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September 9, 2020 chillboxcreative

Augmented Reality and Instagram Filters

With Facebook’s recent free-to-use release of Spark AR, now anyone has the tools to design, build, and publish their own augmented reality photo filters. Naturally, we thought we’d give it a go.

If you’ve existed on planet earth any time in the last 5 years, you’re probably at least peripherally familiar with the concept of social media photo filters.  Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram – they all offer users the ability to add graphics and overlays to their photos and videos in real time through their smart phone camera. Whether it’s the infamous dog ears and tongue combo, the “Which _____ are you?” randomised roulettes, or something a little more unique – people just can’t seem to get enough of augmented reality filters.

When Facebook made its filter-building software, Spark AR, available for free to the public late last year – it was an open invite to creators worldwide to get stuck in. Like most new creative technologies, we thought the best way to learn was to just start messing around.

That experimentation resulted in this fun “Doug Dimmadome”-inspired fit.

While admittedly ridiculous, building the Doug Dimmadome filter was a great way to familiarise ourselves with the software. It was also an opportunity to learn the process for publishing filters to Instagram, which is surprisingly straightforward. So long as your filter meets both Spark AR’s Review Policy and Instagram’s Community Guidelines, you can publish it to your Instagram profile, where it will be available to other Instagram users to try, like, and share. From a content-marketing perspective, this means the audience for your filter isn’t just engaging with the content you created, but potentially creating and sharing their own content using your filter as the medium.

And yes, for those wondering, – the Doug Dimmadome filter is available on Instagram and you can try it here.

Since delving into the world of AR filters, we’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of our clients to develop their own Instagram filters. Recently, we partnered with Ending HIV NZ to develop a series of filters for their “Sweat with Pride” campaign. This includes a ‘roulette quiz’ which asks users “How will you sweat with pride today?” and then prompts them with exercises from a randomised list of suggestions.

(Try it yourself here.)

We also developed a fun “Headband” filter so that users could show their support of the Sweat With Pride initiative.

(Try it here.)

While it may be easy to dismiss AR filters as a decorative novelty or fad, the reality is that AR is here to stay. As smartphone technology continues to improve, the possible applications of AR are endless. While the majority of filters now are just engaging visual gags or otherwise branded experiences, there are endless practical applications as well. Maybe a city-wide scavenger hunt filter that reveals secrets when the camera is pointed at specific posters, or an eyewear filter that allows you to try on various glasses frames to see how they’d look before buying.  A lot of the functionality that used to only be possible through years of app development is now easily accessible through Spark AR and social media filters. And with the ability to publish your filters for free directly to major social media platforms, the only real limitation is your imagination.

We’d love to brainstorm just how a custom AR filter might work for you. If you’re interested in learning more about AR filters, or just want to have a chat – please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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