Why I Hate Demo Reels

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Gav
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Gav sublime tool
Hey all,

There has been a discussion recently online about demo reels in a portfolio, their worth, and the weight they carry in a student's education.  While a bit of a rant, I listed out the reasons against a demo reel from my own perspective as a Lead/Hiring Manager/Portfolio Reviewer.

https://flippednormals.com/blog/hate-demo-reels-gavin-goulden/

(Also, if you just feel like reading it on PC):

Why I Hate Demo Reels 


Intro

Lets get started by clarifying what I mean by “Demo Reel”, as there are certainly exceptions to the case. When I say “Demo Reel” I mean the standard video, about 3 to 5 minutes long, showing the rotating character on a turntable, generally phasing through digital sculpt, render, and low poly model. This video is usually a mandatory part of attending and graduating from schools in North America and, presumably, world wide. I am specifically looking at demo reels for character artists in games,as that is my industry and trade. There are obvious exceptions to this rule, such as being an animator, VFX artist, rigger, etc. Generally, if your job requires motion, a demo reel is fairly standard and expected. I avoid these exceptions, again, because it is not area of expertise and the “Yes, but...” type argument distracts from the main point of view I am trying to share. Regardless, this is a greatly shared opinion of Leads, Art Directors, Hiring Managers, and Recruiters related to the games industry and common reasons why demo reels are not as helpful as you may think when searching for a job.

TL;DR

-Time spent creating a demo reel can be better used modeling and texturing.

-Not easily shared.

-Time consuming for the viewer, especially during recruitment.

-Unreliable video formats and browsers.

-Below the industry standard, most working artists use Artstation.


Why Are You So Angry?
Over the years, seeing specific trends in student portfolios has lead me to have a more outspoken stance on what should and shouldn't be in portfolios. The main one, as you may guess by the title of this article, is the inclusion of demo reels. More often than not, the feedback from students is that this is a mandatory part of their curriculum, and even some teachers are pressured to keep this as part of the curriculum due to politics, funding issues, and the level of bureaucracy that comes along with the job. So, year after year, despite my peers saying the opposite, students graduate through school with a demo reel only to find that most reviewers skip through it. It lands on people like me, senior members of the industry in a hiring position, to tell them the truth and practically tell them to retool their portfolio and undo the past few months of work they were required to do.

This is incredibly frustrating to me and the frustration is directed to teachers and schools, not the students. It's frustrating because, what this tells me, is that schools are taking a huge tuition (as noted in other blog posts on Flipped Normals) and promising to teach students the latest and greatest techniques, only to leave them a step behind the industry. It is forcing precious time to be wasted on dated techniques, abusing the trust students put into the school, and leaving workers in the industry in the position of being “The Bad Guy.” While being the person to give critique, and to help improve a persons work, is one thing – being the giant, open handed slap, of reality is too common and not something most people enjoy doing. However, most time, this reality check is through multiple, quiet rejections instead of an in person conversation. This is one of my attempts to spread a commonly held belief, and to shed some light on why your portfolio may be getting rejected and to offer alternatives to schools to produce students that have a stronger portfolio.

While these may seem like harsh truths, I assure you they come from a place of experience and a desire to improve the landscape of candidates and the quality of work students produce coming out of school.


The Student's Time

Many leaders, not just in the games industry but from all over, will tell you that the greatest resource is Time. In this case, it is the time students spend creating a demo reel. While it may seem trivial, the task generally isn't. Most students have this as a mandatory class where a reel must be produced in order to achieve a passing grade. The class may be minor, it may be a few hours a semester, but at that level a student can be learning other techniques to improve their art.

Breaking down what is generally required for a student to create a demo reel, and comparing it to the usual tools they are equipped with, a student will sink a lot of time into learning software and special case applications. Consider this scenario: You are just learning to use Maya and Photoshop, most likely got a crash course in the different uses of those programs (modeling, Uvs, rigging, animation, etc.), and are still trying to figure out what you want to do for your career – now that the basics have been covered and you need to being producing your own work for your end project, the Demo Reel. It seems like you should probably be locked in a room and improve those skills for a year, but the reality is that many courses will then pile on courses that serve as an interruption. For example, you want to focus on making character art, but now need to learn rendering in a 3d program (usually Maya or Max, which is irrelevant to real time results), have video editing courses like Premiere/After Effects/Camtasia, and then the time spent rendering out frames of your character in multiple scenarios, usually different angles and rendering modes, and compiling that all together. It adds up. In that time, a student can polish a model further, learn a relevant piece of software, or even produce an entirely new character with the improvements to their skill set they have learned over time.

This usually results in a trade off of skills versus passing a course to get a grade. The result is usually that a student learns a viable skill in their free time, has a very basic understanding of common tools used in the industry, or even worse – has no idea that they exist. For example, the time spent preparing this demo reel, which is usually seen as the most important thing you can do, could be spent learning Substance Painter and PBR materials for real time engines. Many portfolios I see lack that skill, which is an extremely important part of creating art for games in this current generation.


Which leads me to my next point that is often overlooked. Most art, whether it be from a student or on a full fledged game project, is better at the end than it is in the beginning. This is natural, as we are all learning as we work. We get more comfortable with tools, we learn better techniques, art direction becomes more solidified, and the period of trial and error comes to an end. Not realizing this puts students in a bad situation. More often than not, a students first character is in that portfolio or demo reel because if they didn't include it, their body of work would be very thin. This means you are literally showing the first thing you ever made right next to the last thing you are proud of, and they're of equal importance to the viewer. Then, the students that realize this and want to correct what they are showing potential employers, end up creating a handful of sculpts to showcase their new skills – but this actually hurts their portfolio because it means showing unfinished work and, generally speaking, a bunch of sketches. With that time spent on rendering and editing together videos, a student could replace an older piece with a new piece that better demonstrates their skills.

Based on my research, a demo reel is generally the center piece of a student's time in the school, what wraps all of the lessons together, and, in some cases, what is needed in order to secure funding and prove a standardized education. That may be the case, and if it is, turning the battleship of larger schools is going to be an uphill battle. My suggestion is to make this demo reel, and I'm specifically talking to instructors, the bare minimum in your class with the transparency that it is a class project only and not mandatory for the job application process. Provide a lit scene in Marmoset for your class, render turntables out and compile them into a video. If the requirement is bureaucratic in nature, treat it as such. Spend as little time on this as possible in your class, “check the box”, and focus on skills that will get your students placed in the industry.

Demo Reels Are Difficult to Share
Put yourself in the shoes of someone in a hiring position, then consider that we live in a time of Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. On top of that, consider yourself – the artist – as a brand. That may seem incredibly arrogant, but it's the truth. As an artist, especially an artist trying to get into the games industry, you want to self promote and get your work in front of potential hiring managers as much as possible. The odds of this happening is much greater as still images through a link to your portfolio versus a video format for a few reasons.

