TikTok laat gebruikers eigen filters maken – mits ze een Mac hebben

TikTok opent Effect House als een publieke bèta voor alle creators en ontwikkelaars om filters te ontwerpen en uitproberen.

De service is oorspronkelijk in het laatste kwartaal van 2021 gelanceerd als een gesloten bèta. Ongeveer 450 TikTok-creators maakten er gebruik van. Het relatief kleine groepje publiceerde hun zelfgemaakte effecten, die uiteindelijk in 1,5 miljard video's zijn gebruikt en voor 600 miljard aan views hebben gezorgd.

Leren tijdens creëren

Het creëren van AR-filters vraagt om redelijk technische kennis. TikTok heeft verschillende handleidingen gepubliceerd die gebruikt kunnen worden om filters te leren maken. Zo zijn er handleidingen voor het maken van een gezichtsmasker, segmentatie-effecten en 3D-gezichtstexturen. 

Er is zelfs een handleiding hoe effectieve belichting en schaduwen gecreëerd worden. Het voelt erg volledig. Het beste is nog dat het allemaal gratis is.

Wanneer je een filter klaar hebt, kan je deze indien bij het veiligheidsteam van TikTok. Zij bekijken de filter en keuren deze goed. TikTok heeft een aantal 'Effect Guidelines' opgesteld die te allen tijde nageleefd moeten worden.

Het bedrijf wil namelijk geen enkele negatieve of controversiële content. Enkele voorbeelden zijn geen aanzetten tot geweld, gebruik van drugs, seksuele content of haatdragende inhoud.

Benodigde hardware

Je kunt nu al Effect House downloaden om te beginnen met creëren. Er zitten alleen wat haken en ogen aan: de applicatie is momenteel alleen beschikbaar voor Mac-computers. Op een (Windows) pc downloaden werkt niet en als je het via een Android-telefoon probeert, krijg je de melding dat je je Mac moet gebruiken.

Een meevaller is dat de benodigde hardware niet erg geavanceerd is. Om een voorbeeld te geven: een Mac die een Intel Core i3 2,5Ghz processor en een Nvidia GeForce 710 grafische kaart bevat, volstaat. Dat is een relatief lage CPU. Het laat ons dan ook vermoeden dat de discrete grafische onderdelen het meeste zware werk doen. 

Verschillende onderdelen die TikTok noemt, zijn al bijna een decennium oud. Mocht je een enigszins recente Mac-computer hebben, kan je direct aan de slag met Effect House. 

Er bestaat een kans dat Effect House nog op minimaal een ander (mobiel) platform verschijnt. Op de 'Effect Guidelines'-pagina wordt er gesproken over de technische vereisten voor de Android-versie. TikTok heeft nog niet bekendgemaakt wanneer andere versies uitgebracht worden.

Omdat Effect House nog in het beta-stadium zit, vraagt TikTok de community om feedback te geven als zij bugs of problemen ondervinden.

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TikTok wants you to build your own AR – if you own a Mac

TikTok is opening its Effect House tool as a public beta for all creators and developers to try out and create their own filters. 

The service was originally launched back in Fall 2021 as a closed beta with around 450 TikTok creators adopting it. That relatively small group published their own created effects, which have gone on to be used in 1.5 billion videos garnering over 600 billion views.

Learning as you create

Creating AR filters does require a certain level of technical knowledge. TikTok has provided a series of guides that people can follow to learn how to create a filter. There’s a guide on creating a Face Mask, Segmentation effects, and 3D Face textures.

And there’s even a guide on how to do effective lighting and shadows. It’s all pretty comprehensive, and the best part is that it’s all free.

When you’re done, you can submit the filter for the Trust and Safety team to look it over and approve it. TikTok has implemented a set of Effect Guidelines that everyone must follow when creating a filter.

The company doesn’t want any negative or controversial content. Examples include no threats of violence, drugs, sexual content, or hateful behavior.

Hardware requirements

You can download Effect House right now to begin creating, but there’s a catch: the app is currently only available for Mac computers. Downloading on your PC will not work and if you try to get Effect House on your Android phone, the website will tell you to use your Mac.

At least the Mac hardware minimum requirements aren't too high. To give an example, you’ll need a Mac that has an Intel Core i3 2.5Ghz processor and Nvidia GeForce 710 graphics cards. That's a relatively low-powered CPU, which leads us to believe that the discrete graphics is doing most of the heavy lifting here.

