In addition to the social applications of AR, Bouffard is fascinated by the pragmatic uses. For example, your public transport map could be used to display a route map. He says, “Social AR can get you a lot of views and a lot of attention, but then more technical AR allows you to discover interesting tools and it’s recognized by the community.”
According to Kuzlin, different platforms are better suited to different types of filters: “In my opinion, Instagram leans more towards beauty filters, Snapchat towards something more tech-advanced, and TikTok towards fun and weird.” He emphasizes TikTok’s ephemeral culture: “It’s important to know that the trends appear randomly and can last a week, two weeks, maybe a few months. It’s really important to follow trends quickly.”
Even someone with an established niche within the AR community finds it necessary to remain flexible and adapt to audience desires. Sophie Katirai is a creator from Canada who now lives in Dubai and creates makeup filters. She even sold one to Kylie Jenner. Katirai compares the fashion industry’s ever-changing and cyclical trends to the trends she sees in AR filters.
She says, “I’m trying to be more natural now because I don’t want to be misunderstood or make anyone feel like they’re not beautiful enough, so they need this filter to transform their face.” Seeing effects as en vogue, some of her fan base misses the fancier face filters with googly eyes and plump lips.
The reality-altering, mimicking future of social AR
If you try your hand at creating filters, remember that social media is mimetic. Platform designers iterate on the features of other platforms. Creators take from creators, sometimes in detrimental ways. Designers who create popular AR filters see copies and variations of their work proliferate across platforms. Don’t be surprised if one of your filters takes off and imitators spring up immediately.
Speaking of his TikTok filters, Kuzlin says, “After the Krissed filter, I recreated my Anna Wintour filter with her signature haircut and glasses.” He first made the effect for Instagram. Kuzlin believes that someone at TikTok recognized the widespread use of the filter and developed the Pixie Shades filter for their platform. After discovering the similar filter, he felt spurred on to submit his iteration to TikTok. Kuzlin’s ANNA effect can currently be seen in over 110,000 videos; TikTok’s Pixie Shades effect can be found in over 180,000 videos right now. (Full disclosure: Anna Wintour is the global editorial director of Condé Nast, WIRED’s parent company.)
Who has the right to represent real people and physical objects in AR? It makes sense to allow anyone to add a 3D model of a cardboard box to their unique social media effect, but what if the box looks like it contains the elusive PS5? As our synthetic realities continue to blur the line between physical and digital, more complicated questions arise about our relationship with AR. A simple filter you create for TikTok has the potential to change people’s perception of reality.
Regarding makeup and other beauty filters, Katirai believes that a positive future for social effects could allow for more detailed personalization on the user side. “I think the future could give people the flexibility to decide what they want the filter to do,” she says.
Although the urge to learn AR skills is not yet as pervasive as it is in the tech industry learn to program Mantra, the rewarding skill can be a great creative outlet for beginners and a money-maker for the more advanced. Match reality to your vision, then see who chooses to follow and what optimizations they contribute along the way.