DEMO REEL SPECS

In this tutorial I go over the fine points of demo reel content. What should be on them and where, also what shouldn’t. Everyone’s demo reels are different and they are meant to represent the artist in the best light possible.

Demo reels in general should be no longer than 3 to 4 minutes, and should display the strongest work at the beginning and end of the reel. In this day and age DVDs are the way to go. For one they are quick and cheap to make, they cost less to send weight wise and they are just easier to use. Just make sure that your DVD navigation is simple, auto play when it launches. The title screen should have one or two easily identifiable buttons for playing.

Many companies strongly suggest not having montage reels, where the different projects are cut up and wove back together. Many HR departments cannot tell what is going when this method is used. Also the least important thing on your reel is the music, most studios turn the sound off completely. But be sure to let them know visually if the sound is important, like in a Lip-Sync. Big tip is never use music that could possibly offend or put off the potential employer, death metal, techno, gangsta rap are the first that come to mind.

Some other suggestions would be to have “Title Cards” before every piece on the reel. I found that this could either be there on the reel or not. Most reels are shipped with a typed out Demo Reel Breakdown. In the breakdown you should state exactly what you did on each piece on the reel or on those title cards. Obviously place them in the same order that they appear on the reel. Also at the beginning and end of the reel there should be a Contact Info Card, with all of your contact information on it. The basic contact information is your name, your email address, your working phone number and if you have a dotcom. Hold the end Contact Info Card for at least 10 seconds or more.

The content of the reel is the most important. Only put your very best work and display that work in the best possible light. I always suggest to go back into old projects if possible and spruce them up, tweak the lighting and textures, do a higher resolution render if the original is not 720 x 480. Also brand yourself make a logo that easily identifiable and can be placed on all of the piece of your package, resume, cover letter, demo reel breakdown, business card, DVD case and the DVD. All of those pieces of your package should on them somewhere your contact information, just incase the DVD gets separated from the case. No one is going to go searching for the case to find out whose reel it is.

Below is the listing of good content for a demo reel broken down by different positions with the animation / video game industry. I’ve created these listing through personal experience and job listings I found online.

Animator Reel
Reel: 1 Walk Cycles w/ transition to Run or Walk with Attitude
         5 Looped actions: Bat swing, Punch Combinations
         2 Acting exercise w/ emotion
         2 Lip-syncs
         1 Multiple characters acting exercise.
Other: 5 to 6 half page flat book of life drawings for mailing.
Website with a realname.com

Animator / Modeling Reel
Reel: 1 Walk Cycles w/ transition to Run or Walk with Attitude
         2 Looped actions: Bat swing, Punch Combinations
         1 Acting exercise w/ emotion
         1 Lip-syncs
         1 to 2 biped humanoid models.
         1 to 2 biped / quadruped creature models
         1 real quadruped models.
Other: At least 20 page flat book of life drawing / character designs, to interview.
5 to 6 half page flat book for mailing.
Website with a realname.com

Character Setup / Animation Reel (Animation TD)
Reel: 1 biped humanoid rigs.
         1 biped creature rigs.
         1 quadruped rigs.
         1 Walk Cycles w/ transition to Run or Walk with Attitude
         2 Looped actions: Bat swing, Punch Combinations
         1 Acting exercise w/ emotion
         1 Lip-sync
Minimum of 5 rigs total. All rigs should now include dynamic driven attributes may include driven particle systems.
Other: 5 to 6 half page flat book of life drawings for mailing.
Handout of any scripts for mailing.
Website with a realname.com

Concept Artist / Animator Reel
Reel: 1 or 2 Walk Cycles w/ transition to Run or Walk with Attitude
         5 Looped actions: Bat swing, Punch Combinations
         1 Acting exercise w/ emotion.
         5 Character Designs
         2 or 3 Environment Designs
All drawings should be fully colored digitally with a good sense of light source. No anime.
Other: 20pg flat book of illustration, life drawing, character designs, to interview.
5 to 6 half page flat book for mailing.
Website with a realname.com

Conceptual Artist Reel (doesn’t really exist)
Reel: 6 to 8 character designs fully colored
         3 to 4 full rendered illustrations
         2 to 3 environmental renderings
All drawings should be fully colored digitally with a good sense of light source. All characters do not have to be completely original but if not should be labeled as redesigns or credited to the creator. No anime.
Other: At least 24 page flat book of illustrations / life drawing / character designs / environment designs, brought to interview.
5 to 6 half page flat book for mailing.
Website with a realname.com

Character Technical Director Reel (TD)
Reel: 1 to 3 biped humanoid rigs.
         1 to 3 biped creature rigs.
         1 to 3 quadruped rigs.
         1 to 3 vehicle / robotic rigs.
         1 to 3 no descript rigs (blob creature, ghost).
Minimum of 5 rigs total. All rigs should now include dynamic driven attributes may include driven particle systems.
Other: Handout of any scripts for mailing.
Website with a realname.com

Modeling Reel
Reel: 2 to 4 biped humanoid models.
         2 to 4 biped / quadruped creature models
         2 to 4 real quadruped models.
         1 to 3 inorganic / vehicle models.
         1 to 3 environment model / props / weapons models
Minimum of 8 models total. All models should be fully UV mapped and textured. UV maps and textures must be displayed with model.
Other: At least 20 page flat book of life drawing / character designs, to interview.
5 to 6 half page flat book for mailing.
Website with a realname.com

Generalist Reel
Reel: 2 character models
         2 character rig (same models)
         2 to 3 animation exercises. (same model)
         1 animated short (same model)
All models should be fully UV mapped and textured. UV maps and textures must be displayed with model.
Other: At least 20 page flat book of life drawing / character designs, to interview.
5 to 6 half page flat book for mailing.
Website with a realname.com

Particle & Dynamics (Effects TD)
Reel: 4 to 6 real world particle systems
         4 to 6 real world dynamic systems
         4 to 6 multiple particles systems w/ dynamics
Minimum of 12 unique systems total.
Other: 5 to 6 half page flat book for mailing.
Website with a realname.com

Compositor
Reel: 3 to 4 rotoscoped footage shots.
         3 to 4 green screen inclusion composites.
         1 to 2 3D element / variable / effects composite.
         2 to 4 Matte Paintings
         1 to 2 color correction / lighting adjustment
Other: 5 to 6 half page flat book for mailing.
Website with a realname.com

Environment Artist
Reel: 4 to 6 Distinct Environments.
         4 to 6 Props / Weapons.
         4 of the environments should be real world places or things.
All should be fully lit ready for use. UV maps and textures must be displayed with model.
Other: At least 24 page flat book of environment illustrations.
Website with a realname.com