Six tips for a perfect showreel from our Creative Director

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As I’m sure that you can imagine, we receive a lot of different showreels from people wanting jobs, from junior animator to the most senior of roles we’ve seen it all. While we would like to say that they are all amazing, unfortunately we cannot. We do receive some amazing showreels however, we also receive some fairly awful reels and so now we are taking this opportunity to hand out some helpful advice.

Let’s start this off by saying that there is no one way, and if your work is great, that will be enough but there may be a few things that you can do to ensure that your great work shines through.

Here is some advice from our creative director, Callan Woolcock, on how you might be able to improve your showreel:

1. Keep it short – 30-45 seconds

As we get hundreds of reels coming through you never watch an entire reel, so there’s no point making it 60 seconds, 90 seconds… 2 minutes long. We simply don’t watch the whole thing. Sometimes we only watch the first 15 seconds. By this time we’ll generally have a good idea of what to expect.

2. Best content only, try not to recycle

Only use the best content you have, if you’re not happy with something don’t put it in there. Try not to recycle the same thing over and over again. it’s ok to show 1 or 2 shots from the same video, but no more than that. If you’ve only got 2 or 3 pieces of work in your showreel, then you probably just shouldn’t have one. Just send a link directly to your folio and those pieces individually.

3. Put the best stuff at the start

This one is a given, you want your best, most strongest and engaging work to appear first because that’s the first thing we see. There’s no point waiting and trying to build suspense, and throwing it somewhere in the middle – by the time we get there we might have lost interest or even stopped watching. As we watch hundreds of these reels, we will generally know as soon as we hit play if the skill and talent is there or not.

4. Don’t use tutorials

You often see reels that blatantly copy tutorials. You might think that for some reason we won’t notice… but we do. Of course we do. We’re extremely passionate about the industry and have been doing this for a while now, we know all of this type of stuff. If you basically just copy a tutorial right down to the fact you’re just using a template that was provided… I mean anyone can do that. We like to look at a reel and ask ourselves ‘how did they do that?’.  Be original. Use tutorials to learn specific skills and techniques but then apply them to your own designs and stories.

5. Show more than just the reel in your folio

If I’m engaged by a showreel I often like to dig further into the folio. I’d like to see full videos from start to finish – and the role that the designer has in that particular project. Weather it be the entire production, or just designing, or just animating. This often gives you a good sense of more than just the visual skill of a particular designer, but their editing pace and timing, story-telling ability, conceptual thought process etc.

6. Jumbla hires generalists

This point relates to our studio more-so, as I don’t know the hiring process of other studios. But to date, Jumbla has always hired generalists, this means people who can design or illustrate, as well as animate in 2D, 3D… or both. We are not looking for someone who can just ‘light’ a 3D scene… or is a ‘character animators’ only. Any reel that contains just raw, unrendered character animation essentially just gets archived. This type of work would honestly be better off sent to a larger 3D studio, or any studio really, that is looking for someone more specific. Look at the work we do on our website – people who do this type of work and have a hand in the design, illustration and animation are usually the type of people we are looking for.

Think that your showreel has what it takes?

Jumbla is always hiring, currently we are looking for a senior motion designer, motion design interns as well as always being on the lookout for junior, mid level and senior motion designers, email us at hireme@jumbla.com.au with a cover letter, CV and your show reel!

Note: Here at Jumbla we are all about the quality of work. It doesn’t matter how fancy your resume is or how well written your cover letter is, if your showreel doesn’t stand up to the quality we are looking for we are going to move onto the next applicant.

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