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You can now build your own face filter for Snapchat

Snap is expanding its developer platform to let creators build face filters for the first time, the company said today. Four months after introducing its Lens Studio platform, which allowed creators to build the augmented reality objects that Snap calls “world lenses,” Snap is releasing seven new templates into Lens Studio to let creators build digital masks. The templates, which range in complexity, include virtual baseball hats, face paint, and tools to attach three-dimensional objects to a user’s head.

In addition to new templates, the Lens Studio is also getting Giphy integration starting today. In February, Snapchat added the ability to insert Giphy’s library of animated GIFs into snaps; now, they can feature in lenses as well. (They were recently added back to the both Snapchat and Instagram after the platforms discovered a racist GIF in the integration and blocked it.)

More than 30,000 lenses were created in the first two months, Snap says, earning more than 1 billion views. “We’re blown away by the participation, the level of engagement, and the type of creativity that has happened,” said Eitan Pilipski, who runs the camera platform at Snap, in an interview.

The studio lets creators build simple face filters in as little as five minutes, according to a beta tester I spoke with. After uploading it to Snap, the company generates a Snapcode and deep link that, when tapped, opens it within Snapchat for 24 hours. The code itself remains live for a year after it’s created, so you can unlock it multiple times. You can send the code to friends with a couple taps, whether you created it yourself or received it from someone else.

To promote creators’ handiwork, Snapchat will generate a story for all public snaps created using the lens. If the next dancing hot dog meme is started by a Snapchat user, you’ll be able to browse all public snaps posted to the Our Story feature over the past 24 hours using that lens. Community lenses will be highlighted in the Discover tab, and you can unlock the lens by swiping up on the story.

Snap is also announcing the Official Creator Program, which will reward top creators with extra promotion, technical support, and early access to new features and templates.

The face filter templates range in complexity from a two-dimensional image mapped onto the head to more intricate face-painting jobs. Brian Garcia, a motion graphics artist who has been beta-testing the new filters, said he found them easy to work with.

His first face filter, which will refashion you into a bowtie-wearing cat, goes live today. (He previously created a world lens, called “Neon Boogie,” that featured a digitized version of himself dancing in a purple leotard.)

“For simple lenses, it’s really easy,” Garcia said. “Or you can dive in and really start to make some crazy things.”


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