The Best 3D Character Animator Demo Reel Tips

3d character animator

Are you a 3D Character Animator? well David Rodriguez who works as an animation supervisor in Counter Punch Studios has put together a PDF for Demo Reel Tips for 3D Character Animators looking to get into the industry. These are only his opinions from having reviewed reels. Hope you find these useful.

Animation Demo Reel for a 3D Character Animator

  1. Add your reel links in your resume. Make it easy to find. You worked so hard for it. It’s time to show it off! You have no idea how many applicants forget their links. 
  2. Host your videos on your website, YouTube, Vimeo, ArtStation. Whatever you chose make your reel the center of attention. Avoid having reviewers fumble through your pages to find it. 
  3. Keep your intro title to a short 2-3 sec. No need for long fancy animated logos. Reviewers want to see your 3D character. You’ll have the end of your reel to hold your title longer. 
  4. Hit us with your best shot. Your first 10 sec. will give us a first impression of your skills. Go for quality not quantity. Your most recent personal work is not necessarily your best work. Getting a second pair of eyes can help you decide what to add. 
  5. Specialize or Generalize? Just because you can do it all doesn’t mean you should throw it all in. For 3D animation studios typically want specialized skills. Depending on the studios needs you can make variations of reels and send them accordingly. 
  6. Bouncing balls and walk cycles. Although they are great practice exercises they won’t help you standout from the crowd. If that’s all you have, keep it, but you should be working on replacing it with new 3D character performances. 
  7. Keep your reel at an average of 1-2 minutes. 5 amazing shots are typically better than 10 mediocre shots. Just because you graduated doesn’t mean you’re done working on your reel. Always update your reel with your latest and greatest work. 
  8. Don’t copy other 3D animated films! Maybe as a practice exercise but not to add in your reel. Be original and shoot your own video reference. Remember you want to standout and be unique. Use live action audio and reimagine the acting with fresh animation. 
  9. Add variation to your animations! Include lip sync shots, full body mechanics, acting performance, two character interaction, mocap cleanup, avoid characters standing still; use frame space, avoid multiple shots of A 3D character sitting behind a table, add change in emotions, short film, show good prop handling… Don’t fall into the trap of having similar pieces. 
  10. Most entry-level 3D character animators want to jump ahead and create the next best fight sequence. Know your skills and humble yourself. If you’re not at that level it’s best to find what you’re good at and work your way up to complex animations. 
  11. Rendering your demo reel at 4K is not completely necessary. 1920×1080 is fine for website viewing. Just don’t force recruiters to watch or download 4K videos. Give them options. 
  12. For 3D Character Animators you don’t have to light and render your reel. Although they look nice, it’s not necessary to land a job. You can still get hired with a good’ol playblast. It’s the performance recruiters are looking at.
  13. Once you have a demo reel show it to your animation friends for a critique. But most importantly show it to 3d character animators you don’t know. It’s good to get unbiased opinions. It takes guts to put your work out there, but it’s a great way to get constructive criticism. Show it to your current Lead and ask for a critique. Asked them what they liked and disliked about your reel. Reach out to 3D character animators you admire. They might be willing to help you. 
  14. Catch 22 – I don’t have work experience so I can’t get a job and I can’t get a job because I don’t have work experience. This dilemma might be due to your demo reel quality if you’re getting many rejection letters. Take a step back and reflect on your quality to other good reels. Is your quality truly up to par with the industry? Seek genuine feedback. 
  15. Always give credit when credit is due. Be clear about what you were responsible. What software did you use, who created the rigs, environments, did you use mocap or hand key? 
  16. We know you like Metallica or Electronica music. Your demo reel is not the place you want to rock it. We need to be able to hear your characters dialogue clearly and not be distracted by head banging music. Keep the music choice neutral and low volume. If you’re not sure just keep it out. 
  17. As a 3D character animator you will always learn and grow throughout your career and your demo reel should reflect that. Never settle for your first demo reel, specially as a student. Make an effort to remove practice exercises and replace them with 3d characters that act and remote.

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