Show Reel Design - some thoughts

Check out the cool example show reel from RMIT graduate Avner Engel who I met at the 11 Second Club.

There's been much discussion on this blog and amongst the 2nd years about show reels and narrative films as methods to show off a student's skills as an animator to potential employers.

Read more in depth, including 10 top tips for your successful show reel and the chance to win chocolate (Mmm chocolate).


frank said...

Maybe you want a job at, say ... Pixar?

Check this out:

1) An application that requires a demo reel submission has 5 parts: (see the web link for details)
2) Your reel should be no more than 4 minutes.
3) Don't show un-approved work.
4) Nobody cares about music/soundtrack.
5) Put your best work first.
6) Demo Reel Breakdown (DRB).
7) Include a title card at the beginning and end with your name, address, phone, and email.

There are 4 more essential requirements, check them out at the web link.

Ian said...

MattG said...

These are the main principles I have heard and believe in:

* Put your best work first (grab their attention)
* Put your second- or third-best work last (leave with a good impression). Don't let the reel fizzle out at the end.
* You are as good as the WORST piece on your reel. So... don't put anything bad on the reel. If you are not sure if a piece is good enough to go on the reel, don't put it on.

A short, great reel is better than a long reel with some not-so-great stuff on it.

And in the interest of full disclosure, I've uploaded my first demo reel at ready for your criticism. :D

frank said...

Hi Matt. Thanks for posting the link to your reel.

The added tips are great about finishing the reel in a memorable manner as well as starting it well.

I do like the start of your reel, how you label it and it links into the first acting sequence.

frank said...

It looks like a good idea to "water mark" the screen with your name (bottom right corner).

I imagine that is for when the studio executive see a snippet that appeals to them and go, "Hey who is this animator?", it's right there in front of them to note down on their short list.

frank said...

In the pushing sequence I think I might not have the heavy object roll back or fall and squash the character.

Unless that is a required element?

It was funny the first time I saw it.

After watching a few reels now, it seems to be a cliche. If the employers are watching 20 reels in a sitting, it may get annoying?

It's probably a good idea to watch a number of reels and see what gags might be commonly used, so they can be avoided. Animators seem to have a similar sense of humour and we have to be aware of that when competing for a job.

I guess a show reel in a public arena, such as YouTube or on a web site should demonstrate solid animating craft skills. The sharp, witty original gag that will make a reel stand out, probably should be saved for the reel sent with the job application.

MattG said...

Good thoughts on the push/squash gag, Frank. Including the push was the hardest one to decide... but ultimately I put it there because nothing else showed the physical stuff. I think every (student) reel has a heavy lift/push/pull in there somewhere, and there's good reason for it. So that was mine. The gag was there when I did the assignment (not a requirement, but something I added because I had time) and I like the timing of it so it stayed.

I think there IS something to be said for having pieces on your reel that you personally like, or that demonstrate your sense of humor. Just as long as they are also animated well. That definitely factored into my choices. Hopefully my push was still strong enough from an animation standpoint, ignoring the cliche of the gag. :D

As for saving something for the "job application" reel vs a "public forum" reel, I'm not sure that there is a lot of difference these days. This was my job application reel, and got me the ILM gig on Pirates3. (It also got me my current LucasArts job, come to think of it, since I couldn't show any P3 work at the time.) I guess some reviewers don't mind flattened people. :D

frank said...

I agree Matt, it's like birthday presents (a bit like them); always buy one for someone that you like as well. It gives it some extra flavour as it's giving a piece of you.

I think giving a piece of one's sense of humour to a prospective employer is a good idea. That's best displayed in the choices made for the animation in a show reel.

I think, though, it's important to recognise that when an animator thinks a gag is unique and thus funny that it might not be.

But if it's an old standard and demonstrates that you have the correct sense of humour for a team, well it will help get the job.

The spoiler I'm presenting is that I think that every student that does the push gag is likely to have the rebound and squash ending. Many will think it is unique because we've gone past the push/pull requirement.

So, now armed with that knowledge, it might be a better idea for the next wave of students to attempt present the same level of craftsmanship (as you display. High standard) but with a further twist, if a display of sense of humour is a requirement.

That small extra thought, the tweek, hopefully unique, may be what makes a show reel memorable amongst the masses, given that applicants will average out to a similar ability with the animation.

Which is why it also might be best not showing that unique idea to the hungry animator hordes until after the job is secured.

Ian said...

In the vairious animation mentor showreels I've seen there have been a bazillion variations on the push. I don't know if there are many new interpretations left that can be achieved without padding it out longer (which we don't want).

There is something to be said with how you pull off the gag, how its stageg, and the timing. I surpose one factor is how imaginative you are, but another is how well you can sell something. If you think about it movies and games are full of things we see over and over, but some do it better than others.

When Mowgli and Baloo move around, there isn't that much about there actions that is "clever" or 100% unique. BUT THEY DO IT SO WELL!!!!!!

Work from our course needs that extra level of polish. I'd be happy with a push that has an ending like Matts from any of our students it they would put as much effort into making work as well. I've chosen my works carefully there, I think we have plenty of student who could do that or at least get into the same ballpark, but lack the focus.

Its the old battle between the WHAT and the HOW.

animation_student said...

If anyone's still reading this thread. Here's a link to some more good tips for a showreel by an animator that worked on [i]Starship Troopers[/i] and [i]Harry Potter[/i].

I particularly like the last animation principle listed in the 12 new principles of animation.