Meet the creator of “Broken” with 41 million AR impressions
Meet Anrick Bregman, interactive director of twenty years with a focus on virtual and augmented reality for the last ten. Anrick has worked as an independent director for many organisations and companies around the world, but lately, he’s focused on researching Augmented and Virtual Reality products and technologies through his studio. We recently had the pleasure of virtually sitting down with Anrick and discussing his career, portfolio and perhaps most excitingly, his creation of “Broken” – the Poplar Studio face filter that amassed over 41 million AR impressions.
How did you first get into AR and when did your creator career start?
It felt like a natural extension of my previous work and interests. I have always worked on interactive stories and experiences, starting mainly with web-based experiences and learning to code during the early Flash years. The technologies and storytelling techniques for making content for VR and AR aren’t all that different, even if the technology is. You’re still dealing with an audience who want to feel something and experience something unique. You’re dealing with the same emotions. There are some very unique issues to consider with regard to spatial interaction and navigation, of course. Conceptually with both VR and AR, there was a freedom in taking the kind of work I loved making in the browser but placing it in a spatial context. Suddenly, we were free from the confines of a screen. It was an amazing evolution for the ideas I generally work with.
How did you first hear about Poplar Studio?
I remember seeing the early work coming from Poplar Studio and being impressed and curious about the team behind it. Furthermore, the way in which Poplar Studio was set up more like a collective or creative network intrigued me. It was a pleasure to begin collaborating.
What made you interested in applying to this brief?
I think what attracted me was the open creative, which I always like. Poplar Studio was looking to expand more into its own studio-made work, so it was different from a brand or product based brief. It is always an opportunity when the tool you’re working with is, in a way, also what you’re promoting. In other words, when you’re pushing the boundaries of what a tool can do, rather than focused on product messaging. It was exciting, and it turned out to be interesting to collaborate with Poplar Studio to bring it to life.
What was your favourite part of building this experience?
The concept of your face turning into shards of glass took some time to get right. Playing with how those shards could fly and animate was probably the most fun. I like the very small details, the search for the perfect shader to create a reflection on the skin, the sense of slowing time when the shards are in the air.
What was the most challenging part of building this experience?
The challenge is always to find the right aesthetics – the perfect combination of timing, textures, effects and lighting. The challenge was really in getting the overall visual approach right. One important detail was the sense of light reflecting over the skin at the start. We wanted the user to get the sense that their face is made of a glass-like material.
Was the end result of the experience any different to the brief?
What’s magical about the creative process is that there is always some unexpected turn at the end of a project. With an open brief, the creative process grows out of an initial idea, but you often don’t have a very clear idea of what to expect. I spent some time initially prototyping a few different ideas, so it was a search to find the right direction. Once we had three prototypes, we found that the glass and shards were worth pursuing further and went with our gut.
Other than the platform this experience was built for, do you build for any other AR platforms?
Finding the right “home” for an idea is crucial. You need to be expose yourself to different tools and understand their respective strengths and weaknesses. As the idea takes shape, you start to slowly get a sense for what tool fits. I mainly work with Unreal Engine, Unity, Lens Studio and Spark AR. There are some other tools that are important in my work, such as Sansar as VR Chat. It really varies. Many ideas could go multiple ways, it’s so fluid. That’s also why face filters are so unique! Your face is the essential component in the experience working – you are the spark.