First, someone in a hiring position is usually quite busy, and if someone passes them a video link they will either not look at it at all or check an email while your model is spinning around on the other screen. A video is a lot more easy to ignore than a direct link to your artwork. In a single click, I can see all of your work and contact info, or be lead to a page where I need to click a video, wait for it to load, then stare at the video for 5 minutes as models spin around to music I, most likely, don't enjoy. Which of these scenarios seems ,mre irritating and more likely to get shut down?

Second, the recruitment process is usually quite involved. You are almost always put into a pile with other artists. Each review of an artist takes time, even a few minutes adds up when multiplied by the amount of candidates applying for the job. If you are asking a hiring manager to sit through a 5 minute video to review your work, frankly, you do not value their time as much as you should. You are running a huge risk of not having the reel viewed at all and your application rejected, why sit through a 5 minute video for one applicant when I can review 5 other portfolios in that time? In the end, for someone in a hiring position, it is usually on top of the daily work they need to do. This isn't a scenario where portfolios are sifted through with a fine toothed comb and cherished, and given feedback like from a teacher or during a portfolio review session at GDC. Instead it is a very aggressive and objective process where decisions are made on first impressions, and the immediate impact of your artwork. Quick decisions are made because they need to be, if every candidate was given the time to have their demo reel viewed in it's entirety, the rest of the work would suffer.


Third, Demo Reels take the viewer away from the artists portfolio. Usually, there is a video link to YouTube or Vimeo that directs attention away from the portfolio itself and contact information of the artist. Sure, the video may just be on a different tab, but you are creating an inconvenience for the viewer and a potential risk of just having the video lost in a shuffle of Chrome tabs.

Put still images of your work in a portfolio, either your own website or an Artstation profile, this directs the viewer to all of the vital information they need in one shot. Your artwork is front and center, and the contact info is literally on every page. It's virtually impossible to get lost on a well made site, and even more so on Artstation, and can be easily passed around the office as a single link.

Video Can Be Unreliable
When showing your work to a potential employer, you want to control the experience and put your best foot forward. You want all of your best work and skills to be shown and to prove you are a good fit for the project. Demo reels take all of that control away from you. Let me share a few scenarios to illustrate my point -


-A demo reel is sent to a potential employer. The person opens your demo reel and is faced with around 10 seconds of title cards, then a series of spinning characters showing multiple angles of an asset and different viewing modes, then a texture break down. Most likely, the person viewing this video is going to skip around and right over elements of the character you wanted to show. Your expectation is that they will view the video from beginning to end, but the more likely case is that they will skip ahead to see what pieces of work you have and then back to see specific cases. That is if you are lucky and managed to win the gamble of a viewer landing on the few frames that show your work in the best possible way.


-Lets pretend that the person viewing your video isn't as over it as I am. It could be their first time hiring someone, or you caught them on a slow morning and they're feeling generous. By the very nature of the demo reel, it is showing many different angles of the same character multiple times. If the viewer wants to stop the video, or scrub back and forth to see a specific angle, you are risking your work being distorted due to video compression, motion blur, fx, etc. and the possible frustration of clicking back and forth to find a specific shot.


-Then, lets pretend that you find a person who has no choice but to watch your demo reel. You have found them at a portfolio review, at your school or at a convention, and you walk up to them with your demo reel. There's a few obstacles you are creating for yourself that you may not realize. First, if your video isn't saved locally, you are going to have a hard time loading the video. You are most likely running on Wifi and will have a horrible signal due to the amount of interference in the building. I have seen this first hand and 100% of the time, the video fails to load and the time someone spent waiting to get reviewed is completely wasted. Second, like the points above, you are going to spend a lot of your time watching a viewer watch your video. Considering that most portfolio reviews have a time limit, you are robbing yourself of meaningful critique by having a video dictate the timing of your review. Third, a video has limited options when viewing. If the viewer wanted to zoom in on your iPad and look at a model, it isn't as simple as just zooming in on a photo. You are going to watch a person fumble with your device just to get a better look at your work. Fourth, there is absolutely no way a stranger is going to let you load a file onto their computer or device. They will, however, potentially view your Artstation profile and look at some images.




Demo Reels Are Below The Industry Standard
My final, and possibly most important argument against demo reels, is that they are below the commonly accepted standard of the games industry. Most, if not all, employed game artists use their own website or Artstation to host and promote their work. That work is almost always shown in still images with a favorable lighting setup and neutral pose, with material and wireframe breakdowns for the character. Beyond that, technology like Marmoset Viewer and Sketchfab exist and are embedded into a site like Artstation. If you really want to show off your model, you can have it in a viewer where people can spin around and zoom in at their leisure – you get to control the experience in an optional, interactive way, in addition to still images.


All. On. The. Same. Page.


For the reasons I mention above, it has become more common place. Artists are creating work personally and professionally, then using still images to show off and share their skills with the world. A format like Artstation is a part of the 'community', artwork is discovered through trending pieces and sharing quick links on social media. At the risk of sounding condescending, to have a demo reel is to show that you are not part of that community. That you haven't learned those lessons and are still entirely new to the game. You're not one of the cool kids.


Demo reels are an archaic form of showing your work stemming from the days of acting and film. A time where you would literally mail a VHS to a company in an attempt to get an interview. We have outgrown that need as a culture, we exist in a time where employers have their pick of artists, competition is fierce, and technology moves quickly. We have tools to automate parts of our workflow, we are in constant contact through social media, and are more accessible than ever before. People don't spend time watching rotating models to dubstep anymore, they seek instant gratification and have the attention span of a goldfish. The times have changed, the landscape of the industry has changed, and you need to keep up with it or be left behind.


But, here is the silver lining, it isn't your fault. For years, you have been working towards this demo reel because it is the final piece to your education and what you have been told to do by your school. You are doing the best that you can with the tools you have been given and just learned how to use.


A counter argument to this point, usually, is that not all of the blame goes to the school. Students should be proactive and expand their learning outside of class. That they should research the industry in addition to their course load, and put in the work. This may be true, and I'll admit that even as an industry veteran, most of my learning is done outside of work, but the difference is a matter of trust and authority. As an instructor, you are put in a place of power and are given the trust of students to be steered in the right direction. If that direction is putting them behind where the industry currently sits, you are reducing their chances of getting hired. By continuing to produce something that many people in a hiring position ignore, you are setting up students for failure. Sure, there may be edge cases where it worked out, but for the majority of the time it creates a sea of work that stands out from what is standard in the industry and not in a good way. There is a clear divide between student and professional and that is usually by having a demo reel or having a portfolio.


Conclusion

If I am an aspiring character artist, should I make a demo reel? No. A thousand times, No. Your time is better spent mastering the core skills of your craft and pushing your work as much as you possibly can. No one will hire you based on your ability to edit a video as a character artist, but they will hire you for that new model you just finished.


I am an instructor and my students are required to complete a demo reel, what should I do? Please, if it is possible, understand the context of your student's discipline. If they need motion in their work, make a demo reel mandatory. If they do not, make an Artstation profile mandatory and teach them how to better edit their work and present themselves in a professional way. If it is absolutely required by the school and your hands are tied, tow the line and have it be a minimum effort project with an emphasis on creating a standard portfolio and the common expectations of the industry.







