The Do's and Don'ts of creating a demo reel

As they say on the Pixar website – THIS IS HOW YOU WILL GET A JOB. In a very visual industry, your demo reel is a way of showing prospective clients and employers who you are and what you can do, whether you’re a game designer, animator or film maker.  

If you don’t have enough original work to make up a 60 second reel of several short clips, it’s best to take time and build a body of work that you’re proud of. Below is a comprehensive list of demo reel tips, as outlined by Rod Harlan - videographer, animator, multimedia artist and Adobe ambassador. 


•    Keep it short, 90 seconds is recommended.
•    Grab the viewer’s attention in the first 10-20 seconds.
•    Show your most recent work, not your best work from 5 years ago. 
•    Include only your best work and keep updating you reel as you create superior content.
•    Highlight work you’ve done for any recognisable brands.
•    Show ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots, especially important for matte painters, colourists or similar.
•    Show sequence shots, especially important for 3D modelers or compositors. 
•    Express your personality.
•    Show some emotion. Display your passion. 
•    Add a musical soundtrack that complements your work and cut your reel to that.
•    Show variety to increase the chance of appealing to prospective clients or employers.
•    Focus your reel on the type of work you love to do.
•    Open with your name or company logo.
•    Close with your contact details. 
•    Ask a colleague, mentor, or friend whose opinion you trust for an unbiased opinion.
•    Follow any specific instructions from your potential employer or client as a number one priority. E.g. they may ask for no sound, or a specific length, style, or focus. 


•    Use unlicensed, copyrighted music.
•    Take credit for work you didn’t do.
•    Repeat any footage.
•    Include errors, such as spelling errors, audio glitches, skewed aspect ratios etc. 

For more detail, check our Rod’s original post here. Most of these tips are reiterated on the Animal Logic and Pixar sites, but chave a read through for further tips on creating a killer reel.