Snap releases Lens Studio, a tool for creating your own AR effects

Above Lens Studio Desktop app

The Lens Studio app will contain tutorials, templates and tips on how to create Lenses. Now Snapchat is democratizing the format so that anyone, including brands, can create their own Lenses and attach them to posts, as well as ads on Snapchat. Lenses allow users to add 3D characters and models to their photos and videos to integrate augmented reality into their snaps, and with the launch of Lens Studio, Snapchat is allowing just about anyone to create and submit their own Lens creations.

Lens Studio is available to download globally from today, and anyone from developers and advertisers to have-a-go heroes will be able to create their own augmented reality (AR) Lenses. The creator's name will be attached to the lens, and Lens Studio will offer creators metrics about how often their lens has been used.

Of course, Snap is also hoping that Lens Studio will be a boon for advertising.

Snapchat has become known for its viral AR filters and today the company is making it easier for anyone to take a stab at designing them. These are the filters and objects that you see when using the rear camera in Snapchat.

Snapchat is loosening the velvet rope around its Sponsored Lenses in another way. Brands and bigger agencies seeking selfie lenses will have to go through them for now.

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Once your Lens is complete, you'll be given a special Snapcode that you can share anywhere, which anyone can scan to unlock your Lens. Similarly, deep links can be shared anywhere a link can live - including as an attachment to a Snap Ad, Snapchat's vertical video ad format. Advertisers have already been able to attach Lenses to Snap Ads, but they had to work with Snapchat's creative team to produce the Lens and its sales team to place the buy.

As part of the launch, Snap has partnered with seven AR development agencies to assist advertisers who wish to create Lenses quickly and affordably. In the short term, letting ad agencies build lenses for their clients should bring new advertisers on to the platform. These will be viable for one year, the firm said.

In addition to Snapcodes and deep links, people will be able to spread Lenses within Snapchat.

Over a third of Snapchat's audience interacts with Lenses every day, averaging over three minutes of interaction each per day. In turn, those friends will be able to share the Lens with their friends and on and on, paving the potential for a brand's independently produced Lens to attain the level of popularity previously limited to a Snapchat-produced Lens like the dancing hot dog or the Gatorade bath.

Put simply, Snap reckons that Lens Studio will prove immensely popular. Apple, Facebook and Google have all developed their own platforms for creating these augmented landscapes.

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