Replies

  • lotet
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    lotet ngon master
    ugh...yep. I agree.

    simply the reason that I can look at a bunch of images in a few secs to get a better understanding of a model then some slowly rotating badly edited video is enough for not liking it. especially now with all the 3D viewers its really becoming an outdated concept.
  • TudorMorris
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    TudorMorris greentooth
    @almighty_gir you've certainly sparked a debate lol.

    I'm at Herts Uni along with @almighty_gir and @JLHGameArt on the MA. We're working on our final project and have been assured all year that the main focus of this module is on artwork. Sadly one of the big requirements is the production of a demo reel.

    Don't get me wrong, I can see the value in this for some pathways - for animators and VFX focussed students this is obviously essential. I'd also say that it's applicable (though less so) for Environment Artists, as a video provides a good way to showcase an environment. For Character Artists though - why?

    I am a concept artist - why would I ever need a demo reel? All of my images are static, I never animate anything, and there is nothing that I create that you can rotate around or explore different angles of.

    Don't get me wrong, it absolutely should be part of the requirements of the course to come up with a professional portfolio - in my case that would be something like ArtStation (I've seen jokes on the community about custom wix websites, we won't go into that now...). Unfortunately the blanket definition of 'demo reel' has been applied to artists whose work it is not applicable to, and as such this is going to divert time and effort that I would otherwise spend working.

    I will, obviously, be complying with the request, as I see it as another academic 'hurdle' to jump over. Our thoughts on this have been made very clear to the University, but as soon as the course is finished I will be removing the video as I personally believe my editing skills to be subpar and that they would distract from the quality of the work that is much better showcased as a series of static images.
  • almighty_gir
  • Gav
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    Gav sublime tool
    Haha, don't be sorry.  As someone pointed out after listening to our first podcast episode, this has been a hatred I've carried with me for 15 years.
  • almighty_gir
  • ArkOfDarkness
    As a program graduate that has spent the last year since graduating trying to hone and build up my portfolio, I can fully agree, as there's definitely a financial aspect as well:

    Depending on your focus, you might need ZBrush, Maya, Substance Painter, 3DCoat, Topogun, Marmoset, Photoshop, etc, few of which are particularly cheap for the average student or recent graduate, (I'm looking at you, ZBrush) especially for software that uses a Subscription-based payment system.

    Time requirements aside, NOT having to pay for Video Compiling software would make for some pretty nice savings for those who wouldn't really need to invest in a Demo Reel.
  • Sunray
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    Sunray polygon
    Man, I hear all you complaining about teachers saying to make demo reels. While my teacher is out here telling me I need to learn to program if I want to find a job as a character artist.
  • Burpee
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    Burpee polycounter lvl 3
    I agree, Demoreel for a Modeler / Texture artist isn't the best way to show his work,
    Exception for some people who managed to do it, 
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJ8-gkt8yi0
    https://vimeo.com/112782140

    that being said the thing is that recruiter wants reel ( and by definition they're the people who'll hire you ) so we don't really have any other option that giving them one.
    In my case I have created reel only to apply work but I didn't put it in my artstation or website.

    I don't really agree with the time consuming part, it's like 1 week max to build a proper clean reel, even less if you're working in real time.

    But at the end yeah demoreel sucks, can't agree more ! 
  • adrxzero
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    adrxzero Polycount Sponsor
    Thank you for this @Gav, I definitely agree with you. Demo reels and Wix sites are a pervasive and vicious blight upon our hiring landscapes.
  • darecarce
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    darecarce polycounter lvl 2
    Hey Guys I know this is mainly focused on game art, and game artists but, I was doing cgi for film and tv and commercials for almost 10 years now, so pre- rendered stuff. And although I'm trying to switch in to the real time world as Character modeler, my bread and butter are still projects related to pre - rendered projects.  Does this no demo reel  also apply s for film, tv, and commercial business or its mainly for real time portfolios?
    And one more quick one, Is it possible to get a job as a real time character artists in a studio if you have good real time portfolio of personal works  but your experience shows like 10 years of cinematic character modelings and u don't have the famous at least one AAA title behind you that is required now days from every single studio to get the job?

    Thanks.  
  • Bedrock
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    Bedrock polycounter lvl 4
    The showreel situation at Herts was strange. You go in thinking that you will spend the majority of the year on your project and throw a showreel together at the end when it's all done and presentable. You will spend a week on it tops, fine.

    Instead you are tasked to have a finished showreel by February I believe? Weird timing considering that people didn't even finish their vertical slice of their final at this point. You need to present something every couple weeks to show you are working on it though, so you start modelling random things (that didn't look great) and then go back to blocking out or sculpting your main thing. I think we were expected to look for jobs early into the year, months before we finished our big third year project. The expectations were very optimistic to put it politely. 

    And all that for something a lot of people simply didn't need at all. There's definitely room for growth here.
  • BradMyers82
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    BradMyers82 polycounter lvl 9
    Wow, never seen it explained in such detail.  Very good article.  When I first entered the games industry nearly 10 years ago it was generally well accepted that demo reels ARE NOT a good route to go.  I hope this article spreads and schools stop making it mandatory.  At the very least if people just don't post demo reels on their portfolio it would be a good start!

  • rayle1112
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    rayle1112 polycounter lvl 3
    Why so many hate on demo reels? Why it is wrong if some people want to present their characters in a video? It's only wrong when you ONLY send your reel to the recruiters and nothing else. When I apply for a job, I will send three things:

    1. My artstation & my personal website
    2. A PDF that contains all of my work so they can print out and pass around if needed.
    3. My demo reel (this is just optional for anyone who wants to see it)

    I do have a graduated reel and that reel won me an international competition for recent graduates. Later I got noticed by some of the top studios in the industry. Allegorithmic also asked me to write an article because they saw my real-time demo on Youtube. Making a reel is not that hard, it only took me a few days. So what is wrong about presenting your characters in a video?

    Don't blame demo reels, blame the people who use it in a wrong way.

    Here are some example of good character reels. Looking at these videos are definitely better than still images. 







  • TCarneiro
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    TCarneiro polycounter lvl 3
    This is a very good article and opinion piece.
    I work with VFX but I can definitely see how the approach of scrapping reels for specific projects is more productive.

    Somewhat related. I recently had a huge discussion on Facebook because I told people to STOP creating their portfolios in sites like WIX and Blogspot, especially when services like Behance and Artstation exist. I feel that it translates directly to the reasons pointed out by you on why to create an artstation.

    I'm going to take that suggestion to heart and update mine. I also checked your portfolio and noted that indeed, you have your contact information in every page. I, unfortunately, don't have on mine (www.thiagocarneiro.com), so that's something I'm going to work to fix too.

    Thanks for the insights =)
  • Gav
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    Gav sublime tool
    @TCarneiro - Dude, Wix is my next opinion piece brewing.  I hate, hate, hate Wix (and Weebly, even Wordpress is a bit much.)  For those exact reasons.  Someone on my FB mentioned, "If you can't invest in a portfolio site, you can't invest in your career."  Which, I feel is true.  Perception is reality, you know, so when I see a Wix link - my association is immediately "This person doesn't get it yet."  That's super rude, and probably cynical, but true.  

