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feedback for first demo reel

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feedback for first demo reel
on Jul 13, 2006 at 4:01:02 am


I've just discovered this forum - and right on time! I've been working on assembling my first demo reel, and would love any advice you could offer. I'm posting it on the link below -- hopefully you'll be able to access it.

Any feedback, critique, thoughts you could offer would be grand. I know it needs some work, but the sooner I can get it together, the better.

Here's some background (that will be available to anyone who views the reel):

I just graduated college, where I majored in video. Most of my work ventured towards the experimental, though we were instructed on the basics. I taught myself a lot of the techniques and devices employed -- so they're rather rudimentary.

The point of the reel isn't exactly to show off the breadth of my talent - though that wouldn't hurt. Because I KNOW I don't have much experience, my goal is to showcase a unique way of looking at the world and interpreting it through my media. Hopefully, the viewer will recognize potential - enough to offer an entry-level job. I'm pretty much self-taught and a strong and eager learner, so I'd like to demonstrate a curiousity and willingness to grow.

At the same time, it'd be nice to show a variety of lenses and a specific personality/character, so that I stand apart and present something personal rather than pedestrian or mainstream.

Again, any (kind!) advice you could proffer would be most appreciated, especially if you can take my position in life and goals into consideration. I really admire the efforts you guys make for one another -- it seems like a nice bastion of kindness in an otherwise competitive industry!

Here's the link, I'm new to web-design, so hopefully it works on the first or second try! If you have better ideas of how to host, please advise! (cross my fingers...)

Thanks again!!

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Re: feedback for first demo reel
on Jul 13, 2006 at 3:20:26 pm

Hiya, Prophetsearcher. I liked the reel from the get-go because of the animated line art. It's a unique way to open up a reel and usually unique is good. :-)

I'm going to quote a few things so my thoughts aren't muddied.

[prophetsearcher] "Most of my work ventured towards the experimental"

I got that sense in watching your reel, a few shots were sort of se7en-esque (movie), at least in my mind (which is good).

[prophetsearcher] "Because I KNOW I don't have much experience, my goal is to showcase a unique way of looking at the world and interpreting it through my media."

I hear what you're saying, the goal of a demo reel is to showcase work you made while under a deadline though (even if it's a loose deadline, it's still a deadline) so I wouldn't bring this point up if you're talking to a client. Fair or not, they might think of a person just out of college as not being good finishing things on time and this might cause enough hesitation to look elsewhere.

[prophetsearcher] "Hopefully, the viewer will recognize potential - enough to offer an entry-level job."

That's a good point. The fact that you're willing to start at the bottom means you're not afraid of doing work you don't necessarily want to do. When you become "good" in your mind, you'll still be willing to work extra hard to crank out a really great product and it's this kind of dedication that requires artists to work well past the point of it being "fun". Employers keep this in mind before hiring you, especially for a permanent gig.

[prophetsearcher] "so I'd like to demonstrate a curiousity and willingness to grow"

That's a good attitude to have. A trap a lot of "experienced" folks fall into is something like ... "I went to school to learn ...". What we sometimes fail to realize is that the process of being creative is learning and it never stops. That's why a newby has the chance of entering the field and making something more creative than a seasoned veteran has thought about making, I think the more experience we have the more we're inclined to stay in the box. If you can keep the mindset of "learning" well after you're "good", you'll go far imo. Even a moron has something to teach you.

[prophetsearcher] "At the same time, it'd be nice to show a variety of lenses and a specific personality/character"

I think your reel does have personality. I'm inclined to fall back on a few fundamentals I tend to stick to (perhaps wrongly because of experience as referenced above ... :-P) and make reels more centered around a certain genre - editing, motion graphics, etc. It was jarring for me to see it go from line art to video and then back to something else. It's okay to intermingle types of footage but definitely you'll want to come up with a better way of making them relate. How is up to you, you'll get an idea of what I mean when you watch more reels.

One of the things we look for is maturity in the work when we watch a reel. Maturity isn't behavioral, it's how well the work is polished, how it flows, how it interacts with the sound effects and music (I liked the music choice btw). We also look for how it relates to the message being conveyed (is it advertising something and we don't know what it is?). It's not always a good idea to just stick animations in your reel without a real purpose for them being there (opinions can vary on this). I personally shy away from abstract - when I'm watching something I'd like there to be a reason I'm watching it, or at least understand why it is the way it is. I'm not one to look for meaning in a few paint splotches on the wall, but that's not necessarily the only way to think either. Just my way of thinking. Know your audience. If you're pitching a company that's very corporate, lots of clean graphics, they won't be impressed by chaotic images and artsy-style editing. The reverse is true for houses that focus on the artsy, the different, etc. It's sometimes good to have two or more reels that are very different from one another.

Hope that was a little helpful. Good luck with the rest of it!

- MythProd
(John David Hutton)

Build Your Own VelocityQ. See how:

Supermicro X5DA8, Dual Xeon 3.0 GHz
Windows XP Pro, SP1
VelocityQ, Version 9.1.41, Quattrus 140
VelocityX, Version 1.0.01
Kansas City, Kansas - United States

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Re: feedback for first demo reel
on Jul 22, 2006 at 3:31:19 pm

Just two suggestions; use a soundtrack with more energy and check your spelling on "developement" at the end.

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Re: feedback for first demo reel
on Jul 24, 2006 at 8:45:58 pm

Thanks so much for replying -- I think you may have done so to the wrong thread, however. I can't seem to recall any use of the word "development" anywhere in the track. Am i missing it?

Also, I haven't had an opportunity yet to thank the former respondent - your feedback was incredibly thoughtful and thorough.

Might anyone else have suggestions or feedback?

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Re: feedback for first demo reel
on Jul 24, 2006 at 11:54:15 pm

Sorry about that, I was off by a couple of posts...

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Jeremy Smith
Re: feedback for first demo reel
on Jul 28, 2006 at 4:52:57 pm

I thought it was certainly a good start for you. The reel had a feel that carried throughout and it worked really nicely with the music. It wasn't the typical upbeat techno that so many reels suffer from these days. Like John said I also think the opening with the line art animation was really really nice. Also a refreshing change.

As I read your post before watching it I went into it with a sense of who you are and what you're trying to accomplish...all of which I think made me like the reel a bit more. One thing to be careful about going from here to shopping your reel around is folks won't have that information (save for your resume) before they view the reel. There were a few spots where the posterize look really caught my eye and not really in a great hand the guy looking in the mirror and the street scene where the person changes into an animal. While I think I know what you were trying to do you might try to work with those a bit.

Also, like John said there is a maturity that shows through in a polished reel. I've found with interns and fresh out of college folks (myself included) that is when I can really tell that they are "getting it" I guess....if that's the right way to put it. They all make the same little mistakes that fall into line as they gain exp and their skills grow. The transitions into and from the line animations could use a bit to tie the pieces together. The biggest thing I saw that will take you no time to fix are several flash an editor to me that is the biggest no no...but also the easiest to fix.

While I haven't had enough coffee hopefully this all makes sense. I think with your attitude and willingness to learn/grow/experiment and the courage it took to post your reel here is great. You're off to a really good start.


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