Carlene Elliott, computer graphics recruiter at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), advises animators to “start the reel with your best and most recent work, clearly demonstrating your abilities and creative talents. Don’t include old, irrelevant work. Clearly label your reel including your name, address and phone number.”
Glenn Campbell, visual effects supervisor at Area 51, points out that a demo reel gives
the viewer a look into your grain. “It reflects your style and artistic ability, how you think and how your do things.”
Beth Sasseen, digital relations project manager, ILM, states “the demo reel should show who you are and what you want to do” Barry Weiss, senior VP animation production, Sony Pictures Imageworks, provides an insight into how your demo reel may be viewed. “These are busy people with deadlines. Your reel will probably be screened with many others during a lunch. It’s vital that you grab people’s attention in the first 30 or 40 seconds or they will move on to the next reel.”
In his brand new book “CG 101: A computer Graphics Industry Reference”, ILM’s
Terrence Masson advises that reels should be “short and sweet! Even if you have 10 minutes of good stuff you want to show, pick the very best three minutes and keep it at that”.
If you want to include more lengthy work show short takes, perhaps a quick-cutting
montage of excerpts first. At the tail of the reel put a title card “Longer works”, with the longer works following.
Give the viewer the option to watch just the best highlights or sit through the whole 1- minutes short film.
“Be original. You’ll get a lot more points for creating new work rather than making an X-wing fly past camera”, states Masson.
Campbell reminds, “It’s better to have one minutes of good stuff than three minutes of mixed quality.
We’ll remember the bad.
Your demo reel has to be the best it can be.
Your reel needs to show you have the skills and are capable of doing the work.”
Marilyn Friedman, director of recruiting t PDI wants reels no longer than three minutes and applicants should always enclose a resume and breakdown sheet with their reel.
“Be sure your reel is your best work and what you are good at – don’t but on everything you’ve ever done – emphasize your strengths”.
Applicants demo reels should demonstrate the skills that apply to the position they are seeking.
Pauline Ts’o, VP and director of development at Rhythm and Hues reminds “Never pad a reel with mediocre work. Reels should demonstrate professional level skills. Character animators must have a demo reel but modelers and lighters are better off showing still frames of exceptional modeling or lighting”. This is especially true if their animation is lesser quality than the modeling and lighting.
Debbie Goldstein, DreamWorks artistic recruiter, want to see “a good story, good story telling, appropriate use of the technology, using technology to advance the story, good examples of skill sets, understanding of animation principles and some evidence of traditional drawing (either in the resume or on the tape) or film-making techniques Anytime the technology over shadows the story – or when you can see the technology – it usually isn’t what we are looking for”.
THE BREAKDOWN SHEET
A demo reel breakdown sheet/credit list is mandatory and should clearly spell out the applicant’s involvement with each piece. Masson instructs, “Include information along with your reel detailing all of our shots with the following information:
1. What project was it don for? (a film, game, TV?)
2. Where was it done?
3. Which tools did you use? (hardware, software)
4. Explain exactly what you did and did not do for the shot (for any collaborative work)
5. If you TD’d a complex shot, then break down how you did what you did.
A short paragraph for each shot on the reel is usually plenty of information. Be both precise and
DEMO REEL DON’TS
· Don’t put your best stuff last. The viewer may never get to it.
· Don’t make a long reel. Three minutes or less is plenty
· Don’t pad your feel to make it longer.
· Don’t do a chronological progress or work history
· Don’t include early tests
· Don’t use loud, obnoxious music especially with lyrics – it’s disturbing.
· Don’t include elaborate sound or music. (DreamWorks’ Goldstein says “usually any
review committee turns off the sound to look at the reel)
· Don’t include the live action film you make as a student with your friends. This is not a showcase for your directing talent.
· Don’t include mediocre work.
· Keep erotic, satanic and violent material to a minimum. It may be inappropriate for many companies.
· Don’t ask prospective employers or recruiters to view samples or a resume on a Website or email images. They don’t have the time to do this and the Internet frustrates many of them since it is not reliable or fast. The best way to send your work is on a DVD or CDROM.
· Fancy packaging is unnecessary. Most recruiters work in offices with limited space.
· Color bars are unnecessary.
· Don’t shrink wrap your reel. It makes it hard to open.
· Don’t expect your reel to be returned.
· Never sent masters or originals.
· Don’t send the exact same reel in every six months. Doug Nichols of Disney Feature
Animation says “We remember if you send the same reel again. We have very good
· Don’t send a work in progress You are judged by what is seen on the reel so if you are working on a piece, do not send it until it is complete and ready for judgment. (Pratt note: there are sometimes exceptions to this when a company is looking to license a complete animation project).
DEMO REEL TIPS
· Companies in the US want DVD reels format.
· Include a head and tail slate with your name, phone number and email address.
· Demo reels should run three minutes or less.
· Customize your reel as much as possible to the job and company you are applying for, if you have the resources to do so.
· Include images of your life drawing or other fine art work such as sculpture, painting, photography. They want to see “strong traditional art or photography, tending towards representational styles with an excellent understanding of 3D form, perspective and quality of light and texture”.
· Update your reel and portfolio every six months and remove old work.
· Campbell advises 3D animators who are not good at modeling to get stock items or use stick figures. If your strength is animation, focus on that, not modeling.
· Weiss advises to “show a variety of work.”
· You may want to put a screen shot of your work on the outside of the box of your reel to distinguish it from others sitting in a stack..
· You may want to divide your reel into sections if you are not sure what area you want to pursue. Use title cards such as “character Animation”, “Logos”, “Modeling” or whatever is suitable for your work but “setting up every shot with a title is not necessary” states Goldstein.
· If you want feedback, enclose a self-addressed stamped postcard with questions for the reviewer. Some reviewers may return this. Don’t ask them for feedback by phone.
· Always include a resume and a reel breakdown/credit list when you send your reel.
Many people don’t understand what character animation is. It is bringing something to life not merely moving objects. Weiss notes that “character animation is the ability to create performance. The ability to act. The audience must know what your character is thinking. We can train someone to use CG tools but it is much more difficult to train someone to act.”
Campbell adds that “understanding concepts is much more important than understanding specific software.”
Remember content is what counts. Nobody cares how old you are, what school you attended, what software you use or whether you use software or how fancy your box is. If you are a good animator, they need you. As ILM’s Sasseen concludes ”What matters is the work. Make sure it’s the very best you can do.”
from Animation Magazine