    In the end, it isn't difficult, but it becomes complicated by edge cases.  "What if the person wants this?" "One person said to do it this way, but another that way."  The bottom line is, Make it easy for me to hire you.  Anything that distracts from that mission is a waste (not directed at you, just a general statement.)  About pages, sketches, reels, needless clicks through a free site, hard to remember urls, all of this adds up...it's clutter...it's getting in the way of the few core pieces of work you have, which is all I want to see, and from there we begin the process.
  • TCarneiro
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    TCarneiro polycounter lvl 3
    @Gav I completely understand your point and fully agree. 
    Nothing makes me more upset whenever someone sends me a portfolio and start with something like "www.wix.com/users/1291/UserName" or some crap like that. I feel that people take for granted the importance of domain names and clear usernames.
    Is also frustrating that people (me included) have 10x different usernames across multiple social networks. I do however tend to cut them some slack because getting the ideal username sometimes is hard.

    But yeah....the perceived value and how you brand yourself to the world can be the decisive reason for you to land a job or not.

    I work mainly as a freelancer, so for me the decision to create my own wordpress website was clear as day. I need custom SEO to generate leads from searches and I need to create an impact in potential clients. 
    But if I was working for a studio or looking to work for one, I would invest my time in Artstation.
    Every decision, in my opinion, needs to add value, somehow, to yourself. If you're deciding to have an artstation, behance, twitter, Instagram, website, be active in polycount, just because everyone does it in way or another, you are probably wasting your time.

    But is hard...I'm on my second Post-Graduation and I'm already a little more experienced than my classmates, so for me these things make sense, I've learned after years working in this industry or another before it.
    But for people who are fresh out of school, it's overwhelming. 

    Too many expectations from this "Portfolio Classes"  and not enough value being added to the work.



  • almighty_gir
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    almighty_gir polycounter
    @rayle1112 Dude... you're literally THE example cited by the lecturer at Herts Uni as to why character artists should have a demo reel. In fact, i think i even have a feedback sheet for one of my assignments saying i would have had a higher grade if i'd done a short animated video in your style, instead of just image breakdowns.

    A little insight onto why universities in the UK (i can't speak for the US) require demo reels:
    • In the UK, for undergraduate degrees, the course curriculum is vetted by a panel of studios, who sign off on the need for each thing.
    • Those studios also sign an agreement with universities who comply to this curriculum, so that if someone from one of those universities graduates and is hired by one of those studios, a portion of their salary is paid for by the university for the first year.
    • It's unclear whether the panel of studios also includes film and vfx houses, though it's likely that it does and even more likely that they outweigh the games studios becaaaaause...
    • Most universities in the UK have their games courses as an extension of animation courses which focus more on film. The games courses evolved as a side-track of animation rather than being seen as, or set up as their own thing.
  • almighty_gir
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    almighty_gir polycounter
    AAAAAND then we have this: https://flippednormals.com/blog/the-creative-students-handbook-reels-portfolios/

    An article by someone working in film, who says your showreel is the most important thing in the world. And here lies the problem... I would be absolutely confident that i could put $1000 down as a bet, that this is the article that will be cited as relevant in every school out there, even in games, over Gav's.
  • TCarneiro
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    TCarneiro polycounter lvl 3
    @almighty_gir
    Well there's clearly a difference between games and film.

    If we take the media into consideration, it makes complete sense for Film/VFX focused Students to have a demoreel, since their work will be seen in motion and are most likely to include shot/vfx integration over a film plate.

    For a game artist, that's unnecessary. Since your work is supposed to be seen in real time rendering engines, and the user input will most likely to influence the output, then services like Marmoset Viewer and Sketchfab are the ideal showcase method.

    Most of the models presented in this article that you shared, wouldn't be able to run in Marmoset or Sketchfab. Either by the crazy amount of deformers, polycount and custom rings, or because the texture workflow was designed to be used in a  production renderer, such as VRay, Redshift, Renderman or something similar.

    You think we wouldn't want a service like sketchfab and marmoset viewer? That would be amazing! But in order to prepare the model for something like this (that is naturally done for game models) we need to redo a lot of the work.

    People need to question themselves if the media they choose to present their work, makes sense and simulates in a micro and controlled manner the macro industry they're applying. 
  • fearian
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    fearian Polycount Sponsor
    Uni's like demo reels because they can clip out the best bits a make a trailer for the uni every 6 months. I'll bet that Herts will tell you they have the right to use your coursework in advertising the uni however they see fit. 

    Unis also have to share resources between courses. Obviously they can't have a dull compliment of staff for just environment artists, just character artists, just animators whatever. You will share modules and lecturers and there will be a lot of leftover baggage. I had to spend a module learning fucking Shockwave at my uni.

    Regardless of course quality, this is the biggest reason Game Art courses at uni are not the dream we all want them to be. They are forced to generalise and you get alot of rough edges to the course as a whole.

    Frankly, from the students perspective you just have to take it into account. If you think it beats taking a job in tesco and working yourself to the bone in your free time, accept the sacrifice of making a demo reel and throw it away afterwards. Like Gav said, most people don't have time for them.
  • fearian
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    fearian Polycount Sponsor
    double post:

    Demo reels occupy the same space as Marmoset/Sketchfab scenes - they are nice to put underneath the pictures. Surely that's the end of?
  • Elithenia
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    Elithenia interpolator
    for the financial part of it that I think @ArkOfDarkness brought up in a post further up; 
    I have recently been trying to work out how much a student would end up paying for a 3 year degree in an animation/games art/vfx here in the UK (sorry cannot speak for another country, but should be roughly the same?) on top of their tuition fee. This is just to be able to follow along with the courses that is being taught, and to be able to work from home when the university computers are not available:  
    (this is with student discount prices! not retail prices for professional artists or high spec equipment)



    This also includes about a £500 budget for maintenance or upgrading halfway through for a decent computer.
    I think the most common University fees here are now around the £9,000/year mark. So it is a lot of money that the students are paying to do these degrees. 
    However, sadly, the graduates from these universities and others are all competing for very few jobs. I think someone mentioned in another thread that there's about 1000 character artists jobs out there for games, and 95% of them are already filled. 

    If making a showreel would mean getting more software for something that they would not use later on.... it is a waste of time and money.
    If it is something that they have to do for the course, and they can do on campus or in a free software, do it to pass the module, and then make the best of the situation later. Having skills outside of the field can come in handy later.
    Doing it for an entire semester seems like they are missing the point, and are not spending their time efficiently honing their skills, to learn more, to improve, in order to be employable when graduating. 
    Just don't piss off the industry that is telling you they don't want demo reels.....

    ps, if anyone has any comments on the prices, please let me know as I'm happy to change them to a more realistic view :) I did look up the software prices though through our uni. but I'm not as good with the computer parts, and I just grabbing a rough number to be able to run some of the software
  • almighty_gir
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    TCarneiro said:
    @almighty_gir
    Well there's clearly a difference between games and film.

