If you’re thinking of a VFX career, you know that the most important part of your portfolio is the showreel. That short compilation of your best demo work proves to studios what you are capable of.

Often just a 5-second frame in the showreel is enough to get you shortlisted for an interview. Without further ado, we give you seven tips on making the best showreel.

  1.  Use your best workThe first few seconds of the showreel must hook in a person. That’s why you need to open with your finest work. The second-best piece should be right at the end because people remember the start and the end the most.That doesn’t mean you can fill the rest with subpar work. Every part of the showreel should be creative and unique if you want to stand out.
  2.  Make it briefPeople have small attention spans. A 5-minute showreel is going to be useless. Keep it under a minute. Remember showing 30 seconds of high-quality VFX is far better than showing 2-minutes of shoddy work.If you have different types of work, then consider making multiple reels to keep them short—for instance, one modelling reel and one FX reel.
  3.  Edit, edit, and editNo studio wants to wade through every little thing you’ve made. So, cut ruthlessly. Besides helping you keep only the top work, editing also gives the showreel a focused and professional feel.For instance, instead of creating a reel that shows VFX compositing, lighting, modelling and FX, edit it to focus on one thing.
  4.  Pay attention to technique.Flair in demo reels is good for your VFX career. But it is not the most important element. Technical quality is. A simple and basic showreel that shows well-done technique gains more marks than a fancy reel with bad technical quality. In short, technique beats originality.
  5. Music is not important.When employers watch a showreel, they either mute it or use their music. It is why adding a soundtrack or music to it is not vital to launching your VFX career.In case you do opt for music, make sure it is ambient. Beats like dubstep and metal distract from your work. A neutral soundtrack is best.
  6.  Get feedback from mentors.Always show your demo reel to mentors or teachers at your VFX and animation institute. They act as a fresh set of eyes and help in improving the reel. Take their feedback along with your colleagues when making edits to the reel.
  7.  Match the reel to the studioJust like your resume should match the job you are applying for. Similarly, your showreel must match the vacancy. If you are applying for VFX film making, then your demo reel should have the appropriate work.Another tip here is to research the company or studio you’re sending your showreel to. It will help you tailor the reel to the type of work they do, increasing your chances of landing the job.

Launch your VFX career with a showreel

A blunder that students often make is forgetting to include their name either in the title or in the end frame. Make sure you add it along with your skills, software expertise and contact details.

Finally, ‘when in doubt, leave it out.’ That means if you are unsure whether a work is good enough to be included in the VFX showreel, then skip it.

Keep in mind a decent demo reel acts like a trampoline for your VFX career. It can launch you sky-high as long as it is top-quality and catches the eye!

Need more tips on showreels? Get in touch with us. Our mentors will be more than happy to guide you.