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This list of dos and don'ts is not specific to any studio, but is instead made up of some general suggestions that professional artists throughout the film and game industries have found to be the most beneficial for creating a great demo reel.
Remember that it's always a good idea to check with the company that you are submitting your demo reel to before working on it, so you can tailor your reel to their specific requirements.
Your potential employer shouldn't need any special codecs or special software installed just to play your reel. Remember that in many studios the person who is making the first round of reviews for demo reels may not be a CG artist with a powerful workstation. Your reel needs to be able to play on any operating system out of the box. Test it on as many computers as you can to make sure it works without any errors.
Some studios have different preferences for what they want you to submit. Check their site to see what format they want the demo reel to be. Often times a studio may want a DVD, but they may also prefer a website or just an uploaded video file to play. If the studio's site doesn't offer any insight into what they prefer then it's best to stick to something safe like a standard DVD video.
• Pay close attention to the composition, timing and cuts of your shots. Study cinematography as that will help you compose your shots.
• The goal of a concept is to have it modeled in 3D, so it's a good idea to go the extra mile and include orthographic views for your character concepts.
• Creating your own concepts is great, but your focus is building those concepts in 3D not creating them. So feel free to use designs that have been done by professional artists. If the design is abstract, be sure to include the concept art.
• Make sure to include wireframes to show your models' topology.
• Even though you won't be animating your characters, take the time to learn how your character would move and behave. This will help you as you build your character.
• Don't try to rig your character to do everything. Stick to building a solid rig that is effective for how your character needs to move.
• Get feedback from an animator on how your character should move and build the rig to do that.
• Rather than quick shots of random animations, try creating a couple vignettes to tell a story.
• Take the time to get to know your character well. Learn about your character's likes, dislikes and how your character would react to the situation. Then animate accordingly.
• Nothing in the real world is absolutely perfect. Take the time to add rust, dirt and scratches into your scenes.
• Photographs can make great textures, but just about anyone can apply a photograph to a model. Instead, show that you can paint your own textures.
• Don't use Photoshop to cover up bad lighting. This is best shown by moving your camera around the scene so it's not a still image.
• Your lighting shouldn't just let us see what's in the scene, it should set the mood of a scene. Try creating different moods of the same scene to show off your ability to change the mood through lighting.
• Not all compositing has to be visible right away. In fact, the best composites are the ones that don't stand out.
• Include before and after shots so it's easy to tell what you've changed.
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