18 March, 2008

VFS Demo Reel: Jason Findkey

I was involved with graduation portfolio reviews this week and had noticed a couple of things that I think any animation/design graduate should know about.

1) Include music in your demo reel to make it interesting. Music makes the presentation go quickly, without it, it seems to drag. These are industry professionals in the room and they have things to do. Therefore, adding music not only makes the time go by faster (for someone busy), but its also more interesting and engaging. The demo reel featured on this blog is by Jason Findkey, his demo reel is exceptional ways in which I will explain below. His music selection added to the look and feel of his presentation.

2) Only show your best work. I'd rather see a few fantastic examples (like 2 - 5), rather than 11 - 20 mediocre ones. If you use only a few excellent samples, be strategic in their placement, by showing them off well, and by putting some thought into the presentation design.
How do you do this?

3) Watch more demo reels. There are lots of outstanding demo reels that you can learn from. You can start by clicking the demo reel on this blog. Click it and see what else comes up on the side. When you watch them, look at how long they are, what they show and how they show it, timing, pacing, music selection and polish. One of the reasons why I like Jason's reel, is because it feels like a movie. He gradually draws us into his work through the music, logo intro and Hellboy silhouette which piques our interest from the beginning. Hey Jason, if you read this, nice work!

4) Know your audience. In our geographical area, its not unusual for gaming companies to sit in on these portfolio reviews, so early in your school career, you should see if you could create graphics that these gaming companies could use. Does it man you do graphic images of fruits or money? Maybe, but if you look at the variety of imagery these companies use, you'll see that subject matter range from characters (cartoon to realistic), typography, 3D and 2D vector based graphics. In all of these, a good sense of design is essential. How can they tell you have good design skills?

5) Have a working website. Your site represents your design sensitivity and the type of work you are interested in. Many of the gaming companies present were not receptive to 3D modeling and texturing work, but were impressed with the graduate's website. Its a nice a little added touch that makes you look really good (provided that it works). If the site doesn't work, or isn't designed well, it will hurt you. So, be sure to test your site by having people you trust to test and comment on your site, and fix things before your site goes live.

6) Plan B. Have a contingency plan, a "Plan B" just in case your demo reel doesn't play. One thing you could do, is point people to your site. Be sure to test your site to see if your demo reels load. In using Quicktimes, I've noticed a slight delay. You may want to upload your video to Vimeo.com, get an embed code for your video and place this embed code on to an HTML page. This loads much faster, and you have the option to view your demo reels / videos in full screen.

7) Be Prepared. Before you leave the room, or before the meeting starts, check to see everything works. This means, if you are going to show your site, that you open your website in the browser window that is being projected at the front of the room.

8) "Damn" When I show the Jason Findkey demo reel to my classes, it is met with silence and often, I hear someone quietly say "Damn". One word says it all right? "This guys is really really good", his work is so outstanding, that we're left speechless. The scary party, is that this was his work coming right out of school. His work is interesting on many levels and the best part, is that he doesn't really show that much. So what are you gonna do when you apply for the same job as he does? Seems like an unfair question, but it happens all the time. Better yet, what if you were both hired, and both of you work on the same project?

What I want for you, is that when people see your work, that they are so impressed, it would be foolish to not hire you. You don't do this in 2 weeks. You have to keep working at it (whatever you do) and you have to get feedback. Following the tips above should prepare you to do battle in the field.

That's all for now. I'll add things to this as things come up as I feel it could help others.

Fire it Up!

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