How I got started in creating AR Instagram filters and starting my first Instagram project
*This blog post was orginally published on May 27, 2020
Why did I get started in AR?
I got started in AR, augmented reality, because I was already making static digital art. Creators on Instagram were using AR to bring their 2D drawings to 3D and into the world, and I wanted to do the same thing. There was also a business use for it too, and it was being used by brands to extend their reach and engage with their clientele.
How I got started plus learning resources
I got started with the best resource I could think of - Youtube - where there is a huge community of creators and their tutorials. I did a couple of filters first, a face tattoo filter with a theme of self-quarantine and social distancing. The other I did was based on the art in Sailor Moon which I was re-watching right before quarantine.
Every creator mentioned Spark AR and Photoshop as their back-pocket tools, not to mention several free 3D asset libraries and software. We won't get into those as I got along fine with Spark AR, its tutorials, libraries, and the core programs in Adobe Creative Cloud. Also, the worst thing a novice could do is to confuse themselves by learning very little of many tools when they should instead to learn a few tools very well.
Also, the worst thing a novice could do is to confuse themselves by learning very little of many tools when they should instead to learn a few tools very well.
My first Instagram project with a client
It was also during quarantine and mandatory telework that I thought of how this might be used for my organization. I work for a university and since our commencement went virtual, I realized that the importance of a visual design and social media strategy to connect our students, family, faculty, administration. Though I work primarily in an administrative capacity I knew the value of visual design and interaction. One day we were asked to bring forth any ideas about our virtual commencement, and this is the one I submitted.
Rather than just submitting the idea, I put together a memo of my past personal projects in AR filters, an outline of the problem the AR filter would solve, and how I could go about making a new filter given any preferences of our Marketing and Communications team. I also included links to a basic version of a graduation AR filters I made for our university that the team could try on their own time to imagine the possibilities.
Why it's so important to know and communicate the value of your ideas
Needless to say, the first team that I submitted the project to, our decentralized school MarComm team passed as they were not coordinating graduation. That was great, because it was passed to the Graduation Coordinator to whom I had also already sent my memo. She passed on it too citing that she didn't have the capacity to implement it into her planning, especially with less than a month before graduation. She did, however, pass it onto a team with a greater bandwidth, the university's Creative Services team who were planning AR filters too, though they noted that it was something to which they were new. I advised them on things to consider, for instance the need to post the filter as early as possible given the delays in Facebook's review time of new filters. They even shared one of my filters as part of their social media strategy.
How my project was received and metrics
I've now seen the final metrics from the filter's reach, impressions (how many times someone opened your filter and took a picture or video with it), and shares (how many times someone took a picture or video with the filter and shared it to their story). Over 30,000 people saw the filter - an amazing result over the first 7 days of its release!
It's been amazing to see it in the wild as people use relevant hashtags in their post. I've seen specific schools and colleges within my university share it.
This is certainly not the end. My goal is to communicate the value of these filters again for next year's graduation and expand its reach to other schools and their particular needs. I plan to expand beyond graduation as an event that could benefit from an interactive visual design as part of its communications strategy. I also plan to communicate this medium to businesses as a way to engage with and collect feedback from their customers.
Most importantly, I learned to be my own best advocate and that rejection is part of the process. If I wasn't accepting of rejection as a possibility, I certainly would not have kept submitting my idea to more and more people, consistently sharing new ideas and their value during the process.
Through this experience, I ultimately learned the importance of learning beyond what is defined as your scope, to communicate the value of what you can bring to your team and beyond your own team, making a minimum viable product first especially with a new offer so your "clients" in your company can visualize its use. Most importantly, I learned to be my own best advocate and that rejection is part of the process. If I wasn't accepting of rejection as a possibility, I certainly would not have kept submitting my idea to more and more people, consistently sharing new ideas and their value during the process.