AR interview with Denis Rossiev

AR interview with Denis Rossiev

By Alex

We continue a series of interviews with Augmented Reality creators, and today we have a chat with Denis Rossiev. Probably Denis is one of the most recognizable AR creators nowadays, official Facebook (Spark AR) partner and Snapchat OLC (Official Lens Creator). He created a number of immersive AR experiences for Snapchat and Instagram that hit 9 billions of impressions.

Dan: Hey Denis, nice to have you here today. BTW, where are you currently based?

Denis: Hi Dan! Thanks for reaching out! For now, I’m based in my hometown in Siberia. I would love to travel as I did before, but now it’s hard, you know.

Dan: How’s the situation with the AR domain in your country?

Denis: Sadly, in CIS (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and more), it mostly stuck on a "face mask" level. This is the result of a bunch of things. The first is the low entry threshold. Spark AR is really easy for beginners, even with zero skills. The second is mentality: most social AR creators are from CIS and (this was a surprise for me) Brazil. These people love to turn into fantasy characters or just look pretty. But since AR creating is so wide-spread, most creators have very basic skills, so they can't build something complicated, something beyond make-ups. But I can see they're learning, and some of them have grown from zero to professional creators. That's pretty awesome!

Brands also don't quite understand what AR is and how to use it to communicate with their audience and promote businesses, but the situation gradually improves.

Dan: Is developing lenses and filters your full-time job?

Denis: I started it in Jan 2019, when Spark AR was in beta, and you had to get special permission to upload and publish. I made a couple of simple effects and forgot about it until August, and I missed the whole hype train, lol. But then I continued learning social AR for fun, and in just half of a year, it became my favorite hobby, and then a job.

Dan: How much time do you usually spend creating AR?

Denis: It depends! For now, I have gigabytes of scripts, patches, shaders so I can build an effect that people consider very complicated in just a day or two. But some projects, especially researching and developing something new, can take weeks.

Dan: What are the most difficult AR experiences you ever created, and how much time was it taken?

Denis: Cute Princess was the hardest. We've been crafting it for 3 weeks with my talented friend; she is a 3D artist. Face Art was also a thing; I've been developing drawing technology for about a month, but when it was ready, I finished the effect in just a week. Zero Gravity took about a month to develop a custom rendering engine and several days to assemble the effect.

Dan: Does COVID 19 impact you and your business in terms of project inquiries and budget?

Denis: It impacted my previous business and almost ruined it. My agency was creating gamification campaigns in social networks. Pretty expensive stuff, so when COVID came, brands stopped ordering it, and at the same time, I ran into AR.

Dan: What are your overall thoughts about Augmented and Mixed Reality domains? Which challenges and opportunities do you see there?

Denis: I think it's the best thing that every technology fan can do is jump aboard as soon as possible! Though AR is evolving for at least 10 years, social AR gave something new to both users as developers: simple creating tools (Spark AR and Lens Studio, TikTok Effect Creator coming soon) and reach. Today every artist can show their AR work or tool to billions of people, and it's absolutely amazing! And not only Social AR is rocking: Unity and Unreal Engine also has their own modules to create AR experiences. In conclusion, it's a big opportunity to be maybe not the first, but definitely somewhere very ahead.

Dan: How do you think which niche or industry Augmented Reality works best for?

Denis: It's just the beginning, so hard to say. Nowadays, it works pretty well for big business and education stuff; HoloLens is rocking! And as technologies and devices evolve, it will come to consumer devices for entertainment, e-commerce, education.

Dan: How about Mixed Reality headsets and glasses? Are you waiting for Apple Glass?

Denis: Hell yes! Sadly I don't have direct access to new devices and prototypes like some of my friends, but it seems everything is not user-friendly for now. I believe Apple will become a game-changer with its product. Probably the first revision will be with a lot of restrictions, average performance, small battery life, but I believe they show us the AR UX as it is supposed to be. Something easy to use, so natural as touch-screens.

And the thing I'm dreaming about is the AR cloud. A digital layer over the real world. When billboards, road signs, shopfronts, and more become digital and delivered to us through AR glasses. But it will take years.

Dan: Tell us about your future? Do you plan to run an AR studio or company?

Denis: I'm not sure I really want my own studio, but maybe I'll launch it one day. For now, I see myself as a sort of ambassador. I like to show people something new, tell them about AR and new technologies. I want them to grow as creators and artists. I also have a dream about the future, but it's a secret ?

Dan: We are glad that you found time to talk to us. Please don’t stop creating and continue shipping more immersive stuff. See you soon on Catchar.

Denis: Thanks!