10 February, 2010

Demo Reel Tidbits

I found these on the Tips and Tricks Volume 2 eBook HERE. Since I'm in the middle of looking for a studio that wants me I figured that this would be a useful post to refer back to. Having completed my demo reel, seeing my fellow students work/reels, and seeing the quality of animation that the big studios are producing there's so much more than just animation to get into your dream job studio. I want this post to focus on the non-animation aspect of animation. The first article is from Keith Sintay talking about the importance of music on a reel. A lot of people say that you shouldn't put music on your reels... but if you look around the Internet at various studios from around the world 99% of them all have music playing on their reels... so it's a personal call, obviously you don't want to use extreme music, common sense will go a long way.. but enough about what I think, let's see what Mr. Sintay says..
The second post is from Carlos Baeana's Website talking about demo reel dos and don'ts.

How Important Is Music on a Demo Reel?
By Keith Sintay

Demo reels can be tricky things. Everything about what we do as artists is subjective; not everything you do will please everyone. And, putting together a demo reel not only involves your visual elements, but the auditory ones as well. I never used to be a fan of music on a demo reel. I was happy just letting my dialogue shots (and any incidental music that might be behind the dialogue) carry the sound portion of my reel. I had seen too many demo reels with, what I felt, was ‘cheesy’ music that didn’t help the flow of the reel at all, but rather hindered it. So, I figured, it’s just safer to leave the music off. Well for anyone that may have seen my reel lately, you will notice that I finally made the leap and put music on my reel. What changed my mind? Well, I was looking at my reel, and because of the length and variety of shots contained on it, I didn’t feel like it flowed as nicely as it did when it was shorter and I had only animated a few things. I looked at my colleague’s reels and saw how proper music can tie together your shots. Now again, this is all subjective, but I tried to pick music that was upbeat and not overly distracting to the animation, and above all that didn’t drown out my dialogue shots I think music on a demo (show) reel is a matter of taste. I am not an expert in this field, but from what I have seen in my professional experience, bad music can take away from great animation, and good music can help disjointed shots flow together seamlessly (like in movie trailers for example). I would simply ask around and find out if your friends or colleagues like the music you have selected. Get some feedback and then use that to help you make your decision.

Keith Sintay


Demo Reel Dos and Don’ts
By Carlos Baena

Throughout my animation career at different studios and as a cofounder/director of sorts at Animation Mentor, I’ve watched many student and industry demo reels. I have also gathered information and spoken with recruiters, animators and supervisors about
how they select candidates based on the work they see in a demo reel and their interactions with the job applicants. For you, I’ve created a list of valuable tips for creating an animation demo reel that has a better chance of landing you a job at the studio you’d like to work at. Also I recommend reviewing my webinar from July 9, 2008, called Demo Reels Dos and Don’ts which you can watch at Animation Mentor.com.

Go to www.animationmentor.com/webinar and click on the Past Webinars tab. Also, check my blog www.carlosbaena.com for more information, tips, and ideas as I continue to learn and share more about animation.

1. Do NOT try to make a one-size fits all demo reel. This works in small companies, but for the main studios it may hurt your chances more than anything else. Make your demo reel specific to the position and studio for which you are applying. When applying, as an animator to a big animation studio where departments are very specialized, everything
on the reel should be specifically “animation,” not “texturing,” “lighting” or “modeling”.

2. You should NOT include everything you’ve worked on throughout the years. Keep it short. Remember that recruiters/supervisors only have a short time to look at reels and want
to get to the point right away. It should be no longer than a minute or so. Chances are that people who are reviewing your reel are looking at another 100. So, the easier you can make it
for them, the better. You don’t want to bore them. Instead, they should see your strongest work (even if it’s only 30 seconds). Leave them wanting more. Here’s another tip: put your very
strongest work first because if they aren’t hooked in the first 10 seconds, they may not watch the rest of your reel.

3. Make the reel original on the inside, NOT on the outside. Human resources, along with actual animators, will be looking at your reel, and they don’t care about a fancy outside package or what you include along with the reel and resume. From key chains to toys, I’ve seen people include all kinds of things with their reels that do not relate to their animation skills. Put all of your originality into the actual animation content. Make it fun and original for people to watch, but don’t overdo it. Your best bet is to put your resume and shot breakdowns as the cover insert of the DVD case so it can’t get lost or separated from your reel. Also, put your name and contact info inside the case and on the DVD just in case it gets separated and passed around. You’d hate to think they fell in love with your reel and then couldn’t figure out who it belonged to!

4. Do NOT include stuff that is too distracting, whether it’s music or fancy titles. If you have a reel with a dialogue animation test, and the music is too loud for people to hear the dialogue, or you overdub mega-loud techno music throughout the whole thing, it will conflict with the purpose of the reel, which is to show your animation skills as clearly and simply as you can. Everything else should be secondary.

5. Do NOT include anything animated by others. Be very clear and honest about what you have done. The industry is very small -- people go from company to company and they are very familiar with everyone’s work. Always include a credit list of the shots on the reel and what you animated for them. In the event that a shot is actually shared by two or more animators, you should clarify the work that you did.

6. Bring your own personality to the reel. Ultimately, many people can learn the techniques. What’s interesting to see and what recruiters look for, is the personality, the actor behind the reel. You’ll stand out if you can show your creativity in your acting choices. Show you can be subtle as well as do big performances. Don’t include content based on others’ animations. We don’t want to see a “Pixar” reel. Instead, we are looking for the talented actor that can help a studio make their work much more distinctive. It does help to be aware of the style of animation that a particular studio has or what kind of work they create. You wouldn’t want to apply to
a VFX Studio with a reel that has only cartoon work, or apply to a place where they do cartoon-type of work with a reel containing only creature work.

7. Find out what to submit and how. Go through the studios’ online sites and find out exactly what they need from you before you apply to them. Chances are, they may need you to submit a form before you send anything, or they may ask you to submit your portfolio in a particular way or format.

8. Be respectful and patient with the people reviewing your work. It doesn’t help your chances if as soon as the studio gets your reel, you call or email the recruiters and animators a dozen times a day. Be considerate with their time, and most importantly treat them with respect. They are here to help you and their job is not easy with hundreds of reels to watch over several hours. This is good to keep in mind after you send a reel, and you don’t hear from them immediately.

9. Pay attention to the details. Check your DVD and make sure it works before you submit it. Don’t use menus or make a recruiter work to figure out how to play your reel. Keep it simple. The best DVDs just start playing as soon as you load them.

10. And lastly, keep trying, and keep refining your animation. When you’ve progressed, resubmit your reel to show your growth and the new work. It takes time, motivation, skill and creativity to succeed in this fun and motivating career.

I hope this helps you!

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