Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Industry Thoughts on Showreels

I performed a (small scale) survey of a few indigenous animation companies asking about 10 questions regarding their personal take on showreels, their recommended 'Do's and Don'ts' and a top tip they might offer. Below are some of the answers returned. Many thanks to those who took the time to reply.

Personally speaking, when screening showreels....

1) What is your biggest "no-no". In other words what makes you turn off a reel instantly?

Anne Tweedy (Boulder Media):
  If someone makes a DVD and it needs to be able to load on automatically.
Unclear footage, bad sound quality- in this day and age this is totally unnecessary and finally no flow to the viewing.
Everything and the kitchen sink on the reel.

 Joel Simon (Flickerpix); 
  1. WHEN STUDENTS DON’T BOTHER MENTIONING WHICH PART OF THE WORK IS THEIRS (ESPECIALLY IN THE CASE OF CG) OR MAKE IT HARD TO VIEW THE REELS IN THE FIRST PLACE, LIKE CD’S WITH MASSIVE FILES, STRANGE FORMATS, ETC..
  2. BUT IT ANNOYS THE HELL OUT OF ME  WHEN WE ARE ABOUT TO RECRUIT PEOPLE WHO IT TURNS OUT HAVEN’T DONE HALF THE STUFF ON THEIR REEL.. 

 Barry O'Donoghue (Barley Films):
The DVD not playing. So test it in its entirety on a DVD player AND a PC. You never know what the viewer will use. We are not likely to try every dvd player in the building if we have a stack of dvds to get through for an artistic review.

2) what are your thoughts on music over a reel?

AT: I think it needs to be there, it enhances the viewing. However it needs to be laid correctly and should have some sense to the visuals, e.g. lip sync, the music should have faded off and fades back on so that what you are showing is clear. Plan the music, make sure it suits it and is not too heavy or hard again ask someone to listen and look at it before you lock it.


JS: I DON’T MIND IT THOUGH I MAINLY SWITCH IT OFF (UNLESS THEY’VE USED A CLEVER UNUSUAL PIECE OF MUSIC)


BO'D: Unless it is directly related to the scene it is unnecessary. Remember that it is not an editing showcase it is an animation showcase. The animation performances are what we will be looking at. Of course if you are applying for an editing position or sound design position then it would be of much greater importance.


3) In terms of duration, how long before you get bored, generally?
AT: A minute and half to 2 minutes should be the goal for the length of a showreel. Anything more you are pushing it- you should be able to cut your work together to be informative, clear and snappy. If I can see you are good after 10 seconds the reel is a winner. It should  also be clear what the person worked on!


JS: DEPENDS HOW GOOD IT IS, BUT I TEND TO VIEW  ONLY 10-20 SECONDS OF NON-SOLICITED STUFF, OTHERWISE LONGER

BO'D: We just want to see your best work. If that only amounts to 30 seconds then anything beyond that is too long. If you have up to 2 minutes of GREAT stuff, we will not get bored watching it. The fact is we’ll know by the end of the first scene on your reel whether or not we’re going to want to watch the rest of it. Either it will show promise or it won’t.


4) Is typeface / slate design important to you?
AT: It is not that important, however it needs to be clear and clean. Making sure things are separated.

JS: NO

BO'D: Not important as long as it is clear. Keep it simple, again the character animation is what we are looking at. If your reel is geared towards VFX or after effects/compositing skills then maybe showcasing these through the typeface, etc. might be more important.

5) Do you favour a particular format?
AT: QuickTime’s

JS: ALWAYS FAVOUR WEBLINKS, IDEALLY LINKING TO THEIR OWN SITES / BLOGSPOT, SO THAT THERE IS SOME INFO SHOULD I NEED SOME, YOUTUBE AND VIMEO ARE OK TOO


BO'D: Online reels are fine (vimeo, youtube, etc.), as are dvds if sent to the studio.

