The Journey of a Self-Taught Freelance Motion Designer – Manuel Steinhauser

Meet Manuel Steinhauser, a multifaceted freelance Motion Designer from Bavaria, Germany, who has shaped visuals for German TV, luxury cars, and leading corporations. Discover his self-taught journey and enduring passion for animation and design in our exclusive interview.

Photo from Manuel Steinhauser

What’s your area of expertise in post-production and who are your main clients?

I am a freelance Motion Designer with a focus on concept, design and 2D animation. I’ve worked on a huge variety of projects. From broadcast design for almost all German TV channels, to animated content for shows and events for BMW and MAN Trucks, to explainer videos for clients like Lufthansa, BASF and Siemens.

Photo from Manuel Steinhauser

Tell us about your journey in post-production. What inspired you to enter this field, and what drives you each day to excel in your work?

I stumbled into it 20 years ago. It started with an Internship at Universal Studios Networks in Germany. I learned to edit and produce trailers for their pay TV branch. In the following years I gravitated more towards Motion Design. I am completely self-taught. Everything I know, I learned from books, tutorials and colleagues. I think what drives me most is my curiosity. And I get bored pretty fast so I need new challenges and learn new things regularly. That’s why I started a YouTube channel with After Effects tutorials 4 years ago.

Photo from Manuel Steinhauser

What’s your biggest achievement in your post-production career?

Besides winning awards for my work and being able to pay my bills, I think it is that after 20 years I still love the job. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. That probably sounds cheesy but yeah…

Photo from Manuel Steinhauser

What are some of the challenges you face in post-production and how do you overcome them?

Decreasing budgets is a challenge and I think you can deal with it by being more efficient in your process and by offering additional conceptual, creative and strategic services.

In general, the economic environment and the resulting amount of work is less predictable. To counter that, I think it helps to diversify income streams. That’s why I started to publish online courses for example.

Photo from Manuel Steinhauser

What are your top 3 pieces of advice for someone aspiring to succeed in the post-production industry?

  1. Be curious and stay curious! It is a livelong journey of learning and adapting.
  2. It is a very broad field, overwhelming at the beginning. You can’t know it all. Take your time to find the niche you like and become an expert in it.
  3. Knowing the software is a small part of the skillset you actually need. You need to be a great communicator. You need to be creative under pressure and you need to be able to work in a team. After all talent plays a role as well.
Photo from Manuel Steinhauser

What are the three most essential tools or software in your post-production toolkit, and how do they enhance your workflow?

The software I use most is Adobe After Effects. That’s where I produce most of my work. Plus Illustrator and Photoshop for Layouts. I don’t use a lot of plug-ins except the Trapcode ones from Maxon and Optical Flairs from Videocopilot. In recent years I started to use expressions a lot to create rigs and templates to speed up my workflow.

Where can people find you?

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