Zoom cat filter: How to use feature that led lawyer to declare ‘I am not a cat’ in hilarious video – and how to turn it off

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 10 February 2021 08:51 GMT
Lawyer assures judge he isn't a cat after Zoom filter faux pas
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A video showing Texas lawyer Rod Ponton declaring to a judge "I am not a cat" has been viewed by millions of people in cringing delight at the fact that he was, to all appearances, a cat.

Mr Ponton was the victim of a webcam feature that turned his video into that of a kitten, and made it difficult to change back.

And he is more than justified, since turning the feature off does seem to be a little complicated. It is relatively easy to turn yourself into a cat, however, should you want to follow in Mr Ponton's pawsteps.

If you, too, would like to (not) be a cat on Zoom, then here's everything you need to know about how to change your video chats to be more feline.

This article will explain how to get hold of that same feature and turn yourself into a cat during any Zoom call. It will also explain how to turn off that same cat filter, in case you too are stuck explaining to a judge that you are actually a human being.

First off, it is worth saying that it is not clear what filter Mr Ponton is using in the video, and it does not yet appear to be possible to get the same one.

A blog post from 2010 details the pains someone had with the feature, which it describes as "a stupid white cat that replaced his video feed in Skype". That notes that the cat would not disappear, "whatever he did to reset his webcam settings", and that the only way to get rid of it was to delete the "Live Cam Avatar" app that comes with Dell computers.

Another post in 2013 detailed someone's pains after a job interview in which they too had the camera on with no way to turn it off. They too found removing it required the complicated and not at all obvious process of removing the app – and they lost out on the job, in the end.

If you don't have that app on your computer – which appears to only be present on older Dells – then you won't be able to get access to that same cat. Still, if you would like to get access to a similar cat filter, doing so is fairly straightforward.

You can get your own cat by downloading Snap Camera, and app made by the same company behind Snapchat, and including the same "lenses", or filters. That can be got by heading to the Snap website, which you can find here, agreeing to the terms and downloading and installing the app.

Once it is instaled, open it up, and you will be able to see a selection of filters you can choose. Searching for, say, cat or kitten will open up a number of results that you can use, though again none of them will be the exact same cat from the video.

(Snap does allow people to create their own filters, and so it's possible that something that looks more like the now-famous kitten will appear in there sometime soon.)

Once you've picked your cat avatar, you will have to activate it in your Zoom settings. That's done by opening up the preferences, clicking to "Camera", and clicking the drop down that decides which camera Zoom uses so that you can change it to "Snap Camera" – once that's done, Zoom will treat the video coming from the app as your normal camera.

To remove it, you can just do the same: click through the preferences and change your camera back to the name of your normal webcam.

Zoom does also have its own wide range of filters, built into the app, if you'd prefer not to go through the complicated process of downloading Snap Camera. They are not quite as dramatic or fun as the ones on Snap – there is a "Lioness" filter, for instance, which looks something like the cat but only adds the ears and mouth to your face – but they are much more easily used.

They can be accessed simply by heading to the Zoom "preferences" option, or clicking the little upwards facing arrow that appears while in a Zoom chat and choosing the video preferences setting from there. There, navigate to "Background & Filters" and choose "Video Filters".

On that page you will find everything from the subtle, such as coloured filters that change the hue of your video a little, to more dramatic ones such as a beret that will stay with your head wherever it goes.

If you click the "Studio Effects" button, you can make more specific adjustments to your face, too: you can add new eyebrows, a mosutache or beard, or change your lip colour. Zoom cautions those features are in beta, and so might not always work as expected, though they seem fairly stable.

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