Some of the hardware listed by TikTok has been out for almost a decade, so as long as you have a relatively recent Mac computer, you’re good to go and ready to start creating.

There’s a good chance that Effect House will release outside on at least one mobile platform. In the Effect guidelines page, it mentions the technical requirements for the Android version. However, TikTok didn’t say when other versions will release.

And because Effect House is in beta, TikTok is asking its community to offer feedback if there are any bugs or problems.

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TikTok wants you to build your own AR – if you own a Mac

TikTok is opening its Effect House tool as a public beta for all creators and developers to try out and create their own filters. 

The service was originally launched back in Fall 2021 as a closed beta with around 450 TikTok creators adopting it. That relatively small group published their own created effects, which have gone on to be used in 1.5 billion videos garnering over 600 billion views.

Learning as you create

Creating AR filters does require a certain level of technical knowledge. TikTok has provided a series of guides that people can follow to learn how to create a filter. There’s a guide on creating a Face Mask, Segmentation effects, and 3D Face textures.

And there’s even a guide on how to do effective lighting and shadows. It’s all pretty comprehensive, and the best part is that it’s all free.

When you’re done, you can submit the filter for the Trust and Safety team to look it over and approve it. TikTok has implemented a set of Effect Guidelines that everyone must follow when creating a filter.

The company doesn’t want any negative or controversial content. Examples include no threats of violence, drugs, sexual content, or hateful behavior.

Hardware requirements

You can download Effect House right now to begin creating, but there’s a catch: the app is currently only available for Mac computers. Downloading on your PC will not work and if you try to get Effect House on your Android phone, the website will tell you to use your Mac.

At least the Mac hardware minimum requirements aren't too high. To give an example, you’ll need a Mac that has an Intel Core i3 2.5Ghz processor and Nvidia GeForce 710 graphics cards. That's a relatively low-powered CPU, which leads us to believe that the discrete graphics is doing most of the heavy lifting here.

Some of the hardware listed by TikTok has been out for almost a decade, so as long as you have a relatively recent Mac computer, you’re good to go and ready to start creating.

There’s a good chance that Effect House will release outside on at least one mobile platform. In the Effect guidelines page, it mentions the technical requirements for the Android version. However, TikTok didn’t say when other versions will release.

And because Effect House is in beta, TikTok is asking its community to offer feedback if there are any bugs or problems.

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TikTok takes on YouTube with 10-minute videos – but will people watch?

TikTok has enabled the ability to create videos that can last for up to 10 minutes, an increase from three and five minutes for different creators.

Over the last 18 months, the company has been testing different length videos that creators could publish, with a limit of five minutes that's been in place since 2019.

However, some creators wanted TikTok to extend the length, to better compete with YouTube and Instagram Reels. Now that it's here, though, one wonders if TikTok users want 10-minute videos to scroll through in their 'For You' feed.

Analysis: 10-minute videos may be a niche appeal

TikTok is a social platform where you scroll vertically to watch videos. While you can watch videos from users you follow, or another called 'For You' where TikTok's algorithm curates new videos from creators you don't follow, the app's appeal is to watch short videos to pass the time.

10-minute videos may be a stretch. We're getting perilously close to the range of a web movie or TV show. The 2003 series Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a good example here, where episodes could range between three and twelve minutes. To be fair, we rather enjoyed that series. With the new 10-minute-range, TikTok could start bringing more episodic series to the platform

In the near term, though, TikTok's new competitor is clearly YouTube, a platform that's already attracting some TikTok creators anxious for more time on the digital stage.

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Longer videos on TikTok may help some creators in the topics they create, such as making pancakes, throwbacks to old TV shows, or a documentary on certain topics.

But 10-minute videos will require users to sit down and focus on what they're watching, instead of mindlessly scrolling through. On the other hand, these longer videos are entirely optional. It's possible that you won't see 10-minute TikToks in your feed. You might also choose to help the algorithm filter them out for you by not pausing to watch any of them. After all, who has an hour to spare for TikTok?

As for Tiktok, these extended videos are a sign that it wants some of its creators to cover topics that can only be explained in relatively long-form videos. Their success in that effort will depend on how users will respond to the change.

