View Full Version : A demo reel tip...

05-10-2006, 01:42 PM
*rant on*

Sorry about the rant but I've just gone through about 15 demo reels sent to us and I would love to make a suggestion to folks that are making reels for employment consideration.

Please, for the love of all things digital if you do one thing right, do this. If you only have enough material for a 1 minute reel, do not cut it up and repeat the same shot multiple times in different parts of the reel to fill up time for a 3 minute song (or longer).


If anyone can add tips to that please do, because frankly I don't know who's teaching these people to do these things.


P.S. Done ranting, just tired of badly done reels.

05-10-2006, 01:59 PM
If anyone can add tips to that please do...

Before adding a clip to a reel, ask yourself: "Would I pay to see that?" :D

Before adding a clip to a reel, ask yourself: "Would I bother watching that, or would I move on to the next channel?" :D

05-10-2006, 04:51 PM
Why are people who view other peoples demo reels so intolorant? Ok I get that you are very important people and all that but surely you can understand that the people that sent those reels were mostly sincere and not setting out to offend you. Is your time and attention really so very precious that you have to come on here and indulge in this kind of disparaging commentery?

I really feel it's just an abuse of some small power that is basicly cheap and destructive and creates a climate of anxiety that in the end reinforces the notion that peoples work has little value, is barely worth looking at and feeds into the more generic opionion that artists in general are a low value commodity.

This is what a rant looks like from the other end of the barrel.

05-10-2006, 05:49 PM
Wonderpup ---
Did TheDynamo strike a nerve with you? I can find nothing in the post that indicates he/she was in the least offended, aside from the "precious time" to which you refer, which is a necessary evil regardless of content or quality lof the reels being reviewed.

On the contrary, a constructive suggestion was posted for folks to consider when creating their own reels.

05-10-2006, 06:10 PM
I knew I would strike a nerve or two :devil:

Allright I opened this can of worms, I figure I should step up and explain.

My problem is with the people who tell or teach students and others to "fill the time" on a reel by repeating items. It has nothing to do with offending me or wasting my time, or the time of any prospective employer. But it does not help you when putting your reel up against other reels. I would personally be happy with a 1 minute reel that fades the music at the end instead of a 3 minute reel with 1 minute of content. When I look at things like the latter, it makes it more difficult for me to really get a good idea of their skills. It does become an issue when I have to cram 10 reels into a 30 minute break that when I see repeated stuff I logically assume there aren't really anymore new elements to watch. That's my perogative, I look for the person's skills. You almost have to think it's like a TV commercial for yourself which it is.

Of course anyone who sends me a reel using Queensryche music gets bonus points. I have yet to be able to get hard rock/metal to work as a reel piece. :D

If I come off as some "grandfalutin(TM)" elitist :hey: then that's news to me. I too came from the roots that I see these reels come from (my first reel fresh from art school included 2 whopping animations in 1996 on a badly duped VHS reel).

I have absolutely no problem receiving reels. I actually enjoy it as it gives me another perspective into graphic design and such. It's just that in a competetive marketplace, your reel is a foot in the door and like it or not when you make a reel too long or repeat items over and over again to fill a song that should have been cut short, it really does weaken your presentation. In a competetive market, you need as much strength as you can get and that's the bottom line.


05-10-2006, 06:12 PM
I think what Dynamo brought up is very important. You can be the most talented guy/gal out there but if you cant present yourself well (in person, on the web or on a reel) youre going to only hurt your chances.
Theres a lot of competition out there in 2 forms:
1. Competition from other good artists.
2. Competition to simply get the employers attention (regardless of how good or bad your reel is).

Case in point... I knew of a small studio in LA that had put out a job posting looking for LW character people. The post was fairly specfic about what the wanted to see. In a weeks time they receive over 150 demo reels. It turned out that most of the reels were worthless. They receive reels with spaceships, logo animations and just plain bad stuff. I was told that out of those 150 reels ONLY 4 were worth calling the people back. The sheer # of reels a studio gets can be staggering. Dont screw yourself up by providing more fodder then a reel thats good and to the point. Most artists tend to be bad at self promotion so its important to get good at it. I dont feel that Dynamos comments were offensive or elitist. Ive been in the same situation of having to look at a lot of reels to find those gems.

Heres some tips:
1. Show on the reel only what the employer asks for (dont send logo animations if they ask for character animation examples).

2. Make it clear what your strengths are. Dont include material that makes it ambiguous as to what youre trying to show the potential employer. If youre good at several things break your reel up into sections making it clear what youre showing in each section.
If youre showing models just show the models. You dont need to have it rotate 30 times. One nice slow rotation works.
Its better to show the model untextured especially if youre not a good texturer. The same goes for animation. Its better to show simple characters in simple scenes being well animated.

3. Do a little research on the studio you intend to apply to. If they do mainly space shots or VFX work dont send a character reel. This is related to #1.

4. Dont show anything on your reel that makes you look weak or needs explaining. It doesnt matter if you have something that a client paid you $10 million to produce...if it looks bad dont include it.

5, Newest material first, oldest last.

6. If you show shots from real projects include a shot breakdown explaining exactly what you did. DONT say things like you were art director, supervisor etc. Usually most studios have ppl for those positions (unless thats what youre applying for).

