Imagine it’s February in 2016. Rihanna’s dancehall influenced jam Work is all the rage and everyone is taking videos singing Drake’s verse. You decide to take a quick video to Snapchat while your friend drives with the semi-incomprehensible hook blaring. You get ready for your favourite part (“You need to get done, done, done…”) and boom. Your world stops. You tell your friend to pull over. You’ve realized something.
Snapchat has changed the selfie game.
Snapchat included a new animated overlay system (known as “lenses”) to the front-facing camera.
These lenses (sometimes referred to as ‘face filters’) were originally only able to be used when using the ‘selfie’ camera and had a variety of effects. The most popular is certainly the Dog filter.
What is it about the Dog filter that makes it so popular?
Aside from it just being an adorable animation, there are a few other factors:
- The dog’s snout/mouth actually covers a fair amount of the user’s face, masking any imperfections and adding a sense of mystery (like any real-life masquerade mask or facial cover).
- The lens is designed to reduce redness and blemishes on the user’s visage, making them appear to have clearer skin and smoother features.
- The lens also chisels the bottom half of the user’s face, pulling down their cheeks/chin area and elongating it slightly.
After its debut in early 2016, the lens quickly gained popularity and on May 10th, social media icon Kim Kardashian posted a Snapchat story requesting that Snapchat add a version of the lens that made the user look like a Dalmatian. Shortly after, Snapchat updated the Dog filter to place a Dalmatian version of the lens over a second user.
Later that same month, Jimmy Kimmel Live aired a sketch involving Ariana Grande where she is cursed to have the Dog filter on her face in real life after using the Snapchat lens. Snapchat later removed the lens to make room for more promotional AR lenses but now has the Dog filter as a seemingly permanent feature.
The Dog lens was Snapchat’s first major foray into the augmented reality world and it certainly made waves. Their next big splash would be made with a dog of a different variety (and one that likes to dance). But that’s a different story, for another post ;)