And as TikTok comes for YouTube, YouTube is coming for TikTok, too. YouTube has its own take on TikTok called Shorts, where creators can release shorter content, but it's a feature still in its early stages.

While TikTok takes on the video giant, it's also tackling its own monetary issues, making sure creators feel compensated so they don't jump to the potentially more lucrative YouTube.

The monetization efforts compared to YouTube are reportedly very small, which has meant that creators such as hankschannel are moving away from TikTok for more income on Google's video platform.

Essentially, TikTok's faced with a multi-pronged effort to excite and keep active creators: longer videos for more creative freedom and new monetization efforts to match the creators' extra effort with better revenue streams.

It's only then that the company has a chance to go head to head with YouTube, but it also depends on whether more creators and users will jump ship to TikTok and its new 10-minute video opportunity.

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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra isn’t a TikTok machine and I’m a little disappointed

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is not ready to be my TikTok creation platform.

That’s right, I TikTok. Don’t look at me like that. There are lots of middle-aged people lip-synching, dancing, showing off hacks, and demonstrating oddball skills on the wildly popular social media platform.

My channel is not filled with dances or songs. It’s mostly a hodgepodge of conversations with myself, visual tricks, tech stuff, and a lot of me experiencing the latest trending filter. Lately, I’ve been using a lot of filters, which rely on augmented reality to transform my face into animals, movie characters, optical illusions. They’re harmless fun.

While I can find filters that do work, some of the newest, coolest and maybe most sophisticated ones do not work on Samsung’s premier smartphone.

TikTok fail screens

TikTok filter fail screens on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (Image credit: Future)

This came as something of a surprise to me. The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is an excellent and powerful Android 12 phone. It has a great collection of powerful cameras, including two 10 MP telephotos, 108MP wide and 12Mp ultrawide on the back, and a 40MP camera on the front.

It’s that last camera that I rely on for TikTok work. It’s more than capable of shooting standard TikTok videos. However, every time I try to use a new, trending filter like Raindrop control (which lets you freeze raindrops by using hand motions), or SYMMETRY (which lets you see what you’d look like if both sides of your face were exactly the same – for me the answer was Voldemort), the app informs me, “This effect doesn’t work with this device.”

Even simple filters like the “Your Decade,” which guesses your birth decade theoretically based on how you look (though I think it may be random), don’t work.

Listen, I like to spend a portion of each evening losing myself in the TikTok stream. It’s mind-numbing, entertaining, and kind of relaxing. When I see a fun filter, I like to try it out. I don’t always post the often-embarrassing results, and my draft folder is filled with unpublished efforts.

There’s real joy in consuming TikTok video on the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s high-definition 6.8-inch AMOLED, 120Hz-capable display, which only intensifies the frustration when I can’t test drive a new filter.

But why?

From a technical perspective, this, at least on the surface, makes little sense. The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra’s 40MP front-facing camera is capable of some light AR work. There’s literally an AR Zone in the Camera app that lets me doodle in AR on my face, turn my whole head into an AR emoji, and do other AR-based tricks.

There are, when it comes to the front camera, limitations. In the AR Doodle, it will only support face doodles. Plus, even though the phone can plop a dinosaur head emoji on my body that can follow my head's movement and some facial expressions, it’s not that precise.

AR options in Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

AR options in Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (Image credit: Future)

If I were to compare what’s possible with Apple’s TrueDepth Module on the front of its iPhone 13 line with what the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra’s single front-facing camera is capable of, I’d call the Samsung effort a 1.0 version.

Ever since Apple introduced that depth-sensing module, its front-facing camera’s AR capabilities have grown substantially. When the iPhone 13 Pro paints my face with Mardi Gras makeup, the effect is realistic and disturbing. As I’m sure you know the camera is fully capable of supporting all of TikTok’s latest filters and effects.

Need some answers

I’ve contacted Samsung for more details on why the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra doesn’t support all these filters and will update this post with the company’s response. Perhaps they’ll tell me it’s just a matter of a software update, but I doubt it. That lone camera can only do so much with software to understand the real-world depth and create a realistic marriage between artificial reality and my face.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra’s rear camera array includes a laser to assist with autofocus. It does that by reading the depth information of a subject and their environment. I’d have to assume that if Samsung had drilled one additional hole in the screen next to the 40MP front camera for a laser, it might also have brought that depth info to the front of the phone, and then better support all those TikTok filters.