    If we take the media into consideration, it makes complete sense for Film/VFX focused Students to have a demoreel, since their work will be seen in motion and are most likely to include shot/vfx integration over a film plate.

    For a game artist, that's unnecessary. Since your work is supposed to be seen in real time rendering engines, and the user input will most likely to influence the output, then services like Marmoset Viewer and Sketchfab are the ideal showcase method.

    Most of the models presented in this article that you shared, wouldn't be able to run in Marmoset or Sketchfab. Either by the crazy amount of deformers, polycount and custom rings, or because the texture workflow was designed to be used in a  production renderer, such as VRay, Redshift, Renderman or something similar.

    You think we wouldn't want a service like sketchfab and marmoset viewer? That would be amazing! But in order to prepare the model for something like this (that is naturally done for game models) we need to redo a lot of the work.

    People need to question themselves if the media they choose to present their work, makes sense and simulates in a micro and controlled manner the macro industry they're applying. 
    Well, like i said in my previous post. Most game art courses are an extension of animation courses which are geared toward film and vfx. Which is why i linked that article. I could almost guarantee that that one will be used to vindicate current methods, than Gav's will be to change them.
  • Amsterdam Hilton Hotel
    rayle1112 said:
    Why it is wrong if some people want to present their characters in a video?
    literally nobody said that was wrong
  • Gav
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    Gav sublime tool
    @almighty_gir - I honestly think thats where a ton of this stems from, and the overall misconception that 'all' studios want it.   While Henning's article is great advice, he's a film/vfx guy...and really, most counterpoints are.  Most success stories and advice on 'how to make a reel' is for film, most courses are an extension from film and games are an afterthought.  There are very few public opinions about reels being bad, or like you mentioned, easily get trumped by opinion from film and it's extension.  So - that's what I'm trying to do - a counterpoint from the games industry.  As you've seen, and it may just be from my bubble I live in, many people in my position or similar agree with the points...so much so that it's almost baffling why you would choose to make a reel, let alone force someone to.

    @rayle1112 - Since you edited your post after I responded.  Picking out the few success cases in a sea of failure is sort of a moot point, I can show you hundreds more stills that got people jobs.  Also, not to be a snob here, but  more than half of those examples are for film or unattainable real time graphics.  It's shit like that which keeps justifying tons of schools to force students into making a garbage reel - you can cherry pick the few good cases of a demo reel, but 99% of reels are a relaxed character spinning around...they aren't this, at all.

    And, again, "Here are some example of good character reels. Looking at these videos are definitely better than still images."  One thousand times, nope.  I can look at the still and get the exact same impression as the video, all these videos are (Balongs, which are really nice work) is panning around a still image.  There's zero reason to have this as a video, especially when it's a turnaround or literally panning across a static image...Literally, look at this.   It's the exact same piece you linked with a ton of stills showing the exact same information as a video.  http://baolong.artstation.com/projects/n4rbK  

    If you want to make a reel, and you just can't fight that urge for some reason, go right ahead.  I'm not going to deny that videos like Baolongs are cool -  but they don't add anything more than the stills would tell me in terms of hiring.  Objectively, they don't add an extra skill to the list of reasons why I would hire you, they just repeat them in a different (arguably, more annoying) format.  My issue is that these things are generally mandatory and created with the impression that people, like me, want them when that's not the case.  It's also incredibly unrealistic to think your average students are like the links you posted above.  Shoot for the stars - sure - but most students aren't at that level and are basically learning how to model while being asked to wrap it all up. 


  • almighty_gir
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    almighty_gir polycounter
    It might help shed some light on why i even asked the question over twitter on the first place if i post this here...

    A couple of weeks ago i asked a question on Twitter, to some of my friends, idols, and other industry veterans about their opinions of demo-reels in portfolios. https://twitter.com/LeeDevonald/status/869240301596102656

    This sparked a lively discussion but it quickly became apparent that 140 character replies weren't enough, especially when things got a little heated.

    Then @Baj Singh took the initiative and wrote up an excellent "how to present your portfolio" guide: https://www.linkedin.com/…/character-art-game-production-ma…

    @Hazardous ;and @Gav ;have since followed up with their own arguments:

    https://www.facebook.com/jontroyn/posts/10154772516548946
    https://80.lv/…/portfolio-tips-for-aspiring-character-arti…/

    And yesterday, @Gav ;made another excellent post, with one part really sticking out to me:

    https://www.facebook.com/gavin.goulden/posts/1496501990388669

    "It's on us to be vocal about these issues", "Open the dialogue between the industry and school more".

    And so i figured now was time for me to share the reason i asked the question in the first place. I'm currently studying a masters degree at the University of Hertfordshire. To say that this degree is poorly advertised would be an understatement, it's very much presented on their website as an art degree, and the lecturers i spoke to about it had me convinced that it would do nothing but give me opportunities to grow as an artist. Unfortunately this isn't true, and the growth i've experienced can be attributed entirely by meeting other people on the course and working closely with them, close enough that their constant critique has pushed me further and further. The course itself is a research degree.

    As part of this degree, for a module called creative economies, i was tasked with creating a video essay about an issue that affects my industry. I had to interview an influential member of the industry and @Neox ;has been kind enough to grant permission for me to show you the essay that came out as a result.

    This essay is titled: "Games Industry Skills: How can universities help to close the gap?"

    It raises some very important questions which need to be answered on both sides of the table. Questions like:
    Why do schools insist that students will leave with the skills they need to join the industry, without actually teaching those skills?
    Why do schools insist that specific methods are needed, when the industry disagrees?
    What can the industry do to support schools to greater mutual benefit?

    You can watch the interview here:

    Or if you prefer, you can read the written draft (it's not verbatim) here:

    This all stemmed from a lot of research i did into the widening skills gap in the industry, and the fact that universities are largely doing nothing to close that gap, in fact they seem to be helping make it bigger with out-dated practices, and a stalwart refusal to listen to the feedback of people like you @Gav. Essentially, i believe there needs to be a much greater dialogue between the industry and the schools about what skills graduates really need.
  • mutatedjellyfish
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    I've done reels before, but they have usually been with the understanding that (A) no one cares but me so in that sense I'm just making them for fun and (B) it will be the very last thing someone doing the hiring will look at, if they even get that far. I think reels are great for the general public (aka the people who like shiny things). As an environment artist, though, I see value in loops or embedded auto-play webms and the like, especially if I have environmental effects, ambient sound, gameplay, or other things that legitimately WON'T come through in stills. There's a lot of work that goes into making an environment feel alive that can get lost with stills alone. I'd never ONLY do a reel, though.

    Another point: I made a couple of reels for my Disney Infinity work ages ago and put them on YouTube and after a few years of them sitting there, I looked at their stats and found that on average any given user will watch approximately 50% of the video. They bounce after making it half way. The video in question was 3 minutes long (which is long, absolutely), so fair enough! When I shipped the Inside Out game, I made a reel that was 1 minute 30 seconds long, almost to the second. Now that that's been up for a couple years, I look at the stats and low and behold, people still bounce after watching 50% of the video, haha.  The takeaway here for is with images is you know what you're communicating and you're doing it in the most succinct way possible. With reels, you're kind of trusting that the viewer will give a shit all the way to the end.

