Viral 'I'm not a cat' filter is decades-old software

By Jane Wakefield
Technology reporter

Published
media caption"I'm here live - I'm not a cat"

Footage of a Texan lawyer denying he was a cat as he appeared with a feline filter on a live call captured the public imagination and quickly became a viral hit.

And what everyone wanted to know was: "How do I get that filter?"

Some asked if it was utilising deepfake technology because the filter seemed sophisticated.

But it is a decades-old piece of software pre-installed on some Dell laptops.

The Live Cam Avatar software was also available for people to download.

It is not clear how the lawyer found himself speaking through the face of a worried-looking cat .

But it seems even in its heyday, there was a history of people becoming trapped as the avatar and finding it hard to remove.

'Frantically scrolling'

One, ChemBark, describes in a blog how he appeared "as a sad kitten" during a job interview via Skype.

"I started frantically scrolling down all of the menus in Skype, trying to remedy the situation," he writes.

Tweeting now the filter is back in the news, he says it "was the default setting on Dell's webcam software".

Another blog, written in 2010, offers a detailed explanation of how to remove "the stupid white cat".

The company behind the filter, Reallusion, described it as a "customisable emotive facial animation that gives you much more fun that the conventional video chatting".

image source, Reallusion
image captionThere are still links to the website explaining how the software was installed

Reallusion now provides sophisticated real-time 3D animation software - but the cat filter seems no longer to be available in its online shop.

Cat lawyer?

There are other ways to access cat filters, though.

Snapchat app Snap Camera can be integrated with Zoom.

And Zoom has its own filters, as well as allowing people to integrate ones from third parties.

Last year, a Pakistani politician's livestreamed press conference descended into farce when he switched a cat filter on by mistake.

And the latest Zoom cat-filter mishap has garnered reaction from around the world.

Even Downing Street's cat, Larry, tweeted: "Is there a filter for Zoom that turns cats into lawyers?"

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