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bdstric
My Latest Demo Reel
on Jan 20, 2007 at 8:17:47 pm

This is my latest demo reel. It showcases my skills with After Effects, Photoshop, 3dsmax, and Poser. I have been having difficulty finding quality jobs. I am wondering if perhaps my demo reel/skills are not up to par. Feel free to comment on any aspect of the reel and any suggestions. Thank you for your time and constructive criticism. Here it is:

http://www.pipedreamstudios.com



Brad Strickman
brad@pipedreamstudios.com


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bdstric
Re: My Latest Demo Reel
on Jan 20, 2007 at 10:55:34 pm

Perhaps posting a working link would be helpful.

http://www.pipedreamstudios.com

Brad Strickman
brad@pipedreamstudios.com


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john_xyz
Re: My Latest Demo Reel
on Jan 22, 2007 at 8:17:59 pm

Brad,

Nice job.

It took a long time for me to load the reel on a pretty fast connection. Also, the images looked fuzzy at times. You may want to take another pass at the compression.

Some folks may like it, but I'm not a fan of having your name and the software you used in the matte of the frame. I figure you can give that information on your resume.

Seems like the majority of your work focuses on VFX - - green screen compositing, rotoscoping, etc. - - however, there are also graphic elements. What's your focus?

If you are considering graphics, I think you may want to show some pieces with a stronger usage of text. Use of text is huge in my experience. People who hire look for it, specifically.

Best of luck.

John


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bdstric
Re: My Latest Demo Reel
on Jan 22, 2007 at 9:40:52 pm

Thanks for the advice John. I have noticed it loads slow. When I uploaded it I was on a T1 connection so I didn't notice it was 80megs. I'm revamping it as we speak, so the next version will be smaller.

Thanks for the advice about text and motion graphics. My problem is that I lack focus. I haven't figured out my strong/weak points completely. Perhaps I should take some time to develop a stronger focus.

Is it easier to find work doing texts/motion graphics, or doing compositing/VFX? Thanks for the help


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mikegn
Re: My Latest Demo Reel
on Jan 23, 2007 at 11:04:44 pm

I was a freelancer for 2 years and am now staff at a vfx company in LA. We do national commercials and network shows (right now, we're cranking through 'Prison Break'). IMO, it is easier to find work as a vfx compositor than a title guy, because the line between it being "right" and "wrong" is more clearly defined. For titling, you need a flair and a style that people will buy into. For compositing, it either looks real or it don't. And that's my main piece of criticism for your reel: the compositing needs to be tweaked a little to look more natural.
For instance, the Vespa chase. A pretty good key, except that there is still a green tint to some of the talent. You have some spill tools in AE that can take that edge off, as well as a paint brush that can be used to roto out the green. Also, since they're racing along a dark street, they should be a little darker to match the background. Right now they kinda pop off the screen....
Second, I'd take that entire roto section off the reel for "Revengers". The birds look really nice, but the matte that is around the guy is way too loose in some areas, and cuts off his right hand in several places. For extremely fast motion like that, you want to preserve the motion blur; try using splines in your matte and you can preserve some of the movement. But for the most part, that shot is NOT what you want a vfx producer to see.
I don't work on the 3-D side, so I won't comment on it. You obviously have some skill and plenty of drive. I recommend you decide what you want to focus on and polish it, to the point that you become so good at it that there are no flaws. It sounds harsh, but it's a harsh job working in vfx. If you have the drive (and I think you do), you can do it...

"Roto is not a skill, it's a job."


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bdstric
Re: My Latest Demo Reel
on Jan 24, 2007 at 6:13:41 am

Thank you for your suggestions regarding my reel. You raised a lot of points and criticism I have for myself when I watch the reel, particularly the Revengers shot. Pardon my ignorance, but can you please elaborate on your spline technique that you were discussing. I imagine that the way I did this shot was much different than the way you would have. But clearly my methods have flaws and am open to suggestions on how to improve them. Thank you.

Brad Strickman
brad@pipedreamstudios.com


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TGJohnson
Re: My Latest Demo Reel
on Jan 24, 2007 at 10:36:41 pm

"You raised a lot of points and criticism I have for myself when I watch the reel, particularly the Revengers shot."

I think you've just answered your own question. You shouldn't include work you're not 100% happy with on your demo. We've all done work that wasn't or best, and hiring managers think they are seeing your "A" material when they watch your reel. I think it's better to shorten the demo than to include stuff you're not sure about.

Good luck
Travis Johnson


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mikegn
Re: My Latest Demo Reel
on Jan 24, 2007 at 10:58:54 pm

Make no mistake, we've all got flaws in our work, myself included. But as TGJohnson said, your reel has to be your BEST work possible. When a producer or creative decides on which artists to use on a project, he's gotta feel like you are 100% ready to make the storyboards a reality.
For the Revengers shot, the matte on the guy's right arm seems to eat right into the motion blur created by his hand and forearm. What you can do is make the matte have an offset (kind of like controlled feathering), or better yet use b-splines. I use combustion or Fire (discreet/autodesk products) for my roto, and there's a setting that let's you put B-splines into mattes. This spline is basically a shape that is identical to your matte, that you can lengthen or shorten in side the matte in order to give it a softer, more natural edge. You can choke the matte or extend it, and in the case of fast motion it works well because it can be animated to allow the motion blur (which is not a hard shape like a hand, but rather a blurry object) to come through the "soft" edge on your matte. Experiment a bit, and remember: it's always better to have your mattes eat slightly into the subject, rather than be too loose. If you can see that outer "glow" on the guy because the matte was too loose, it's much more jarring than seeing him missing a centimeter off his shirt or what have you. Good luck.

"Roto is not a skill, it's a job."


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john_xyz
Re: My Latest Demo Reel
on Jan 24, 2007 at 11:06:59 pm

Brad,

I just wanted to add that the feedback the other people have given excellent. I'm more on the graphics side than the VFX side. However (as they mentioned) it is key to show your best work when putting it out there. Your reel speaks for you.

John


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bdstric
Re: My Latest Demo Reel
on Jan 24, 2007 at 11:29:21 pm

Thanks for all the advice. Is there similar functions to the B-Splinces discussed in Combustion that can be found in After Effects? The way I rotoed the shot was a combination of Photoshop and After Effects, doing a quick roto in AE, then exporting to PS to quickly finesse the shots. Time was not on my side. I will definitely revisit it, clean it up, and finesse it. However, this spline idea seems much better than my method if something similar exists in AE. (or maybe I need to get Combustion).

I will work on finessing my work as well as adding some new material in the coming weeks. Is there anything else that jumps out as anyone as being particularly good/bad? Thanks



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mikegn
Re: My Latest Demo Reel
on Jan 25, 2007 at 12:13:41 am

I'm pretty sure there's something in AE that can do B-splines...might have to check the manual or post it on the AE forum. Keep at it, you've got the groundwork for success...

"Roto is not a skill, it's a job."


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