The formula for creating a killer CG showreel

I recruit for the CGI department here at Aardman. Working mainly for commercials and short form – I support the productions by resourcing freelance and full time crew. Due to the nature of working in commercials, the turnaround is fast paced! Meaning finding the talent needs to be seamless alongside the producers needs.

How can your showreel and application stand out, tick all the boxes and ensure you stop the scroll enticing full engagement? I’ve put together a formula to help with the process…

INGREDIENTS

The most important element of a showreel is content! It’s vital not to pack out your reel with work that shouldn’t be there. Be bold and confident with each shot you showcase on your reel, if you aren’t happy with it – why include it. I would rather see 30 seconds of quality work than 2 minutes of varied substance. You want to be remembered for the right reasons and you are only as good as the worst piece of work on your reel. Be clear on what your skill sets are. Character Animator, CG Generalist etc. Artists who are comfortable with who they are and know their strengths is encouraging. Your reel is likely to get shared around a studio, from recruitment to producers up to directors and beyond – having your core details name, contact, skill and software as a title frame will help clarity further down the line.

Preparation

Get feedback and listen to advice/opinions from peers, colleagues and the industry – they may see qualities that you may not. We are our own worst critics after all. If you can include some breakdowns, this is good for prospective employers to see as well as software/plugins used. Do your research on who you are sending out your reel to – as well as the platform channel you are showing it on. Presentation and first impressions really do make a difference.
Try to be consistent with a brand you create for yourself, if you have an identity make sure it’s relevant and demonstrates your skill sets. I love reels that are well thought out – this should be your brief and the client is you!

METHOD

Start with an attention grabbing piece – don’t build up to your showstopper – people might not even stay tuned that long to see it. That doesn’t mean end on something weak, try to top and tail your reel with an entertaining intro/outro. Show different sides to your particular field – animators need to show performance, acting and refined exercises with good weight! Generalists, modellers, lighters etc. again show variety rather than a niche – you want to avoid being pigeonholed. Your showreel is selling your brand, which is you. Its personal, it should be creative and engaging. The story should flow and be no longer than 2 minutes. Be clear on what you have done on a specific shot – do not sell other people’s work as your own.

SERVING

When applying to studios try to tailor your reel to appeal to the style of work they are likely to want to recruit for.  When recruiting for Aardman I am essentially looking to be entertained, I want reels to have the right feel, look and humour that I can see daily in the work we produce. Be professional and clear when sharing your reel or sending speculative applications, this is helpful and for recruiters especially making the process smoother.

However all in all for me it’s about Talent. Whether it be early talent to nurture or established talent – it’s amazing seeing everything come together in that start to finish “wow” – I can’t wait to find out who is behind the reel!

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I recently took part in the latest podcast for AnimDojo . Focusing on showreel advice aimed towards aspiring animators, also featuring Blue Zoo and The Mill. Check it out here

For speculative CGI applications please email cgimail@aardman.com

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Watch the CGI work from Aardman here

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