Creative Guide: Create a 3D world in AR with WWWesh Studio

As part of New World, our collaboration with Today at Apple, we’re bringing you a series of step-by-step Creative Guides which allow you to complete a project, guided by a leading creative.

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As part of New World, we’ve worked with five artists, designers and photographers on a series of Creative Guides, designed to teach you tangible skills in an engaging and hands-on way. In these Guides, you’ll have the chance to follow along the stages of a project step-by-step. Whether you’re interested in learning more about poster design, how to create imagery in AR or the process of composing portrait photography, at the end of each Guide, you’ll have completed a full project and will have new skills to take into your own creative practice.

WWWesh Studio is a multidisciplinary creative studio based in Paris, run by Pierrick Sancé and Antoine Jourdan. The team handles every form of creative output, from concept to art direction to production, and works across a variety of physical and digital projects. The studio is just as comfortable designing a new football kit or a record sleeve for an emerging artist as it is creating high-concept computer-generated imagery and motion graphics for a client like Nike.

For their Creative Guide, Pierrick and Antoine are going to be teaching you how to create an AR experience in Reality Composer which imagines how exhibitions will work in the New World. Bookmark this page before you begin as you’ll be switching between applications. There are eight Steps in the process altogether:

Step 01: Imagine an exhibition for the new world.
Step 02: Find visual references.
Step 03: Set the title of your exhibition.
Step 04: Find the assets you want to use.
Step 05: Import your objects into Reality Composer.
Step 06: Compose your scene.
Step 07: Add behaviours and triggers.
Step 08: Export your usable AR experience.

We’ll be collating some of our favourite responses to the Creative Guides on It’s Nice That towards the end of New World, so make sure you share whatever you make during this Guide on social media. Use #CreativeNewWorld and #TodayAtApple for a chance to be featured on It’s Nice That, and be sure to tag @wwwesh.studio so that Perrick and Antoine can get a look in too!

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WWWesh Studio

What you need to complete this Guide

The AR outcome of this Creative Guide is designed to be completed on iPhone or iPad with iOS 14 or later, and we’d suggest using Mac or iPad for the research phase of the project (Steps 01-03). Below is a list of apps you’ll need to complete the Guide – all of which are already installed on your device, or free to download if not.

Preview lets you view images and edit some file types, like jpegs and PDFs, and is available on your Mac.

With Notes, you can capture a quick thought, create checklists, sketch ideas and more across iPad, iPhone and Mac.

Reality Composer is a powerful tool that makes it easy for you to create interactive augmented reality experiences with no prior 3D or coding experience.

The Files app makes it simple to view and manage your files from iPad or iPhone.

Augmented reality (AR) sounds intimidating but by using Reality Composer, you can create amazing interactive outcomes in a really intuitive way, with no prior experience. Before you get into the crux of WWWesh’s Creative Guide, spend a minute getting used to where things are within the Reality Composer interface, playing around with the default grey square. Don’t worry though, we’ll talk you through some specifics of how to use the app when you get to Step 05.

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A preview of some of the work you’ll be guided through making during this Guide

Have a play in Reality Composer, to get used to the very basics

Apple Creative Pro Tips

Throughout this Creative Guide, you’ll find tips and tricks on all the technical aspects of WWWesh’s brief from our Apple Creative Pro. Just as they would be on a visit to your local Apple Store, they’re on hand to offer guidance and help you unlock the full potential of whatever device you’re working on. Keep an eye out for the Apple Creative Pro Tip box as they can help with everything from what a USDZ file is to how you can edit 3D assets.

Get started with WWWesh’s asset pack

WWWesh has pulled together a suite of assets from Sketchfab which you can use to create your exhibition. They’re large files so start downloading them now while you work through the first Steps of the Guide. To download the whole folder, use the zip file, or take your pick from those that are unzipped to choose individual assets. If you’d rather model your own 3D assets or find others on Sketchfab, that’s also fine – we’ll get to that in Step 04.

Download Sketchfab assets

Before we dive into anything technical, it’s important to first solidify the concept for your immersive and interactive exhibition. Your brief here is to picture a future where nature and technology have evolved in symbiosis, so start to imagine what you think that future will look like, and what kind of atmosphere you want to create within your “scene”. It’s up to you how you begin to get your thoughts down here – you can use the Notes app to jot down some thoughts or sketch some basic ideas, or work with pen and paper.

If you’re completing this Guide on iPad, you can use Split View to scroll through the article while completing each stage in another programme, at the same time.

WWWesh Studio: Due to the current situation, most cultural institutions and museums are closed and we are working more and more on virtual exhibition and experiential projects. So we thought it would be interesting to explore the possibilities of Reality Composer in this sense.

