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A 3D Animator’s Guide to Creating a Great Demo Reel

Jul 17, 2015

3D animation training

So you’ve graduated from 3D animation college, and now it’s time to start searching for your first job. There are plenty of animation studios looking for newly trained artists, especially in the graphic design capital of Montreal. However, before you can begin applying, you need to create your resume. A resume for a 3D animator isn’t your typical cover letter and CV. Instead, these professionals need a demo reel which can showcase their animation capabilities.

Given all the animations you’ll create in college, there’s no doubt you’ll have plenty of content to work with. What you should keep in mind is how to best arrange this content in a professional way. Read on for some great advice on how professional 3D animators create their film reels.

Only Put Your Best Animation Work on a Reel

This may seem obvious, but when it comes down to compiling your work, 20 seconds begins to feel like an eternity. Rather than trying to impress employers with a large body of your work, keep your reel short and sweet by including only your top animations.

It’s also important that the content included in your reel matches the job you are applying for. This might involve some extra effort on your part to tailor your reel slightly for each application you send—but employers will notice and appreciate it!

Ok, Then What Kind of Animation Should Be on a Reel?

While attending 3D animation school in Montreal, you will learn to create all different types of animation. Employers will want to see you demonstrate that you can animate simple actions like walking, running, dialogue and facial expressions. But of course, this gets boring, so you can spice up your film reel by including some of these more interesting and impressive animations:

  • Martial arts fighting
  • Swimming underwater
  • Birds or insects flying
  • Laughter
  • Juggling

Pro Animators Say Keep It Under 4 Minutes

Four minutes is Pixar’s golden rule, although you’ll find different companies will have different maximum and minimum lengths for a reel—with many opting for a two minute maximum. Two minutes is a good number to aim for, for a few reasons:

  1. It’s hard for a new animator fresh out of 3D animation training to fill four minutes with extremely good content (this takes years of hard work and perfecting your skills). Keep in mind that an excellent 30 second reel is better than a mediocre four minute reel.
  2. Keeping it under two minutes means you’ll be able to please more submission requirements without taking time to re-edit your film reel several times.

Above All Else, Keep the Film Reel Professional

Nobody wants to see half-finished work, or a sloppily put-together film reel—especially people who you’re trying to get hired by! Instead of tossing together a few projects you created in your 3D animation courses, take weeks or even months to polish your samples into a final product. To make your reel look even more professional, learn how to light and render it!

Pro-tip: If you’re incorporating scenes with different aspect ratios into your film reel, use a frame to make them all look uniform—many people skip this simple but crucial step!

Are you interested in learning more about 3D animation? Check out our 18 month program for more information, or to speak with an advisor.

Categories: 3D Animation
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