Aspect Ratio for Demo Reel Clips
I just started putting together a new editing demo reel. The plan is to start off with a quick montage then go into a couple longer samples from finished projects. The majority of the reel will be made up of 16x9 clips, but there are a couple of older clips, which are 4x3, that I would like to put in the montage section. I'm thinking it's probably best to crop those clips and have them fill the frame rather than suddenly going to a pillarboxed image for a few seconds, but cropping kind of messes with the look of the clips. I don't think anyone would notice but me, though.
Am I right in thinking it's better to crop the 4x3 clips for consistency, especially since they are only in the montage section?
I also have another question. Pretty much everything I've done the last 4 years I have done as a one-man show. I've directed, shot, edited, and color-corrected each project, and for some projects I wrote the scripts (or parts of the script) as well. Is it better to make a reel that is focused on one thing (editor, director, etc.) or to do a general reel that encompasses everything? All of the longer segments on this reel are from projects where I did everything. If I title it as a "director, editor, camera operator" reel, and make it clear that I fulfilled these roles on every project represented, will that be an asset or will that hurt me? I could just call it a "videographer" reel, but I feel like the term videographer might cause certain people to look down on it from the beginning.
The last reels I put together were split by role. I did an editor reel and a camera reel, but very few people ever saw either, as I got hired for most projects by word of mouth or by just showing a couple of random clips from a finished project (not assembled into a formal reel).
This is only the 3rd demo reel I've ever put together and I already hate the process with a passion...so many possibilities and so much conflicting advice on the internet.
I think part of the reason that there are so many conflicting opinions is because it depends largely on what your goal is, and who will be seeing the reel. I think it's helpful sometimes to imagine the people who are watching it - will it be a producer with a stack of 50 "editor" or "cinematographer" reels or a person who you've already met and would like to get a sense of everything you can do?
Somebody who's really looking for the best possible dedicated editor (for example) might not care if you've done more than that, they'll just want to see your best editing. It might even be counter productive to note the other things you've done, if you're trying to present yourself as dedicated to one role...you don't want to be a generalist in a stack of 50 editor showreels...
So your instinct to make different reels was correct, in my opinion.
However, if most of your clients would hire you for all of those things at once, then perhaps they would be interested in seeing a combined reel, or completed work...
As for aspect ratios, the 4:3 material I've had on 16x9 reels always bothered me - I scaled it up, then in one interview somebody commented on the low quality...so I took it out entirely... never could stand to have pillarboxing...
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this KC. Since I made the initial post, I got some advice from some other folks on another forum, and decided on a plan of action.
I'm going to have 2 basic reels: one will be 3 minutes long or so, and will be for my website's front page. It will have a quick montage and two or three longer clips from finished productions. The website with have some additional clips available to view, but I want to make sure the reel is of a decent length in case that's the only thing a visitor sees.
Reel #2 will be very short, about a minute and a half, consisting of quick montage and one clip from a finished production. I'm putting it together so that I can easily swap out the montage and the clip depending on who is going to see it.
As for aspect ratio, I guess I'll go with scaled up 4x3 clips. The quality does take a hit that way, but it looks better than a sudden cut to a pillarboxed clip. I wish I could take the 4x3 stuff out entirely, but a couple of videos that I consider to be my best editing work are 4x3.
And speaking of conflicting opinions, I've come across some folks who believe that demo reels are pretty much obsolete. Any thoughts on that? I don't agree with that 100%. There may be some cases where a formal reel is not necessary, but I still think there's a need to have one.
Well, if they mean "demo reels are obsolete" because they have been replaced by more browseable web portfolios there might be something to that... especially in editing or something where you want to present complete pieces and want the viewer to pick what interests them because they'll be watching it straight through... I definitely see more companies asking for a link to your "web presence" rather than a DVD or quicktime reel, so at that point the reel/portfolio could be any browseable thing ...
I think for certain disciplines (cinematography, color correction, perhaps animation) the montage still makes the most sense. Clients still tell me all the time "I watched your reel" or ask for a link to it, so I consider it important...