Layar
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Blog: Company news

New in the Creator: Color Palettes, Transparent Videos & More

Chris Cameron November 12, 2014

Users of the Layar Creator may have noticed a pair of features we’ve just released today. One is a more advanced technical ability that we’ve be working on for a while, while the other is a simple but powerful feature that we were able to quickly implement and roll out.

Automatic Color Palettes for Buttons

Let’s go over the simple one first before diving into the more technical feature. Here at Layar, the Creator team is constantly thinking of ways to make the creative process easier for Creator users; we want it to be easy to make high-quality Interactive Print content. And that’s the driving force behind one simple new feature: automatic button color palettes.

Previously in the Creator, our standard buttons were all the same default shade of blue, but you could change it to any color you like. Despite the ability to customize button colors, we noticed that the majority of buttons in the Creator have that default color. Now, the default buttons automatically adjust to match the color scheme we detect from your reference image.

This makes it much easier to create more immersive experiences as the default buttons will feel more natural among similar colors. You can still use any color you want, but now when you edit that button you’ll see a suggested color palette to choose from. Like we said, it’s a small change, but we think it goes a long way to creating more immersive and high-quality content.

Videos with Transparency

The advanced capability (and the more exciting feature of the two) is support for alpha channel transparency in videos. If you don’t know what this means, here’s a quick explainer.

Until today, only standard videos could be used in the Creator to make AR videos. These are restricted to a normal rectangular frame common to most forms of video, but there are cases where you may want to use video elements in a more immersive way. Now with alpha channel transparency support, videos in the Creator can use masks to isolate items and create transparency, eliminating the rectangular frame. Think of it as the video equivalent of transparent PNGs, while JPGs always have a rectangular shape.

Take, for instance, the example below. Our original video asset of a tiger walking on a green screen can now be modified to make the green background disappear, making for a more immersive video when viewed in AR with Interactive Print. In the top left is the original video, below that is the alpha matte we created, and on the right is how the video would appear in Interactive Print.

But you don’t need green screen footage in order to use transparency in videos. You can either create masks on-the-fly with video effects software (like rotoscoping, which can be very difficult), or you can just use animated digital assets created with video effects or 3D modeling software (like animated text, characters or logos) that are already isolated on a transparent background.

Because the process of creating a compatible alpha channel video is a bit technical, we’ve put together a step-by-step video tutorial that walks you through the process.

Some video editing and/or video effects software is needed, and our tutorial uses Adobe After Effects. Similar programs (Premiere, Apple Motion, Final Cut) will have similar features and abilities to make alpha channel videos, so the tutorial should give you an idea of what you need to do.

Alpha Channel Video support is only available for Premium Account subscribers. To upload your own you can find the Alpha Channel Video button in the Advanced button category.

One More Thing: Campaign Extension

We’ve also released a small upgrade that makes it easier to extend campaigns for an extra 12 months beyond their original 12 months of publication. Previously you needed to wait until the campaign expired to extend the campaign, but now you can choose to extend for an extra year at any time.

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/555

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AR Video Made Easy with Hosting and Conversion

Chris Cameron September 18, 2014

Today we’ve updated the Creator with a very popular feature requests from users: video hosting!

Converting and hosting your own videos has always been a bit of a hassle, so we’ve gone ahead and taken away that headache and made it simple and easy to use AR video.

Now when you want to use the AR video widget, you only need to select the video from your computer and upload it to the Creator. We’ll convert the video to the proper format and host it for you. We’ll even keep a library of your videos so you can easily add them to more than one campaign.

The most common video formats are supported, including MP4, AVI, FLV and AAC. There’s no limit on the size of the video, be it must be shorter than 5 minutes. Once you upload a video, we’ll quickly convert it in the background so you can continue to work on your campaign.

An advantage to uploading and hosting your videos in the Creator is that we can dynamically serve the best quality video to users depending on the strength of their Internet connection. That way they’ll have the smoothest experience possible with your campaign without any extra work on your end.

