Nassib El Mourabet: Freelancer of the Month
How long you’ve been freelancing, and what was your main reason to become a Motion Designer & Animator?
I have been freelancing for 16 years, I fell in love with CGI and gaming in my teens and decided to pursue something in this field. Additionally, I have a BA in Computer Games Design.
What was most difficult at the beginning of your career? What would be your advice for an aspiring Animator?
Times change quickly, and with it all the tools we use. By the time I graduated, the software I’d learnt was obsolete (Discreet Combustion, Softimage Eddie, 3D Max’s Brazil for rendering). I had to learn After Effects on the job, as well as other software which was not taught to me even though I went to a respectable university. So my advice would be in all honesty, avoid a university degree and take up online courses. It’s cheaper, faster, and more practical.
‘[…] avoid a university degree and take up online courses. It’s cheaper, faster, and more practical.’
Did you have any turning point in your career? Would you like to tell us about it?
A client pressured me to rebrand myself as a company so that their own client would not think a single person was doing their whole project. So I did that, and this was the first time I did a proper website and branding. This did help me land more clients, and I had to start hiring extra hands, which got me bigger projects on some occasions. Moving to the UK 4 years ago, I had to quickly go back to being Nassib El Mourabet, and promote myself as such, rather than giving the image of a whole “studio” behind Plunk.
What are you working on right now?
An explainer video with some 2D Character work. My favourite work is characters, and I don’t get many chances to work on them, which is why I should create personal projects to show clients my abilities and to get more of that type of work.
In your CV you have well known clients such as Google, Amazon, McDonald’s, Pepsi, HSBC… What has been the most challenging project you’ve worked on? Why it was so challenging?
Some of the most challenging projects are ones I don’t post on my website, due to their being technical projects only, involving a lot of clean up and compositing to make things look normal. I did a project for Adidas Y-3 where I had to remove a lot of cables around actors, and clean up a very dirty white studio backdrop. This job was not doable in the allotted time.
Another project involved removing really thick wires that were used to create a frozen time effect, the problem was those cables passed in front of everything and everyone, and no plates were used, nor any motion control camera. It is a lot of painstaking and pointless work to correct errors. I’ve got very good with that on account of a lot of laziness or money saving efforts on the production’s side.
What I’m most proud of though is completing a 3D character animation for Kinder Happy Hippo. I’ve just posted it on my website. It was my first 3D character animation in Cinema 4D, and my first since uni even.
Could you please describe your typical work day as a Freelancer?
Emails and reading early morning, doing non-challenging work until 10 am, and then slowly getting into the creative flow. I usually work longer than normal day hours, as my productivity kicks in later in the day. And when it does, I don’t want to leave. Lunch isn’t always an hour for me, it’s usually 30 minutes at most, so I counter that by taking 2 to 3 ten minute breaks throughout the afternoon.
What’s your way of keeping a good life-work balance?
I hadn’t kept one for a long time, until a couple of years ago after Covid, I realised how I’d lost all my hobbies and not been keeping fit or healthy at all. So I now do my best to get 3 days of gym a week (even 4 sometimes), walking 10,000 steps a day since Covid. I’m always out enjoying new art exhibitions, plays, a music gig and events like that. I also try to leave London once every couple of months, see some friends around the UK, or make a trip back to Beirut or Dubai to check in on family and friends. As a guy sitting behind a screen, you learn that the sun is your friend. I’ve also tried not to take being here for granted, and try to see London and the UK as a tourist, and I’ve been doing so whenever I can.
Do you have a hobby? What do you do after work?
Gym and walks, catching up on the art and design scene.
Who is your favourite Motion Designer? Do you have any creative people you follow because of their work?
I follow hundreds of people. My favourite motion designer is someone whose work I’ve come across recently, Sebastien Pfeifer, aka every-fresh-design on Instagram. The guy is a genius.
What is the main inspiration for your creative process?
It’s always different. I subscribed once again to Stash magazine after years away from it. But the most inspiration I get is from Instagram or Google, nowhere else. I should be checking certain platforms more often, but these days we are really getting overwhelmed, especially with AI art creators now, as if there aren’t enough resources already!
Why did you decide to work with an agency like ours?
The Crewing Company is much respected in the business and actually one of two agencies I have worked with continuously for the last 3 years. I follow the 80-20 rule, so I didn’t bother with other agencies that were really just wasting my time and not looking out for my interests. Your agency did that and does that all the time. And the proof is this freelancer of the month nomination for example.
What kind of music or podcasts help you keep going while working?
I live on music and everything I do has a soundtrack to it, from my commute to my shower, to my reading times, to my work. Jazz, Indie Rock, Progressive Metal, and everything in between. I sometimes listen to Funk, sometimes to experimental music set to help me focus etc…
I must admit I’m horrible with podcasts, I can never listen to what anyone is saying because I get distracted a lot and my mind wanders off. So music is better for me to get me in the zone. But when I DO listen to podcasts, it’s usually animation related like something from Motion Hatch or School of Motion or the like. There are a few others out there like Animators and such.
What is your dream client or job?
Absolute creative freedom and time to pursue it, when a client will give me their social media account for a month for a small fortune, and I can get cracking with all my insane ideas that I rarely try to produce. Basically, it’s when someone will pay me to do personal work, which I regretfully have not managed to create in a long time due to life and work. I did promise myself that 2023 will be the year that changes, so let’s see.