A meeting of slapstick humour and virtual chats, Slapchat is the new chrome extension we can now use to make those daily meetings a little less serious and inject some personality and humour into our usual working day.
The team at Buck – the US and Amsterdam based creative agency – found themselves, like the rest of us, on a lot more video calls when we all started working from home. What started as a novelty at first – answering 9am calls in your pyjamas – has now become all too strange and disconnected. “When you’re in a new environment with a lot of creative people,” says Charlie Whitney, the lead creative technologist, “you naturally start playing around and finding new ways to have fun. Shortly after virtual background fatigue set in, we began pulling at the code inside of Google Meet and seeing how far we could push meetings without breaking them.”
Only people with the extension installed will see the animations. “And your boss is definitely not cool enough to be reading this,” according to Whitney. Previously, Buck was behind the AR sticker app SlapStick which enables you to place animated stickers on top of the real world. “With people venturing out less, it seemed like a great idea to bring those assets to the web,” the design team’s lead says. Buck wanted to give virtual communication a non-verbal element which includes, apparently, some “totally inappropriate imagery”.
As with any creative project, there were challenges to overcome. For Buck, the most challenging part was cramming all of their ideas within a format that could be approved for the Chrome Web store. “In early prototypes,” explains Whitney, “we hijacked the chat so you could send commands that affected others’ video feeds, added speech bubbles, or changed camera feeds via local socket servers. These were all very fun, but required technical setups and weren’t portable.”
So which stickers are the team’s favourites? “I like using the feather to tickle the butt of the twerking heart,” professes Whitney in a sentence I never thought I’d hear. Kevin Walker, executive creative director, is “a fan of the tap dancing horse-head”. Whereas Vero Gómez, a 2D animator, likes “cupid. He’s cute, floating around and shooting arrows. Just being mischievous.”
Download Buck’s Slapchat Google Chrome Chrome extension here.
GalleryBuck: Slapchat (Copyright © Buck, 2021)
Buck: Slapchat (Copyright © Buck, 2021)
About the Author
Dalia is a freelance writer, producer and editor based in London. She’s currently the digital editor of Azeema, and the editor-in-chief of The Road to Nowhere Magazine. Previously, she was news writer at It’s Nice That, after graduating in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh.