We have a small staff here at Planet Nutshell, with a core, full-time team of just four: Josh is our Creative Director, Jen is our Art Director, Mollie is our Senior Animator and Sam is our Producer. But though we are small, we are mighty, and manage to get a lot of work done. However, there are times when project deadlines overlap, and we need to call in some trusted back-up.
Luckily, over the years, we’ve developed great working relationships with talented freelance artists all over the world. Writers, designers, 2D & 3D animators, voiceover artists, sound designers, musicians, translators… you name it. Whatever the project, we have someone we trust that we can call on.
And we are always on the lookout for new freelancers, too, with unique skills and talents that can compliment or serve as an extension of our own. We all spend a lot of time on Dribble, watching animation reels and reaching out to inspiring artists.
We know how helpful a freelance roster is… and how intimidating it can be to develop. You always want your clients to experience studio quality-work, even if that work is being completed by non-studio staff. So we asked Jen (our art director who directly oversees our freelancers) to describe their top attributes when it comes to some of the more common types of freelance artists we employ as an animation studio.
1. Design Freelancers
When it comes to design, there are two key attributes we look for: versatility and experience with animation-friendly designs. When we find a designer who is versatile, we can use them on a wider range of projects, and when they know how to make their designs animation-ready (aka full designs, layers and all clearly labeled), we know we’ll be able to run with whatever they send along and meet whatever deadline we are up against.
2. Character Animators
At PN, we are passionate about using characters to tell stories and making those characters as true-to-life as possible. So when looking for character animators, we put a lot of weight on their ability to execute believable movements. We also look at animation style. The majority of our projects are 2D, but an ideal freelancer has more than one style in their repertoire (puppeted, hand-drawn, 3D, etc), so we can offer a wider range of services and styles to our clients.
With motion graphics, it’s all about timing/easing skills, and artists’ ability to convey different kinds of momentum and energy through their animations. Though, of course, we never discount technical ability and complexity. We love seeing interesting transitions or animations that combine a variety of skills into a single project, such as shape layers, tweens, textures, lighting, effects and 3D skills.
4. General Freelancers
For all of our other freelancers, there are four main considerations. The first is organization: Do they keep their files clearly labeled so that we can go in and make quick edits internally as needed? The second is software: Do they have fluency in the software that we use here internally (Adobe Creative Suite & CD4)? Third, communication: Do they share updates with our team as they go so we can feel confident in the progress that’s being made? And last (but not least) is time management: Do they hit deadlines and keep the work pipeline moving? Certainly there have been incidents where life happens and delays occur, but if we notice a pattern, we have to do what’s right by our clients and will generally choose to work with someone else in the future.
There are so many things we love about animation here at Planet Nutshell (obviously!), but one of them is definitely the collaborative nature of animation as an artform: Many talents and visions coming together to make something better than one could alone. We’re so lucky we get to collaborate with such talented freelance artists year after year, and we’re constantly amazed at what can be done remotely, from ANYWHERE, when you all work together as a team.