As we continue with our creator spotlight series, this week we are highlighting Denis Rossiev, an award-winning Metaverse artist, AR engineer, speaker, and tech advisor based in Dubai. He is also an official partner of Meta & Snapchat. Denis started working in AR at the end of 2018 with more than a decade of background in graphic design and creative coding. Today, he is well-known in the AR and digital art community because of his breakthrough experiments with phygital clothing, environment-changing experiences, and complex interactive effects on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, and VK He provided incredible insight and advice for aspiring AR creators, and opened up about the challenges and benefits of being a creator.
Do you have any advice for viewers who are looking to get started in AR creation?
“My primary advice is to dive in and start now! I believe AR become one of the integral parts of our future. But even if it doesn’t, it’s an incredibly fun field to explore.
Start learning and don’t hesitate to ask the community. When you stumble upon something complex, try to decompose it to a bunch of simpler tasks and solve them one by one.
Ask for constructive criticism from pros: as an Eastern person, I noticed that a lot of Western folks may be overly polite and say that you’re great even if you’re actually not, praising your work even when there’s room for improvement. This may hinder your growth: how to evolve and develop if you don’t know where you’re weak and where you’re strong.”
What does the typical day of a creator look like?
“It’s not the most exciting routine! I typically wake up around noon (yes, I’m a night owl) and go for a brisk 30-minute walk to grab coffee and breakfast The walk is important: it really wakes me up and energizes me for the day ahead.
After that, I usually do NOTHING! Desperately and mindlessly browsing social media… Joking! I actually dive into social media, but on purpose: I’m a curious person and intentionally consume a giant amount of content from various niches every day. It helps me stay up to date with everything. I’m also having fun talking with people!
When it’s time for work, I focus on client projects or, if there are one currently, create my own art or conduct technical research.
Additionally, I hit the gym at least three times a week. Fitness is vital not only for my overall well-being but also for enhancing my cognitive performance. Funny that I’m more productive after my training and can work for the whole night!”
What is your favorite part of the creation process?
“I would lie if I say I don’t like generating creative concepts or solving technical puzzles. But the most exciting for me is the very fact of creating AR itself: not some parts or processes of it.
Having grown up immersed in fantasy and sci-fi novels, I’ve always been captivated by the worlds of magic and technology. Now, I have the incredible opportunity to shape these realms with my own hands!”
What are some challenges you face during the creation process?
“A lot of them, mostly technical! Unlike video games or video production industries that have powerful computers available, AR creators have to make things work not only on the latest iPhones but also on cheap mass-market phones.
Even a simple blur effect made the wrong way may slow down the whole AR effect. And when it comes to really complex projects and games, real black magic is involved: we pro creators fight for every frame per second and every kilobyte: file sizes are also limited and it has a significant impact on the conversion funnel: if effect loads too slow, the user may not wait and not even launch the experience.
Such things require deep knowledge in various fields, from optimizing 3D models to coding shaders (programs that runs on phone graphic chip and visualizes stuff).
Of course, video game developers optimize stuff as well, but… Imagine 2 animated trees work well, and 5 trees slows everything down by 10 FPS? That’s our reality :)”
What are some benefits of being an AR creator?
“The most important thing I should mention, it’s a real job that you can make a good living from. Even my parents still don’t believe it is :) Same with most people in this world, unfortunately: AR is often recognized as a funny hobby, nothing more.
Besides it, I’d say it’s an amazing way to express your creativity. And not only by creating something but also by receiving feedback and spreading your art: social AR filters make millions and billions of impressions. I don’t know any other medium that can make it possible.
Furthermore, there’s a beautiful community of kind and talented people from all over the world with whom you can make friends!”
How did you get started?
“Do you remember those first dog AR filters on Snapchat that went viral in 2016? So do I! When I saw it, I was like… What? SO WEIRD! But then I thought: wow, it’s face tracking on a mobile device in real time! That’s amazing!
