Animation Material

Demo Reels


(Tips by Carlos Baena)

 

Pixar is currently hiring animators and looking at Interns as well. I've looked at a bunch of student and industry demo reels this last month, and spoke with recruiters and supervisors regarding the subject as to what should be submitted/how/etc. So I thought it might be appropiate to pass something I wrote a while back along one more time. It's important to be mindful of company recruiters. To treat them with respect as they devote many long hours overseeing student work. So these are a few tips on things to think about when creating a demo reel.

1) Do NOT try to make a one-size fits all demo reel. This works in small companies, but for the main studios it may hurt your chances more than anything else. Make your demo reel specific to the position and studio for which you are applying. If you're applying as an animator to a big animation studio where departments are very specialized, then everything on the reel should say only "animation." It should not say "texturing" or "lighting" or "modeling."

2) You should NOT include everything you've worked on throughout the years. Keep it short. If you've been working in the industry for, let's say, 10 or 20 years, and you include every single shot you've animated, your demo reel will not be a reel anymore, it'll be a feature film that recruiters/supervisors will have to sit through. So keep the reel under a minute or two, even if that means not using all of it. Chances are that people, who are reviewing your reel, are looking at another hundred, as well. So, the easier you can make it for them, the better. You don't want to bore them. Instead, they should see your strongest work (even if it's only 30 seconds). Leave them wanting to see more.

3) Make the reel original on the inside, NOT on the outside. Human resources, along with actual animators, will be looking at your reel, and they don't care about how fancy the outside package looks or what you include along with the reel and resume. From key chains to toys, I've seen people include all kinds of things with their reels that do not relate to their animation skills. Put all of your originality into the actual animation content. Make it fun and original for people to watch, but don't overdo it.

4) Do NOT include stuff that is too distracting, whether it's music or fancy titles. If you have a reel with a dialogue animation test, and the music is too loud for people to hear the line the character is saying, or you have this mega-loud techno music going on throughout the whole thing, it will conflict with the purpose of the reel, which is to show your animation skills as clearly and simply as you can. Everything else should be secondary.

5) Do NOT include stuff that other people have animated. Be very clear and honest about what you have done. The industry is very small, people go from company to company and they are very familiar with other people's work. Always include a credit list of the shots on the reel and what you animated for them. In the event that a shot is actually shared by two or more animators, you should clarify the work that you did.

6) Bring your own personality to the reel. Ultimately many people can learn the techniques. What's interesting to see and what recruiters look for, is also the personality, the actor behind the reel. Don't include things/tests/shots that are basically based on what other people have animated. We don't want to see a "Pixar" reel. Instead, we are looking for the talented actor that can help Pixar (or any studio for that matter) make our movies more distinctive.

7) Find out what to submit and how. In the case of Pixar, go through the site and find out exactly what they need from you before you apply. This applies to any studio. Chances are, they may need you to submit a form before you send anything in some cases, or they may ask you to send your portfolio in a particular way or format.

8) Label your Disc/Case. In talking to one of our main recruiters, this seems to be an issue. If they like your work, but the contact information is only on the resume, and this gets lost in the pile of other reels, there is no way they'll be able to contact you. So label everything. Put at least name, phone number and email address on the case and disc. Even if it's with a sharpie.
You can also label it at the beginning/end of the actual content.

9) Be respectful with the people looking at your work. It doesn't help you and your case if as soon as the Studio gets your reel, you call/email the recruiters/animators a dozen times a day. Be considerate with their time, and most important, treat them with respect. They are here to help you and their job is not easy as they have hundreds of reels to go through. So keep it in mind if you send a reel, and you don't hear from them inmediately.

I hope this helps.

Carlos.