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AR for MAE: a social media augmented reality experience for the pioneering band

By January 31, 2019 April 28th, 2019 No Comments
Mae Snap Lens

Once listed as one of MTV’s top 50 Emo Bands You Heard of First, the band MAE has cultivated a dedicated following around the world. Their name, which stands for Multisensory Aesthetic Experience, is also their constant goal. And in the pursuit of that goal, they’ve continually pioneered the use of technology to expand the distribution of music, the fusion of music and storytelling, and the aesthetic possibilities of a moment.

The band’s pioneering efforts include working with renowned violinist Tim Fain (Black Swan / 12 Years A Slave / Moonlight) to create LIGHT, the first large-scale simultaneous VR / live music experience, premiered in Jerusalem with Forbes Magazine, then taken to the 72nd UN General Assembly and the Future of Storytelling Festival, a curated community event gathered around technology and narrative that By & Large participates in each year.

Late last year, the band released their newest album, doubling down on their core mission and hitting Billboard’s Top 40 Independent Albums chart. The album featured cover art by Melissa McCracken, a mid-western artist with synesthesia, known for “painting music.” When it came time to tour behind the album, the band wanted to put a little of the wonder and imagination from Melissa’s brushstrokes right into the palm your hand—and that’s where By & Large came in.

We decided together that augmented reality for social media was the way to go. Most MAE fans would have Facebook or Snapchat already on their phones, so inviting them into the experience would be as simple as sharing a link with them or showing them a Snap Code.

MAE Facebook Camera Effect

Facebook was first, and we were excited to use the newly released hand tracking feature on Facebook Spark AR. We developed a Facebook Camera Effect that allowed simple hand gestures to give users direct control of an on-screen sphere composed from pieces of of Melissa’s artwork that expand to reveal the band’s name. If you’re reading this on your phone, tap here to try it.

MAE Snapchat Filter

For the Snapchat version, we went for simple and fun, with a twist. Similar to our AR creation for The Stone Pony, we developed a picture frame border that was perfect for snapping selfies and fan moments. The frame was made of components of Melissa’s painting, that we then coded in Snapchat Lens Studio to pulse and change in time with the band’s single “Sing”, which played in the background. It was a simple way to quickly turn any experience into a MAE experience. Tap here to experience it on Snapchat.

Both AR experiences brought MAE’s music directly into the daily social media habits of the band’s fans and achieved the group’s goal of weaving the art they make into the lives of the people who love it most.