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Intro to Snapchat World Lens

This workshop will give an overview of Snapchat world lenses which are the lenses that focus on the world around the user, mostly using the back camera of a smartphone. Examples of these types of filters include:


  • Animated objects

  • Cutouts

  • Sky filters

  • Skeletal tracking

  • Environment particles (like rain)

  • Marker-based AR

  • Interactive Objects

  • Games




First things first, download Lens Studio here.



Lens Studio


The home screen of Lens Studio looks like this:




When you open a project, the work space looks like this:





Testing


There are two options for testing:

  • Connect straight to your Snapchat app by clicking “Push Lens to Device”

  • This requires a Snapchat account and the app on your phone

  • Use your laptop camera





Objects to Add

  • 3D Objects: put any 3D model into the space

  • Audio: get clips from a free audio website like freesound.org

  • Labels: put text in world space

  • Particles: rain, spark, etc. particles

  • Sprites: animals or characters that can be animated

  • Marker Tracking: similar to Vuforia & Unity combo (can be used with snapcodes)

  • Lighting: place lighting around the scene - also similar to Unity world space


3D Objects

There are a few ways to get 3D objects for Snapchat. The first one is to use the objects that Lens Studio provides through their examples. They are very well made but few in number and hard to extract easily. The next way is to download free 3D objects from websites like this and this and this. There are endless free objects online, but the resolution of these objects is sometimes too big for Snapchat to handle, or they require you to make an account. The last way is to make your own 3D objects through programs like Blender, Adobe, and Sketchfab. This allows you complete control over what you make, but it is the most time-consuming. Snapchat only supports .obj files and .fbx files, so keep that in mind.


To add a 3D:


First import your object files by clicking on "Import Files" from the picture below. The shape should show up on your screen. To add the texture if applicable, create a PBR also from the picture below.





Then add the texture files to the PBR.




Then add the PBR to your model, by creating a mesh and setting the material as your new PBR.





Particles, Sprites, Audio, Labels, & Lighting


These models are similar to the 3D objects, but they are chosen from the following menu instead of being a mesh.




These are how the different objects are put into different layers and how they will shop up within your work space. A object has to be in the Objects section of the work space to show up on the screen. The resources section holds all of the textures and object files are held. Have care with how many objects and resource files you put in and what size they are because Snapchat has a limit of 4mb per lens.




Getting Started


Start off with one of the templates the Lens Studio provides. Try adding a 3D object you found online, an audio file and an image or text within your work space. A workshop in the future will cover how to make a lens from scratch and will go into the different layers that can be placed on a lens and scripts for custom animation. Lens Studio is like a giant sandbox with infinite options, so play around!



Exporting


When you are ready to publish your lens to the public, click this button in the upper left corner. You may be asked to sign in to an existing Snapchat account or to make one if you don’t have one.




Enter in the name of your lens, any tags you want to associate with it, a logo, and a preview if you have one. Snapchat lenses with their own logos are much easier to find. Then hit publish. It will look like this for a while (anywhere from 30 seconds to 20 minutes) while Snapchat is approving the lens.





When your lens has been approved, the screen will look like this and your lens will be available to search by the public. A unique snapcode will be made that anyone can scan to pull up your lens. You can edit it at any time and see how many views and scans it.






Happy Snapping!