1st Edition

Reel Success Creating Demo Reels and Animation Portfolios

By Cheryl Briggs Copyright 2013
    210 Pages
    by Routledge

    210 Pages
    by Routledge

    Are you an animator looking to get your foot in the door of the top studios? Break it down with Reel Success.

    It's tough to get a job in the animation industry if you don't have a demo reel and portfolio that reflects your unique style and incredible talents. The reception of that reel will make or break you; so it's no wonder that creating a demo reel can be such a daunting task. Reel Success by Cheryl Cabrera can help. This book guides you through putting the right content into your portfolio, how to cater to the right audience, and how to harness the power of social media and network effectively. Accompanied by case studies of actual students' demo reels, this book teaches how to develop a critical eye toward effective and ineffective demo reels.

    Reel Success offers you real successful:

    • Best practices for animators looking to get their foot in the door or remain active in a competitive market.
    • Examples of demo reels, featuring techniques beyond just animation for Concept, Story, Layout, Modeling, and Effects Lighting
    • Actual student experiences, professional animator’s techniques, and recruiter insights to help you get the inside track in the animation industry.

    1. Book Outline

    Reel Success

    Introduction: What is a demo reel?

    Chapter 1

    This chapter includes the design of branding yourself, from font and color choices, to the design of Business Cards, Letterheads, Logos, and WebSites.

    Chapter 2

    This chapter goes over the overall portfolio package that you need to develop before you look for a job. This includes Business Cards, Letterheads, Resumes, Cover Letters, Thank you letters, Demo Reels, Demo Reel Breakdowns, Flatbooks, as well as developing a Web Presence

    Chapter 3

    This chapter covers what to put into the demo reel. A discussion about whether one needs to specialize or not is included, as well as what specific content is necessary for each area of specialization.

    Chapter 4

    This chapter focuses on how to target specific studios and what those studios want to see.

    Other topics include how to find entry level jobs and networking.

    Chapter 5

    This chapter is the "how to" in putting your reel together. Considerations of assembling your reel are discussed. Suggestions of what to do and what NOT to do are covered.

    Chapter 6

    The breakdown that accompanies the demo reel is discussed in detail, from clearly identifying your work and crediting others when necessary.

    Chapter 7

    This chapter talks about distributing your demo reel. What dimensions and codecs are needed? What is the differences? How to go about getting accurate feedback. How to go about networking and getting your reel into the right hands.

    Chapter 8

    This chapter talks about the interview process. What to bring and how to prepare. What to do about an Art Test. How to negotiate a contract.

    Appendix I (should be posted on the web, but book can have a printed list most of the information)

    Includes sample demo reels, critiques (ideally would be screen captured with a voiceover critique), and jobs that resulted from them

    What works, what does not.

    Appendix II (should be posted on the web)

    Is a supplement of studio listings with specific requirements



    Reel Success

    Introduction: What is a demo reel?

    Chapter 1

    Presentation Design of Self Promotion


    Font Choices

    Color choices

    Unified theme

    Personal Promotion

    Pointers from Industry (Recruiters, employees, leads, etc.)

    Chapter 2

    Professional Package Presentation

    What to Include

    Business Card


    Cover Letter



    Web Presence

    Demo Reel / Breakdown


    Thank you letter

    Pointers from Industry (Recruiters, employees, leads, etc.)

    Chapter 3

    Gathering Content - What to put into the reel

    Specialization reels vs. General reels

    Specific content for each area: Concept, Story, Layout, Modeling, Texturing, Rigging, 3D Animation, 2D Animation, Visual Effects, Lighting, Compositing, Motion Graphics

    To include or not to include

    Original best work

    Ongoing portfolio development

    Presentation of material

    Separate passes

    Playblasts or renders

    Still images?

    How Long

    How Much to include

    Legalities - the proper process and procedure to obtain legal rights to use footage from a movie, game or tv on your reel, Music on your reel

    Pointers from Industry (Recruiters, employees, leads, etc.)

    Chapter 4

    Targeting specific studios - what do studios want to see?

    Interviews with industry professionals and recruiters

    Large studios- US, Asia, Europe and other areas.

    Small studios- US, Asia, Europe and other areas.

    How to find entry level studio jobs

    Networking - It's not just what you know, but who you know.

    Every person you meet is a potential connection. Linked In, Facebook, etc.

    Chapter 5


    Dedicated demo reel drive - the ever changing demo reel

    Continuing Ed.

    Animated logo introduction

    Non-linear editing

    Unique editing ideas


    Sequencing and flow

    Music and timing

    Legal issues with Music

    Contact info

    Font Choices

    Pointers from Industry (Recruiters, employees, leads, etc.)

    Chapter 6


    Clear information

    Credit those necessary

    Pointers from Industry (Recruiters, employees, leads, etc.)

    Chapter 7




    Web publishing: Websites, Web Communities, Social Media

    Getting your real critiqued


    Getting it into the right hands


    Guilds and Unions

    Trade Associations

    Film Festivals

    Competitions and Contests

    Trade Shows and Conferences

    Pointers from Industry (Recruiters, employees, leads, etc.)

    Chapter 8

    The Interview

    What to bring

    How to Prepare

    The Art Test

    How long do I have to wait to hear something?

    When should I follow up?

    Negotiating a contract.


    Pointers from Industry (Recruiters, employees, leads, etc.)

    Appendix I

    Sample demo reels, critiques, and jobs that resulted from them

    What works, what does not.

    Appendix II

    Studio listings with specific requirements


    Cheryl Cabrera, Assistant Professor of Digital Media - Character Animation Specialization, University of Central Florida; on Board of Directors, Animation Hall of Fame; Autodesk Certified Instructor in Maya; member of SIGGRAPH, Society for Animation Studies, and Women in Animation.