We recently interviewed Nassib El Mourabet, Freelance Motion Designer & 3D Generalist, to find out why he chose freelancing and more about being a Motion Designer and 3D Generalist.
What is a Motion Designer/3D Generalist and what do you do?
Well I am also a Compositing Artist in addition to those, but have in recent years tried to move away from that to focus on making cool animation work. So I'll split the answer into three.
A Motion Designer is sort of a Graphic Designer whose work moves. They create moving art. An Animator might animate a character and focus on in-betweens and key poses etc. but a Motion Designer builds a complete piece of artwork, something to be admired while moving, with the purpose of telling a story. Usually their work is for web or film, a TV ad or an explainer video. The Motion Designer here is not just moving limbs and objects, but they have thought out exactly what will happen in the piece, what it will look like, and how it will move from scene to scene. It can include characters, and it can include type, but it will always include beautifully animated elements and focus on composition and layout. Most importantly, it tells a story.
As for a 3D Generalist, it is basically someone who is well rounded and capable of handling all aspects of a 3D focused project, from modelling to rendering, lighting camera, and animation. Although not necessarily a hardcore specialist such as a rigger or a character animator, the generalist will be brought on board to contribute any aspect of a 3D film, or even create a full 3D piece on their own without the aid of any other team members.
A Compositing Artist, or Comp Artist, they generally do anything from green screen replacement, blending digitally created elements with live footage, adding things that aren't really there, and even retouch a scene or subject. The compositor basically welds CGI and real life together, and sometimes even removes unwanted things from live footage.
How did you become a Motion Designer & 3D Generalist?
I initially wanted to do games design, animation for games. As a non-British fresh graduate I was discouraged when my British classmates weren't even landing any jobs, so I flew home without trying. A friend called me up a few months after I was back home, and reads a classifieds ad to me. I called the number and ended up in a post production company which was where the real learning started!
“An experienced, professional and highly creative motion designer, Nassib created magic within the confines of a tight brief (and an even tighter deadline!). Calm, conscientious, great eye for detail and a total pleasure to work with.”
Mark Butler, Associate Creative Director, TBWA\ 1492
How long have you been freelancing?
Going on 13 years as a freelancer by the end of this month!
Why did you decide to go freelance?
I never chose to go freelance. I quit my first and only full time job in animation, when the pressure was just simply too much. I had experienced many consecutive overnights in a single month and several weeks with no weekends off at the age of 21. I quit but people had heard about my dedication at work. With being fresh out of uni with a specialised degree (Computer Games Design and Animation), I was being thrown projects at me in the final weeks of my resignation notice, and it hasn't stopped since. I just fell into it, but now I am making sure I keep it this way, unless the perfect job opportunity comes along.
What's the best thing about choosing to be an independent professional in your field?
Controlling your time, although I admit I have fallen slave to my work quite often, and have recently started to balance that out in the past 2 years. And also, choosing what to work on. You never get that in full-time role.
What's the hardest thing about freelancing?
As a freelancer and running my own company, I have to do everything. I'm the secretary, I'm the accountant, I'm the creative, I'm client servicing and account manager, I'm the runner, all in one! It's quite demanding but when you are passionate about it, you live for it every single day. It is quite difficult nonetheless, to be able to be creative while having to interrupt your process several times each day, which is why managing your time and tasks is priority numero uno.
"Nassib has been our go-to supplier whenever a job proved quite demanding in terms of compositing and animation. He always delivers a great result on every project.”
Mounir Haydamous, Co-Founder and CEO, Lucid Post
What's one thing no one ever told you about freelancing you wished you'd known at the beginning?
That time you thought you'll get to make your personal projects? It never comes if you don't actively allocate time for it. This is my biggest regret in 13 years of freelancing, that I hardly have a couple of personal pieces I have worked on. I am changing this right now however, and am committed to creating time for myself to work on non-commercial work. I believe I won't retire before I have created the pieces I dream of creating.
How has YunoJuno helped you as a freelancer?
YJ has landed me several jobs I would have never dreamed of ever landing, such as creating 3D images for Nespresso! And YJ also made sure I got paid on time and quite quickly, so I can never complain!
Can you talk about a project you're proud to have worked on?
It was quite fun trying to adapt Jax Jones' cartoon avatar to a Mario world, mixed with a Black Panthers style leader preaching through a megaphone. The avatar was not designed by me, but I dressed him up based on the scene, and animated him jumping and dancing etc.. The work was done for Observatory Ltd:
A showreel of my latest and best work, this one specific to motion design, 2D and 3D animation.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to become a Motion Designer/3D Generalist?
Forget university, finish school and spend your parents' money on specific online courses which are much cheaper and more practical, but this demands personal commitment and dedication. I am still learning till this day, and still convinced that I suck. Mind you, I graduated over 15 years ago so maybe some amazing courses have popped up, but in all honesty I have learned from 6 week online courses recently, more than I have in 3 years of uni. And for a fraction of the price!
Nothing will teach you like work though, so hunt for internships (paid, unpaid, whatever you can manage) at the cool studios, as early as you can, even in your last year of school/college. One thing I would DEFINITELY wish I learned at university would be BUSINESS. So if you want to learn something properly and not disappoint your parents, do that.
Learn to save up and invest, learn how to scale your business, how to land new clients, and most importantly, READ. Continue to educate yourself and know that it will not end.
If a client was reading this, why should they hire you?
I have the experience necessary to right off the bat estimate whether a project is feasible or not in the timeframe, and then I will proceed to find the best way to tackle the project. Having run my own business for so long, I know how to communicate clearly and put the client's mind at ease every step of the way. I know my strengths but more importantly, I know my weaknesses, and it's the difference between a great result or a disappointed client. Thankfully I have never had a single one of those, at least none that have expressed it to me!
"Brilliant. Super quick to learn our workflow. Polite, diligent, calm and friendly.”
Ken Coy, Head of Motion Graphics, DMS
Nassib is a freelance motion designer, VFX artist and 3D Generalist with over 15 years of experience. 12 of them as a freelancer, working with ad agencies, production and post production houses, and even directly with brands on over 600 films to date.