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Step-by-step guide to creating augmented reality content

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There are three essential building blocks to creating augmented realty content with Aurasma:

  • Trigger images,
  • Overlays and
  • Channels

Briefly…

Trigger images are the still pictures a user has to scan with their phone to unlock the augmented reality content associated with them.

Overlays are the content you link to the trigger image – usually a video

Channels are the places you put your content for publication, so users can find it.

Now let’s create a piece of content.

Ideally, you need to have both a picture of your own and a video on the same subject.

If you can, find a story for which you have text, a still and a short video. Don’t worry if you can’t do that. For this exercise, you can use any picture and any video you have access to, just to see how things work.

Selecting your trigger image

The image you choose must be available to those who want to share with.

So a print publication is an ideal place to create trigger images.

For this demonstration I’ve added some images in this tutorial that link to video content.

The first, in case you missed it, is at the bottom of the previous screen.

That screen gives you the essentials of being able to access that content.

So first we select a trigger image. You need that image to be on your computer.

In Aurasma Studio click the Trigger image icon:

Then click ‘add’ then ‘browse’ and select the image you want from your computer.

Here’s the one I’m using, from an old story, for this demonstration:

That image is an Aura, so if you hold your phone up before it, with the Aurasma app open, the video should play.

By default, video is loaded on a loop, but you can over-ride that.

You’ll see a process which Aurasma calls 'training' taking place as the image is processed.

At this point you may get a warning that the image is substandard in some way.

Problems with trigger images

The trigger picture is key, but Aurasma is picky about what it will accept. A picture which is too dark, or with too much text or too many areas of similar colour, won’t work as a trigger.

So a still from the video I want to use in this augmented reality wasn’t acceptable. In another context I planned to use the cover of the textbook version of MMJ as a trigger, but that was no good because it had too much text and areas of similar colour.

If you`re warned that there is a problem with the image, find another, because otherwise, when your users come to scan the trigger image, your rich content won’t load. Give your image a name and a description.

The overlay

The overlay is the content you want the trigger image to link to.

Usually that is a video, and you again need to have that video on your computer. You can’t, for instance, simply get the url of a YouTube video and use that. If this is a problem, and you need to first download a published video to your computer, you’ll find how to do that for Firefox here, and for Safari here.

So, next, select the overlays button, which looks like this:

Then click add, and add again, and browse for the video you want to upload from your computer.

Give it a title and click save.

Uploading can take a while.

If you are using Google Chrome, you’ll get a download percentage indication to show you how things are going. Once it’s uploaded the video will play in the interface.

Channel

Next, create your channel. Do that by clicking on the Channel icon:

Then click add, and name it. You can also add new content to an existing channel. If you add a description, users will know what they’ll find in your channel. Here are mine:

Channels can either be public, and findable by anyone using Aurasma, or private.

Private channels are only accessible to those who have the url. Here’s the url to my channel again: http://auras.ma/s/1jTFO

Attach an image to your channel, then select save.

Publishing your content

Your trigger image plus overlay create what Aurasma calls an Aura.

It is this combination of image and video that makes your augmented reality content work.

Adding auras to your channel

With your channel open, select the ‘add auras’ tab. You give the aura a name, add the trigger image you want and the relevant overlay video.

When you name your aura, you can give an indication of where a user can find the trigger image. If it comes from, say, page 20 of your newspaper of today’s date, include that information in the name, so they know where to go.

Next, select the overlay option and add the video you want. By default, the video will fill the area of the trigger image. But if you right click, you can select ‘restore aspect ratio’ to get it back to the dimensions intended. You can also move the overlay around the image so it appears where you want it to.

Once you’ve done that, the overlay properties actions interface comes up. You can add actions to that, such as that, if users tap once on the image, they are taken to a relevant url.

This means you can use your trigger image as the gateway to, say, a live blog on a developing story, or simply to the latest from your website on what they are reading in print.

Then press save.

Sharing your Aura

Select the channels icon and bring up your channel. Then select edit, and there is an option to ‘click on link to subscribe’. You can share that link. Here’s mine again http://auras.ma/s/1jTFO

When that url is activated on a mobile device with Aurasma installed, it will automatically open up the app and link you to the channel. Hover the app over the trigger image and the Aura will play.

Next: How a print journalist can use augmented reality

Investigative Journalism