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Ladue Publications

Ladue High School's student news site

Ladue Publications

Ladue High School's student news site

Ladue Publications

Unfiltered

Ernie Batsell turns a passion for filter-making into a business pursuit
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Vincent Hsiao
Ernie Batsell (12) creates a Snapchat filter. He began making filters in Dec. 2020. “After three years, I’m still learning a lot.” Batsell said.

Snapchat is one of the most popular social medias in the world — as of this year, 406 million people worldwide use the app. That’s about 5% of the global population.

But Ernie Batsell (12) isn’t just a user. He’s also a creator.

In December 2020, Batsell’s friend was looking for a favor. He was growing his digital marketing brand and saw an opportunity: promotional Snapchat filters. Batsell, who had never made a filter, took on the challenge. Success came soon.

“When I started, the first few filters I made for him actually all gained over a million views within a week,” Batsell said.

That was impressive. But his standards have changed.

“When I started making [filters], I considered anything over 100,000 [views] trending, and I know my first few filters hit [that],” Batsell said. “Now, after three years, they randomly started trending again. One is about to be at 3 million [views], the other one hit 50 million.”

A view is counted whenever a Snapchatter taps on the filter. Ernie’s most popular, which simulates Pit Viper sunglasses on the user’s face, has amassed over 73 million views.

“There [were] a lot of Pit Viper [filters] out there, and when a lot of people started using them I decided to hop on the trend,” Batsell said. 

That’s how he gets ideas for a lot of filters: when a topic trends, related lenses get more views. 

“When Kanye [West] and Kim [Kardashian] got divorced and when he was running for president, I created Kanye West filters because he was trending everywhere,” Batsell said. “It’d be like a FaceTiming filter where you would have a FaceTime effect, and there would be a GIF of [West] talking or just a funny picture of his face.”

Batsell splits his filters into two categories: funny and aesthetic. For aesthetic filters, his first inspiration was a camera.

“For a little while I used to do photography,” Batsell said. “I had a mini camera, and I really liked the filters on those specific cameras.”

Batsell wanted to recreate the feel of those vintage-style filters.

“From old music videos from the 90s and early 2000s to those aesthetics on TV, I made vintage and aesthetic filters based off of those,” Batsell said. “I made a lot of VHS filters and a lot of analog filters.”

To replicate vintage aesthetics, he uses Adobe Lightroom, one of the many softwares Batsell uses to make his filters; apps such as Lens Studio, Sketchfab, Google Drawings and Blender are all parts of his process. It can be difficult to navigate the different programs, but Batsell has help.

“[This Youtuber had a lot of effects in [one video],” Batsell said. “I asked him who his effect artist was, and he knew how to use Blender. I asked him [about] some of the processes for it, and if there’s something that I wasn’t able to do, I’ll ask him ‘hey, could you do this for me?’ and he will actually do it for me. I’m happy and really grateful for all of that.”

Filter-making hasn’t just given Batsell technical knowledge — it’s given him a community.

“[I meet] a lot of influencers,” Batsell said. “I grew up watching [them] on [websites] like Tik Tok or YouTube, and the fact now that I’m getting a following and I’m actually getting to know these people is always good.”

Even though the filters Batsell makes for influencers aren’t published under his profile, they provide opportunities for growth.

“One of the filters I created [an influencer] was a Mario filter when the Super Mario Bros movie came out,” Batsell said. “He started telling his other friends about me, and I think there’s five new people I’m working with now who want filters. It’s the fact that more people are hearing about me is how I’m [meeting] all of these people.”

Batsell makes a lot of filters for these influencers.

“I think at one point I was [making and publishing filters] for more than 50 people,” Batsell said. “I limit my time now”

Despite the stress, Batsell is happy to help in the filter-making community, often without charge.

“If [someone is asking for] something simple, I’m not going to charge $50 for that,” Batsell said. “I’m happy for the people that I meet [because] they see the same view as me.”

Batsell’s filters have also connected him with the world.

“For one of my filters, a large [amount of] people from Spain, India, Türkiye, Ukraine [and] South America [used my filter],” Batsell said. “It was mainly those places where it was trending a lot.”

His connections have brought him many new opportunities. Most recently, verification.

“I woke up [Nov. 29] with my verification star,” Batsell said. “It was so worth it.”

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About the Contributors
Laura Shareshian, Features Editor
This is senior Laura Shareshian's second year on the Panorama and her first year as Features editor. When she's not working, Shareshian enjoys spending time with her cat.
Vincent Hsiao, Photo Editor in Chief
Sophomore Vincent Hsiao is the photography editor in chief for Panorama. He was previously a staff photographer for Ladue Publications where he significantly contributed to photos in both the Panorama newsmagazine and Rambler yearbook. Outside of photography, Hsiao is on the Ladue swim team and has been a swimmer since he was six.

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