As a VFX Artist, your showreel is how you make your first impression, which means it’s very important it represents you and your best, most relevant work.
With years of experience behind them, Outpost VFX's talented artists and recruiters have built up expert tips and tricks on creating a winning showreel that are listed below for you!
Here are the top tips from Outpost’s UK VFX Recruiter Emily Carmeli, Montreal 2D/DFX Supervisor Chris Faczek and Montreal VFX Recruiter, Alex Carruthers:
Try to have your showreel accessible to all with no password required. It’ll allow the company/hiring manager to check stills/reels quicker.
Many recruiters and hiring managers go over dozens and hundreds of reels per day. Whether you are a Modeller or an Animator, have all your 360 turntable renders and all animation videos (respectively) in one, industry-standard, easy-to-watch video.
Keep your reel up to date. It can be difficult to get shots you need released on big projects, but whenever possible get your latest authorised work into your reel as soon as possible and continue to apply. Allow them to see your current abilities.
Make sure your showreel is for the role you’re applying for. If you’re applying for a specific role requiring specialist skillsets, cut a showreel that demonstrates those. For example, if you are applying for an FX Artist role, try and include examples of water, dust, fire, particles, etc.
Break. It. Down. Even if you are applying to a specific role or only using final shots, you need to write the exact tasks you performed on each piece presented, the name of the project (or mention “Personal Project”, if it is) and the software used for each piece of work. Don’t forget to provide your contact information!
Provide this key break down information for your showreel as the first slide burn, it is helpful for those hiring to allow them to gather the information quickly when they will be looking through multiple reels that day.
You will also want to give credit where credit is due. If you’ve used other people’s rigs, lighting, or shaders, make sure to mention that. Similarly, multiple artists are likely to have worked on the same piece and hiring managers often see the same work on different artists’ showreels, so be specific about your exact part you did. Infringement on the work of others can greatly devalue a candidate’s validity.
Add a bit of personal style to your reel through music, fade ins-outs and an intro/outro. You want to show off your work but also your personality and how you present yourself to the industry.
However, you will want to do the above within reason. Be careful with your choice in music, editing and typographic picks, these can all do you a disservice if not picked correctly. Make your showreel impactful and cater your presentation to who will be watching it.
Your reel should capture your audience in its opening seconds, setting that ever-important first impression of what you are capable of and why the rest of the reel is worth investing in. It also pays to end on a high note, so feel free to close and sign off with your 2nd favourite piece as this helps leave a lasting impression and solidify their initial opinion of you.
The most common tip you’ll find is to showcase your best work, not all your work. Pick unique shots - sometimes they may be less spectacular than others but more complex. Shorter is sweeter!
“I just finished creating my first reel. Now what?” - just before you start applying and send it out, share your reel with and ask the opinion of colleagues, fellow students, tutors, industry professionals or recruiters. They would be able to give you a highly valuable artistic constructive criticism.
Learn more about Outpost VFX and the career opportunities available here.