You are the curator and scenographer of your New World Exhibition so first start to define the subject. When we think about the New World, we imagine a lot of progress in different fields. We know about scientific innovations and new technologies. Still, one area that remains in development is the combination of science and technology in connection, like an augmented nature. It is a field that is intriguing and disturbing but also inspiring. Seeing the natural world and digital innovation live together is refreshing because it opens up new evolutionary perspectives. It feeds our imagination... Our environment’s general atmosphere is going to be reassuring – a sense of wonder, a surreal discovery, as if we were in a science fiction film.

Now that you have an idea of what kind of scene you want to create, it’s helpful to gather visual references which convey the atmosphere you have in mind. Look at films, photography, books, anything you can get your hands on, as these will prove invaluable later on in the process. Aim to gather at least five to ten images here.

“Image research is an essential part of our process because it allows us to frame our thinking and visualise an idea.”

WWWesh Studio

WS: After defining an angle, we first came up with references from our own imagination. We are unconsciously nourished by a cultural background of books, films, and the latest scientific and technological progress. Then we pushed our research into a quest for images to expand the aesthetic possibilities. Image research is an essential part of our process because it allows us to frame our thinking and visualise an idea.

Continuing the process of creating the parameters within which you will later create, it’s time to choose a title for your exhibition. Aim for something memorable and snappy, and which clearly conveys your intentions. Start by pooling keywords or look to your research for inspiration. The title you choose will set the tone for everything you create later on so spend some time making sure its right. For their exhibition, Pierrick and Antoine have chosen the title, Utopian Symbiosis.

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WWWesh used Notes to jot down some keywords and set the title of its exhibition

WS: This title comes from our intention for this exhibition. “Utopian” is an ideal, a world where nature and technology are not placed as two distinct and opposed entities but as two which depend on each other. “Symbiosis” is there to emphasise the importance of nature and technology evolving together. The title also helps visually. This utopia is our ideal representation of nature and technology, so we can be really playful in our choice of flowers, colours, etc.

It’s at this point that your exhibition will really start to come to life visually, as you gather the assets you need to build your scene. If you’re using WWWesh’s assets, have a dig through the download and decide which you would like to use (if you need to download those now, you can here). If you’re sourcing your own, a library of assets is available within the Reality Composer app and from websites such as Sketchfab. You can also use the 3D design tools in Reality Composer to model your own objects.

The most important part of this stage is the application of your curation skills – be sure to choose objects which tell the story you want to tell and which convey the theme of your exhibition, pulling on the references you gathered in Stage 02.

WS: Our visual references guided us here in terms of shape, colour, and composition. Looking at them, we also defined several categories of assets we needed: Minerals, Faunas, Floras, Planets and Technology.

When we think about nature, we think about life, fauna and flora. We want to see jellyfish floating in the air as if they are dancing. The jellyfish is a fascinating and mysterious creature. It is one of the first organisms to have evolved on Earth. Its graceful movement, whose fluidity is like an aquatic dance, reveals a terrible passive weapon. This animal seemed to us to be the most suitable to represent the animal presence in our scene between the flying predator and its intriguing fascination. The vegetation depends on the climate in which we evolve, so we have imagined plants of large sizes, with striking colours... a kind of augmented vegetation. This allows us to immerse ourselves in a universe composed of familiar elements with a dreamlike appearance. The landscape is made up of rocks that make up the ground and floating stones to create a curious atmosphere, devoid of gravity or as if time had stood still.

Technology is represented by satellite-like objects, rotating antennas, which float in our environment. The link between these two worlds is the monolith. When we see this object in levitation, in reference to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, we know that it is not from nature. Still, as it is levitating, we wonder about its origin and its function. Is it made by humans, by extraterrestrial life, or by artificial intelligence? The shiny dark matter calls out to us and attracts us.

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Download your New World Assets here.

With your array of assets decided upon, you can begin creating your AR experience. First, open Reality Composer on iPhone or iPad and tap Create Document before importing your assets into the app. You can then have a go at moving, scaling, rotating and deleting objects. Follow the instructions outlined in the video below to do so.

How to import and place assets in Reality Composer

WWWesh importing assets into its scene

Once you have a few 3D assets in your scene in Reality Composer, you can preview how the AR experience works using the “AR” button – it’s a fun way to quickly see your progress, as well as test the scale and composition of objects. You can hit this button at any point during the creation of your scene.

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The Preview AR icon

AR preview button in use

This is one of the most creative parts of the process. With all of your 3D assets in Reality Composer, and with the knowledge of how you move, scale, rotate and remove objects, you can start to arrange and compose your scene to tell a story. Think about what you want “visitors” to encounter first and how will they move around your exhibition. Try playing around with different layouts and see how that affects the tone of the scene, keeping in mind the atmosphere you want to create.

WWWesh composing its scene

WS: We chose to arrange our elements randomly, in order to create a feeling of immersion in a space where nature has regained its rights. To create our general atmosphere, we first imported the objects which will be stationary, then the objects that will be in motion. We also integrated objects according to their position in the space. First, the low objects (on the ground, like grass, stones), then the flying objects to give height (like plants or antennas) which link the ground and the sky.

