Build the perfect showreel: 10 top tips

Build the perfect showreel: 10 top tips

Make sure studios see your work in the best light. Leading industry figures give their advice on creating a killer showreel.

With studios receiving hundreds of entries a day, getting a career in 3D, animation, motion graphics or movie making is harder than ever. To wangle that dream job, you'll need to create a reel that showcases your talent in a couple of minutes. Read these insiders' tips to ensure your showreel stands out from the crowd...

01. Cut ruthlessly

As head of international outreach at DreamWorks, Shelley Page says: "There's no such thing as a student film that couldn't do with editing." Many student films take on too much, resulting in what one jaded recruiter describes as: "typically five minutes of poor animation on poorly rigged models in poor environments".

"Don’t get attached to material that ultimately doesn’t showcase your best work, even though you have an emotional attachment to it," stresses Patricia Kung, senior recruiter at Animal Logic. Demo reels are about focusing on one's strengths and not trying to be, for example, a character animator if your genius lies in modelling and texturing. Or as Dave Throssell of Fluid Pictures says: "I don't want to wade through a showreel where someone's thrown in everything they've ever done."

02. Keep it short

It’s worth considering showreel duration from a studio’s perspective. They’re likely to receive unsolicited reels on a regular basis, and endure an avalanche every time a position does actually become available. Creating a reel that outstays its welcome is not a good way to gain their attention.

"Because we have to look at so many reels, we would recommend for them to be roughly one-and-a-half to two minutes in length," says Claire Anderson of The Mill. "We don’t even always get all the way through, so I’d also say to put your best work at the beginning."

03. Start and end well

Neil Gallagher, senior lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire, suggests opening with your best work and then, just to ensure you don’t begin with a bang and end with a whimper, close with your second-best piece. Beyond that, if your third-favourite piece does in any way look second-rate, you might want to consider whether it really belongs on the reel at all.

04. Think of it as an ad

Graphic, motion and interactive designer Julien Simshäuser’s showreel - - ties together a diverse body

If in doubt, try to think of each segment in your showreel as an advert, where the product being sold is you. As Lee Danskin of Escape Studios points out: "Commercials are 30 seconds long for a reason. Too much longer and they get boring."

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