Greg gave us a class on what we should include in a show reel- after evaluating other professional ones. Using the research he gave us, I wanted to look further into what I could do to make my showreel stand out.
I found an article at creativebloq.com that went through everything clearly., giving the below example as a basis of a good show reel.
Oliver Sin show reel. (Vimeo, 2016).
01. Cut ruthlessly
As head of international outreach at DreamWorks, Shelley Page says: “There’s no such thing as a student film that couldn’t do with editing.” Many student films take on too much, resulting in what one jaded recruiter describes as: “typically five minutes of poor animation on poorly rigged models in poor environments”.
“Don’t get attached to material that ultimately doesn’t showcase your best work, even though you have an emotional attachment to it,” stresses Patricia Kung, senior recruiter at Animal Logic.
Demo reels are about showcasing the strengths you have and accepting the skills your really have, for example trying to be a bad character animator when your skills lie in modelling.
Or as Dave Throssell of Fluid Pictures says: “I don’t want to wade through a showreel where someone’s thrown in everything they’ve ever done.”
02. Keep it short
Look at the length of your show reel from a studio’s perspective, receiving an avalanche of applications every time a job opening occurs.
“Because we have to look at so many reels, we would recommend for them to be roughly one-and-a-half to two minutes in length,” says Claire Anderson of The Mill. “We don’t even always get all the way through, so I’d also say to put your best work at the beginning.”
03. Start and end well
Neil Gallagher, senior lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire, suggests opening with your best work and then, just to ensure you don’t begin with a bang and end with a whimper, close with your second-best piece. Beyond that, if your third-favourite piece does in any way look second-rate, you might want to consider whether it really belongs on the reel at all.
04. Think of it as an advertisement
Try thinking of each piece show reel as an advert, the product (material) being sold to the employer.
05. Match your reel to the vacancy/studio
Research the company you are applying to, and tailor the reel to the position applying for.The reel should demonstrate you can do the work the company is known for, but don’t put things in for the sake of it.
“Some people don’t even know what job they’re applying for,” says Trond Greve Andersen, co-owner of MIR Visuals, which specialises in architectural visualization. “There’s not much point in a studio like ours looking at models of orcs.”
06. Make your role clear
“In the case of group work, it’s important to explain what the student has created,” says Neil Gallagher. “Either indicate this in the video when there are group pieces, or provide a breakdown as a PDF or Word document.”
07. Show your workings
What you’ve created speaks for itself to an extent, but people will want to know how you did it too. “Provide a shot breakdown, showing what your contribution was and the software used,” says Patricia Kung. “If you’re applying for a technical role, it shows you have a good creative eye too.”
08. Keep things simple
“You see far too many animators trying to build their own five-minute Avatar, and they end up getting so sidetracked by everything else that the actual animation becomes the last thing they do,” says Andrew Daffy of The House of Curves.
“By contrast, I always remember the story of one the guys who became a key animator on [the BBC TV series] Walking with Dinosaurs. His reel was about a minute and-a-half long, and it was a five second sequence that got him hired. All it showed was a stick figure. It was even badly rendered but the body language was so perfectly animated.”
09. Technique beats orginality
Demo reels need some flair, but never at the expense of basic skills. “If it’s a choice between originality and technical quality, again I’d go for something that was simple and done well,” says Throssell.
10. Clichés to avoid
Some CG cliches should be avoided if possible. “If there’s one thing that makes my heart sink, it’s a demo with spaceships,” sighs Joylon Webb, R&D Art Director at Blitz Games Studios Ltd. “They’re usually textured cylinders that don’t display any modelling skills: you can’t see weight, they don’t interact with surfaces, they don’t display composition, and they’re a cliché that has been done for 20 years.” Other clichés to avoid in general include dragons, robots, cameras endlessly flying round sets and worlds populated by supermodels and manga heroes.
“There’s nothing wrong with putting a dragon on your showreel, so long as it has an original design or looks like it stepped straight out of a Harry Potter movie,” points out Andrew Daffy. “The work can’t look at all corny. It needs to be quite sophisticated, or at least handled really well.”
Vimeo. (2016). Oliver Sin Reel 2013. [online] Available at: https://vimeo.com/67940415 [Accessed 23 Dec. 2016].