A while back I did a post on stock rigs. After seeing many reels lately, I have to say something about that very topic. Something I found inspiring from a recent talk I heard was the presenter talking about how he felt about where students should fall when creating a reel or film for that matter. What was said was this:
“We encourage the students to have work that is not too artsy nor too much on the industry bias.”
This is not the exact thing that was said but the gist of it is. That brings the question for students making a demo reel. What is the good balance between art and putting work on your reel that is good for potential employers to see? I think it really depends on the stage you are at. For example, a 3rd year student looking for an internship might put too much work on a reel in order to submit for an internship. If your graduating it makes sense to show a range of work but to express your artistic ideas. I personally love seeing a different take on something. I remember a reel that came in by Carlo Vogel where he animated an entire film with clothes. I thought, what an amazing idea. He had me from the beginning. When I see the reel that has yet another human rig doing a a line of dialogue from a popular film, I feel like some schools may as well be teaching plumbing or electronics. Where is the character? Where is the spark? What is interesting about it? Then there are school where I think, does anyone here really understand how to animate? Too much art, no principles, no design…
Here are a few principles for demo reels
1) Hook your viewer – Really open your reel with something interesting and that you feel is one of your strongest pieces.
2) Quality not quantity - You don’t need every single thing on your reel to prove you can animate. Just put the best pieces.
3) Be original – Please avoid stock rigs…Unless you alter them… The industry knows each one and seeing one tells the viewer, I am vanilla and have no original ideas beyond this gray rig on a grid.
4) End strong – Leave the viewer with a good taste in their mouth.
5) Show you have good ideas… - Its not about Polish, Its about good ideas and strong acting for character animation. And Story! Story for all the things you do… Can you tell a good story?
6) Be your harshest critic. - This is the hardest. Its really hard to know where your at. Have someone good tell you where you are at. Its better to know the truth than to think your work is a 9 when its a 3.
A few tips to keep you going and hopefully help!