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Microsoft Teams video effects

This week, offices across Europe and North America had their first taste of remote working thanks to COVID-19. For many, this meant learning to use Microsoft Teams, which saw almost 40% more traffic this week than last.

I wanted to experiment with making the video chat in Teams a bit more…fun. Zoom, the big rival to Teams, already lets you select virtual backgrounds. But the method here goes much, much further and it’s suprisingly easy to do.

I’ll show you how!

Screen capture of the Microsoft Teams start chat view with the Distort effect

Virtual Webcams

Computers can have more than one webcam. For instance, many laptops come with a front and rear camera by default.

The technique we’ll use is to give your computer another webcam: a Virtual Webcam. Your computer believes this is just another camera you’ve plugged in, but actually it is a special video feed you’ve created. The video feed consists of the image from your normal webcam, plus a filter effect.

Virtual Webcam = Normal Webcam + Filter effect

We’ll use a simple Webcam software called Webcamoid to do this.

How to add a Virtual Webcam feed to Teams

  1. Install Webcamoid:

    On Windows or Mac, select the option under Installable and 64bits. Open up the program.

    Webcamoid software installed

  2. From the menu at the bottom, select the Preferences option.

    Selecting preferences from the bottom menu

  3. On the top left menu, you’ll see the Output tab is already selected. So on the right, click Add and give your new Virtual Camera a name you’ll recognise. And click Ok. You might get a popup from Windows asking if you’re ok making changes to your PC. Obviously, say yes.

    You should close and re-open Webcamoid at this point. Not sure why, just seemed to help the Virtual Camera show up.

    Adding a virtual camera

  4. To get the camera to show up in Teams, you’ll want to restart it. Use the taskbar icon to select Quit, then re-launch Teams.

    Quit Teams from the Taskbar

  5. To select your Virtual Webcam in Teams, right-click on your face in the top right corner and select Settings.

    Opening Settings in Teams

    Then under the Devices menu at the bottom, you can change your Camera in the dropdown menu to your new Virtual Camera.

    Selecting the Virtual Camera in Teams

  6. If it works, you’ll see a video feed of either your existing webcam, or if Webcamoid is not open then it will be an inverted image of the Webcamoid logo (as shown below). The easiest way to test the video feed in Teams is to select Calendar and then Meet Now, which opens a new video call immediately. Success!

    Webcamoid Default Screen

Playing with the filters

Just setting your Virtual Camera to the same feed as your normal camera is fairly pointless. The reason Webcamoid is so great is that it comes with a long list of ridiculous effects to play with.

Back in the Webcamoid program, the Filters tab lets you select a filter. Distort and Psychadelic were particularly fun. Filters apply to the video feed selected in the Source tab and are rendered instantly - you can switch between effects mid-call with ease!

Selecting a filter in Webcamoid

Animation of the effect applied in Teams

Hints and Tips

I want more

If you’ve mastered the basics of using Virtual Cameras in conference calls, you can level up by using OBS Studio in combination with the OBS Virtual Camera Plugin. It doesn’t come with so many effects built in, but is a much more powerful option for playing tricks like feeding a pre-recorded video of you working into the Teams call, whilst you nap on the sofa.

Have fun!