How to fight big forces with an empty pocket
How the lo-fi aesthetic is changing the game of content creation
Hello everybody! If you are reading this little publication, it means you are shaping your digital journey as a creator, freelancer, or a visionary.
It’s been exactly one year since I started building NXT ANIMAL. As a filmmaker and producer who wanted to start his own game, I had to learn to say NO to many professional projects ,and also learn how to appreciate non-professional ways of doing things.
Yes! As promised, this issue is going to be about the lo-fi aesthetic and what it means for creators.
How lo-fi helped me to run my video agency.
Why Airbnb is using this style
How lo-fi helped Pablo Rochat to quit working for one of the best agencies in the world and win the game of the internet.
No matter your industry, this gonna help you tremendously. So sit tight!
An immigrant in Hollywood!
Five years ago, I arrived in L.A with my family. I came in with 15 years of experience, zero connections and a Persian accent. Enough to get lost in Hollywood!
I started editing videos on a beat up laptop and I made a living by recrafting the things that no one was willing to do. It took me 3 years to get to a professional level again and to land big clients.
Although I was grateful for the opportunity, it still wasn’t what I wanted. It was getting harder and harder to work on a TV series that I didn't believe in. I kept telling myself:
-One day you will start your own creative studio and will work with your dream clients.
However, nothing went as planned. The goal was to start with enough savings and connections, but then the pandemic hit. I suddenly realized:
Big dreams, small budget
Starting out with NO money means there will be NO room for your dream projects in the beginning. You are a one-man band and all you can do is serve a small clientele.
Since I couldn’t produce high-end videos, I flipped the script. I relied on my main skills:
- Storytelling with existing material
- Creative copy
I didn’t have enough resources, so I had to rely on post-production values, instead of production values!
This approach was unintentional. My “aha'' moment came while pitching this to a potential client: We create cost-effective, edgy, and raw social ads and stories that actually engage your audience.
I found out that what I had was the complete opposite of what traditional agencies typically do and there was a demand for it. It was something that startups and companies with a tight advertising budget needed, especially after taking a hard hit due to COVID.
When you are not willing to play the mainstream game, you have to create your own. All it takes is the courage to play with a different mindset.
Everything changed from the moment that I learned to appreciate the lo-fi style of my videos. Instead of competing with established agencies, I created my own niche. Here is our explainer video (3 mins):
Later I learned that lo-fi had already started to become a trend in content marketing and Covid-19, accelerated it even further.
I wasn’t alone!
Just a little bit of history
They say the next big thing is here,
that the revolution's near,
but to me it seems quite clear
that it's all just a little bit of history repeating
Lo-fi is not new. The movement began out of the bedrooms and home studios of indie musicians and record labels in the mid-80’s and 90’s.
Low-fidelity, or Lo-Fi, is typically viewed as lower quality and requires very little equipment and minimal production.
Similar to the Punk Rock scene, French New Wave cinema, and Dogme 95, the approach became a deliberate aesthetic choice for many artists and producers.
Turns out I’m 100% that b*tch
By rejecting the polished aesthetic of traditional production, the DIY alternative can deliver authentic moments that deepen user relationships.
That is why TikTok became popular, not only among its users, but also many brands.
The raw, spontaneous style of TikTok (and later, Instagram Reels) has become something that brands are trying to embrace in order to be less salesy and more authentic.
When looking at the new Airbnb campaign, one can see their effort to achieve a real, warm, organic atmosphere. The underlying message is, “We are from people, for people”.
A side note: I deleted the Airbnb app from my phone after Airbnb left me nearly frozen to death in Montreal. You can fake the lo-fi aesthetic, but you can’t fake the experience.
What lo-fi can give creators
My video agency is just a small part of NXT ANIMAL. What we actually do is bootstrapping a digital publication for upcoming creators. We translate the latest trends in tech and biz for creatives so they can start an online business and join the creator ecosystem.
There are 2 basic parts to the creator economy game:
A. You produce valuable content for a niche audience
B. Then monetize your audience or community.
Straightforward but NOT easy.
After starting, many creators realize how hard the daily content creation process is. Making quality content, day after day is a long damn game.
Let’s dive in and look at a real example and see how this creator cracked the code by using lo-fi.
How Pablo Rochat made a living by making us laugh
Pablo Rochat is an artist and creative director based in San Francisco. He makes videos, illustrations, and commercials that have become viral on Instagram. Most of his work involves the obsession that people have with tech gadgets and tools.
Rochat was the art director of Goodby Silverstein & Partners from 2013 - 2015 and also director of the creative lab in Tinder in 2016, but it wasn't something that fulfilled his type of humor and creativity.
In 2017, he decided to focus more on his own personal projects and ideas - a risky decision that eventually led to the founding of his own studio.
When he started, he didn’t have enough resources for his production, so he started by working with a very minimal set of tools and techniques. All of his viral videos featured himself as the model.
He started to use social media as a public sketchbook with no filter and that’s how he attracted brands and publications like Nike and New York Times through his own lo-fi style! He explains:
I’m using my channel as a testing ground for my weird ideas. I keep pushing ideas on my side because brands can see that they are actually working and be more comfortable with using them.
This is how he describes his work and style:
It’s all lo-fi and high-fun!
Your Key Takeaways
No resources? Embrace the raw and unfiltered aesthetic of digital tools and platforms. Keep your style deliberate.
Less perfection, more creativity: No filter will let you put your crazy ideas out there - that’s how our creative voice grows.
Consistency: Lo-fi makes it possible to produce daily content. Everyday creation is the key to building your audience.
Lo-fi lets you move fast with your ideas. Remember: Fail fast, fail cheap, fail a lot.
That is all (for now) folks!
Stay sane! Stay yourself!
If you haven’t subscribed yet:
Related article for you:
“Creators are new startups”. In this article, I unmasked the process of repackaging existing content and how it can save you time and money!