Our environment’s general atmosphere is meant to be reassuring. We wanted there to be space between our elements so that the spectator can discover the scene while moving around inside it. We, therefore, arranged the objects in such a way as to not overload the scene.

An essential element, which is not material, is the presence of sound. We attributed a general ambient sound to the monolith and more punctual noises to particular objects, always to create dynamism and bring a sense of wonder. (More information on how to do this in Step 08.)

“We wanted there to be space between our elements so that the spectator can discover the scene while moving around inside it.”

WWWesh Studio

What makes this exhibition different from the traditional kind, is that users will be able to interact with their environment, and it will respond to them. To make that possible, you now need to add “behaviours” and “triggers”. Simply put, behaviours are the way an object moves (or sounds), in response to a trigger; this can be a tap, the start of the scene, proximity to the camera or a notification.

Below is a video that shows how to add behaviours and triggers to your objects. Begin by completing all of this Step using one object, then move onto the others in your scene.

Behaviours and triggers

WS: For the objects in your scene, there are two possibilities. The object already has a behaviour (from its USDZ file, an animation can be predefined), in which case, launching the scene prompts this behaviour. It is then possible to add a second trigger or a second behaviour. The second possibility is that the object does not have a behaviour. In this case, it will be necessary to define one.

The jellyfish [in our scene] already have a pre-defined behaviour that imitates their real-life movement, but their position remains static. So we added a rotating aleatory motion [an orbit in Reality Composer] to them which we alternate with the satellite’s orbit. These two elements intersect above, in front, and around the spectator according to their position, to create life between our technological objects and our animals. If the spectator touches the moving satellites, they will emit a sound that will follow them as they move through the scene.

How WWWesh made its jellyfish orbit

If your objects move and collide around the scene, you can assign different materials to them which will change the physics of how they move (this is only possible with USDZ files). Concrete will drop quickly – whilst plastic and rubber will bounce around a bit more. To do this, tap the object, then the properties icon. In here, navigate to physics.

A trigger is like a switch; it is used to initiate a defined action from an element. There are five types of triggers: Tap, Scene Start, Proximity to Camera, Collide, and Notification.

These triggers can be categorised into two types of commands:

  • Direct, following a sensor; at the start of the scene, tap, or the proximity to the camera.
  • Indirect, a chain reaction; collision with another element or a notification from a code.

For this tutorial, we are only interested in the direct triggers but if you feel comfortable, you can go further.

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In this Guide, we’re focussing on the triggers, Scene Start, Tap, and Proximity to Camera

“The goal is to create surprise and wonder to immerse the spectator in your new world.”

WWWesh Studio

The monolith is the most simple element in our scene, but just as intriguing. It creates a connection between our two worlds: nature and technology. We decided that when the AR is launched, the monolith will levitate slowly above the ground as if it is calling for action. This is our main trigger. When hit, it falls to the ground, and the whole scene is set in motion. Everything else begins to move in symbiosis, through slight movements and interactions, according to the user’s action.

It is essential to keep in mind that the spectator will move around in the environment, exploring the elements as they go along. The goal is to create surprise and wonder to immerse the spectator in your new world.

WWWesh’s scene set in motion using behaviours and triggers

One of the most exciting aspects of AR, is the interactive experience it creates. But you need to export your exhibition before anyone can “visit” it. Pierrick and Antoine outline how you can do this, below.

Utopian Symbiosis

WS: An exhibition is made to be seen. We advise you to share it with others to immerse your friends and family in your universe!

Share your exhibition by tapping the “More” button on the top right, choose “Export”, then “Project” and select your preferred sharing methods. You can use Airdrop if you want to explore your project with your friend at the same time or iMessage if you are not physically with them.

To finish off their Creative Guide, Pierrick shares some of his hopes for what you may take forward into your creative practice.

Through this Creative Guide, I would like people to understand the creative process, from the idea through its exploration. It’s essential to define where you want to go, as that will drive the project’s thinking, from your research to the final concept. It is also important to leave space to experiment with Reality Composer and Augmented Reality’s new tools in general. It is through experimentation that we explore new creative opportunities and push the boundaries of our knowledge.

But this process is only a model. It is important to adapt it to your way of thinking. We look forward to discovering and being amazed by what you can do.

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Look out for these icons when exporting your exhibition

“It is through experimentation that we explore new creative opportunities and push the boundaries of our knowledge.”

WWWesh Studio
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WWWesh’s exhibition: Utopian Symbiosis

We’d love to see your New World Exhibition, so make sure you share what you’ve created on social media for a chance to be featured on It’s Nice That. Include the title of your exhibition, use the hashtags #CreativeNewWorld and #TodayAtApple, and tag @wwwesh.studio. We’ll be collating some of our favourite responses to share on It’s Nice That towards the end of the New World programme.

If you’re interested in hearing more about WWWesh and its work, sign up below for Pierrick and Antoine’s Virtual Studio on Wednesday 24 March.

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About the Author

Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.

rbd@itsnicethat.com

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