Aug-it!, ‘a creative design company that specialises in augmented reality experiences’, together with Tuckshop Dance Theatre and the UK Arts Council, created probably the first ever live installation implementing Facebook Camera Effects.
The theme of this contemporary dance show is the struggle of young people concerning their digital identity. It was performed six times over the months of February and March in theatres of North West England. The dance choreographer and the author of the whole show was Lauren Tucker.
Aug-it! developed five AR effects, which were delivered in real time through a private Facebook group, available to the audience prior to the shows. The effects were choreographed into the show using prompts over the PA in the voice of Alexa. Then, during the performance, the audience was asked to open a particular effect distributed via Facebook group at the given moment. Thanks to that, they could fully experience the installation by looking at the stage through the screens of their smartphones with the effect turned on, so the dance performance was enhanced and interpreted by augmented reality.
As the CEO of Aug-it, Ant Hagan, told us, this process of implementing AR into the live performance, though undoubtedly innovative and a little bit risky, went really well. The important fact is that Facebook’s Spark AR was used to tell a real story about a serious issue. Being not only engaging but also an adequate form of addressing the problem of digital identity, Neverland uses augmented reality, the technology sometimes considered controversial, to comment on itself. This self-reflective use of AR gives the show the quality of a really relevant piece of art.
This is the reason why, when it comes to Spark AR Community of Creators, this installation should be considered as the trailblazer for the future Spark AR projects which will aim to be something more than a casual camera filter. The success of the show proves that even in a compressed form of Facebook Camera Effects, AR can be used to engage and tell stories on a professional level – with all the benefits coming from being developed and distributed inside the biggest social media platform.