    Personally, for me, as an environment artist, I think a nicely authored, embedded, looping webm video that shows a simple walkthrough or ambient movement or whatever I want to communicate is a better way forward to fill the small number of instances where something is truly lost by a still image.  

    Reels have their place, but they are a tool for communication, not an objectively better or worse all around medium. What are you trying to communicate? Who is your audience? The public at large? Animators? HR? A character designer who mostly draws on paper? Having a reel that is just slow pans of a static model is masturbatory and probably wastes time. If you're trying to show gameplay though? You need a reel or a playthrough demo. Consider your marketing materials to be what they are: communication of a message and put thought into what is the best tool(s) to do specifically that task correctly.
  • TheUltimateDonGamer
    You make some really compelling points here. I feel that most people are upset about this topic because schools have tricked them into spending so much time and energy making reels and not an actual portfolio site. When I was in college (Grad. 2015), they just focused on putting together a portfolio not a demo reel. It's really interesting to see what school are doing now. To be honest, I knew even before graduating college that a reel wasn't needed. That was confirmed too as I talked with other environment artists that mainly said "tell the environment story through stills, reels are not a huge deal." Personally I prefer seeing screenshots too, because I'm able to see a whole story in one shot and can easily identify what's going on. I'm not hating on reels or people who create them, however for me I will just keep working on my portfolio and sticking with screenshots.

    Thanks for sharing your opinion and being upfront about this information!
  • rayle1112
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    @Gav: Sorry, I added some example videos on my previous post because I didn't have enough time to write a full post, now I do.

    "I don't need to re-explain why there's so much hate for reels, I just did that for 3 pages".

    You are right, I couldn't finish your 3 pages post because it's just too long, like a bad demo reel with 3-5 mins long. But I get your point, and I do agree that Artstation is the best choice when applying for a job.

    "...For timing, you got me in a box here.   When I was in school, it was at least a semester and the majority of students I've talked to claim it is an actual course load - not a few days.  Now? Sure, I could slam a few models into a video in a weekend, but most students just learned how to model something....now they have dedicated classes to putting that model in a video."

    I don't know about other schools. But my school didn't have any classes to teach us how to make a demo reel. They also didn't force us (character artists) to make a reel in order to graduate. We made a reel because we wanted.

    "...I can look at the still and get the exact same impression as the video, all these videos are (Balongs, which are really nice work) is panning around a still image.  There's zero reason to have this as a video, especially when it's a turnaround or literally panning across a static image...Literally, look at this.   It's the exact same piece you linked with a ton of stills showing the exact same information as a video.  http://baolong.artstation.com/projects/n4rbK  "

    However I disagree with some recent hate comments on demo reels (not only you). I saw some people say that reels/videos are useless, and just a waste of time for character artists. My point is they are not that bad because there is nothing wrong if some people choose to present their characters in a video. Good choice of music and camera movements can push your work to the next level if you do it right. 

    It's up to you if you prefer looking at still but other people may not, so please respect different views. Saying "zero reason to have this as a video" is an insult when someone has put a lot of effort in making it. It's their work and they can do whatever they want.
  • Gav
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    Gav sublime tool
    @rayle1112 ;

    "You are right, I couldn't finish your 3 pages post because it's just too long, like a bad demo reel with 3-5 mins long."
    Fair enough, it is a wall of text.  But the difference is that you're debating me on points you never read, where as I've viewed 1000 reels, and seen 1000 failures to form an opinion on the subject.  But, i appreciate the jab nonetheless :)

    You're free to disagree with me, and those who echo what I'm saying, but to me it absolutely is a waste of time for those points I listed...which you admit to not reading.  It's also not true that your work is  'pushed to the next level' with music and camera cuts - your work is still your work, you're just adding spectacle to try and make the work seem better than it is.  Maybe you get points for presentation?  Maybe?  Maybe you make the viewer "feel" that there's a difference..but to me, it's flash.  Anyone who actually focuses on the quality of work and knows how production works will see through this.   Besides, trust me, 99.9% of people who attempt this fail - the vast majority of students who are required to do this, fail.  



  • radiancef0rge
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    I scrubbed through all those good character reels - way too slow. 
  • Polygoblin
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    Polygoblin polycounter lvl 7
    This issue should be settled by now. There really isn't a decent counter argument anymore. All the info is in one place now so let the standard of creating a reel in uni die already. 

    *bookmarked for ease*
  • ubu
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    ubu polycounter lvl 7
    @Gav Thanks for taking the time to articulate this, it was very interesting and I generally agree with your position. I'm surprised universities do a specific showreel module. At ours there is a final major project but presentation is artefact dependant, and with the breadth of projects students make it is hard to see how you could ever get that to work. When our students make videos of work it usually relates to assessment needs and quality control and is  not supposed to take a long time, (maybe our uni showreel would be better if we did). I will be bringing this issue up with my students next semester. Thanks again!
  • Kwramm
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    Kwramm greentooth
    good points, but I don't see the discussion potential - at least not as someone who hires people. Good art is good art, be it in PNG, AVI, WebGL or printed on dead trees in a 3D magazine, I don't care. If people think it helps their case then they should go for whatever medium they deem appropriate. And I don't think it hurts students, especially in the modeling track, to at least once consider how to present their static work in an animated medium. Unis should be ashamed if they let people graduate with zero knowledge of what goes on beyond their specialization ... "sorry, graph editor? what's that???"

    The other points are moot imho. Annoying soundtrack? Mute. Got no time? Get a modern player and scrub through the reel. Internet speeds? Leave your studio in rural Balochistan or get a download accelerator.
  • almighty_gir
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    See, when i look at the Danaerys video. It looks awesome, intil the camera rotates into the 3/4 view and then the likeness falls down, so in that instance i think the video actually hurts the piece rather than helps it.

    In fact, the same is true of any video where the subject is stationary... 

    There is one video i've seen in the last year or so that blew me away, but it's important to note that the piece was already killer and the breakdown shots had already been done. The video added an extra "FUCK YEAH!" factor to an already great piece of art.

  • Gav
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    Gav sublime tool
    @Kwramm - Thanks for the input.  Those are valid points, yes, art is good no matter what - but to say that the format doesn't matter is pretty unrealistic.  Like I mention in the article, sure, once isn't a problem...but I've had upwards of 700 applications for one job opening.  If you're trying to be creative, and think your work is best presented in an inconvenient way, it certainly does matter.  I absolutely agree that Uni should feel bad about popping kids out with no extra knowledge, which is why I bring up a lack of technical understanding yet plenty of time spent editing videos and rendering in mental ray.   I don't know about you (as a technical artist, i assume we're on the same page), but I would rather see a student understand pbr workflow, how to make basic shaders in unreal, and cleaner assets 10000000 times more than seeing their editing chops.