So, while you’re passing harsh judgment on my TikTok activities, maybe spare some for a brand-new, innovative phone that somehow forgets to fully support the world’s most popular social media platform.

As for me, I guess I’ll stick to my iPhone 13 Pro in my unending quest to become TikTok famous.

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Reddit update apes TikTok to show you things you’ve not subscribed to

Reddit has released an update to its mobile app for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices that adds a Discover tab, allowing you to find new content and subreddits that you've not come across before, similar to TikTok's 'For You' tab.

The platform is a place of many communities that can apply to many franchises, products, and brands. Its users, or Redditors as the company calls them, usually subscribe to these, which are called subreddits.

But across the site and the app, you would usually find new categories and topics by the algorithm showcasing trending content on the main page, or by searching for something manually.

However, Reddit is aware that there are better ways for its Redditors to discover new content thanks to this update, available for iOS and Android.


Analysis: About time, Reddit

It can be difficult to find new content on Reddit, compared to other social media apps such as TikTok and Instagram.

While the website had a design refresh 2018, it didn't go far enough when making it clear how you could navigate subreddits, or being accessible for new users.

With its app for iOS and Android, Reddit feels much better to navigate thanks to its different design compared to the website. But Apollo, a third-party app does the same function with an even better interface.

The new Discover feature is going to help close the gap for Reddit against Apollo here, but the next step should be how this can work for its website, which arguably still houses a design that's from the late nineties.

If it can attempt another redesign of its site that makes it easier to navigate to new users, alongside making existing content look more appealing, Reddit may appeal to an even bigger userbase than it has now.

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I used to think I was too old for TikTok, but now I’m using it for wedding ideas

This week (February 18) marks two years since I was engaged, and since then my devices have been full of apps containing ideas for every part of the wedding.

From the flowers to the colors of the tables at the Wedding Reception we had sorted out plans for everything – putting in a level of work would make you wish you eloped and dealt with the family fallout soon after they find out.

But we had been struggling with some music ideas – especially for when our guests are finding their seats, and unfortunately, my idea of a track from Metal Gear Solid was rejected.

This is where TikTok came to the rescue for me, where discovering artists with covers and their own spin on other tracks has made us both completely redo the Wedding playlist, both for the church and the Wedding reception.

A For You page of Wedding ideas

For those unaware, TikTok is an endless vertical scroll of videos, that its algorithm sources from its millions of users. It could be clips of TV shows from the 90s, or 'life hacks' of how to clean the grill in your oven to name just two of the countless examples of what you can find.

But if you're looking for something specific without the algorithm trying to find something for you, it's the Discover page that shines here.

Typing in 'covers' or 'mashup' brings you a bunch of results of songs that you didn't think would ever work, but they do. This particular track is something that my fiance and I are already planning on using for the day.

@veggibeats

♬ Only girl in september – veggibeats

It's content that I've never found on other social platforms. Facebook is less of a feed and more of photos and 'announcements' from those you've not spoken to in years, while Instagram is more about looking at Instagram Stories to pass the time, regardless of its efforts into short-form video as of late.

But TikTok scratches an itch I didn't know I had – where creators are giving me ideas to use for one of the most important days of my life. It's an app that, at the moment anyway, doesn't cause unnecessary discourse for certain topics, or shoehorns in paid options as I'm scrolling through Gayle and Notorious B.I.G. covers.

The app is already at the front of my iPhone home screen because of this, and once the wedding is accomplished – if there are more covers to as good as the above to find – it's not a stretch to think it may keep me around for a good while longer.

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Instagram is testing vertical Stories that work a lot like TikTok

After confirming that vertical scrolling for Stories was in development back in 2021, Instagram is starting to test the feature in select countries.

Instagram Stories is the company’s take on tapping through short stories that can last up to ten seconds, both in a photo or a video. You can add in a GIF, tag someone, add filters, and more to update your followers on what you’re doing at that moment in time.

But when you decide to go to the next or previous story, you have to tap on the left or right in certain areas of the story in order to do these actions. This could be problematic as some tags placed in a story may overlap, so you may skip a story when you wanted to tap on the tagged person or place in question.

