Creator Interview With Noland Chaliha

in Interview on December 7, 2019

Noland Chaliha is one of the most loved and creative filters creator, from Spark AR Community. P.S He loves SDF’s and some legends says that he is the King of SDF’s.

Filtroo: How did you hear about AR, when you started to create filters?

Noland Chaliha: I’d been making computer vision applications for years, using opencv in python, openframeworks, and then later webxr and javascript and building machine learning libraries that recognized bodies and hands and faces. So, when an artist friend (aya avalon) told me about a user friendly application of this stuff I was excited but suspicious and it turns out I loved it and more importantly I loved the community.

Filtroo: What does your working day consist of?

Noland Chaliha: Theres a surprising amount of studying. I’ll find something that I want to do or a client wants to do and there’s always a bit of learning to get there. These days a lot of my work load involves designing an entire experience from the ground up. First making the 3D assets, then rigging or animating them, then importing them into sparkar and usually I have to work around what’s already known– my clients are attracted to things that aren’t necessarily standard–that draw outside the lines of what other filter creators are doing. That includes some innovation which is so exciting for me, lots of custom movement calculations and reactions that are unexpected.

Filtroo: What was the first filter you ever created?

Noland Chaliha: Sunflowery is my first filter. I mean its the first filter I published. I made 87 filters before I published one. Also, I wasn’t accepted into the beta until 6 months in. So, I was waiting to publish to instagram for 6 months. People love Sunflowery, this filter that uses custom rotations that play off of eachother in a unique way. I should be proud of it, but every time I look at it I only see how I can push it further. 

Filtroo: Do you have a favorite filter (designed by you or other creators)?

Noland Chaliha: Kira kira by Chris Price is my favorite filter. I’ve said this a lot but its this mix of beauty and simplicity, not adding much while adding so much. That’s augmented reality to me–when you can take something that’s happening and just make it a little… more. I think for me and many others there’s a mystery to chris’s work, how was it made? It took a lot of skills and I respect that skill, but there’s also something deceptively simple to it. 

Filtroo: Can you describe(overview) of your filter creation process?

Noland Chaliha: I think about what’s happening in our world–what is fascinating-what is beautiful– what doesn’t need to be added but how can I focus attention on this beauty that is already happening here? How can I help people move and play? I think I end up a lot on movement because I am scared that filters, my filters or your filters or whoever’s filters they contribute to a certain stagnation..a certain kind of numbness of being that I find kinda scary. I don’t want my work to be another hose in the pool of cultural noise. I want people to have a moment for themselves where they’re not lost in an experience I created but an experience is revealed for them.

Filtroo: Can you tell us 2-3 brands you created filters for?

Noland Chaliha: Nike, Sephora, and lots of subcontracted work for filters and some big names coming out soon!

Filtroo: How long does it take to complete a filter (average time)?

Noland Chaliha: Even simple filters that I make I take at least 100 hours to make it. 

Filtroo: Can you recommend a list of Youtube channels/resources for learning filter creation?

Noland Chaliha:

And my own patreon of course lol.

Posted by Noland Chaliha on Sunday, 1 December 2019

Filtroo: Where you take inspiration from?

Noland Chaliha: What matters to me most is what the light is doing. How is the light hitting that, how is the color of that? What moves when i move this glass of water in the sun? It’s silly and it sounds especially esoteric talking about filters, because i think it’s hard for people to really see this as an art form at this time, but for me I’ve been thinking of how the body moves and how light hits it for years and recreating that digitally is what I always want. I want to hold some things from the viewer, to get them to look through a kaleidoscope of their own feelings and to have them see something in that.

Filtroo: When you are not creating filters, you have a hobby? 

Noland Chaliha: I love music, I play a couple instruments–things with strings, and I keep that close to my heart as something personal that feeds me.

Filtroo: What was the biggest challenge you were facing a project?

Noland Chaliha: Everything feels like a challenge to me, not because its hard, but because if it isn’t hard then its not worth doing because if it isn’t difficult then I don’t learn and grow.

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My facial tracking synth works after 14 hours of work. Eyebrows.

A post shared by Noland Chaliha (@alwayscodingsomething) on

Filtroo: What would be your advice for a new filter creator?

Noland Chaliha: Read the damn documentation. The sparkar documentation. Read it all. Please. Haha, I know there are shortcuts and maybe some people aren’t the best readers, but I often think about how much better food is when I follow a recipe. Many talented people made those documents and they know better than you and I on what to do with the software, so go read it! Also, rip apart the examples and templates. I learn so much from reverse engineering, its insane.

Justin at 4:13 am

Great post.


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