    Then, for the other issues, while true aren't moot...in general, everything you're listing is taking a gamble for a feature that adds nothing to your work and asking the person viewing your work to 'do more.'  Again, single case...maybe not so bad..but waves of it? The music, you can mute but it's easier just to shut the reel off, and most people will.  I scrub through reels, I mention that in the article, you're most likely having your work missed when people do that (plus, if people are scrubbing through a low resolution video....why not just make stills instead?)   Internet speeds, like I mention, is more about conferences and mass portfolio reviews...I'm not sure what to say there, I'll tell moscone center to get space age internet.

    It's up to the student, for sure.  If you really want to do it, go ahead, I'm trying to show 'them' that there is an opposition to reels and in a lot of cases they are frowned upon in the games industry.  It isn't the standard many schools claim it to be and there are many flaws to having one.  
    Mostly, in discussion or counterpoints, it always seems to be "Yeah - but this one case disproves everything you're saying...." or "But you can still just do it if you want", when I have tons of leads, managers, recruiters, ADs, agreeing with these points and saying it's "What they've said for years."   You can always find exceptions, and hell...some AD might like your printed out, scented portfolio. Some manager may have the time to sit and really 'experience' your work.  Some may copy it onto a usb drive and toss it into the ocean.  I'm trying to push what myself and many others have been saying into a more transparent light so I don't keep seeing the same mistakes being repeated over and over again.
  • Ashervisalis
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    Ashervisalis keyframe
    Spoke to my roommate last night about this, who is currently studying. He said the teachers all agree on not to submit reels, but apparently say they still need to do it so when they go to certain events, they can just have their reel on repeat, instead of constantly scrolling through their stills. Not really a good enough reason to spend all that time making it though, imo.
  • Gav
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    Gav sublime tool
    I've heard of that as well, that reels also serve as marketing material for schools.  I dunno.  I don't have a non-snarky response to that...basically, if you're charging people upwards of 100k to get an education, you can probably afford to hire a 'sizzle reel' editor for a week to make your promo material.
  • Polygoblin
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    Polygoblin polycounter lvl 7
    the same methods that'll benefit students' careers will benefit the school's marketing dept. Besides the benefit of higher placement, every school has rights to use student scene files anyways. So if videos are *needed*, hiring a pro to edit a sizzle reel is really only a matter of a short contract annually. At the most. 

    Demo Reel Creation was a month long class when I took it in '07 and it was a waste even then. Knowing what I know now, the entire process seems shady. How else can schools ignore industry standards? know I can be cynical but damn
  • Amsterdam Hilton Hotel
    every school has rights to use student scene files anyways.
    if they get them. they're still asking for mine, years later

    Gav said:
    if you're charging people upwards of 100k to get an education, you can probably afford to hire a 'sizzle reel' editor for a week to make your promo material.
    or you could have the students themselves do it while paying you for the privilege... win/win for the institution, total waste of time and money for the student, but who cares, they're already in their final year and won't drop out at this point
  • Elithenia
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    Elithenia interpolator
    See, when i look at the Danaerys video. It looks awesome, intil the camera rotates into the 3/4 view and then the likeness falls down, so in that instance i think the video actually hurts the piece rather than helps it.

    In fact, the same is true of any video where the subject is stationary... 

    There is one video i've seen in the last year or so that blew me away, but it's important to note that the piece was already killer and the breakdown shots had already been done. The video added an extra "FUCK YEAH!" factor to an already great piece of art.

    But that video is not with a static model.. it is animated, and hence a video makes sense. Having a video of a static model, I think it is better with stills and a 3d viewer if you really want them to be able to twirl it around. 
  • Durkel
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    Durkel triangle
    Thanks @Gav for this interesting and helpfull article. Here is my experience and my point of view on demoreels.

    As a 3D animation student at a high vocational college it was mandatory to make a demoreel. Yes, ofcourse it's great to have one if you do character animation, but that's something I dropped at the beginning of my second year. I started focussing on modeling, sculpting and doing some concept art alongside.

    So in my second year the teacher gave us the task of making a demoreel in order to find ourselfs an intership for the upcoming year. All of my work consisted out of still frames, so I decided to create some breakdowns and render a few turntables.. It never got to me until now, how much time it actually took to create one.

    Selecting the projects I liked to show was nearly enough to fill a good 30 seconds.. so I had to fill the rest with outdated projects that did not show the skills I do have now. For a lot of my selected work I decided to better them, wich costed a lot of time that I could have used on new or unfinished projects.

    During my interview for a potential internship, the studio(s) started with showing my demoreel on a television screen (chromecast) connected to Wi-Fi. The video wouldn't load within a full minute so we decided to view it in 360p and later on in native resolution. The loading times were killing, but we gladly filled it with a good conversation. 

    With a lot of paussing we reviewed the projects within my video. A demoreel that was filled with old work, while I had unfinished projects on my blog that I really hoped to show. But after reviewing my demoreel, artstation profile, asking and answering questions my interview was pretty much over.

    If I only knew by forehand that my conversations would have gone like this. I wouldn't even send those companies my demoreel. I would advice to not send it by e-mail or view it during an interview.. unless it actually adds something.

    In my experience, a demoreel is a good way to show your parents, family and friends of what you do for a living. I would say it's also pretty good material te get a lot of likes on Facebook. In my case, some of my friends who work in the industry liked my video and got other parties interested. They contacted me via e-mail and got me 2 interviews and an internship in the end.

    Anyways, these are my thaughts and thanks again for this article.

    Cheers, 

    Derk
  • Kwramm
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    Kwramm greentooth
    Gav said:
    @Kwramm - Thanks for the input.  Those are valid points, yes, art is good no matter what - but to say that the format doesn't matter is pretty unrealistic.  Like I mention in the article, sure, once isn't a problem...but I've had upwards of 700 applications for one job opening.  If you're trying to be creative, and think your work is best presented in an inconvenient way, it certainly does matter.  I absolutely agree that Uni should feel bad about popping kids out with no extra knowledge, which is why I bring up a lack of technical understanding yet plenty of time spent editing videos and rendering in mental ray.   I don't know about you (as a technical artist, i assume we're on the same page), but I would rather see a student understand pbr workflow, how to make basic shaders in unreal, and cleaner assets 10000000 times more than seeing their editing chops.

    Then, for the other issues, while true aren't moot...in general, everything you're listing is taking a gamble for a feature that adds nothing to your work and asking the person viewing your work to 'do more.'  Again, single case...maybe not so bad..but waves of it? The music, you can mute but it's easier just to shut the reel off, and most people will.  I scrub through reels, I mention that in the article, you're most likely having your work missed when people do that (plus, if people are scrubbing through a low resolution video....why not just make stills instead?)   Internet speeds, like I mention, is more about conferences and mass portfolio reviews...I'm not sure what to say there, I'll tell moscone center to get space age internet.