6) Are 'work in progress'/unfinished clips acceptable to you?
AT: It is better if they are finished, but as long as it is clear they are a work in progress and if is a seriously good work in progress, which give the viewer a good indication on what the end result could be. But really is should be a limited amount of it! finished is easier to judge.

JS: YES

BO'D: Yes, but we do want to see that you can take a piece of animation to completion. That would mean a properly tied down drawing (not necessarily clean-up). 


7) Do you prefer to see credits / details superimposed onscreen or listed in a separate document?
AT: The end credit should have the name of the person and contact info- this should be replicated in a separate document. Also a link to an online version of the showreel would be good




JS: ABSOLUTELY PREFER THEM, , ALWAYS WANT TO KNOW ‘WHAT DID THEY DO ON THIS’

BO'D: Unobtrusively onscreen is good. A list is a useful addition.

8) Do you care to see walk cycles & other routine animation principles exercises?
AT: It needs to be clean and finished, but a lot of this should appear in some way in the reel in small segments, a happy medium of the exercises and definitely not all of them.  




JS: YES, I THINK IT’S A IADT FORTE


BO'D: Only if they are of a high quality (finished and on model). If you have nothing better after 4 years of work than principles exercises that are two years old, that should be setting off as many alarm bells for you as it does for us.

9) Is an apparent level of diversity important to you?
AT: Diversity is good as long as it is not cluttered, you need to hold the attention of the viewer and putting everything in plus the kitchen sink will not give the animator a proper chance-really the main thing is to have what you believe are your strongest pieces to show what you can do.


 
JS:  IN SOME CASES IT’S ACTUALLY A HINDRANCE, IT ANNOYS ME WHEN THEY FAIL TO MENTION WHAT THEY ARE GOOD AT / SPECIALIZED IN (ESPECIALLY CG) WHICH MEANS WE HAVE TO DO A WHOLE BIG INVESTIGATIVE PROCESS... NOBODY CAN DO EVERYTHING
 

BO'D: First and foremost we are looking for strong character animators, in our case hand drawn animation. If a range of performances can be shown with more than one technique (CG, stop-mo, etc.) that’s fine but we’ll still need you to be able to draw really well.



10) What's your no.1 tip to students cutting their reels?
AT: Take the time to be self critical about the material you want to use, ask others what they think- people you don’t know and who don’t know you. Plan it out, it needs direction and keep the timing right, if you have a long piece, make sure you find the balance with other shorter pieces.

JS:  FOCUS ON WHAT YOU’RE GOOD AT / ON WHAT YOU ENJOY DOING (USUALLY SAME THING)

(NB. – THIS IS DIFFERENT FROM ‘WHAT YOU ENJOY WATCHING’)


BO'D: Only your best work. Best scene first.
 
and lastly, could you put these qualities in order of importance as you see it for animators
acting, story, technical, draftsmanship, originality
AT: 1. Acting
2. Draftsmanship
3. Technical – if this is to do with the using the software and computers then it can really be taught on the job, however some knowledge is advantageous as anyone being employed these days need to have some idea of the technical side of things so they can start running- if it is the technical side of animation then is would be joint 2nd, a person can animate but can they animate in the right time given for a scene?
4. Originality
5. Story
The reality is as an animator you need to be able to do the fundamental which is draw and move – from this point on you can experiment with story and content,
 
JS: ACTING, TECHNICAL, DRAFTMANSHIP, ORIGINAL, STORY








 

5 Comments:

Blogger Arthur. L said...

That was great andy. Thank you for your extra curricular journalism.

April 27, 2010 at 3:24 PM  
Blogger Andy Clarke said...

Cheers, my pleasure. Hope it's helpful.

April 27, 2010 at 4:20 PM  
Blogger Conor Finnegan said...

nicewan andy!

April 28, 2010 at 5:12 AM  
Blogger Jenny Keane said...

ha! couldnt have put it better myself leigh! It was REALLY helpful thanks so much!!!

May 1, 2010 at 9:31 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

thanks Andy

May 15, 2010 at 10:43 AM  

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