Animators by day Animation teachers by night.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Demo Reel Tips...

A lot of people ask what a good demo reel should have on it. I guess it depends on what job you are going for. At a studio like the one we work at, we like to see really good acting skills. What is good acting, you might say? Well, we can get into that another time, but it has to do with a lot of things. Are your acting choices good? Are you using too many gestures. Does your facial animation have nice design? Does the character have the right physicality? Are you good at polishing? How is the timing? All these things and more come into play when reviewing acting shots. I think its also important to have some good physical stuff. People say, put a run and a walk on the reel. I like this idea, but show me a walk with character, not just a canned one. When you look at work, you want to find something special about it. Something that catches your eye and makes you want to see it again. Always put your really good stuff in the beginning, fill the middle and end with a great shot. Keep the titles simple and clean on the head and tail of the reel. If you have your reel on VHS, make sure its cued up. I personally like DVD format the best. This contradicts the image i put up. Plus, you can put other stuff like your drawings and resumes on it. Music is good, just make sure you lower the level when you have a shot with dialogue.

So Remember:

Name over black
Great Work first
Filler (unless all your work is stellar)
Leave them wanting more
Titles with your contact info

hope this helps



Blogger Cyrus Cords said...

Those are great tips, thanks.

I was wondering if you had any suggestions for individuals who are interested in character development, what should they have in their portfolios and should they also create a demo reel?

12:05 PM

Blogger Clay Kaytis said...

One thing I've started doing is putting a date on my reel, onscreen, just after my name appears. Just the month and year, but I think I'll be glad when I go back to all those tapes (or DVDs now) and can quickly sort the order. I also feel like it might be helpful for someone seeing the tape to know how recent the work is, since we all know it can be some time after submitting that the review actually happens. I would hope that if a studio saw my reel with a 2003 at the start, they would contact me for an updated version.

I've never really discussed this, so how do other people feel about this?

1:32 PM

Blogger Dr. Gordon said...

Hey Clay,

Great interviews by the way. Keep it up! When is the Glen Keane Interview coming?

I think the date is a good idea. I guess it just takes a bit more time to update the reel. Now that people can edit the reel digitally, its no big deal.

I forgot to talk about reel breakdown. It's always nice to know exactly what characters were done in the scene. I thought it would be cool to gray out the areas not done by the animator, or at least the scenes cut between shots... Do you think that is overkill?


1:53 PM

Blogger Adam Strick said...

Actually Dimos Vrysellas kept the shots that he did in color and the ones he didn't do in black and white. I thought it was a pretty awesome idea since it kept your shot in some sort of context. Although this could add quite some time to your reel if you have built up some good experience already. So I'm not sure if he did that in his demo reel or not since I've only seen his portfolio on his website.

4:08 PM

Blogger Jean-Denis Haas said...

Graying out is a cool idea! How elaborate should that be though? If the characters are moving around a lot, I wonder if it might be a bit distracting to have this "mask" move around.

What you could do is have a line on the top or bottom part of the screen (there is convenient space if the shots are letterboxed) that says which character is yours. I think Victor Navone has that on his reel, very useful.


4:09 PM

Blogger Michael said...

Hey guys. Quick reel question and I don't know if you would have an answer, but perhaps a colleague might.

What about a reel for an editor, specifically in terms of a traditional "live action" editor looking to find a position in editorial at, say, a prestigious animation house?

I can't find a crumb of info on this anywhere . . . so even a crumb would be a veritable banquet for me.

Many thanks,

10:13 PM

Blogger Stephen Gregory said...

Hey Andrew great post. I just want to say how important it is if the demo reel is on tape that it's cued up and the tracking is good. I can't tell how many people get passed up because thier tapes were not cued or unwatchable because of tracking. Nobody is gonna take the time to look for your stuff on your tape or try and fix the tracking. I know it sounds simple and people think I would never do that but it happens.

Dr.Stpehen G.

7:53 AM

Blogger Elliot Cowan said...

Michael - re your editing question.
As both an animator and a live action editor it's worth mentioning that the roles are not exactly the same for both mediums.
If you would like to email me for further discussion feel free to do so via my blog.

12:58 PM

Blogger Stephen Gregory said...

Sometimes the the music can be really distracting. Plus everyone has different musical tastes and I've seen the piece of music chosen for the reel create a negative response to the reel itself. So to be on the safe side choose something really neutral. Don't worry about the viewers being bored nine times out of ten their bored before they even get to your reel and there are many times the reel is just viewed in fast forward. So they are not hearing your painfully selected music anyways. I always say the simpler the better.

11:46 AM

Blogger Jean-Denis Haas said...

"...many times the reel is just viewed in fast forward."

Then you should submit a reel, which has slow-motion animation on it, so that when they fast forward, they see it at normal speed.



3:40 PM

Blogger animatorsnotebook said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:53 PM

Blogger animatorsnotebook said...

If it's generally advised to not listen to music while animating (I'm from the "How could it be possible?" camp), I've kinda felt it counterintuitive to pour music on top of the finished product. If there's a chance I can be seen in a positive light, I don't want any distractions. What's the general consensus on a silent reel?

Dr. Gordon, just watched your gesture I have a speech to give on Wednesday so the information serves a double purpose. Thanks!

4:54 PM

Blogger Reynel Martinez said...

Kind of like this?

11:54 PM

Blogger Mike said...

Thanks for the tips.

It's comforting to know that the whole process of editing to music can be avoided.

What are the recommendations as far as figure or gesture drawing at the end of a reel? I have seen this done a few times. I imagine it couldn't hurt, but are there advantages to adding life drawings at the end?

11:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great content - really enjoyed listening to it.

Have to cristicise the volume though... some speech is hard to hear (especially the interviewer's voice) and the intro music drowns out some of the speech.

Just a few volume tweaks would make it much easier to get the message.

1:38 PM


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