    It's up to the student, for sure.  If you really want to do it, go ahead, I'm trying to show 'them' that there is an opposition to reels and in a lot of cases they are frowned upon in the games industry.  It isn't the standard many schools claim it to be and there are many flaws to having one.  
    Mostly, in discussion or counterpoints, it always seems to be "Yeah - but this one case disproves everything you're saying...." or "But you can still just do it if you want", when I have tons of leads, managers, recruiters, ADs, agreeing with these points and saying it's "What they've said for years."   You can always find exceptions, and hell...some AD might like your printed out, scented portfolio. Some manager may have the time to sit and really 'experience' your work.  Some may copy it onto a usb drive and toss it into the ocean.  I'm trying to push what myself and many others have been saying into a more transparent light so I don't keep seeing the same mistakes being repeated over and over again.
    I'm not a friend of reels, but I have seen shitty folios which wasted my time in many different formats; and I have seen reels which were worth every second. Hence I don't much have preference for one format or the other. Because I think the problem isn't the media someone chooses.

    ---
    I agree. with 700 applications, you will spend even more time when you're dealing with reels. But at that volume I would be more concerned with the issue of how to deal constructively with such a quantity. I imagine for every reel you would get maybe 10 image files. Which of course could also be of poor quality, rendered instead of real-time, or could be disjointed. Alternatively to loading up AVI files you could be dealing with zillions of picture based web-folios with their random navigation schemes. Again, the problem isn't necessarily just "reels" here - it's a wider issues regarding presentation.

    > PBR and realtime knowledge

    I agree. But why does this have to be a either / or proposition?  Besides, there's no guarantee that not doing a reel will increase the likeliness that someone understands PBR or uses an engine to present their content. And nobody turns down a kickass modeler because they present work in Vray. Not a "reels" problem but one of applicant awareness.

    > the moscone center

    I assume your employer is aware that students come with reels and that this isn't a surprise any more. So yes, ensuring your venue is up to the task would be something that should be included when planning to have folio-reviews or interviews at such an event. Although I understand why some companies do this - because the competition does it, because there's indeed talent to be found, because it's a marketing tool. So yes, it would be better if applicants do not come with reels, but due to business pressure you're also setting yourself up to be in just the situation you are, unfortunately.

    > I'm trying to show 'them' that there is an opposition to reels and in a lot of cases they are frowned upon in the games industry.

    I think you're just ranting a bit in the wrong direction, while identifying the real problem:

    * we need PBR and realtime presentation based folios with art featuring current tech and workflows - be they reel or image or webGL based
    * we need relevant content: silhouettes, texture sheets, wireframes in acceptable quality - regardless of the medium
    * we need an efficient way to review content - no long winding reels, no disjointed piles of images, no websites with confusing navigation
    * we need to review content as technology independent as possible - currently PNG does this best. WegGL, AVI, etc. are still behind
    * students should be well rounded, but have a focus and knowledge of currently industry relevant tech and workflows

    Places like ArtStation can help with that because they force users to a degree to adapt their content to their requirements - and that's good.

    But, I also still see many job ads which have no info at all of what sort of folios they accept. Everyone has an opinion and that's just how many different folio formats we see, because everyone thinks their way is the best, or else they wouldn't send the folios to us the way they are. Unless an industry standard emerges (art station?) and unless we give clear, easy to follow direction, the problem will persist.

  • Gav
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    Gav sublime tool
    Kwramm, thank you for a very thoughtful response.  Without wanting to rant in the wrong direction more, I feel like you and I have vastly different experiences with reels.  Personally, I've never seen one that was worth the time (meaning, that couldn't have the same effect in 2d), and I've seen many.  This is also a widely common belief for hiring managers/leads/recruiters here, and the horror stories from students as well.  A main difference, I find, is that I am taking the stance of "No reel at all" - which will help standardize and help enforce those rules you mention.  To me, it's a more straightforward message - you remove a source of these problems, instead focus on skills you'll use for the job (then, sure, if you really want to....make one...)  The alternative, a more nuanced version of "well, not all reels are bad...", while true, is harder to get through to schools and students.  Plus, it's hard for me to ignore a ton of students that I meet who echo these thoughts - 'I got nothing out of it.'  As well as ignoring, during my rants hearing, "Shit, they still have kids make reels?"  I'm not sure what to say beyond that, there are plenty of people in hiring positions who hate them for the reasons I list, some that won't even bother to look, and obviously a common sentiment that they aren't the best way to try and get a job.  It makes more sense to me to not enforce them in order to focus on better standards, that 'message' isn't really out there, I'm trying to make it so and offer an alternative opinion to "Reels are what everyone expects." 

    (Just to specify as well, Moscone Center = GDC.  I volunteer to review student portfolios throughout the week and have little to no control over connection...it's proven to be extremely unreliable to show heavier content needing a connection, and the resolution on a chosen device generally doesn't lend itself well to a reel.)
  • Jonas Ronnegard
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    Jonas Ronnegard Polycount Sponsor
    Just some thoughts.

    Demo reels are useless or not depending on who you are targeting, if you are sending your stuff to be looked at by for example Gav, he already knows what he is looking for, he knows all the technical stuff so he would want the fastest way possible to go through all those portfolios. When you work at a big studio and get a hundred portfolios to look at in a day, you know that for 90% of those portfolios you will only need a second to see that it's not good enough, and you really don't want to open up a video starting with the credits to see that.

    When is it not useless.

    Like said above a reel with some cool camera angles and some good music can create a nice mood, and push the art further, so if you are applying for work or are trying to win a project for a non 3D related company this can be a good way to impress, but when a company already have the expertise and are only looking to fill up with more people you know they have someone looking at your portfolio that you can't impress with some moving shots.

    As for vfx and animated meshes that is another thing.
  • serriffe
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    serriffe polycounter lvl 4
    Gav said:


    Conclusion

    If I am an aspiring character artist, should I make a demo reel? No. A thousand times, No. Your time is better spent mastering the core skills of your craft and pushing your work as much as you possibly can. No one will hire you based on your ability to edit a video as a character artist, but they will hire you for that new model you just finished.


    I am an instructor and my students are required to complete a demo reel, what should I do? Please, if it is possible, understand the context of your student's discipline. If they need motion in their work, make a demo reel mandatory. If they do not, make an Artstation profile mandatory and teach them how to better edit their work and present themselves in a professional way. If it is absolutely required by the school and your hands are tied, tow the line and have it be a minimum effort project with an emphasis on creating a standard portfolio and the common expectations of the industry.



    Hi Gav, first of all I've been a fan of your work for quite some time now. Well as for the problem,  I think if you are a teacher, you are really concern about this demo reel issue, I would recommend you to address this to your head of the art department and fight for it if you can. I do believe that is an old practice and I think it should be slowly phased out and have the students to start using a personal website that is embedded with Marmoset or Sketchfab  and also open up an Artstation account ( https://magazine.artstation.com/2015/04/marmoset-artstation-awesome/

    Since VR is slowly in the horizon, it won't be long now that you can view a 3D 6DOF Character or Environment model in VR as a standard. If the school is hard to sway, at least let the students learn to edit their reel with Unreal Engine's Matinee tool- since it is a game cinematic knowledge that can be prove useful in the future ;)
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