Meet Ollie Tyler, designer of the viral social media filter

At some point around May this year, everyone seemed much more upset. Across social media, suddenly everyone is on the verge of shedding tears. There were terrifying crying faces on every platform.

Yes, the world is in dire straits these days, but the real reason everyone looked so sad was a brand new filter that was making waves. The sad eyes filter was the latest hit from creative technologist Ollie Tyler.

When you think of the biggest social media influencers, Salt Bae names, jerk dad and PewDiePie might come to mind. But behind these influencers is the huge impact of technological trends that have given creators a new tool.

The invisible impressive

Despite having an unimpressive 100,000 followers on TikTok, Tyler may not be a famous face. However, the filters he created certainly made themselves known.

The source of the sad eyes filter is actually an audio clip from an episode of the UK children’s TV show ‘The Story of Tracy Beaker’.

In the clip, Tracy claims she doesn’t cry and just suffers from hay fever.

“This is the perfect time for this augmented reality, Tyler thought, watching the clip. “I already set the sound and then got the visual from the crying Brendan Fraser.”

“When I posted this on TikTok, it kind of flew with the algorithm,” Tyler recalls.

Tyler explains that getting a hit filter is both an art and a science. He began managing brand campaigns for major clients before working on his own augmented reality filters. The first few filters he designed were “yes or no” filters, where each side of the screen is colored and you can answer prompts asking if you recognize a song.

“This was my first real experience of capturing a trend or something I saw in the TikTok algorithm and connecting it to an AR filter,” Tyler says.

Other tricks include making sure the filter hits the seven-second mark, which supposedly increases your chances of a viral hit.

“With TikTok, connecting your filters to trends and sounds is very important because it truly is a trends platform. It’s not about individual people or who you follow. It’s more about following these waves and emerging trend cycles,” he says.

The success of the filters meant that Tyler could focus full time on creating AR filters and creative technologies. Tyler, who spent his time between the UK and the US, worked on the doubloon filter, the red flag filter and other trends.

He also created tnySocialA platform for brands to create their own randomizer filters without the need for a dedicated developer.

Filters for fun

Creating filters is a fun hobby that Tyler has managed to turn into an entire career. But is there anything out of bounds for what it turns into a filter?

“I try to avoid doing anything on the beauty side of the filters and the body dysmorphia side,” she says.

“I feel like with Gen Z and social media we’re constantly consuming FaceApps and face-adjusted representations of people that aren’t actually true. I feel like it’s really playing on people’s mental health.”

“It’s not great that people constantly see things that give them plastic surgery and are unrealistic. That’s why I stay away from it completely. I don’t want to associate AR with the mental health of the next generation.”

Tyler’s latest project is called Tapaday. It is an application that takes tips. Be realistic, but instead of giving users a shared moment to take a snapshot of their day, it gives its users a random video game every day to try and compete with their friends.

“You see a lot of people online complaining about how they want to play this game, but you don’t have 10 hours to get into the game. It’s a little 60-second minigame every day,” explains Tyler.

“Another fun way to stay connected with friends.”

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