We made our first demo reel! Scroll down to watch. In the process of making this, I did some research and learned a bit about what should be in a demo reel, so I thought I’d share some of that information here. This reel was assembled using Premier Pro. Following are six tips to keep in mind when creating a demo reel.
1. Keep Your Demo Reel Short
The demo reel is like a resume for animators. It shouldn’t go on and on. It should definitely not be over two minutes, and preferably should be under one. Making it longer doesn’t necessarily mean you have better content, it likely means you’re a worse editor. Cut out anything that you aren’t feeling 100% about. In the words of William Strunk, Jr:
“When a sentence is made stronger, it usually becomes shorter. Thus, brevity is a by-product of vigor”
2. Choose Your Format
There are basically two types of demo reels. There is the “collage” type of reel, where you combine shorter shots, usually with music. This type of demo is better suited to short form and spot work. Then there is are “scene” based reels, where you choose a few longer scenes to highlight. Since our work has been primarily short form, the collage type seemed appropriate. It also, I think, lends itself better to sharing over social media, in our fast-paced Internet world.
3. Put Your Personality Into the Reel
Don’t just show a bouncing ball. Make it yours. Your personality should come through naturally when choosing from among your own work, but if you have a choice between something more original and something that’s run of the mill, choose the more interesting option (assuming it is just as good quality).
4. Choose the Right Music/Sound effects
I spent about two hours listening to soundtracks from the YouTube free music library. A lot of them are low energy, or hokey, or really annoying and distracting after ten seconds. Choose something that fits your personality and will enhance your work. If you’re a character animator, include the original dialog instead of music. And obviously, make sure the music you choose is legal to use. If you’re willing to pay for a bit more original track, you can also try PremiumBeat.
Finally, don’t just slap the soundtrack over the animation. If you’re going to have a soundtrack, take the time to cut the reel to the beat.
5. Put Your Best Work First
Don’t save the best for last. You want to grab people right away and hold their attention. But make sure that the quality stays top notch throughout. Don’t start off with a bang and end with a whimper. When in doubt, take it out. Also, if you didn’t compose everything in the shot, make it clear that parts that you created using titles or a breakdown of what you did.
6. Don’t Forget Your Contact Info
Seems obvious, but is actually easy to forget. Make sure people have a way to get in touch with you. I put the Green Comma logo and website at the beginning and end. My website has an email form.
So without further ado, here’s our reel! Please leave a comment and let me know what you think. I can use you all to make it stronger in future. Are there any clips you like best, or you think should be taken out? Any other thoughts or comments? Thank you, as always, for following Green Comma!