How the ‘Runaway Aurora’ filter became very popular on social media in these dark times


On April 16, Pune-based videographer Bhupendra Rawat
posted a Tutorial in Hindi titled “How to do Runaway Aurora Filter Effect on Instagram” on her YouTube channel, OsuVoX.

He had noticed that people were looking for this now viral augmented reality filter (check
google trends), which allows users to create silhouetted images of themselves in various poses with ethereal visuals of the sky in the background.

For 22-year-old Rawat’s young career as a YouTuber, the filter has proven to be a game-changer in some way.

Rawat, who had averaged 100 to 5,000 views, was going to be surprised.

The Runaway Aurora Tutorial has earned it nearly 982,000 views and is still growing.

The 3-minute clip also earned him over the past month what he had earned in advertising revenue for an entire year on YouTube.

It has also helped attract 40% of its current subscriber base of over 10,800 subscribers.

“This is the first time that a filter has been in fashion on social networks,” he says.


Illustration: Rahul Awasthi

Designers like Renald Fadli from Indonesia were among the first to
download filter on the photo and video sharing app in mid-March. They had used Norwegian singer Aurora’s 2015 soundtrack, “ Runaway, ” as the accompanying audio to accompany the filter in their videos. The song had recently resurfaced on TikTok and gained traction in the West.

The filter, also inspired by a recent silhouette challenge on TikTok, thus became known as the Runaway Aurora filter.

“I don’t know how it got so big,” Rawat said, still incredulous.

He attributes this to people’s inclinations for aesthetically pleasing things on social media, especially in these times of utter desperation.

Cloud-vloud, shadow-vadow, sab sahi rehte hain. Art bhi achcha hai, “he leaves. (People love visual effects and artistic effects which include clouds, shadows, moon, artwork)

Filters galore

Hundreds of AR filters and visual effects are uploaded daily to short video sharing platforms like Instagram. While some click, others end up fading into oblivion.

Runaway Aurora is that rare filter that has not only become very popular on Indian social media – at a time when most online platforms are filled with Covid-related SOS messages – it has also led to an unusual breakthrough for de many designers lately. weeks.

Mohammed Ovesh, a 19-year-old YouTuber from Barnagar to Ujjain, has added 13,000 new subscribers to his channel, Ovesh World, courtesy of
a video tutorial on this filter.

“She got three times more engagement than a viral video on my channel,” Ovesh says.

Aashi Adani, a Mumbai-based lifestyle content creator, used the filter for her reel sporting a heavy lehenga that she last wore to her sister’s wedding.

“I have noticed that the ethnic touch blends well with these Western trends at home,” says the 22-year-old. At 19.8 million, it’s his most viewed post of all time. His account saw a 550.8% growth in reach in the first 7 days after this reel was posted. “I gained 10,000 subscribers thanks to this reel. This is no small feat considering that there are so many designers these days, ”she says.

It’s not just the visual quotient of the filter that has caused this internet frenzy, however.

It had a mass appeal unlike the myriads of dance challenges that go around that aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, notes Rawat.

Last week, GeeksforGeeks, a computing platform, released a reel using the filter to describe a day in the life of an encoder. “We wanted our subscribers, mostly college students, to have something around this trend that they could relate to as well,” says Sonakshi Goswami, the platform’s marketing manager. It got 40% more engagement than regular viral posts on their social media channels.

The filter also worked well because it was easy to use.

You didn’t have to do too much editing to make a compelling video, says Mihir Surana, COO of NOFILTR, an influencer marketing agency.

That said, one of the creators of his agency, Manav Chhabra, enlisted the help of graphic designer Darsh Nishar to customize the filter on his reel.

For the best designers, it becomes imperative to use a trend in a unique way.

Nishar selected attractive images of the sky on Pinterest and added a moving sky effect against the backdrop of Chhabra’s video. This also got Nishar noticed, which got him more requests from creators keen to have their own version of the filter.

Dhruv Shah and Shyam Sharma are another set of designers who got noticed because of Chhabra’s runaway feat.

The duo created a remix – a current trending format on the platform – in addition to the already viral Chhabra reel to show how the trend was invented. “We basically gave our side of the video a backstage feel and pretended, by turning the lights on and off, that we were the ones running them,” says Shyam Sharma from Mumbai.

Sharma and Shah’s reel went on to capture 43 million views; Chhabra’s original reel currently has around 31 million. “People posted on their stories that they found the winner of this trend in our reel,” Sharma adds.

Unique trend

Many Instagrammers have since made parodies using the filter, officially turning it into a meme, notes Yash Saboo, a social media associate at Pepper Content marketplace. Him too,
created one which shows him as a freelance writer trying to spin a reel but being interrupted by calls from clients in between.

Psychologists say it is no coincidence that the filter has gained unusual popularity on Instagram in India, especially at a time when a section of the internet was inundated with SOS posts for Covid-related help.

“It matched the tone of the time,” says Anshuma Kshetrapal, a creative arts psychotherapist from Delhi who also created a coil using the filter while still recovering from Covid-19. “It was dark, soft, not festive. This did not interrupt the philosophy of the time, ”she says.

The filter allowed people to experience the outdoors, as most of the poses were of people outside their homes, in their balconies, on their roofs, or in buildings amid lockdown restrictions.

“I know some friends who haven’t been out of their homes since last year and went to their backyard to shoot this video,” says Pepper Content’s Saboo.


Illustration: Rahul Awasthi

In the midst of the chaos, it brought some calm, even momentarily.

Music and lyrics

The part of the song that became famous thanks to this filter was also symbolic of the times we live in.

As Surana says: “I don’t know if people realized it but the lyrics
And I was running away, would I ever run away from the world?“Actually corresponded to our current situation.”

Vipasha Malhotra, a young musician from Delhi, rose to fame performing these lyrics for the Indian masses.

Earlier this month, she posted a Hindi rendition of Runaway’s lyrics while using the filter in an Instagram reel, recording over 20 million views and 2 million hearts on her post.

The lyrics in Hindi allowed more Indians to find meaning in the trend, says Malhotra. “It’s like you find the Post Malone songs cool, but connect with Arijit’s songs.”

The reel has caught the attention of actors like Sonam Kapoor and Siddhant Chaturvedi, among others, she says. Actor Mrunal Thakur even messaged her directly to create a full cover of the song in Hindi, which she ultimately did and received several commercial questions afterwards.

She now owes two-thirds of her 63,000 Instagram followers to this trend.

Malhotra was on her first day of menstruation when she created the first Fleeting Aurora Coil. “In addition to the period pain, I was also anxious because my parents were struggling to get immunization slots in Delhi,” she adds.

Working on that reel has been a distraction for her.

For graphic designer Nishar, however, this distraction quickly turned into boredom. “After doing so many edits, I became irritated with the song and started slipping whenever a reel with this filter appeared on my stream,” he says.

And yet, he and all the others who have gained tremendously from this filter are waiting for the next Runaway Aurora filter equivalent. As Adani from Mumbai admits: “Nothing brings more numbers than this filter. It was truly unique.

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