01 April 2008

Helpful hints for making a reel.

i've been meaning to write this up for awhile now but... I think im ready to sit down and write out some thoughts, since I recently talked about this over at the kansas city art institute with fellow work john baker for one of the animation classes.

First and foremost I get asked a lot what are good tips for putting together a good reel. Everyone is going to have their personal take on what makes a reel stand out and what makes a real only watchable for 5 seconds, but nonetheless here are some bullet points that may or may not help you on your way.

Show your voice.
every animator has their voice, whether that be your approach to the creative or unique ways in presenting old ideas. While showcasing your work that may speak to your voice, the reel as a whole is a presentation of YOU. Some people create unique animation bookends for the reel, an introduction animation and ending animation, some people create a theme to weave in and out of the work edited together so that it all feels concise and seamless giving you interest to finish the entire reel. So pick an element to make your presentation unique, its the small things that stand out - it doesn't have to be grand!

Edit yourself.
Just because you animated 500 spots last year doesn't mean every single one has to be included. Show your strong work, and show the strong areas of that work. You don't have to show full pieces, and you don't have to show all 18 camera views of that 3d teapot your modeled. And if you are on the opposite end of the spectrum and don't have that much work because your a student -- make short animations for yourself as experimental creative challenges. Seeing assignments is ok, but people really want to see the work that you took to the next step, and the work that you went out of your way to create, even during a 16 hr semester.

Music...Spice girls are cool and all but....
Music is always a controversial thing, and very hard to even begin to talk about but.. lets try. Try to pick something with enough energy to get you through the piece, someone that has rhythm for edits, but something that isn't overbearing... death metal may be your thing, but it might not be your clients... try to be neutral with your selection and as obscure as possible... the less heard track will often get you a viewing rather then someone who has heard a track 18 times that day while reviewing reels... if you can and have the ability.. create your own track.. making a simple unique track is something else that shows you went out of your way to make a nice package and presentation, again with the small things... they count.

Fonts, the good the bad and the ugly.
If you really cant pick a good font just pick a safe font. Just because you think all of the misprinted types are awesome and all (which they are in their own merit) just don't pick something that is so overused.. back again to the unique take on your reel. If you really want to be safe... go sans-serif or something that is a standard and clean. Make it simple to read, and easy on the eyes.. no one wants to pause your reel because they can't make out your email address, or phone number. But if you pick a bad font, you will be judged accordingly.. i promise.

I think that's a few good rules to go by, and maybe later i'll make a posting with some of my favorite reels... and yes I do keep a folder of just reels... :) and remember, you never know whos looking.. so always give credit for the music your using, especially if you take one of mk12's inhouse created audio tracks, or anyone else's hand crafted fine work... be respectful to every aspect, and most importantly.. be yourself.. let your voice shine... :)

w0rd. hope this helps and isn't too lame.

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