Bare Tree Media Partners with TikTok to Bring the Power of AR Effects to Brands

Boston MA – June 25, 2020 – Bare Tree Media, a leader in branded interactive experiences, has been selected by TikTok as a preferred AR (Augmented Reality) design agency partner. As part of the TikTok Branded Effects Partner Program, Bare Tree Media will be assigned to strategize and design TikTok AR Effects for brand campaigns. Through TikTok’s technology and Bare Tree Media’s in-depth expertise in 2D and 3D AR design, this partnership will help to scale creativity and production of AR effects for brands. This partnership builds on TikTok’s newly launched Branded Scan, an innovative format of TikTok’s Branded AR Effect that activates certain visual effects after recognizing a flat image such as a brand’s logo or physical object such as a branded product.

 

TikTok, is a Chinese short-form video-sharing app, which has proved wildly popular this year.

“With the digital landscape always evolving, we are consistently investing in our interactive competencies such as augmented reality,” said Robert Ferrari, President of Bare Tree Media. “We are honored to be selected into this partnership to create branded AR experiences to engage audiences within the popular TikTok platform.”

 

“Branded Effects give brands the opportunity to interact with Tiktok users in a way that’s engaging and fun,” said Melissa Yang, Head of Ecosystem Partnerships, Global Business Solutions at TikTok. “We’re thrilled to partner with the most creative leaders in 2D and 3D development to bring this playful, immersive experience to our brand partners and the broader TikTok community.”

 

About Bare Tree Media

Bare Tree Media enables brands to reach, engage and entertain consumers through the creation and digital publishing of branded emojis, messaging stickers, GIFs and augmented reality within popular messaging platforms. As a pioneer in the digital creative and technology sector, Bare Tree Media’s clients and partners include; ABC Television, American Greetings, Apple, Baidu, CBS Interactive, Disney, Duracell, EA, Facebook, Giphy, Google Play, Instagram, King Features, Life is Good, LINE Corp, Lionsgate, Mars-Wrigley, MasterCard, MuscleTech, Paws Inc, P&G, NBC Universal, New England Patriots, Snapchat, Snap-On Tools, SONY Television Pictures, Tenor, TikTok, Twitter, Viacom, Warner Bros, Wimpy Kid, and many more. Brands interested in offering their own mobile messaging apps, mobile stickers, emojis, and augmented reality can go to www.baretreemedia.com or contact Bare Tree Media at info@baretreemedia.com.


The Best of Snap Summit 2020

Like most recent events, this year’s Snapchat Summit was adapted virtually as opposed to existing in a physical space; it might seem like a no-brainer for a company whose expertise is in the digital realm—but if anything, this year’s summit has proven Snapchat’s ambition of bridging the gap between between augmented reality, and reality.

If the theme of Snapchat up until now has been “show, don’t tell” the mantra they’ve adopted moving forward seems to be “experience, don’t show”. What this means for brands is that Snapchat has uniquely positioned itself to allow artists & studios to create unique, branded AR experiences that transcend the digital sphere.

Below I’ve highlighted the features that I’m most excited about, as well as how they can be utilized to elevate users’ AR experiences.

Local Lenses:

These dynamic lenses use real-life locations (whole areas or specific buildings) to create a unified AR experience that different Snapchatters can share, as long as they’re in the same physical space—the first of its kind. In the example above, multiple people are creating a mural of different colors on one shared space using multiple phones. This added expertiental element creates a unified experience that exists wholly online, but that facilitates physical community. This is the first best of both worlds experience.

Photo courtesy of Snapchat.

Snap Scan & Marker Lenses:

Scan Partners is a powerful tool for brands. It allows the camera to recognize an item and then attaches it to a specific lens. The examples Snapchat used were a plant-identifer that, when clicked, would provide information on how to care for that plant (including links to buy those items). But they can also be utilized by luxury brands in order to create beautiful AR experiences in the physical world, once again blending the 2. Louis Vuitton recently added their logo as a marker lens, which means that when their logo is scanned in real life in Snapchat, a virtual door to their latest showroom opens highlighting classic and current collections in a virtual showroom. Too-Faced marked their 'Born This Way' product packaging—so when scanned, users can try it on virtually. Marker lenses elimiate the need to advertise via Snapcode, as well—the product is the Snapcode.


Photo courtesy of Snapchat.

SnapML:

The developer tool now features SnapM (or Snapchat Machine Learning), which lets developers bring their own machine-learning models to power Snap lenses, making what is possible to create limited only to the imagination. This allows for the creation of lenses that were previously impossible (such as the Van Gogh filter below, created by Nicholas Dominici) that would benefit anything from a new movie or video game with a singular aesthetic, to a museum wanting to highlight a current exhibition.