Video hosting is available for Premium Accounts, so upgrade today to take advantage of this great new feature!

Also coming soon to Premium Accounts is the ability to use videos with alpha channel transparency. This means you can create video files with transparent backgrounds to better integrate them into your campaigns.

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/553

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The 2014 Layar Infographic

Chris Cameron July 31, 2014

Last year we published an infographic detailing how Interactive Print is on the rise across the world. We’ve recently updated our infographic for 2014 to reflect the most recent statistics about the Layar App, the Layar Creator and top brands making use of our products and services.

Check out the new infographic below, and click here to view a larger version.

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/547

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Powerful New Interactive 3D Features for Developers

Chris Cameron June 23, 2014

Interactive 3D models have played an important role in the evolution of Augmented Reality, and today we’re making 3D even more powerful on the Layar platform.

We’ve added loads of new features that make creating engaging and interactive 3D content possible with Layar. Users can view these experience both on the Layar App for iOS and Android. We’ve also updated the Layar for Glass app to be compatible with these new developer features. Check out the video above to get an overview of the new features and see examples of how 3D can transform print and other everyday items into amazing experiences.

Virtual Showroom
The first example in the video for a virtual showroom that lets readers experience a new car model in 3D. The car rolls into position with basic programmable animation and you can tap on the doors to open and close them with our new object anchors feature. You can even get right up close to take a look inside or use the color picker to see what it looks like in your favorite color, which is made possible by the added ability to change material properties without reloading the model.

Channel Surfing
Next is a fun retro television example that showcases a pair of new features: changeable material properties (like with the car example) and video textures. The TV model shows a video texture playing right on the screen, and by tapping on the buttons of the TV you can switch channels and watch something else! This example also shows how you can now use the Pop Out feature of the Layar App with 3D models. In Pop Out, you can double tap or pinch to zoom, drag to move to model around and rotate with two fingers to spin it around.

Interactive Book Cover
AR is a powerful tool for education, and this textbook cover is a perfect example of how 3D can enhance this even further. The cover comes alive with a spinning model of the solar system with independently animated planets that rotate and revolve at their own speeds. As with the showroom example above, you can zoom in close for a better look at the smaller planets. We used a combination of changeable material properties and object anchors to make this example possible.

Video in the Round
3D domes are a great way to immerse yourself in an exotic location, and now these panoramic images can become dynamic videos playing in all directions. In this music video example, you can be the director and spin around 360º to watch the musicians dance, sing and play their instruments all around you. This example uses our new video texture feature inside of a sphere with a special video made by enCircle.

These are just a few examples of the countless ways you can use 3D models to enhance Interactive Print experiences with Layar. We have also released a new add-on (still in beta) for Blender which makes creating and converting 3D models for Layar quick and easy.

To learn more about how you can create 3D examples such as these, head on over to our Developer Documentation for detailed info. Or contact the Layar Creative Studio and let us build them for you!

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/545

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New in the Creator: Easy Poll Creation

Chris Cameron June 4, 2014

As we continue to receive a great amount of feedback and requests from users of the Layar Creator, we are excited today to introduce a new, highly-requested feature.

When we first released the HTML Widget feature, we made it possible to add a frame of HTML to Interactive Print, opening the door to all kinds of experiences. One of the most popular and most relevant uses of the widget was to create an interactive poll for people to vote in, but this required building the tool in HTML.

Today, we’ve added an easy, DIY poll widget to the Layar Creator, making it simple to add a basic poll to your campaign so your audience can cast their vote! With the new “Vote In a Poll” button, you can upload a few images which serve as buttons for users to tap to vote.

As seen in the video above, the new poll widget is great for giving voice to your audience to vote for a particular style or color of an item. They can see the results of the poll in real time to learn what other people think as well. You can instantly see the results of your poll by going to the “Stats” tab in your campaign.

The feature is available to everyone until July 1st, at which point it will become a Premium only feature, so try it out today!

Permalink: www.layar.com/news/blog/543

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