DEMO REELS : PROFESSIONAL PERSPECTIVES
Written by Robert Skiena
About the Author:
Robert Skiena...(info when available)
*Disclaimer*: These are the personal views of Robert Skiena. These are not the views of his employer. The following text has no relationship with how his employer as a company, anyone who works there, or anyone else for that matter, feels about this particular topic. This text may not be used or reprinted, in whole or in part, without permission.
DEMO REELS: Some thoughts on Demo Reels by Robert Skiena
Show both quality and variety.
I don't think that it is possible to rule out any one genre, except 1 space ship flying through space. If you have 3-5 minutes of QUALITY work, that says a lot about you to potential employers.
You will be judged primarily on the worst part of your reel, not the best, so don't stick any crap on your tape. Depending on what you want to eventually end up doing, tailor your reel to that. Know ye well that the fastest route to employment is a tape that shows you can animate a character in a somewhat classical style and give him or her definitive personality. Realistic motion is nice, but animation is not necessarily realistic motion. Exaggeration and the other aspects of classical animation should be applied.
Lastly, realize that the people who will be watching this reel will be seeing probably dozens of other, mostly horrid, reels. Make yours stand out, but not by adding "flash" (lens flares, sparkly effects, frontal nudity), but by actually trying to make your tape as enjoyable to watch as possible. Nice, COMPLETE stories show that you can actually follow a job through to the end -- just make sure that your stories are well-edited and tight. Don't have long spaces of dead air on your tape, as that's boring to watch and would make people (me, anyway) question what your tolerances for quality and pride in your work are.
[Demo Reel: Telling a good story]
I actually attended a "trade school" for CG in Vancouver, but in my previous life I held a BA in English from a respected East Coast American University and made my way as a writer in New York City (and it is well established that if you can make it there you can, well, you know. . .). I learned the elements of story from a different perspective than many people in this industry, so my reactions to your [demo reel] question may not be the norm, but here goes.
Your basic story has three elements: a Beginning, a Middle, and an End. Before you roll your eyes at this (oops, too late) it is basic concept that many people don't consciously recognize.
Beginning - Introduction to who, what, when, where, why, how of the story. Essentially set-up time for the story.
Middle - The meat of the story. This is where everything happens that leads up to the climax of the tale.
End - Well, what do you think happens here?, The story is wrapped up (usually) and concluded.
Dull lecture time is now over. If you're trying to make short animated piece, and you're LOOKING for a story, then I wish you luck. The best story ideas have always just come to me, although I am always on the lookout for them.
[Rob Skiena on building a story]
I think it depends upon what the function of the piece is going to be. If you're trying to create a demo reel to try and get a job, I would try to start with a character in a situation, but if you're trying to win an Oscar(tm) then you may want to try and center around a concept. In trying to find ideas, though, I think the easiest way to go about it is to come up with a character and then come up with a situation (example, an insecure fish trying to learn how to swim.) If you define the character before creating the story, the story will almost write itself, since the character is essentially reacting to the situation.
DEMO REELS : PROFESSIONAL PERSPECTIVES
Written by Beverly Garland
About the Author:
Beverly Garland was Art Director at Titanic Entertainment at the time this was written. Prior to that she was employed at Origin, as a 3D Artist/Animator for almost three years ("Privateer," "Ultima VIII"), and an Art Director ("Crusader: No Remorse") for another two years.
*Disclaimer*: These are the personal views of Beverly Garland. These are not the views of her employer. The following text has no relationship with how her employer as a company, anyone who works there, or anyone else for that matter, feels about this particular topic. This text may not be used or reprinted, in whole or in part, without permission.
DEMO REELS: A Top 10 by Beverly Garland
If you're interested in the exploding Computer Games market, they have plenty of room for good animators. In my former life, I helped screen hundreds of demo reels for a game company called Origin, so here are some suggestions for what an Art Director might be looking for in your demo.
Not in order of priority: (Oh, yeah--it doesn't hurt to show non-computer art, too, if you've got something worth showing. You will be required to draw with a pencil *gasp!* once in awhile)
1) Evidence of original design abilities--include conceptual sketches and storyboards, as well as the finished piece, to illustrate the design process on at least one of your samples. (No copies of the USS Enterprise or X-Wing fighters, please!)
2) Visual story-telling ability
3) Modeling strengths: Complex objects, both organic (monsters, people) and inorganic (space hardware, architecture)
4) Texture mapping and attention to detail: scanned texture maps can be very cool, but make sure you show your ability to make-do from scratch, using anything like Fractal Painter, Animator Pro, etc.
5) Realistic Set Design: build a complete environment where architecture, accoutrements, and effective lighting allow the viewer to imagine him or herself inside the space.
6) Wow Factor: There should be one or two pieces that really stand out in their originality, execution and artistic composition
7) Craftsmanship: Not all pieces need to be ready-to-broadcast or print quality, but an example of one highly-polished project will greatly help in demonstrating your ability to produce "finished" artwork.
8) Animation ability: human figures performing a simple, natural and fluid action are extremely desirable. Choose an action that would NOT be found in Muybridges "Humans and Animals in Motion." Now, if you really want to impress, think "Jackie Chan."
9) Resume: organize it so it's easy to scan at a glance. They're more interested in what's so special about you than in what schools you've attended. If you have extensive technical experience, stress that. If it's artistic experience, stress that.
10) Important-- Along with your demo reel, enclose a sheet that describes what is contained in your reel. With what application is each piece done? Was it a group project? Did you build the mesh yourself, or use a commercially available one? How much time did each one take to complete? This is INVALUABLE information to them.