Navigating through your Stories by swiping will alleviate this, and while there’s a good chance that its similarity to TikTok will be mentioned, it’s a much better method for everyone, especially if you primarily use Stories on Instagram.


Analysis: This will matter to heavy Stories users

While recent updates, such as the ability to post from a web browser or switching to a dark mode theme have been well-received, vertical scrolling will mean a great deal more to other users.

The company has been rolling out features to better rival TikTok in video content, such as Reels and the ability to add web links to a Story.

However, since Instagram confirmed that vertical scrolling was under development, users had been waiting to see if it would be implemented. One year on, we get confirmation that it’s at least being tested in countries such as Turkey.

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As smartphones get bigger or, foldable, having to tap on the left side of the screen to go back to a story is going to be more frustrating for users.

Swiping up or down to navigate your Stories is a much more appealing method. It’s TikTok’s main way of browsing videos in its app, and it would be a welcome change to Instagram Stories.

With a chronological feed due out soon, swiping in a Story could be the next big feature for 2022.

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TikTok secret algorithm is a big ‘Duh!’

TikTok’s powerful algorithm steering the social media activity of millions of daily users is no longer a mystery.

In a new New York Times report that outlines information gleaned from what’s been verified as an official document, TikTok’s algorithm is laid bare. Wait for it: It prioritizes retention and time spent, and is insanely obvious.

Boiled down to its essence, the TikTok algorithm looks for video likes, comments, and how much of the video you watch (a fully watched video is obviously worth more than one you stop or scroll past before it’s complete).

The system understands, based on tags and other details, what each video is about. If you like a certain kind of video and watch it all the way through, or even pause it repeatedly and then still complete playing it, those are positive signals for the algorithm.

Since TikTok’s goal is to bring you back to the platform as often as possible, and retain your attention once you’re there, the algorithm will then feed you more of the kind of videos you’ve indicated that you like/prefer through the TikTok algorithm

It’s an addictive, virtuous circle, right?

Videos that string together a story – and get you to watch all of them – can supercharge the influence of that topic in the algorithm to give you more of that kind of meaty content.

A path to content addiction

When I started watching TikTok videos a few years ago, virtually all of them were 15 seconds or less. My feed was full of magic tricks, DIY, and people doing dances. None of this, even back then, was random. I was interested in learning new magic tricks (I’ve been an amateur magician almost all my life), I love home hacks, and couldn’t get enough of the dances because I appreciated the skill, and wondered how people of all ages (including mine!) had the skill and energy to learn and do them. What I watched fed all the videos I saw. To this day, my youngest child often comments that I see a very different TikTok than they do.

Nowadays, I watch longer, storytelling videos, like those from Elise Meyers, whom I stumbled on a few months ago when she told this lengthy and hilarious tale about a blind date who picked her up, drove them to Taco Bell, and then bought 100 tacos.

She’s a brilliant storyteller. I know this because now I’ve consumed dozens of her videos thanks to the algorithm, which is feeding me more and more of them (along with other long-form story-telling videos).

These three-minute TikToks are obviously a boon for TikTok’s core goal of collecting and retaining more users. Time spent as a metric isn't unique to TikTok. Anyone who runs a content website knows the value of more time (and pages) consumed, which usually translates into more served ads.

Down the rabbit hole

What’s notable, though, is that TikTok’s algorithm still allows for discovery. Yes, there’s a lot of showing you more of what you clearly like or want (to the possible detriment of those who may be in a dark place and are gravitating to depressing/angry/harmful videos).

On the other hand, TikTok retains a bit of serendipity. Every once in a while, I see a video that has nothing to do with my likes or interests (at least as I express them on TikTok), but I get hooked. That’s how Elise Meyers happened. These random videos are usually a product of extreme popularity elsewhere on TikTok, which then drives that content into your feed, for you to feed the algorithm with fresh attention info.

The downside of this fairly simple algorithm is that it can appear to get stuck. Suddenly, I have five or six Elise Meyers in one feed session, and even I can’t slog through that many minutes of her crazy stories. I usually take a break and then come back to them.

I’ve also found that, once you understand the TikTok algorithm, you can untrain and retrain it. If I find too much of one kind of video in my feed. I do some hashtag searches and then rabbit-hole down a few fresh topics.

This usually works until I gravitate back to my old haunts (magic, DIY, FX, Elise Meyers) – and then I’m back to where I started.

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