Additionally, this allows the creation of extremely accurate tracking of faces, gestures, feet, and even landmarks such as buildings. Below, you can see the practical application that Wannaby has used: they created a try-it-on filter that lets users see their newest shoe in a variety of colors (yes, that shoe is AR, not real).

In short, SnapML has destroyed many creative boundaries that previously existed—the new “brand experience” is limited (mostly) by what you can imagine vs by technology, as used to be the case.

Photo courtesy of Snapchat.

Places:

Snapchat is making it easier than ever to integrate call-to-actions with their app and lenses. One example of this is “Places”, which would lead to an outside-Snap call to action such as ordering a physical product online, whether it’s that new lipstick or food from their favorite delivery spot! This would be especially crucial for smaller businesses that need to receive local support.

Photo courtesy of Snapchat.

Integration SnapKits:

If your brand has an existing app, Snapchat will now let you integrate their technology with it in order to create a new layer of interaction with your fans. This is more abstract in thought, but can be applicable to any number of brands across any discipline—it’s an equally powerful tool both for those brands within the entertainment industry, and outside of it. Rally Road is an app that is meant for classic car investments, but has integrated Snapchat’s CreativeKit to let users purchase shares in rare items and share them with their friends in a unique AR environment. Atom movie tickets has also utilized this to let its users browse movies, purchase tickets, and choose seats together in one easy experience.  There are numerous types of kits available, each with their own unique perks (AdKit, which makes monetizing apps easy with SnapAds, CreativeKit, which allows apps to bring real-time data into Snapchat, and CameraKit, which brings the power os Snapchat camera to your apps).

Photo courtesy of Snapchat.

Where Do I Start?

If you're interested leveraging Snapchat for Any of the above uses, a qualified creative studio is your best bet, since we know the ins-and-outs of not only best creative practices to create an attractive filter, but can also help determine which strategy is the way to go when the options can seem endless and equally appealing (especially after this year's summit).

We here at Bare Tree Media would love to collaborate with any artist, strategist, or brand who's just as pumped about these new Snapchat features as we are! You can take a look to see the lenses we've already created.


enchanted-forest-video-call-ar-effect

How to Bring Some Fun to Your Video Calls

enchanted-forest-video-call-ar-effect

How to Bring Some Fun to Your Video Calls

As we adjust to a new normal, video conference calls have become the number one way to get some quality face time with co-workers, clients and loved ones. If you’ve been like us, you’ve been spending a majority of the time in these calls and want to break up the monotony with a bit fun! Using Snapchat’s desktop app Snap Camera or simple videos, you can add exciting backgrounds and AR effects to your video feed.


How to Add Videos to Zoom

Adding fun videos to Zoom calls is super easy! Once you are in a Zoom Meeting, in the bottom left corner of the window, you will see a ‘Start Video’ button. Click on the up arrow to the right of the icon and select ‘Choose Virtual Background..’

 

This will bring you to your video settings within Zoom. You will see five default videos from Zoom that you can try out. But if you want something special hit that plus button to the right and choose ‘Add Video’. A finder window will open up where you can navigate to any mp4 video file you have on your computer.

And that’s it! You should now have a fun video playing in the background!

If you’d like to use our enchanted forest video background you can download it right below by hitting the download button. Then right click on the video, hit ‘Save Video As’ and choose where you would like to save the video onto your computer.

Download

How to Use AR Effects

If you’d like to get a little fancier, you can use Snap Camera to add a wide variety of AR effects to some of the most popular video call apps including Google Hangouts, Skype, Twitch and more! Unfortunately Snap Camera doesn’t currently work on Zoom with the latest macOS (though they are working to fix this!) but if you are on a Windows computer you can follow the instructions below for Zoom as well.

 

First, Install Snap Camera

You can download Snap Camera to your computer here. Once it downloads, double click and follow the instructions to install the application. Snap Camera will automatically open and show a wide range of suggested lenses. Click on any effect to try it out!

 

 

Next, Update your Video Settings in your Video Call App

Once you have Snap Camera setup, open up your video call app of choice and go to the video settings. There you should see a dropdown to select which webcam you would like to use and select ‘Snap Camera’. If you don’t see ‘Snap Camera’ listed you may need to restart both applications or your computer for Snap Camera to appear on the list of options.

Lastly, choose an AR Effect and have fun!

