Stability as a VFX freelancer working for remote clients?

My dream workplace is to be able to work from some small picturesque beach town or from some cool remote location in nature anywhere in the world, with solar energy and Elon Musk’s Starlink internet perhaps.

I think it would boost health and creativity, and you’re also prepared in case of a zombie apocalypse, by being relatively far away from big cities. (jokes, but you never know nowadays…)

I was searching on LinkedIn, and I see most artists have full-time jobs in studios. Do small to medium sized studios and projects in the game industry hire freelancers often?

If you’re a senior artist who’s been through a few games already, finding freelance work should be pretty easy. If you are junior, I’d be wary as it’s much more risky to hire someone without a proven record so it could be harder to get gigs with established, stable and safe clients. There are quite a few small/hobbyists out there who will not pay well enough to make a living.

There are very few realtime fx freelancers so there are very few studios who have an established pipe for it. Currently, it seems the few outsourcing studios are generally favored.


Thanks Andreas. I actually have no experience in the gaming industry, and I don’t think there’s an established gaming industry here in Mexico (where I live), where I could get solid in-person experience at a studio.

I see the real time fx market being unsaturated and in demand mentioned a lot, so I thought studios would be more open to work with remote artists.

I’m starting to learn about game fx so I guess I’m just gonna dive into it and give all of myself to produce high quality personal work. I’m a perfectionist so maybe and hopefuly someone will like what I come up with.

Tusen tack for the insights

The problem working with inexperienced artists is that it can lead to more work than it saves.
Performance and modularity needs to be considered from the start.
Not to mention startup time. A new artist might have only worked in one engine which makes the knowledge more tool specific rather than generalized.
All in all I would not recommend freelancing if you have no experience.

If you need to get your car fixed and you can either do it yourself for free, or pay someone who have only watched tutorials about it, which do you pick?
If you have the money to pay for it to be done properly, wouldn’t you either go to a mechanic with a Shop and a team, or get the retired mechanic who’s been doing it for decades?

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Those are all good points, and I can imagine the main lack of experience would be a lack of understanding of the standard game production process and phases, how real time FX joins the process, and how collaboration takes place both in-person and remotely between artists and teams. Would be cool to have tutorials of this :smiley:

Regarding learning and honing my skills, I think that instead of doing tutorials, I am going to sketch some challenging and ambitious original ideas in my mind and on paper, and use tutorials and the internet to materialize those ideas. Probably better to have a reel showing this kind of personal work, than a reel of completed tutorials. I’ve heard some employers complain about receiving reels of tutorials.

I guess I’ll see where that leads to once I get there…

Assuming you are a good VFX artist, it’s pretty easy and stable.

Small caps like gigs from game dev discords are a goldmine since they usually want a set of visual fx that can be knocked down in a few days and you can be pretty demanding on the negotiations since there are very few good VFX artists on these communities.

Depending on which country you are in, if the exchange rate is favorable, you can do a few of these gigs a month and already cover a top-notch salary.

Then you have the “Semi-Jobs” gigs. Those are longer-term, and that’s also when you start to dip into contracts and more miscellaneous tasks like documentation, higher degrees of collaboration, and such. I personally think these are worth it only if you are able to negotiate a higher hourly rate than a regular job would give you since I think it’s a lot of the hurdles from working full-time without the benefits of just taking a fulltime-remote position.

Also, gigs can have a pretty fast turnover if you have an established library of textures, shaders, and models for kitbashing things together. This allows you to charge more relative to the time spent on the creation of the effect.

One downside, if even, is that you WILL need to work with both Unreal and Unity, otherwise you’ll see many opportunities be lost.


Thanks for sharing your insights. Strange coincidence, just a few minutes before you replied, I thought maybe I should contact you and ask you about this, because I saw a post of you a few days ago when I was looking for freelance stuff in the site’s search. That came to mind and then minutes later you replied in this thread lol.

I’ll learn both UE and Unity, and hopefuly produce some quality personal work I can put on Youtube or something.

My current freelance hourly rate is between $10 and $20 / hr USD for general visual design and 3D stuff outside the game industry, but I guess that might not be very relevant to VFX. I guess I’d do it for less than the market’s average in the beginning, which I guess is more compatible with smaller projects to start with. But yeah I hope to eventually get into the “semi-job” kind of gigs which is what I’d mainly be interested in.

Hey Andreas by the way, I’d like to know what would you suggest instead?

Is it common for studios to give full-time work visas to beginners with no in-studio experience?

I imagine there would be some small studios here in Mexico, but they would likely pay something like $5 / hr with constant unpaid overtime and experience there would probably not be the kind of experience you are talking about because from what I’ve heard, studios in Mexico are made of small teams of generalists doing everything in the game development pipeline. That path doesn’t sound like the best way for me to focus on Real Time VFX given my current location.

I would build up a portfolio that’s good enough to get a job at a remote fx outsource studio or the like to fasttrack the professional experience before having to do it all yourself.
Getting a visa as a junior is hard, but not impossible.

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Thanks Andreas. By “job at a remote fx outsource studio”, do you mean one that does outsourced work for which I can work remotely? Or to try and find a studio that does remote outsourced work where I can get to work in-person with them?