“What Bagel Are You?” Filter: Q&A with Dan Schenker

August 30, 2023
Rochella Providence

“It was such a silly thing-—I didn’t think anyone would even care about it. Next thing I knew, I had celebrities on TikTok using it, someone made a song about it, multiple offshoot trends came from it, it ended up in a podcast, and Drew Barrymore ended up using it with a guest on her tv show.” 

- Dan Schenker, Creative Strategist, Photographer & TikTok Effect House Creator

Dan Schenker, TikTok Effect House Creator

Remember the “What Bagel Are You” effect that went viral on TikTok in early 2022? 

Everyone, including some familiar faces, couldn’t help but see if the filter would pair them with their favorite bagel. Here are some clips to jog your memory:

Ring a bell?

Well, we got a chance to chat with Dan Schenker, the creative mind behind this effect that sparked a loveable trend, and learn more about him, his take on viral filter-making, and what he thinks is in store for the creator space. 

Here’s how it went:

What are some filter questions you frequently get asked?

I often get asked to add things to filters and effects that aren’t supported. The capabilities of these are limited to the functionalities built by the software used to create the effects.

TikTok, Meta, and Snap all have their own proprietary software for building and publishing filters and effects, and each one has its own features. Of course many of them are similar, so the difference between them all isn’t always super clear to the average user.

I also get asked why I’ll say “filter” in one sentence and “effect” in another. I think as a society, we’ve adopted “filter” as the preferred word, so that’s the one I’ll tend to use most often. However, an effect to me can be something where something completely unrelated to the user is on screen. By that definition, is Maxim Kuzlin’s “Shrek in the Sky” a filter?

What are some common misconceptions about making trending filters?

The major players in this space have made it really easy for someone to get started in creating filters and effects.

Companies like TikTok have built ways for literally any account to create an effect right in the TikTok app. I’ve spoken with some people who didn’t even realize that they had created effects!

What are your thoughts on why people resonate with filters so much?

I think some people see creators and want to emulate them, but they don’t always know what to post about.

So, filters and effects democratize the creator space, giving new creators and hobbyists the same starting points as larger, more established voices.

Any fun facts about the creation process?

I never would have guessed how welcoming and supportive the Effect Creator community would be.

I’ve seen people giving away entire templates, building full hour-long YouTube tutorials, and answering questions from other creators with no expectations at all.

I’ve learned so much from other creators, and I attribute a lot of what I’ve done to the selfless help I’ve received along the way.

What’s your favorite filter?

If we’re talking about effects I’ve created, I’d probably say “Green Eyes”.

It was a silly one that I built with some friends that ultimately set out to prank anyone who used it. I don’t want to give too much away in case anyone hasn’t tried it yet.

If it’s one that I haven’t built, I’d say my favorite new effect right now is called “Legendary” by my friend Joe (@sri_syadasti). It mixes generative AI, humor, animation, and just so many other really cool things. It really sets a high bar for me.

What’s the most popular filter you’ve created?

My top used effect is definitely “What Bagel Are You?” It was such a silly thing-—I didn’t think anyone would even care about it.

Next thing I knew, I had celebrities on TikTok using it, someone made a song about it, multiple offshoot trends came from it, it ended up in a podcast, and Drew Barrymore ended up using it with a guest on her tv show.

Which filter took you the most time to create?

I’d probably go with “Pet Camera”.

It’s a simple enough effect, but a lot went into the logic to get it working.

It needs to recognize a pet’s face, play a sound to get their attention, display a countdown timer, capture the screen image, and “print” it in a little frame.

It’s definitely not one of the most complex effects out there, but compared to some of my other much simpler ones, this one was memorably more work for me.

Any thoughts on the creator space in general?

It isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

It makes so much sense for brands to tap into everyday creators-—the social proof, the pay… I do think that it’s pretty difficult to break away from the masses and establish yourself as an authority in whatever space you’re trying to contribute to, but I think that the creator economy has forced brands to adjust their marketing strategies and their priorities.

Any predictions for the next filter/effect trends?

This is so tough to predict since trends crop up so quickly, but I do think that generative AI is going to become more prevalent in filters and effects.

I think the general public is used to generative AI now, so effect creators are going to continue iterating on how to use it to push the boundaries of content creation. 

Any fun facts about Dan Schenker?

I’ve never had a cup of coffee. The smell of coffee beans is wonderful to me, but I can’t bring myself to drink it!

Final words

If you want to see what Dan is up to next, you can check out his website at danschenker.com, or follow him on TikTok and Instagram.

For more information on the filter creation process, check out TikTok’s Effect House Creator Portal.

Stay tuned for more creator Q&As and insights on your favorite filters and effects. And if you’re curious how to make personalized avatars for free in under 30 seconds using the latest filters and styles, try the Optix app for free here

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