After Snap Camera is selected as the video source, you can pick any AR effect you would like within Snap Camera and it will update in your video call. Try out our enchanted forest effect by searching ‘Enchanted Forest’ or search ‘Bare Tree Media’ to see all of our Snapchat effects!

Interested in having your own custom AR effect or video background created?

Reach out to our team!

Bare Tree Media is a full-service creative studio with a dash of technology and a whole lot of fun! Our mission is to help your brand stand out visually and engage your audience through creative and interactive content. Although we specialize in the creation and digital publishing of branded emojis, messaging stickers, GIFs and augmented reality, our talented artists and animators can create just about anything for your marketing needs.

Drop us a line

Wimpy Kid, Inc Expands Digital Engagement with Augmented Reality and Sticker Keyboards

Boston, MA – January 24, 2020 – Fellow Massachusetts-based companies Wimpy Kid, Inc. and Bare Tree Media Inc., expanded their digital partnership with the introduction of augmented reality social media effects and a global expansion of their stickers within keyboard mobile applications.

To kick off 2020, Bare Tree Media designed and released three augmented reality effects themed around the latest installment in the popular middle-grade series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid 14: Wrecking Ball. The AR effects offer users the ability to insert a swinging virtual wrecking ball into their camera scene and then wreck, record, and share a real world scene of their choice. The AR filters are available to engage Wimpy Kid fans on popular messaging platforms, Facebook and Instagram, and as an AR lens on Snapchat.

Bare Tree Media also expanded their Wimpy Kid-branded digital presence to include digital stickers released within Baidu’s keyboard apps worldwide, including Facemoji Keyboard in the United States, Simeji in Japan, and Baidu IME in China.

‘Augmented reality is a great marketing platform for brands to engage audiences, and a perfect fit for the Wimpy Kid fanbase to create and share their special moments with a wrecking ball,” said Bob Ferrari, CEO of Bare Tree Media. “We are also very excited to expand sticker distribution through Baidu in key markets around the world.” 

“We are delighted to be kicking off 2020 by launching these stickers with Bare Tree Media and Wimpy Kid, Inc.,” said Josh Fenn, Senior Marketing Manager at Baidu. “Now, our keyboard app users around the world can all enjoy Wimpy Kid’s uniquely charming brand of humor when they chat with their friends online.”

“I’ve loved seeing fans around the globe engage with the Wimpy Kid brand using our existing emoji-style stickers. This year, we wanted to expand the Wimpy Kid universe and I’m thrilled to have the brand-new augmented reality and sticker formats on major global platforms. I’m really looking forward to seeing where Greg can go with his fans in 2020!” said Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.

About Bare Tree Media

Bare Tree Media enables brands to reach, engage and entertain consumers through the creation and digital publishing of branded emojis, messaging stickers, GIFs and augmented reality. As a pioneer in the digital creative and technology sector, Bare Tree Media has worked with many brands including: 20th Century Fox, ABC Television, American Greetings, Baidu, CBS Interactive, Disney, Duracell, Facebook, Giphy, Instagram, King Features, Life is Good, Lionsgate, Mars-Wrigley, MuscleTech, Paws Inc, P&G, NBC Universal, New England Patriots, Snapchat, Snap-On Tools, SONY Television Pictures, Twitter, Warner Bros, Wimpy Kid, and many more. Brands interested in offering their own mobile messaging apps, stickers and augmented reality can go to www.baretreemedia.com or contact Bare Tree Media at info@baretreemedia.com.

About Baidu’s Global Business Unit

Baidu’s Global Business Unit (GBU) is focused on bridging the gap between Eastern and Western markets with its consumer and business-focused internet products and services. Baidu GBU’s product portfolio features keyboard apps Simeji and Facemoji Keyboard, content recommendation platform popIn, and ad platform MediaGo, which serves Chinese advertisers looking to reach consumers overseas. Baidu GBU offers its products and services worldwide, including in the United States, Greater China, Japan, Singapore and South Korea. For more information, please contact us at: gbu_us@baidu.com

About Diary of a Wimpy Kid

The fourteenth installment in the series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball, was published on November 5, 2019, and immediately hit #1 on the USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times bestseller lists.

2019 marked the first publication of a spin-off book, Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid, which was published in April 2019 and also immediately reached #1 on all three national bestseller lists (New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal). ABRAMS also recently released Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Best Friends Box, a box set containing Diary of a Wimpy Kid #1 and Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid, and The Wimpy Kid 2020 Wall Calendar.

The series continues to reach new heights globally. This fall, Kinney visited seven countries on his international tour, including France, where he was made an officer of the Order of Arts and Letters, one of the country’s highest cultural honors. Both Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball and Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid ranked #1 in every country in which they were published, including in the United Kingdom, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, and Germany. The series is now published in 64 languages and 76 editions.

