Finding a Job in the Design & Animation Industry
Part 3 – Your Showreel

Welcome to part 3 of finding a job in the industry, this week we will be talking about the importance of a good showreel.

Welcome to the Show!

Having a great showreel is probably the most important thing you can do right to give yourself the best opportunity in finding your first job. It should be linked from your cover letter and if you can wow potential employers they will give you the chance and take a proper look over your CV and portfolio and most likely get you that coveted interview!


Chances are if you, like me was encouraged to make your showreel at University you are off to a terrific head start. Please beware however, if making a showreel was part of your course it may be too generic and not set you apart from your fellow peers also hungry for work. Anyway here are some hot tips to get you on your way to a great showreel.

10 Hot Tips!

1. Okay, so keep it brief! 1-2 minutes is ideal, however if you only have 30 seconds of fantastic content than don’t feel the need to pad it out – you are selling the best of yourself so don’t water down your best work with pieces you might consider not as good. Also you want to open strong so get your best content out in the first 10-15 seconds, this is when it is most important to grab your potential employers attention.


2. Consider the front and end of your reel, this is your chance to create or showoff you “IDENT”, this is your branding and a perfect opportunity to show off a style or promote a technique. Keep the front/end brief, a maximum of 6-8 seconds but make sure they have a resonating impact on the viewer.


3. Do not litter your showreel with too much of the same project, remember you dont have much time to shine so move on to new and interesting things as often as possible. You don’t want to bore your audience so keep things fresh and interesting, it is ok to come back to a project if you think it adds something new to the table but always move onwards.


4. Choosing a good audio track is important, it is a great way to create an emotional attachment with the viewer and set the mood of the piece. Choose something punchy that you can animate too, it will show off an essential skill in motion graphics, keep the tempo and it helps keep things interesting. Consider the copyright to the audio you choose, is it royalty free? Make sure you credit the creator of the audio and if you can ask for permission when needed.


5. You’ll want to showcase your style so focus on what you are particularly good at, may that be 3D or a particular art style playing to your strengths is what we are aiming for, however showing flexibility is also important so strike a balance so when  incorporating multiple styles under a theme e.g. a unified colour palette.


6. You will want to steer clear of putting tutorials you have done in your showreel. It is very likely your employer may have seen this tutorial themselves or worst case seen it over and over again in other peoples showreels, potentially putting your work into the discard pile for losing originality. Tutorials are however a great resource and an invaluable learning tool – Employing techniques you learn from them into your own creations in an original fashion is a great way to stay on top of your learning skills after leaving university.


7. Editing your clips together in a coherent and professional looking manner is also super important. Make sure your edits are synced tightly to your audio and make sure that the pace and mood of the edit is reflected audibly and visually. Your showreel edit should flow from beginning to end while telling a visual story with an opening middle and an end.


8. Remember to employ some general graphic design philosophies when making your showreel, this sounds like a no brainer but remember things like colour palette, composition, rule of thirds etc. You could have a very technically gifted showreels effectiveness ruined with a choice of terrible colours and typography, something to be aware about – it’s all in the details.


9. Put some kind of contact details either in the showreel somewhere or have it clear in the metadata/description, if your showreel happens to be stumbled upon on the big wide web it is probably in everyone’s best interest if they know who made the work. You never know who might just happen across your reel and want to work with you or offer you a job.


10. Consider your format, encode your video to the highest quality you can without making the file size too huge. Currently H.264 is a popular codec and one that Vimeo and Youtube use natively. If you will be uploading to either of these popular sites try and conform as much as you can to their ideal upload settings.

Vimeo Settings – Currently preferred, generally higher quality

Youtube Settings


I hope some of these pointers help, considering them will instantly improve your showreel, just remember to let your imagination run wild and be creative. Thats all folks for my Finding a Job in the Industry guide series, I hope you enjoyed them as much as I have enjoyed writing them, stay tuned for more upcoming blogs in the near future.