How to Get Started in Creating Your Own AR Filters for Social Media
Social media augmented reality filters have provided the world with its fair share of laughs. Who can forget the lawyer who appeared as a kitten during a Zoom hearing? But these humorous moments shouldn’t detract from the potential of AR filters if we harness their power properly.
And now, thanks to AI and tools like Meta Spark, anyone can design their own AR filters. These social AR products can be used for fun, but they also carry immense value as a business marketing tool. So, how do you put it to use and how difficult will it be?
Social AR—What is it Exactly?
Social AR can be present on various social apps, ranging from Facebook and Instagram to Tiktok and Snapchat. Within these and other third party apps, accessed through mobile devices and thanks to augmented reality technology, social AR adds a virtual visual element to the real elements viewed via the camera, whether the front or back lens.
While it’s often used for entertainment in the form of photo filters, it can also enhance marketing campaigns, for example when a filter allows you to try on a product—such as glasses—virtually. Social AR can also be a game, a face filter or an add that appears.
By joining the real world and a virtual world of the creator’s choosing, it results in immersive experiences. In the case of using social AR for business, it’s more effective than simply showing traditional ads since the immersion results in more customer engagement.
The Current Social AR Environment
The good news is the thanks to modern technology and programs already launched on social media platforms, almost anyone can now create filters of their choosing. This is made possible by helpful tools like Meta Spark and TikTok Effect House.
When using social AR for business, it allows companies to showcase their personality. This enhances branding campaigns on popular platforms that many existing and potential customers frequent, hopefully resulting in more customer engagement.
Currently, social AR also helps brands to set themselves apart, since using it for marketing is a fairly new idea. Adding a unique feature to how you engage with your audience will make you more memorable. It’s best to start using it now already, since in coming years it’s bound to be more common, making it more difficult to get your brand noticed.
Certain content types are provided to get users started. The tools then allow you to compile a filter and customize it to your liking, even incorporating textures and 3D models.
Types of Filters
When planning on creating your own AR filters, plan properly so it aligns with your purpose. You can select from these types:
- Marker-based AR filters: Here your AR experience will be initiated when a specific marker is identified by the camera. It’s essential that there are sufficient clear visual points for the camera to identify. The range of markers to use is vast as it can be an image like a logo or a QR code but also even a physical object like a specific product that is easily recognizable. When a user points the camera at the required marker, certain AR elements will be initiated to be experienced via the device, often as a layer on top of the marker. This content can be text, images, audio that starts playing, a 2D or 3D animation, a 360° video or game mechanics. These can serve purposes such as showing marketing material, supplying information about the object in view or offering an interactive experience. This type of AR filter is easy to produce and many devices are compatible with it.
- Markerless AR filters: A more flexible AR filter—markerless AR—can be launched anywhere via an app, so the user has freedom of movement. The technology will analyze the environment and add the AR layer on top. It works best when the environment’s surfaces have some sort of texture. Examples of this AR type filter include 3D objects being shown in the real world and showing AR versions of products for users to try out, which is a great resource in the retail market. Markerless AR can help a user visualize how a new piece of furniture will look in a room or whether sunglasses look good on them. The AR can allow the user to move virtual objects where they want within a space, simply by touching the screen and moving the device. The technology has developed to such an extent that it even allows for portals to virtual worlds that provide an immersive experience and you can create interactive play between multiple users. The latter makes it an exciting option to use in the game development industry. Just remember limitations, such as that it works better with more advanced hardware and software, such as iOS version 11 or Android 4.4 at the very least.
- Location based AR: This is related to markerless AR and less common than the types above, but still carries value for some industries, such as travel or tourism. With GPS-based AR, the AR elements will appear based on the viewer’s location, such as virtual road signs and business information, all shown on the screen.
Get in on the Action—How to Create Your Own AR Filter
As mentioned, technology empowers individuals and companies to use AR filters for their own pleasure or the optimize their marketing. The steps below give a general idea of how the tools work and what to consider during each step in the process.
You’ll need to customize the process for your particular needs.
Step 1: Download the Tech
You can download tools like Spark AR Studio. Always make sure the tool is compatible with your device’s operating system to ensure easy usage. For example, Spark is currently available for both Windows and Mac customers.
Step 2: Get Familiar
It will be easier to use the tool if you’re familiar with it. Take some time to browse the menus and read tutorials to educate yourself.
Step 3: Pick a Marker (Marker-based AR filters only)
In the case of using marker-based AR filters, try to keep it as simple as possible. For example, if a marker contains a lot of text or there’s not enough contrast between objects on an image used as a marker, it will be much more difficult to accurately trigger the filter. Also ensure it’s absolutely unique, so you know it will only trigger YOUR filter, no one else’s.
Step 4: Pick and Customize Effects and Objects
You can decide whether you want to create an effect that’s completely new, or start off with a template provided by the program. Options include but aren’t limited to:
- Picking objects and audio files from the program library.
- Creating a scene to which you add AR elements.
- Prompt the filter to remove a person from their natural background and place them in your AR environment.
- Import an object or sound from personal files, such as merchandise people can try on by using the filter.
- Adjust details such as textures, colors and lighting.
- Choose actions for objects, such as rotation or interaction with elements in the real world.
Step 5: Test and Publish Your AR Filter
Test it yourself before going public with it. Tools usually allow you to view how it displays on different devices. Once you’re happy with the final product, publish it in order for others to use it or experience it as part of your marketing campaign.
Augmented reality is an exciting world for developers to be part of and now the general public—and businesses—can also partake in the fun. When used optimally this can be how you make your mark in your industry, or impress your followers on social media.
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