Demo Reels: Professional Perspectives (Beverly Garland)

Written by Beverly Garland

About the Author:

Beverly Garland was Art Director at Titanic Entertainment at the time this was written. Prior to that she was employed at Origin, as a 3D Artist/Animator for almost three years (“Privateer,” “Ultima VIII”), and an Art Director (“Crusader: No Remorse”) for another two years.

*Disclaimer*: These are the personal views of Beverly Garland. These are not the views of her employer. The following text has no relationship with how her employer as a company, anyone who works there, or anyone else for that matter, feels about this particular topic. This text may not be used or reprinted, in whole or in part, without permission.

DEMO REELS: A Top 10 by Beverly Garland

If you’re interested in the exploding Computer Games market, they have plenty of room for good animators. In my former life, I helped screen hundreds of demo reels for a game company called Origin, so here are some suggestions for what an Art Director might be looking for in your demo.

Not in order of priority: (Oh, yeah–it doesn’t hurt to show non-computer art, too, if you’ve got something worth showing. You will be required to draw with a pencil *gasp!* once in awhile)

1) Evidence of original design abilities–include conceptual sketches and storyboards, as well as the finished piece, to illustrate the design process on at least one of your samples. (No copies of the USS Enterprise or X-Wing fighters, please!)

2) Visual story-telling ability

3) Modeling strengths: Complex objects, both organic (monsters, people) and inorganic (space hardware, architecture)

4) Texture mapping and attention to detail: scanned texture maps can be very cool, but make sure you show your ability to make-do from scratch, using anything like Fractal Painter, Animator Pro, etc.

5) Realistic Set Design: build a complete environment where architecture, accoutrements, and effective lighting allow the viewer to imagine him or herself inside the space.

6) Wow Factor: There should be one or two pieces that really stand out in their originality, execution and artistic composition

7) Craftsmanship: Not all pieces need to be ready-to-broadcast or print quality, but an example of one highly-polished project will greatly help in demonstrating your ability to produce “finished” artwork.

8) Animation ability: human figures performing a simple, natural and fluid action are extremely desirable. Choose an action that would NOT be found in Muybridges “Humans and Animals in Motion.” Now, if you really want to impress, think “Jackie Chan.”

9) Resume: organize it so it’s easy to scan at a glance. They’re more interested in what’s so special about you than in what schools you’ve attended. If you have extensive technical experience, stress that. If it’s artistic experience, stress that.

10) Important– Along with your demo reel, enclose a sheet that describes what is contained in your reel. With what application is each piece done? Was it a group project? Did you build the mesh yourself, or use a commercially available one? How much time did each one take to complete? This is INVALUABLE information to them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *