Creating a Custom Snapchat Landmarker Lens
Updated: Sep 6
When the Snapchat team asked if we wanted to create a custom Landmarker Lens to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Lincoln Memorial, we jumped at the opportunity. We had less than three weeks before the Lens was set to launch on Memorial Day weekend, so the Balti Virtual team started immediately.
The first task was figuring out how to correctly LiDAR scan the Lincoln Memorial. On the Custom Landmarker Creator page, Snapchat warns users that Landmarkers are “currently targeted for use with structures up to three meters in height.” Considering the Lincoln Memorial is almost 200ft tall, we knew that this was going to be a trickier feat than the smaller Landmarkers that we’ve created in the past. Not only was the memorial monumental in size, but the repetitive steps and columns also made it difficult for Lens Studio to recognize the structure and start the scanning process.
After some testing, we determined the base pedestal of the Abe Lincoln statue would be the best place to start our LiDAR scan (he had enough differentiating features to work) and the base of the statue is where we would have users start the augmented reality (AR) experience.
Due to the crowds of people constantly surrounding the memorial and on the steps, it took our team a few visits to correctly capture the scans. Sunrise proved to be the best time with the least amount of people and obstacles (bikes, scooters, etc). It was impossible to get the entire monument in one scan, so while we were scanning each section, we were very conscious to capture prominent structures like the memorial’s columns and corners of walls, so we could use them to puzzle-piece all of the scans back together within Lens Studio.
The Snapchat team and the National Parks Service wanted this experience to feature seven photos from the original Dedication Ceremony of the Lincoln Memorial in 1822. Therefore, during the scanning process, we had to ensure that each location featured in the 1822 photos was accessible and displayed within the overall AR experience. The photos were from various angles around the memorial, so in order to line the photos up with the current-day memorial, we placed seven AR markers around the structure that acted as wayfinding points. When users initially scanned Lincoln to start the AR experience, they were presented with an AR map of each marker. Then, when a user would approach a marker, the photograph would animate into view and present a caption explaining the photo’s history. Inspiration for the captions and markers was taken from the National Parks Service “100 Years of the Lincoln Memorial” branding.
Balti Virtual is based in Baltimore, MD, so we were fortunate to be located within close proximity of the Lincoln Memorial - this made testing much more convenient. During the week prior to launch, we were
on-site for a few days fine-tuning the placement of the photographs, logos, and instructional wayfinding map.
During Memorial Weekend the National Mall had onsite promotions and featured the Lens in its newsletter and social channels. Snapchat had the experience featured within the Lens Carousel for the National Mall and pushed a geofilter out to users who were taking Snaps within the geofence. We are honored that the Snapchat team approached us with this idea and trusted us to execute it. Working with both the Snapchat & National Parks Service teams made this short, but very sweet project enjoyable and extremely rewarding. We look forward to taking our learned Landmarker lessons and applying them to more AR activations.