More than 200 million copies of the books in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series have been sold globally. Published in 2007, the first book was an instant bestseller and has remained on the New York Times bestseller list since its publication and through the release of the fourteenth book, for more than 686 weeks total.

About the Author

Jeff Kinney is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and a six-time Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award winner for Favorite Book for his Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Jeff has been named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. He is also the creator of Poptropica, which was named one of Time’s 50 Best Websites. He spent his childhood in the Washington, D.C., area and moved to New England in 1995. Jeff lives with his wife and two sons in Massachusetts, where they own a bookstore, An Unlikely Story. For more about Wimpy Kid visit wimpykid.com.


AR in Advertising: The New Era of Interaction

Connection to audience has always been fundamental in the creation of a brand message. The link between brands and their audience is what creates brand loyalty—people buy things that align with their personal values and that they feel an emotional attachment to. That’s what keeps them coming back. However, what that connection looks like has begun to shift. Augmented Reality (AR) is changing the way brands can interact with their fanbases in an unprecedented way, and many brand juggernauts have already embraced paving the way for the new era of interaction.

Amazon

Amazon is known for taking risks and trying almost anything in order to get results, but their foray into AR is a decidedly calculated risk. They recently acquired Body Labs, a company that uses cameras to scan their users and report weight, size, and height. The implications of this save Amazon a lot of headache: consumers will not worry about their clothes fitting if bought online (the largest detractor by far for why people don’t shop online), and Amazon won’t have to issue as many refunds or track as many returns. From a business perspective, they’re addressing and eliminating reasons that consumers don’t buy their products and creating a better experience for when they do buy it, since the clothes will fit versus a disappointing or even frustrating return. This positive experience becomes associated with Amazon and drives the consumer to go back.

Entertainment Industry

Snapchat needs no introduction: they are one of the leaders for AR filters, lenses and games. This technology is still evolving, and so is the community centered around creating for it. They have, on average, 70 million users using AR lenses for 3 minutes per day. This is the perfect platform for brands in the entertainment industry (TV shows, movies, and personalities) to promote themselves and their brand. However, recently Snapchat has been moving into a new arena—ecommerce for ANY brand, thanks to a new feature called now Shoppable AR. Shoppable AR allows companies to actually advertise through Snapchat by redirecting users to a website from a lens. This could be a product page for merchandise, a trailer for a movie—any link on the internet is fair game. Forerunners of taking advantage of this include King, who promoted their famous game Candy Crush through an install button right in their filter, STX Entertainment, who had a trailer for their upcoming movie “I Feel Pretty”, and Blizzard Entertainment, who utilized a filter to promote their new expansion pack, Battle for Azeroth.

Exponential Growth

AR isn’t just entering the ecommerce industry, it’s redefining it. It’s providing its consumers the ability to directly interact with their brand, to become a part of it. That kind of inclusivity encourages attachment, which encourages brand loyalty. The brands that have found the greatest success don’t just appeal to their consumers, they engage with them and become a part of them, like a member of their family. They make their consumers feel good; AR provides an unprecedented engagement level on that front.

The data speaks for itself: AR has exploded in growth over the last year, and it’s not looking like it’s going to stop anytime soon. Augmented Reality companies have grown 50% since the beginning of 2018 across 290 prominent companies, according to The Venture Reality Fund. AR and VR companies have raised over $1.8 billion in funding and are only continuing to expand. And although AR started out small, like the Facebook and Snapchat lenses we’re all familiar with, it’s beginning to branch out at a rapid pace, continuing to be developed and supported by goliaths and forerunners who see and fully comprehend its value, and who know making an investment now will yield profits later.

AR is still an understated marketing tool for now, but that will change sooner rather than later. Instead of being behind on the trend, brands should take full advantage of what AR can offer and showcase their product in a way that gets consumers excited about it—and thus, drives sales up, up, up.


Building a Better Bee Beard

Building a Better Bee Beard

I’m Lahna 🤠

I’m primarily an AR lens programmer here at BTM, but I also help out with illustrations.

The decline in honey bee health is a very important issue all around the world. So for National Honey Bee Day we wanted to contribute our skills as a company to help the honey bee gain more attention.

The goal was to create Snapchat augmented reality lens that gave you a beard made of bees that flew off when you shook your head. This concept was an attempt to debunk the idea that a swarm of honey bees is a dangerous entity. Swarming honey bees are when they are most calm and passive since they have no home to defend. Which is why beekeepers have no fear when they show off a beard of bees! Also, it looks cool.