In late 2018 I applied for Meta Spark beta (it was called Spark AR these days), made some effects, and… Forgot about it for about a year. So I missed the first hype that came from the first popular creators like Johanna Jaskowska (iconic “Beauty3000”), Blagovest Dimitrov (the first filter with freckles), etc. Late 2019 I came back and started creating Social AR again: that was the real start of my journey.”
How do you see the future of AR evolving, and what role do you think AR creators will play in shaping that future?
“We’ve made a very important step: thanks to social AR filters, we introduced the concept and idea of augmented reality to millions of people. That would not be possible without social media platforms and their viral potential. Today, over 70% of people can recognize AR, even if they are not familiar with the term or the technology itself, according to studies such as by Deloitte Digital.
While AR glasses remain a dream for many of us, and while no one knows how they will actually work. As the technology gradually evolves, creators experiment with ideas, UI, UX, and receive feedback from actual users, shaping the approaches to future wearable devices.
While AR glasses remain a dream for many, the technology gradually evolves, so creators experiment with ideas, UI/UX and receive feedback from actual users, shaping the approaches to future wearable devices. AR creators will play an increasingly important role in the development and evolution of AR technology, and the possibilities are truly endless!”
How do you approach designing and developing AR experiences for different industries and purposes, such as education, entertainment, or advertising?
“First, I get to know the specific goals and needs of the business. I research/chat with owners to find out what they want from the AR experience. Sometimes they have a brief and understanding, sometimes they just want something cool. I consider the target audience and their interests to make sure it’s engaging for them.
But… Sometimes the vibe is so smooth so we just start creating and end up with something great intuitively.
I mostly work with world-renowned brands, so I always try to deliver the best quality and the smoothest user experience possible.”
Can you walk me through the process of creating an AR experience, from concept to implementation?
“It varies! Sometimes, I start with implementation by researching and creating a technical solution before coming up with ideas for what to build. Other times, I use a traditional production pipeline that includes defining the concept, creating a mood board or references, developing visual prototypes, designing, 3D modeling, and programming.
But both approaches have something in common: I typically have a clear vision from the beginning and gradually move in the right direction using a “progressive JPEG” principle. Some young people may not know what it is :) Years ago when the Internet was slow, we used it on the web: initially, the image appears blurry and low-res, but as more data loads, it became more precise and detailed. Funny, diffusion algorithms in AI image generation behave the same! So I gradually improve the experience, shaping it more and more precisely.”
How do you ensure that your AR experience is user-friendly and accessible to a wide range of users, regardless of their technical proficiency?
“That’s a good question! Well, all UX principles also apply here: the experience should be as easy as possible. In addition, it should require as less user interaction as possible (if interaction is not the purpose). Let’s say, if you can launch some animation without asking to tap buttons or smth, just launch it automatically!
Another principle I use is to make things work “as expected”, or “just work”, natively. Once I was making a drawing experience, and instead of adding UI controls to adjust brush size, just made it depend on how far or close a user is to the object. Native!”
How do you stay up-to-date with the latest AR technology and trends, and incorporate them into your work?
“Staying up-to-date with the latest AR technology and trends can be overwhelming and almost impossible given the speed of change in the industry. Don’t even try and don’t stress yourself chasing the hype. Previously I said I do so: but it doesn’t fit everybody. I was teaching myself to process giant amounts of information for my whole life, so I can do it easily. So better focus on something you like and develop one or two strong skills!
Anyway, I encourage everyone to develop a common sense based on merging and synthesizing knowledge from various niches. Most people ignore it, focusing only on one narrow field of expertise. But don’t dive deep into everything like me. By having even a basic understanding of principles and ideas from different fields, you’ll be able to identify unique opportunities for creating and innovating at the intersection of disciplines that subject-matter specialists might overlook.”
To learn more about Denis and to see his work, visit the social channels and website below: