Sufee Yama is changing the way we see reality. Whether she’s creating amazing commercial AR integration, throwing a quarantine dance party, or leading workshops for other curious, multi-talented artists, I can only sit back in awe.
Affable and immensely clever, Yama has created tons of Snapchat lenses, visual art projects, advertisements, and more that blur the lines of what’s real and what’s possible.
Q: How long have you been using Snapchat? When did you start making your own lenses?
A: I’ve been on and off Snapchat since 2015 because it is not the most commonly-used social media app in Thailand, so I mostly use it to keep in touch with friends overseas. I started to make my own lenses in the early days of Lens Studio when I was searching around for a way to bring my VR artwork into AR without having to create my own AR application from scratch or rely on any third party platform where everyone needs to download an app before viewing my content. Later on, I used Lens Studio in most of my XR [mixed reality or cross reality] storytelling and AR avatar workshops.
Q: Which lens is your current favorite?
A: My favorite lenses are ones that can be explored more in other forms of storytelling. For example, I made this kind of self-avatar lens to be used as part of a fun video called ‘Pandemic Dance Party.’
Q: What do you like about creating lenses and seeing people use them?
A: I always seek to experiment with different kinds of techniques like photogrammetry, AI tools, VR painting and modeling to create 3D content for lenses. My main focus is to explore the future of storytelling in XR, so I think it is interesting to see how people express themselves interactively with 3D digital content. In my workshops, I have the attendees create AR avatar lenses of themselves to be interacted with in mixed reality video at the end.
Q: In what ways do your lenses currently use machine learning?
A: I’m still very [much a] beginner in machine learning, but I used a machine learning tool to create 3D volumetric model of the human body in my avatar lens workshop.
I actually tried a bit of object detection technique following the Heartbeat blog which I found very interesting.
Q: Did you build those ML models yourself?
A: For lenses, I tried training object detection models with Google Colab. Other than creating lenses, I played around with RunwayML for my VR art projects.
Q: As a Lens Studio Creator, what opportunities do you think a tool like SnapML provides?
A: SnapML integration definitely makes AR spaces more exciting by making any innovative ideas possible within social media AR features. It opens the door to unlimited possibilities for both artistic lenses and lens ideas that focus more on the functionality [of] AR.
Q: Where do you see your career going and how important is it for you to be a digital creator?
A: I’m a visual artist who explores the future of storytelling in [the] XR space. Other than AR, I also work to create visual art for VR films and commercials. At the same time, I do my own passion projects on techniques I want to try whenever I find time.
Even though, at the moment, XR storytelling is still at its exploration phase, it is such a fun time for the community as well as a very important time for the industry. This niche community is getting bigger every day and I think this media will soon become mainstream before we realize it, so there are plenty of opportunities right now and in the future for digital creators.