Let us tell you a little something about Marie Varillon. One: she’s an art director in France. Two: She has the kindest heart, translating her own interviews from French to English – a multilingual queen! Three: We found her through a FILTER.
No, not that kind of filter. What I mean is, I downloaded her filter ‘Paquerettes’ and tried it out for a couple of days, loving how the flowers and blush floated seamlessly on my face and moved when I smiled. Instagram Story culture is as such – truly allowing us to indulge in comfortable moments of narcissism because there’s a timer to our selfie, a sort of temporary quality to what we story on the ‘gram.
Marie has been featured on CARPE BLOOM before, prior to this conversation – you can read it here, actually – but after our first feature on her was published, we knew we had to do a follow-up.
At Carpe Bloom, we believe in illuminating and showcasing the profiles and stories of people who chase their creative passions, but in 2020 we wanted to explore a very specific area of interest…and that was technology. We wanted to talk about women who used technology, women who harnessed the powers of the digital world, women who reached out to others via technological platforms and devices. You can read more about it here.
Essentially, we’re honoured to have Marie on as our very first Women in Tech (#WITSaboutHer) feature, because she tinkers with tech to bring to all of us Instagram users a little something extra to brighten up any picture – even that of ourselves, on a day when we ain’t feeling that jazzy.
“In my current work, I’m more into print than digital”, Marie starts. Her current work is housed here. “I chose to branch into Augmented Reality technology because I love learning new skills. I really wanted to do more digital, and AR is a really fun way to do it!”
“I love the fact that the possibilities are endless [with AR], it’s like a new world of possibilities!”
Our writer Ngan Lin agreed, highlighting that she used Instagram filters regularly. “I do enjoy Instagram filters”, she said to the team. “I think they give my photos another dimension – eg some filters are able to make my stories look more retro and “film-y” while others like the “how tall are you?” filter is fun to play around with!”
Marie also tells us that she tries to create filters that can be used by as many people as possible. “I try to be the most inclusive because these filters are accessible by everyone, and everyone should be able to use them all.”
In the same vein, she feels that technology is important for everyone, not just women. “We live in a constantly connected world”, Marie elaborates, “where technologies develop faster and faster, and where innovation is more and more significant.”
“In my trade it is necessary to always be on the lookout for the latest innovations, so as not to be quickly lost in the face of this wave of new possibilities. But I think that we shouldn’t see this as anything negative, but rather as the fact that our palette of tools is only growing, to allow us to create new things, each more surprising than the other.”
On the topic of ‘creation’, we were interested to find out how exactly she took an idea from her head to tech. “First, I usually have an idea of a filter when I draw, or when I do a graphic design project.” As an art director, she does these two activities regularly, and enjoys create filters that “fit into the creative process of whatever I’m [currently] working on”, she tells us.
“But it can happen in the middle of the night!” Marie says candidly. “I do a lot of sketches of my idea by hand, first, just to give them shape.”
“After that, I use my sketches to draw the design of the filter on my iPad with my Apple Pencil. I use ‘Procreate’, a software that allows me to reshape my ideas and draw them digitally. To make sure I draw all the elements of the filter in the right place, Instagram has made assets available, such as meshes and images to have a model of a face for example.”
“Next I use ‘Spark AR Studio’. It’s a software created by Facebook which allows me to create, animate and upload filters to Facebook and Instagram. It’s like a 3D software, where you can upload images, 3D objects and create animations with a little bit of coding to create the most wonderful filters.”
The idea of coding is daunting to us. “It’s a really easy and intuitive software”, she assures us. She notes that it’s a good place to explore even if you’re not really comfortable with 3D. “I was really reluctant to learn 3D and animations at school, but It was really easy to learn by myself with Spark AR Studio, she shares.
“If I need to add a 3D object to my filter like a hat, a crown, I can use free 3D models that you can find in the asset library of Spark AR studio, or I can make them.”
“I usually use ‘Blender’, a free 3D creation suite. I can create 3D objects on it, and add colors and textures before moving it to Spark AR Studio.”
“Finally, when you upload your filter, you need to use ‘Spark AR Hub’ which is also related to the Studio and is created by Facebook. You need to create a short video for the presentation of your filter and a thumbnail which will be available in the filter gallery.”
“What is amazing with creating filters and AR projects is that new skills and techniques are created everyday, because creating filters is a very recent and novel thing”, she adds, grinning. “I love to learn new ways and learn a lot with tutorials and articles. And I love experimenting by myself, even if it is not always very successful!”
“We shouldn’t stay with what we already know.” She smiles. “The most interesting part [of] the journey of progress in your career is that you do so by staying curious and learning as much as possible.”