An animators demo reel is a key player in getting into any animation studio. Putting together a solid demo reel that shows your strengths, and shows that you are unique can be priceless when it comes to finding a job. Alot of times reels are packed flashy menus and house music. This can really hurt your viewing time and could cost you the chance for a position.

Keep your demo reel simple. If you can set your DVD up so that it automatically plays when it is inserted into the dvd player, that’s better than a huge custom DVD menu that is hard to navigate through. If you do have a menu, make sure there is a big play button that is easy to read so that the employers view your reel can easily start your reel. Remember that studios get many demo reels and when viewing them, the last thing they want to do is have to figure out how to play the reel. If the reel is to complicated just to play, you run the risk of just getting skipped.

Also, be careful about putting in music in your reel. Remember that not everybody likes house music, or country! This can hurt your reel.. it is very detracting. Let the animation do the talking.

Don’t worry about textures and lighting etc in your reel. If your applying for an animation position, don’t get caught up in texturing and lighting your animation. Playblast can work just fine. If you have an animation that is loaded down with bad texturing and bad lighting, it can hurt the animation. So play it safe and just worry about the animation. The people looking at your reel can see right through all the fancy rendering. Spend your time on the animation, that is whats going to get you hired.

When choosing your animations to put in your demo reel, make sure you put your best work forward. A reel usually plays for about 10-15 seconds.. if the animation is not what the studio is looking for, then its time for the next reel. These people viewing your reel have work to do.

I was talking with a Co-worker and he said that “It is better to have 2 great pieces of animation on your reel, than to have 49 great pieces of animation, and 1 ok piece of animation.” He was talking about how that 1 borderline piece of animation could reflect your “true identity”.

Another thing he was talking about is that how studios are looking for unique animations. Dialog shots are the best. They aren’t really looking for fundamentals in the demo reel. fundamentals like, picking up a heavy box, a walk cycle, or a bouncing ball. While those animations are very important and can be quite amazing, they often show that the person is a beginner, and may not have much experience.

If you can grab the studio’s attention with your 2 great pieces of animation, and you do something unique, they will most likely want to see more and you may get a call back. Having unique animation and standing out from the crowd is the fastest way to get noticed.

Make sure nothing in your reel is offensive. I have seen reel with racial jokes, and curse words. You dont know who is going to be watching your reel. There are people from all over the world in the industry, and the last thing you want is to offend somebody. The industry is very small, and everybody knows everybody.

Here is a little list that reviews what I have said

1. Make your reel easy to access, no complicated menus. The faster your animation can be seen, the better.

2. Put your best work first. “saving the best for last” doesn’t work…your reel may get ejected before the “finale”

3. Don’t have loud and annoying music playing through the reel. You don’t want to distract from your animation.

4. Don’t get caught up in texturing and lighting the reel. If done poorly, this can hurt your chances, by detracting from the animation, or hiding good animation.

5. Less is more, don’t put animations in your reel just to make it longer.

6. Good dialog animations are great for your reel. Try not to have to much fundamental animation.

7. be unique

8. Make sure nothing in your reel is inappropriate or offensive.

Good luck with your Reels! I hope this has been helpful and provided some information.

There many more places on line to find more information about this.

Carlos Baena, (co-founder of did an amazing webinar on this.

You can watch these videos if you go to

and view the past webinars.

have fun and happy animating!


3 Responses

  1. Hey just stumbled upon your site. Great tips. Good to always keep those in mind.

    Hope you are having a great time at BS, and don’t forget to take breaks. 😉


  2. Thanks Mark! Hope all is going well for you at AM! Talk to you soon.

  3. Thanks for the amazing insights on how to prepare a reel Malcom! Just wanted to know one thing.

    I read on the Pixar website about demo reels that they don’t want to see unapproved work (
    To quote them exactly “Don’t show work from other studios if it has not been approved or we will not look at the demo reel.”

    Does this mean unapproved by the studio, or approved by the studio but unapproved by its client?

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