Inside the tech-savvy setup of a freelancer

We drop in on CreativeBloke’s HQ to see how Mike Griggs has created an environment to manage his busy workload.

I work for a range of clients from my two-centre home setup which comprises The Shed and the Night Desk. I move between these setups as the day progresses, or sometimes I work on site where
I use my laptop, or a supplied Mac or PC.

My recent work is primarily corporate mograph and VFX for a range of creative agencies. I also create concept visualisations for heritage clients such as the National Trust and a range of international museum design agencies. I also do a lot of writing for magazines, websites and application documentation, so usually no two days are the same, which I love, and is why I went freelance in the first place all those years ago.

Usually, no two days are the same, which I love, and is why I went freelance in the first place

While it's important to invest in hardware and software (my current core applications are Cinema 4D, Modo and the Adobe Creative Suite), flexibility and productivity are as important as creativity to be a successful freelancer.

One of the key advantages that a freelancer can offer over a larger agency is the ability to change workflows, which can benefit both the freelancer and the client. For example, recently I was commissioned to do an architectural walkthrough which was specified to be rendered in VRayforC4D, but it ended up being rendered in Octane; this was due to my curiosity to challenge the brief, which would not always be possible in a studio environment where workflows are more fixed.

I'm always disappointed whena3Dappisnot 3Dconnexion-enabled; it makes switching between 3D apps much more straightforward

Power to the freelancer

To ensure this flexibility I have fibre access at CreativeBloke HQ, which along with a Dropbox Pro account with Packrat (which keeps a copy of deleted Dropbox files indefinitely), are the backbone of my workflow and also enable me to sleep at night. This is because Dropbox syncs across my Mac Pro, my laptop and my backup Mac, which means I have a live work folder, which is up to date on whatever Mac, with any of my work assets instantly shareable with a client.

I also have hotspot capability on my mobile devices so I can work when I am on the train, as well as VPN into the Mac Pro from the laptop from wherever I am, if I need the power of the 'Beast'. Along with a good backup system, having a fast and reliable online infrastructure is the one investment that I would recommend to any freelancer - it will make your life easier and more productive.

With the reduction in PC component costs, advances in GPU and CPU rendering, as well as the potential power of cloud rendering, the ability for a freelancer to keep pace with a small studio is finally here. It has never been a better time to be a 3D artist!

Words: Mike Griggs

Mike Griggs is a 3D concept, VFX and mograph artist working across the television, exhibition and digital design industries. This article originally appeared in 3D World issue 180.