WITH smartphones boasting ever-higher resolutions and capabilities, almost everyone can take beautiful photos. To add more creativity and fun, app creators have come up with filters which consumers can use to add pizza to their photos and even videos before sharing them online.
Eswaran Mohan, a lens creator on multimedia messaging app Snapchat, says creating fun and interesting filters is fulfilling to him.
He hopes his creations will not only enable people to experience augmented reality (AR) but to promote local flavours to the world.
“With AR, you not only allow others to experience and engage with your vision. There is also an intimate connection with your audience. It’s an impactful type of self-expression,” says Eswaran, who is the first Malaysian official lens creator on Snapchat.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
“It all started when my team and I entered an AR competition during my final year at university. We were tasked with building an app,” recalls the Mechatronics Engineering graduate from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.
The entry by Eswaran and his teammates, called Virtual Fitting, came in second. “We were overjoyed when the results were announced,” he says.
Despite the app’s positive feedback, the team members had limited technical resources and the initial hype faded. The team members also went separate ways soon after.
Eswaran’s best friend, however, encouraged him to continue exploring AR as a career as “there’s future in this”.
At university, Eswaran’s initial interest in short films resulted in the setting up of a production house during his freshman year. This later brought him and his team to venture into AR.
“The multiple challenges involved in running this small production house made me realise the importance of being technically-sound and the usefulness of mastering AR,” shares the eldest of three siblings.
BECOMING A SNAP LENS CREATOR
The opportunity to join Snapchat’s official lens creator (OLC) programme as the first Malaysian OLC is a dream come true for Eswaran.
Eswaran is thankful for Snap and the OLC community for helping him in his journey as an AR lens creator.
The community, he explains, helps creators from all around the world to enhance their skills and empower them to think out of the box.
The programme connects the community and provides opportunities to members to collaborate with global brands. It also facilitates regular meetups for feedback sessions to help members develop.
“With a platform like Lens Studio from Snapchat, we are able to build our career and expand our knowledge not only on AR but other related fields as well,” he adds.
Eswaran utilises Lens Studio to not only create fun AR experiences, but also turn it into a business, creating sponsored lenses for brands that are keen to tap into AR advertising.
One of Eswaran’s creations allows Snapchat users to view themselves as a plate of nasi lemak — with extra sambal or fried chicken on the side!
Eswaran currently networks with other lens creators from Malaysia who he says “incredibly talented”, but are pursuing by other opportunities.
“As a lens creator, I have always been inspired by other lens creators from around the world who create tutorials to share their knowledge in AR.
“While there are a lot of opportunities here in Southeast Asia, there is no ecosystem that nurtures creative talent.
“I would love to shift this mindset and raise awareness of what Snapchat’s Lens Studio is capable of and the opportunities it gives to AR creators like us,” says Eswaran.
FOR BUDDING CREATORS
For those with an interest in AR and want to give it a try, Eswaran suggests they use the Lens Studio desktop app.
“After downloading the Snapchat app on your smartphone, set up your account. From here, you just need to download the Lens Studio desktop app onto your MacBook or personal computer.
“The best part about the Lens Studio is that there are so many templates to get you started. The app is also very user-friendly,” he says.
Eswaran also has a YouTube channel called ‘AR with Renu’ where one can watch tutorials created around Lens Studio.
“We can show you how to maximise your experience on the platform,” he adds.
From his observation, Eswaran believes that creative arts have moved into the technology space.
“We now have the opportunity to flex our creativity within the augmented reality world.
“The world is evolving at a rapid pace and it is important for us to keep up with the changes. Many careers are changing. Some of the jobs we have today were not available a decade ago,” he says.
With constant advancement in AR and the support from the Snapchat OLC community, Eswaran hopes to avail himself fully to opportunities that come his way and in turn help him to empower the society.