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Old October 29th, 2003, 12:18 AM   #1
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Demo Reel

Hello to all,

This question is for the pro's out there.

What do you all think of a Demo reel being in the form of an interactive CD-Rom instead of a tape that plays from start to finish.

I have done this already but request your input on the feasability of actually distributing it to production houses or perspective employers.

Thank you for your responses.
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Old October 29th, 2003, 12:41 AM   #2
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Employers/potential clients want to pop something in, see the applicant/bidder's best work, and get on to the next reel. Anything that prevents a hirer/client from seeing your best work right away is one more stumbling block keeping you from $$$. Your reel should require the simplest and most available equipment to play it: VHS, or DVD with no complicated menus.

Other tips for reels:

- The shorter the better. It's better to have a 30 second reel of lots of great work than a two-minute reel of 1/4 great work and three quarters mediocre work. When you're frightened by how quickly it goes by, cut it to a rockin' music track (or whatever music is appropriate for the content--don't worry about using copyrighted music) and make it into a quick music video.
- Don't save the best for last. If the first ten seconds are bad, the viewer won't wait for the end, it'll be on to the next one. Hit 'em hard with the best stuff first.
- Put your name, phone number, e-mail address, and web site address at the beginning and end of the reel, and, if it doesn't distract from the content, superimpose at least your name in a corner of the screen for the entire length of the reel. The more you can do to help them remember you, the better chance you have of getting a call back.
- If you don't have a web site, make one, even if it's only a resume and an encoded version of your reel. If you don't have a picture of yourself that you feel impresses, don't put one up. Definitely do not put up a picture of yourself that is out-of-focus, badly lit, has red-eye, shows you on a bad-grooming-day, or shows other people in the shot. Do include props if they are memorable and symbolic of your character. The best portraits depict artisans wielding the tools of their trades. The blacksmith must be pictured with his hammer and anvil, the doctor with her stethoscope, the rock god with his glistening Fender Stratocaster, and the videographer with his XL1s.
- If you really want interactivity, make it a Flash page on your web site.
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Old October 29th, 2003, 01:02 AM   #3
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ALL OF THE ABOVE!!!

Especially the part about hooking the viewer. Hit them with your best shot up front.

Also, a nicely composed, eye catching lablel on your reel will also help, showing a degree of attention to detail that clients want when it comes to your handling of their product. Whatever you do, DO NOT send out reels, regardless of the format, with scribbled, handwritten labels on them.

I forget where I saw it but...you never get a second chance to make a first impression...or something to that effect!

Good luck, RB.
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Old October 29th, 2003, 09:43 AM   #4
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Reel construction

What kind of material should be on a reel, and how do I know when I have enough to compile one?

I ask because I've worked on several projects now, some on film, some on video, and want to begin compiling my reel. I must admit, I assumed I would assemble the complete projects on a VHS or DVD and use that as my reel, but reading the previous posts on the subject make it sound like I should merely be using segments of larger work...

I've worked almost exclusively on narrative shorts. A few of them have won awards at small, city-wide festivals. Should all of this information be included in some fashion?

Funny thing is, I went to film school. And it just now occurred to me that I have no idea what a reel actually looks like or how I should go about building one!

Thanks!
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Old October 29th, 2003, 12:33 PM   #5
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demo reels in hollywood / ad world - DP/editor reels and commercial houses reels are still 3/4 " tape ( talk about behind the times).

CD- rom IMO forget it - though CD-rom is universal in the computer world it is not a device that is sitting in every office where one sceens reels and most persons prefer to get away form their computer to view on LARGE screens ... new DVD players can play CD-roms but 4-5 years went by where they could NOT ...

we sent out VCD's, & Svcd and the play rate was not that good
DVD''s had better play back BUT ad agency's want 3/4"

IMO the new format is DVD reels and should be phased in over next 2 years ...

forget interactive .. they prefer to put thing in device and then watch .. if they have to go thru menu's or have to hit PLAY for each sample they will NOT view whole reel
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Old October 29th, 2003, 03:21 PM   #6
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Chris--

A reel should first and foremost awe the viewer, but the exact content of your reel will depend on what aspect of yourself you're trying to put on display. If you're a cinematographer, stuff your reel full of your best-lit shots. If you're a composer, the reel should feature the music you feel is most emotionally engaging. Writers' reels show off snappy dialogue. You may feel you've worn all of these hats at some point in your career, in which case you really need several reels or to send a custom-tailored reel to any job you're being considered for.

Just as a pleasing photograph has a diversity of frequency and color content, the ideal reel will also have some variety of emotional content--a little sobriety, a bit of whimsy, a touch of romance, a dash of anger, a heaping helping of the surprise of discovery and its accompanying reaction.

You may want to do some googling for reels on the web to get inspiration. Some of the most memorable special effects reels I've seen come from particle effects artists.
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Old November 5th, 2003, 01:45 PM   #7
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Thanks, Robert.

I've been film-making for myself for so long that looking to work for others is a completely new experience.

I will try to track down some demo reels to watch, but in the mean time: are the reels you've seen cut into one long string of images, or are they broken up with title cards and information about the source of the video or sound? Or does all that stuff come at the end, like credits?

Thanks!
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Old November 5th, 2003, 07:50 PM   #8
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One long string of images. No title cards or end credits. If the reel consists of more than one shot from each project, then displaying an overlayed title about the footage source at the bottom of the screen--for the first few seconds or for the duration of the clip--is appropriate.

The problem with title cards is that they interrupt the flow of what should be a seamless presentation. However, it is useful to present the source of a clip--and its date--for two reasons. First, to show the evolution of your talent from inchoate mimicry to mature craft, but also, to impress by name dropping. If any part of the clip source triggers a positive association, it's to your benefit.

Unrelated link
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Old November 6th, 2003, 10:18 AM   #9
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Mr Robot,

It may be difficult for you to detach yourself from work you have already shot enough to cut it into your demo reel (or maybe it won't, I don't know you). Therefore, might I suggest that you suppliment your existing best footage with that which you've shot and set aside specifically for your demo reel. Sort of like wearing a tie to a job interview.

RJ
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