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.
[Video embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOhDErn36J0 ]
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.