Instagram augmented-reality filters, or AR filters, effectively allow your audience to actively participate in your brand’s campaign, and further encourages users to spread your ethos and message. Instagram has introduced a variety of fun features, such as stickers, polls, and swipe up functions, that are successful in driving user engagement. However, the AR filter has proven superior in quickly generating viral traction.
What are Augmented Reality Filters?
An AR filter is a computer-generated effect designed to be superimposed onto real-world images. AR filters are a relatively new user application, as initially it was not possible for anyone to build their own AR filters. This all changed when Facebook released an in-house AR Filter studio called ‘Spark.’ This innovative platform enables users to build their own Instagram and Facebook filters. The process of construction may at first appear complex, but in fact it is fairly simple. Software such as Spark Studio streamlines the procedure, allowing you to create quality filters that are unique to your brand.
How to Create an Augmented-Reality Filter
Spark Studio uses a codeless design that optimises a drag and drop functionality. Users can use visual programming to add interactive elements as well as animate objects and build logic based upon how said object should respond to interactions with it. Spark also helps you to create in your scene by allowing you to build both custom textures and materials.
You can create people effects, meaning that the functionality of your filter can be expanded to include interaction with the face. You can sync effects with movement as Spark’s design capabilities include facial tracking technology that effectively allows you to construct filters that respond to facial expressions. This application is expansive as it can be applied to bodily gestures that users make as well. You can also build filters that can be activated via real-world objects. This works by incorporating various effects into one scene, and then applying that scene to any image or video. This crafts an immersive AR experience as these scenes and objects can be easily applied to surroundings or vehicles.
Spark AR Studio is a desktop that is readily available on the Google Play store for both Mac and Windows users. Once downloaded you simply need to decide upon which type of AR filter you would like to build, from here the software will direct you to a canvas called ‘Viewport.’ Sequentially you will need to add an object, which you can either import or choose from the Spark library. To do so you click on file in the main menu, before clicking import (from library or desktop). To download the object into ‘Viewpoint’ you then just have to click on the ‘import free’ button. You will need to create a Sketchfab account to log into their site as Facebook uses their library of assets.
Next, it is great to add sound to your filter. The ability to add your own media files to your content was only launched in early 2020; but already famous music artists, such as Ellie Goulding, have taken advantage of this feature. Essentially a creator can now import their own music (on the condition that they have the rights to it) or have the effect sync to any song they may choose from Instagram’s music library. Instagram’s music library is ever growing, it currently includes a diverse range of music including popular top hits. Instagram pays for the licensing fees, which means that users have access to this library free of legal restraints.
Whilst in Viewport you will be able to add effects to your AR filter. These effects will relate to how your object reacts to user manipulation. They also determine how your object will move and look when positioned at different angles in the real-world. To animate the object you will need to go to the assets panel; then drag and drop it into the scene panel, which is below the ‘drag here’ menu item.
One Final Tip
Once the object is in place you can alter the colour, amongst a myriad of other options. You can change the directional light to give a 3D object more depth and realism, alter the animation of the object, and enable/disable appearance on all cameras. You can further add even more effects such as additional textures, materials and animations.
Finally, after you have decided on a finished product, you will need to send the AR file to either Instagram or Facebook. This will allow you to test the filter and preview how your filter works on both platforms. When you are satisfied with the filter you can publish it by simply clicking the upload button in the bottom left corner. As AR filters are subject to review by Facebook you will not have immediate access to it. The process of granting approval can take a few days. To make sure you don’t encounter any issues that will hinder this process, make sure that your filter meets Spark AR’s policies and guidelines before submission.
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