A Bengaluru student clinched an award at the recently-concluded Snap Inc’s Lens fest, a two-day global conference.
The event focused on highlighting new dimensions of Augmented Reality (AR), and played host to immersive and interactive sessions, chats with other creators, and a library of tutorials. Vishal Yadav from Bengaluru and Wasim Ghole from Mumbai are the two Indian winners out of the five from across the world for the most innovative and creative lenses created in 2022.
Vishal, an XR designer and a student of Masters in Interaction design at National Institute of Design (NID), Bengaluru, won the award for his Flux fashion lens. A lens creator for the past two years, Vishal is an electrical engineer and grew up with an extra interest in sketching and painting.
“At the event, I was interested in getting insights from other creators, attending sessions on creating interactive lenses, and knowing how AR can help one in fashion and other domains,” he says.
His AR journey
During the lockdown in 2020, Vishal wanted to explore his creativity. “I participated in an AR lens creation hackathon by Snapchat, where I also learnt how to create my first few lenses. Some of these lenses got around half a million views,” he says.
During the pandemic, he created other interesting lenses, including the Face waves lens, Witch pot lens, and Dive in lake lens.
Vishal has since then evolved from creating no-code lenses to creating sophisticated ones now, which use features such as body tracking or VFX particles.
The winning lens
The Flux flash lens allows you to grab colours from your surroundings and apply them to a dress, and share it with friends.
“When you start the Flux fashion lens, it will give instructions to tap and hold a colour button — an eyedropper tool will allow you to grab the colour from your camera feed. One can use these colour buttons on the user interface to design your own dress. Once the dress has been designed, you can point the camera towards anyone and it will be placed on the person virtually,” he says.
The dress is made out of particles, which flow down and interact with the plane or the ground, and when the person walks, it creates a trail-like look, Vishal adds.
“I feel that our surroundings influence our feelings a lot, these are subjective though. I feel these lenses help to combine customisation and ability to express one’s feelings,” says Vishal.
The design process
With no background in fashion, Vishal had less than a month to create this lens. “I went back to the design process that I’m learning at NID, diverging and converging on the topic, conducting research, collecting insights, and testing,” he recollects.
He also interacted with “people who were inclined to fashion”. “I realised that clothes make a huge part of one’s identity”, he points out. “They are a way of expressing oneself and what one associates with,” he says. It took Vishal four weeks to understand, test, and get feedback about the lens.
What are Snapchat lenses? Who are lens creators?
Lenses are the Augmented Reality experience that you can easily access on the platform, and a lens creator is one who designs and develops these experiences. “I have participated in many hackathons by the platform. It has now recognised me as an official lens creator,” he says.
He likes the platform’s AR development software for the ease of creating things, as it has something for everyone. “The platform’s lens studio has a wide range of capabilities, including 3D body tracking, physics simulations and cloth simulations,” he adds.
Skills for an XR designer
Empathy is one of the most needed qualities for any designer, he says. \”Since whatever you are creating is for humans, you need to understand why, when, and how the user will use your product,\” he says.
A basic understanding of coding and the art of web search will help one be a good XR designer, Vishal adds.0