Everyone knows that having a solid animation reel is essential for landing that dream job, but what are employers actually looking for when they review a reel?

Here’s a set of 10 tips for creating a quality reel shared on Twitter by veteran Dreamworks animator Guillermo Careaga (Home, The Boss Baby, Megamind, Madagascar 2 & 3). It’s packed with simple and practical advice that should prove useful to anyone putting a reel together.

Careaga’s tips:

  1. Quality over quantity. Always.
  2. Great acting ideas tend to trump polish. (Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t polish your shot, but good acting will stand even if it’s not fully fleshed out).
  3. Avoid dark lighting. (Especially true for VFX shots. Just show the playblast).
  4. Make it easy to watch. (Avoid sending links to complicated websites, the need for long passwords, etc).
  5. Tailor your reel to the place you’re applying for.
  6. Fancy titles, background music, cool editing are nice but not essential. Always focus on the animation being great first.
  7. If you need to show other people’s shots for continuity, just desaturate them. No need to add a lot of text breaking down what’s yours and what isn’t.
  8. Wow factor. Is there at least one memorable, unique moment in your reel?
  9. Professionalism and good attitude are as important as the reel.
  10. If you don’t get the position, don’t get discouraged. There might be a dozen other reasons why you weren’t picked, apart from reel quality. Timing, availability of spots, the particular needs of a show, etc. Try to get specific feedback and, when appropriate, apply again.

If you want to see what a good reel looks like, Careaga’s personal reel from 2015 can be viewed below:

Amid Amidi

Amid Amidi

Amid Amidi is Cartoon Brew's Publisher and Editor-at-large.

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