7. Be prepared to have more then one demo reel depending where youre applying to and what youre applying for.

8. It also never hurts to have your reel online.

05-10-2006, 06:14 PM
Heheh: note to self, update 3 year old reel :D

05-10-2006, 08:21 PM
As someone who's trying to develop a demo reel, what other advice do you have for neophytes like me? :)

05-10-2006, 08:44 PM
Think about what youre good at vs. what you want to do.
Who do you want to do it for? What kind of work have they done and is your work up to their standards? See if you can get in touch with someone from that company or search their website. :)

05-10-2006, 09:55 PM
1. If you upload a copy to you site, resist the tempatation to name the file "demoreel.mov". It doesn't really help your file stand out in a crowded folder of demo reels on you're potential employers desktop.

2. If you upload a copy of your demo reel, always include screenshots with the download link.

05-11-2006, 03:39 AM
Hi TheDynamo,

It looks like I did misinterpret your post, sorry for that- I took it for another one of these 'don't waste my valuable time' posts that seem to crop up a lot on places like CG talk.

It just really makes me sad to see so many posts by kids who are terrified that their reels will be thrown away unopened because they sent it in the wrong colour envelope or something equaly trivial- what message are we conveying here?

That we so undervalue our own profession that we will dismiss peoples work on the basis of trivia?

Or that the people who review showreels are made of such sensitive stuff that they must be appeased at all times lest their fragile souls are assulted by garish packaging, a dodgy soundtrack or some other petty issue that will cause them to dismiss our work out of hand?

Either option looks pretty pathetic to me.

05-11-2006, 03:48 AM
I can see how you could interpret it that way wonderpup. There are definately places that definatley have the their share of people like that.

I think Dynamo is expressing the frustration that happens when reels are asked for with specific instructions as to what they want and then most of the submissions dont follow the guidelines. It wastes a lot of time. Some of the bigger studios during siggraph can recieve hundreds if not thousands of reels a day. I think a lot of people just get so anxious or impatient that they dont stop to really think thru where they are at skillsetwise and if they are submitting based on submission standards.

These days with the web its much easier to get ones work critiqued. I see a lot of people not setting up websites and not learning to be focused and patient about marketing themselves properly.

05-11-2006, 08:57 AM
As a newbie, I found the tips very helpful!

05-11-2006, 10:16 AM
I can understand the frustration when people seem incapable of following clearly laid out submission guides, but some of the posturing on this issue goes well beyond that- I can recall one example fairly recently where a guy was complaining that when he rang a candidate the phone was picked up by the guys mother- the gist of his complaint being that he had better things to do with his time than speak to peoples mothers!

I think the problem is that when you find youself on the receving end of other peoples aspirations it's rather easy to start believeing that you really are as important as they think you are.
I knew a guy who took a job at a social security office and the change in his personality was startling- within a very short time he was treating the people he dealt with at work with blatent contempt- the daily experience of having real power over some quite needy people went to his head big time- not a pretty sight.

So I do think some of the critical comments that get posted about demo reels are gratutious and self indulgent humbug and I hate to see artists shafting each other- there are plenty of other people out there only too willing to put us down- so why do it to ourselves?

05-11-2006, 10:27 AM
Dyn, not a problem here. I know how sometimes stupidity gets under your skin and you gotta vent somewhere. Besides, it's a great topic not only for new kids but for all of us.

I do have a generic demo reel. But I usually create and tailor the reel for the specific client. Long form clients don't usualy care about our great 30 second spots and visa verse.
A key rule when making demos, (which I often break), is to NOT fall in love with your own stuff. Cut it down. It's not always easy, but sending too much can ruin the impact too.

05-11-2006, 10:29 AM
Splinegod has some great tips up there. I would venture as far as saying that experience sometimes does not matter as much as you think. I saw a reel yesterday by a multi-emmy winning fellow from a smaller TV market and a student reel and frankly the student reel showed more promise to me. It had something to do with the experimental stuff he was playing with on his reel. It showed a willingness to grow that I like :)


05-11-2006, 05:45 PM
I agree, Ive seen some great stuff come from good talented people who just lack industry experience. Ive had situations where I get a killer resume first but only to find out that the demo reel is horrible. :)

05-11-2006, 09:03 PM
Ditto, I'm thrilled with some of the youngsters creativity, talent and determination.
But then there are those who think they have the tools and that makes them talented. :screwy: But that crosses all age groups.

05-12-2006, 01:38 AM
A big thanks to every one who replied. I think from all this ranting and raving there is a lot to be learned. Remember ....

A demo reel is meant to impress people who normally will see or have seen many of them, so make the effort to hear what they would like to see and it'll be better for the artist in the end.

If it's all a hobby then ignore the post all together. A professional has to learn to take criticism and roll with it to become better at what they do (no matter the profession.

05-14-2006, 06:40 AM
Thanks for the tips on this guys; as someone looking to put my first demo reel together, it's been a very helpful read.
One question I do have to ask; when putting a demo reel online, what is the best format for it, and what sort of file size should people aim for?

05-15-2006, 10:21 AM
I would do both Windows Media 9 and Quicktime (Mpeg 4 or some similar high quaility compression) 320x240. That way you cover both sides of the coin :)