Our Group has decided that we’re going to be looking at Demo Reels (or show reels). Demo reels can be an important part of the interview process and ultimately is one of the first impressions employers have of you. Your Demo reel is one of the deciding factors on whether or not you get asked to come in for an interview and considering that most employers probably don’t watch past 10 seconds, those few seconds can mean a lot.
What you need to Know about making a Demo Reel
- Length: Keep it to about 2 minutes maximum.
Studios get sent in a lot of Demo Reels, which is why like I said before they may not even fully watch them fully, so there’s no point making it 10 minutes long.
Being students we’re not going to have more than 2 minutes of amazing work, which is the only work you want to show, anything less will either harm your chances or bore them.
- Content: Put your best work first
Now all the work you include should be your best work, but put your best best work first. You need this to grab the employers attention.
Generally whatever work you include shouldn’t include any mistakes, there’s only two ways this will be seen, you either saw the mistake and chose to leave it in (lazy) or you didn’t recognize the mistake (bad animator).
I found this diagram of what your demo reel should include which I thought was a good general explanation.
This diagram also point another issue which is keeping your introduction short. Brief details about yourself and keep it simple, you can always include more information for longer at the end of your reel and they’ll probably have your information on your CV as well.
“If your work is that good, you don’t need an animated 3D text effect to introduce it—quality CG sells itself.”
- Music/sound: Music is not a must.
In researching there’s some mixed opinions on whether or not you should include music at all. Pixar studios who provide requirements for demo reels ask for none at all. I’d advise making the music unintrusive to your work and making sure it fits with the scenes you’re showing.
You must also remember you can only have free to use music, which there are a variety of websites.
- Presentation: Editing is Important
Taking all that time to animate or create amazing work isn’t going to mean anything if you present it badly.
This means giving each shot enough time on screen, let it play through and don’t place in jarring cuts. Another piece of advice from Vince De Quattro is not to go back on yourself, show all the work you want to from one collaborative project and then move on, don’t place more shots from it in your reel later. Though I have seen this done in a few Studio show reels so I’m not sure if it’s different for show reels or if it’s maybe his own preference.
Don’t collage animation shots together, but it’s okay to include breakdowns of models in the same shot.
When you’re editing don’t edit to your music
Think about the layout and composition of your shots and the flow of action within, as well think about the camera movement and try to edit it together so it adds a nice smooth flow to your reel.
- Availability: Consider where to upload your reel
The difference between Vimeo and Youtube is that vimeo is usually seen as a more professional platform, places to also include your reel would be on a blog or a website.
If you’re submitting you’re Demo reel, you need to include a breakdown sheet that has what you did in collaborative projects, and have several different methods for accessing your Demo reel as links can fail at the worst of times.