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What's a good demo reel?

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Before you apply to work for a company (as an animator, modeler, coder, or whatever), you are required to build a "demo reel". I've seen a lot of such reels on the internet, and they varied greatly in length and quality. Unfortunately, I couldn't tell which ones actually got their makers a job, and which didn't. In short, I was wondering, what makes a good demo reel? I mean just good enough to get you a job, any job, to get you started... I'm not asking for explanations, I'm asking for examples, links, things we could see and compare our skills with. Thanks.

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Quote:
Original post by adelamro
I'm not asking for explanations, I'm asking for examples, links, things we could see and compare our skills with. Thanks.

There is no way to say that one of them will result in a hire and another will not.

I'm not over the artists, but I work with them. :-)

Every artist have different styles and different abilities. The art director may be looking for a specific set of talents, or perhaps seeking (or avoiding) people who have a lot of a particular style.

In general, prepare a bunch of your best work for any portfolio or demo. If you are turned down from a job, ask if they wanted to see anything improved in your portfolio.

Exactly the same things apply for programmers. If I'm looking for somebody to work on a scripting engine, I don't really want to see a portfolio filled with a dozen graphical particle systems. If I'm looking for somebody skilled in shader programming, I don't really want to see their Lua coding skills ... although I might want to see them even when I didn't ask, because that's a useful additional skill set.

Good luck.

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While I'm in no way an artist, I spent some time as a moderator at the portfolio review module at the local art-college where I was teaching game design.

Here's some of the points the other lecturers raised:

- Should show your best work (as Frob says)

- Should show a range of work (these were fresh-graduates, so they were assumed to be looking for any job people would hire them for. In that case you want a range from animation, texturing, technical (rigging/boning/shading), concept, etc. You still want to emphesize the stuff you're good at, so if you're useless technically, don't include shoddy work).

- Should be clearly labelled (especially the portfolio, but also the reel. Should mention software/method. Some people like to give things a name, and 1 small paragraph back-story, like "Grim Reaper [2005](Maya/DeepPaint). In-game model for HL2 Mod. 1.5K Polys, 32 bones.").

- Use smart animations (models should be in T-pose, rotated. If they're low-poly, show both wireframe and textured views.)

- Be carefull of stock objects (big red flag if you see the Max jester used by an artist for something like animations; means he's pretty damn incapable of making his own. Same for stock textures, meshes, etc. )

Also some presentation tips:
- Cut a CD for the interview. Use HTML, flash, etc to make it feel like an interactive CD (very often by just doing a copy of your website). Store all the movie-clips, digital portfolio, etc on it. Plan to leave it at the office with the hiring staff.

- Make a website, include all the portfolio / showreel on it. Put it on your namecard, and in your .sig. Spread it to anyone who might be interested in hiring you.

Good luck,
Allan

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Hi Adel, you wrote:

>I've seen a lot of such reels on the internet, and they varied greatly... I couldn't tell which ones actually got their makers a job, and which didn't. In short, I was wondering, what makes a good demo reel? I mean just good enough to get you a job, any job, to get you started...

If you're not sure if your demo disc is good enough, it isn't. Read http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson49.htm. You cannot get into the industry if you only try to be "just good enough." Nobody wants "just good enough."

>I'm asking for ... things we could see and compare our skills with.

That's NOT GOOD ENOUGH. The very fact that you asked this question indicates that you do NOT have the passion and drive to be the best. And that's what the industry wants: THE BEST.

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ODIN, I disagree with some of what you've said based on everything I'd read and heard from professionals and senior artists regarding portfolios. As far as I know:

->Put your best work first, then your second best, etc., don't save your best for last or anything like that.

->Only put in work for what you'd like to do. If you want to model and texture, show models and textures. If you want to rig, show rigs. If you want to animate, show animations. Do NOT put any animations or rigs on a modelling reel, unless they are extremely good and show off your model... a so-so walk cycle could needlessly destroy an otherwise excellent model.

->Always pose your models in a dynamic pose, on a model stand that shows them off, never a T-pose. T-poses are really boring. Definately show wireframe and shaded views though.

Most of what you said, especially the non-art-specific stuff, is spot on, though.
For examples of art/modelling reels, check out cgtalk.com, especially anything from the Vancouver Film School (VFS).

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Thanks for the replies, but I seem to be getting misunderstood. tsloper, the reason I said "just good enough" is because I'm a perfection freak, and I have an issue with self confidence. If I had created the animation of Gollum in TLOTR then I probably would not include it in my demo reel because it's not really PERFECT!!! THAT'S WHY MY DEMO REEL IS STILL FREAKEN EMPTY!!!!!

All I'm saying is that it's easy to overdo it. I just want to know how high the bar is. Thanks.

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Quote:
Original post by Professor420
ODIN, I disagree with some of what you've said based on everything I'd read and heard from professionals and senior artists regarding portfolios. As far as I know:


Well, as the caveat said, I'm not an artist (I'm a programmer by training, and cannot draw a straight line, even with a ruler ;) ), so do take anything I said with a pinch of salt.

Secondly, this was for fresh graduates in a country with mainly small-medium sized enterprises. Saying "I only want to do rigging" works if you're REALLY good, and go to work for a large company, but a small one will want someone versatile. This goes double for a fresh-graduate.

Tom is right, though.. if you only care about being 'good enough', this is probably the wrong industry for you. You should always push to excel yourself, and match anyone else.

Good luck,

Allan

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About the difficulty of "Best vs. Good Enough".


"Your best" does not mean making it absolutely perfect.

Idealism fighting with reality is something most of us have to deal with every day. The team for Duke Nukem Forever is the only exception to the rule. [grin]

The ideal situation is infinite time and resources. Reality dictates that you have finite time and limited resources. Make do with what you have. Once it is the best you can do with the time and other resources available, put it away for a while. Wait until your emotions about it cool off a bit. Let other people review it and ask them what they like and what they dislike. Then go back and fix what they don't like, and touch up the parts you don't like now that you are not as emotionally charged about it. Remember that you have limited resources, and nobody expects perfection.

Along these lines, it is often useful to track and state on your demos the calendar-time, work hours, and tools for a given work. If the reviewer sees that you did a certain thing in nine hours over two days with a particular tool set, they'll have a better view of how you balance the ideal vs the real world. The boss is going to figure out if you are slow or fast in short order anyway. If you are fast or normal paced you might as well let them know up front. If you are slow, you will discover it for yourself by doing your own tracking, and can use that to improve yourself.

frob.

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Thanks, but I still don't see links to good demos which got their creators a job. If you know of some good ones (in any field in Game Dev), please share.

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For examples of artists demo reels I would suggest checking out the various magazines targeting them. 3D World magazine always reserves a few pages to show demo reel work people have sent in and frequently has articles either about one particular persons demo reel (that was successful) or how to improve your own.

(I'm a programmer, not an artist, but I still check out the various art related magazines from time to time to see what's hot and what's not. Going off at a tangent I find that when I am doing any art tools development checking out magazines such as 3D world are incredibly useful as their reviews are a good source of information of what to include and exclude from a tool UI - as well as talking to the actual artists of course!).

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