Otis College instructor with Snap Lens Lab students

The two-week pre-college summer program offers a unique opportunity for students to design cutting-edge AR tools.

A collaboration between Otis Extension and Snap Inc., the Snap Lens Lab @ Otis College is a pre-college program during which students create augmented reality (AR) experiences for Snapchatters around the world. During the two-week program, students learn the ins and outs of Snap Inc.’s Lens Studio, a powerful application designed for artists and developers to build AR experiences for users. This year’s program runs July 17–28. 

Open to high school students with no prior experience in the myriad design and tech tools used throughout the program, Snap Lens Lab @ Otis College has the added benefit of giving high school youth an inside look at meaningful career opportunities in digital media and AR. 

“In this immersive program scholars are encouraged to think divergently, stretch their imagination, and expand their skills to develop ideas that go beyond what they thought possible,” says Inez Bush, Assistant Dean of Otis Extension. 

There are several unique aspects of the program that set Snap Lens Lab @ Otis College apart from other summer youth experiences.

Program Benefits

1. Students Learn from Otis College Instructors 

Instructors from Otis College’s Extension and BFA programs in Digital Media and related design fields engage students in all aspects of the development and design process within the augmented reality, digital, and physical environments. The program also includes guest visits from industry professionals working in augmented reality and concept art. 

2. Students Benefit from Active Participation from Snap Inc. 

Snap Inc. is a technology company that believes reinventing the camera represents the greatest opportunity to improve the way people live and communicate. The company contributes to human progress by empowering people to express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world, and have fun together. Not only will participants in Snap Lens Lab @ Otis College be mentored by Snap team members, but they also will have the opportunity to visit Snap’s headquarters in Santa Monica to see how a creative company functions. They’ll also explore augmented reality exhibits around Los Angeles to stretch their imagination and actually experience what is possible with this technology.

3. Students Learn to Create AR with Lens Studio

AR is core to the Snapchat experience. Lens Studio is a powerful desktop app for Mac and PC that allows users to create, publish, and share magical experiences through the lenses they create for Snapchat that can reach an audience of millions. Students learn how to harness that technology from leading designers.

"This program shaped my way of seeing the connection between art and technology in an inspirational way that I would have never had in any other program."

4. Students Learn Other Essential Digital Media Tools

Over the two-week program, students also learn to create 2D and 3D art and designs using industry standard programs such as Maya for 3D modeling, Photoshop, and Illustrator. With this knowledge they are able to develop Snap lenses (aka filters). 

5. Students End Program with Finished Work and an Exhibition

At the culmination of Snap Lens Lab @ Otis College, students will exhibit their work for their instructors, Snap mentors, friends, and family. And how cool is it that the students’ finished work—Snapchat lenses—can be shared with the millions of Snapchat users around the world?

Examples of Snapchat lenses

More information about Snap Lens Lab @ Otis College can be found at otis.edu/snap-lens-lab-otis-college.  While the application window for the 2023 Snap Lens Lab has closed, interested students can submit their information to get updates about next year’s cohort.