We are unabashedly obsessed with Snapchat and that’s largely thanks to its awesome filters. Being able to instantly turn ourselves into dogs, cats, and weird unidentifiable creatures is the magic we always wanted as kids. But as it turns out, the way Snapchat filters work is actually pretty scientific. Vox has put together a video that explains exactly what goes down when we’re scrolling through the filters and lenses and the process is as cool as the filters themselves.
It’s all thanks to a Ukranian company called Looksery, which Snapchat bought back in 2015, according to TechCrunch. Looksery is what’s responsible for recognizing faces in photos. However, that process is super-intricate, especially when it’s not just recognizing faces but putting things on them.
The basic way a computer recognizes faces is by comparing dark and light spaces. Faces all have a similar pattern of dark vs. light: The bridge of the nose is light while the sides are dark, the center of the forehead is light, getting darker when you go to the side, and so on.
This is just step one. How does Snapchat manage to put makeup on your lips, or a crown on your head, when everyone’s lips and heads are different?
It’s all thanks to a painstaking process of mapping out different face prototypes, modeling off of existing faces, before it finds the one that best matches your own.
But wait, there’s one more step. None of these faces will ever exactly match our own, so these models are applied to our faces to locate our own features, and then it adapts to create this moveable mask:
Yeah, all that happens in the one second it takes for us to select our faces for a filter. It brings a whole new level of appreciation for rainbow vomit — but let’s be honest, we don’t know if it’s possible to appreciate it any more.
Check out the full video below!