Tips for cutting your own Reel

I’ve been kicking around the industry for over ten years, on both sides of the hiring process. Hopefully you’ll find the following ideas helpful in cutting your next reel.

This advice is a combo of things; practices that shit me up the wall, mistakes I’ve made (and am still making) and best of all, advice received from people better than me.

  • Professional work is preferred, seeing client approved work is important. Make sure you have written approval from the client to include it. Some work may not be ‘live’ yet, be wary of releasing sensitive info.
  • Personal work is OK, if you must plump it up a bit. Please not just a tutorial you copied from the Internet. People hiring will either be animators or pass it for judgement from an animator before calling you. They will know.
  • If you’re starting out, school work is fine if that’s all you have. Try to add some personal projects outside of school too.
  • UNDER A MINUTE. Shorter is fine. Shorter is better.
  • Try to only show a project once, this forces you to select the absolute best bit and leads on to…
  • Show a variety of work, showcase your breadth of skill.
  • That clip you’re not sure about, kill it. That clip that has the same style as a better one, kill it. Do not be afraid to speed up clips in the edit.
  • Please pay for music or ask a musician friend and pay them in pizza or favours. There are a ton of cheap libraries online for music, search away.
  • Cut to the beat of your chosen track, and make sure you use the “best” bit of the song, not the first 30 seconds of meandering build up.
  • Intro: I know you want to show off your latest technique that clients never let you do, but chill. The intro just needs to be your name, title and the word reel. It needs to be done in around five seconds. If branding design isn’t your thing then keep it simple.
  • Outro: This is where you can let loose if you like, but get to the point. The relevant info here is your name, title, email address, website (or Vimeo page), and if they are relevant and SFW — your social media details. Instagram is a good one, if you post work as well as dumb selfies with your kid (biased).
  • It’s a good idea to supply a breakdown on its Vimeo page, making sure to note: The agency/studio, the client and your role. Were you part of a team? Were you working under an art director? Did you share this shot or just do the particles? Etc. Potential clients want to know what you did, and passing off other people’s work is not cool. You will get called out and your reputation ruined.

Think you’re done? Haha, nope. Do this:

  • Ask an editor to review. It’s an edit, so ask a pro. even better, pay them to cut it for you.
  • Ask your peers to review. Your peers will spot all the cheeky hacks, obvious tutorial rips and keep you in check. Go to #mochat on twitter, the MDA Slack, and forums. They are awesome for this.
  • Ask a producer to review. Producers are lovely humans who will often chose the animators for a job. Like I said, lovely humans.
  • Now, listen to them. Even if they’re telling you to kill your “favourite”. Kill it.

Then you’re good to upload (then re-upload after fixing that one typo).

Share it away. GLHF.

Edited by the multi talented Rhiannon Poley