feel free to try using Zoom’s Video Filters and Studio Effects to experiment. It’s 2021, and everyone’s permitted to have some fun online.

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Mark Hachman

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
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