We thought of two ways we could go about it:

  1. Position so many bee objects around the face that it looks like they have conglomerated there into a natural beard shape
  2. Create a static, textured mass that resembled a beard and then cover it in actual moving bees to save on tri count.

We decided to start with plan A just so we could work on the head-shaking and bee navigation while our technical artist expertly modeled, rigged, and animated a bee for us to work with. We used spheres of the approximate size of what the bee object would be until she was finished.

 

Beard of proxy spheres

We whipped up a script to detect when a user was shaking their head and partnered it up with a system that monitored all bees and their states. This triggered random bees to fly off the face every time the user shook their head a certain number of times.

I was then sent the bee proxy to more properly craft the shape of the beard until the full textures and animations were complete. Substituting them back in took a long time because of a weakness of Snapchat’s AR engine that we didn’t understand — but would come to terms with later.

In order for the bees to appear more realistic when they are flying, we wanted to add a little flying loop as the come back to the face. So, we added a looping state in there as well.

Eventually, the animations were finished and it was time to replace all proxy bees with proper bee objects. This took an even longer time and we didn’t yet know why; each bee was just taking forever to select.

After trying to put a certain amount of bees on the face, the engine kept crashing. To the point where the project was un-openable.

We had well exceeded the suggested tri count for the engine, but it hadn’t stopped anything before. Other lenses were ten times over the allowed tris but worked fine.

We realized, however, the engine was worse when it came to an overload of the number of objects in the scene hierarchy. The engine could select an object on its own, but an object with dozens of children took a very long time to select…and because of the nature of the engine each imported bee was broken up joint by joint into their own objects.

So it was time for plan B. We made up a beard-shaped object but no matter how hard we tweaked it it just couldn’t look right because the surface needed to be covered in bees for it to be believable anyway. We remade the scene from scratch, using the old scripts. There were three kinds of bee objects:

- Static bees with very few tris, to make up the bulk of the beard

- Idly animating bees that never leave the face

- Bees with animations built in that let them take off, fly, and land

This set of solutions worked surprisingly well! And after that, we put an overlay filter and some sparkles on it and called it a day!

 

Final Bee Beard Effect!

 

Check out the finished result for yourself: http://tinyurl.com/beardofbees


garfield birthday banner

Garfield Celebrates His 40th with Augmented Reality and Mobile Messaging Stickers

Boston MA – June 19 2018 – Today marks a major milestone for the world’s most beloved and lazy cat, Garfield. He turns 40 and still looks great whether napping, snacking or driving Odie and Jon crazy. To celebrate Bare Tree Media collaborated with Paws Inc to create a special 40th anniversary series of mobile messaging stickers and augmented reality effects.

iOS fans can find the 40th sticker series on iTunes for use within iMessage and as a new sticker pack added to the Garfield StickerTap app. Android fans can find the stickers in the emojiTap app and the Garfield StickerTap app on the Google Play store.

Fans active within Snapchat and Facebook can add Garfield augmented reality effects altering their identity and sharing 40th greetings using the Garfield Snapchat Lens and Garfield Facebook AR Camera Filter.

“We are excited to be part of Garfield’s 40th celebration and offer fans our digital options to join the party.” says Bob Ferrari, CEO of Bare Tree Media.

“This is a special milestone for Garfield and I am thrilled fans can have fun celebrating all month and all year long with stickers and AR.” says Jim Davis the creator of Garfield.

 

About Bare Tree Media

Bare Tree Media enables brands to engage consumers through innovative mobile messaging solutions. As a pioneer in the branded emoji sector, its partners include 20th Century Fox, ABC Television, American Greetings, CBS Interactive, Disney, DreamWorks, King Features, Life is Good, Lionsgate, NFLPA, Paws Inc, P&G, New England Patriots, SONY Television Pictures, Warner Bros, and many more. Brands interested in offering their own mobile messaging apps, stickers and augmented reality can go to www.baretreemedia.com or contact Bare Tree Media at info@baretreemedia.com.

About GARFIELD

GARFIELD was born on the comics pages on June 19, 1978. The creation of cartoonist Jim Davis, GARFIELD is a humorous strip centered on the lives of a quick-witted orange cat who loves lasagna, coffee, and his remote control; Jon Arbuckle, his owner; and Odie, a sweet but dumb dog.

Follow Garfield and Odie, along with nearly 19 million other fans, on Facebook and Twitter, Instagram, and visit www.garfield.com and Garfield’s free educational site, professorgarfield.org.