View Full Version : Animation:Montage Demo Reel

08 August 2003, 03:47 PM
Hello all.

I posted my animation montage reel a while back and got some great feedback. A number of folks (on another thread) suggested I remove the stop motion and certain 3D clips. I've removed the stop mo, but some of the other stuff remains. I added a few newer 3D bits and pieces. I'd love some further feedback. Does the reel flow now? How's the pacing? Convey good movement?

I am not a modeler, lighting artist or texture artist. I'm strictly trying to showcase character animation skills. I'll appreciate any critiques, but I'm really hoping for some movement/animation crits.

My demo reel can be found in Quicktime and Windows Media formats at

3D work done in Alias Maya. Adobe Photoshop and Premiere used for textures, editing. Sorry for the smaller size... bandwidth, space... yada yada.


- Adam

08 August 2003, 06:40 PM
Looks pretty good man.
I really like the editing and music it makes it fun!
Are you just getting out of school? Or looking for a new job?

08 August 2003, 06:51 PM
Thanks for the comments, Aeddy.

I'm finishing up school and in the process of blanketing the world with my demo reel. Just wanna animate, you know?

The edit was actually fun to do once I found an enjoyable track. I just hope the edits convey the movement.

- Adam

08 August 2003, 01:06 AM
I don't like animating at all, but after watching your reel and checking out your site I feel inspired to try again. I love how you use the camera.

08 August 2003, 01:14 AM
Thanks so much, CoLa3D! That's a really nice compliment. I think I'd be remiss, however, if I didn't mention that my friend Mark Gelfuso did a lot of the layout and camera-work for my newer animations. We would work in tandem... I would animate and he would set up the shots. It was a great collaboration.

If you're interested in Mark's work, check out

Thanks again for checking out my site!

- A

08 August 2003, 12:01 AM
Nice Animations I must say again.
So what school are you graduating from?

08 August 2003, 12:29 AM
Hi Aeddy.

I'm graduating from Savannah College of Art and Design. By the end of the summer, I'll have completed my course requirements. I'm pursuing career opportunities now, so I thought I'd test the waters with my reel here seeing as how I could get more instant feedback.

I take it (from your post) that you're in school as well?

Hey, thanks for the comments again!

- A

08 August 2003, 02:18 AM
Adam, how did you encode your quicktime so small? Just asking for my own reel, thanks,


08 August 2003, 07:45 AM
Hi Zach.

I used discreet's Cleaner 5. It's great! I set the output settings to Quicktime streaming (although I'm not convinced it's necessary to get true streaming QT). I set the compression to Sorensen 3.... or is that SorensOn 3? I spent a lot of time playing with encoding settings, but most importantly was the bit rate. Cleaner allows you to tweak the video bit rate and actually ABIDES BY IT when you export. You can almost predict how big the file is by knowing your bit rate setting and how long the piece is. I was able to get a very presentable quality at decent size.

Good luck with everything.

- A

08 August 2003, 04:29 PM
Hey, Adam!

Before I start, please keep in mind that I'm a student too, and all I've got to go on about what's good in a demo reel is what I've heard. You've got some pretty nice work on there, but this is the focused crit forum, so...

For starters, it takes too long for the actual reel to begin. The first 20 seconds of a reel are the most important part of it, and the first 17 seconds of yours are all used for the intro. I'd say ditch the countdown completely, and consider shortening the title a bit.

I like your first two shots. It seems like you were putting your best stuff first. The stop motion character really isn't showing off your animation skills, though. Neither is the bomb. The next shot of the character by the bus stop is better, but still not the best. I like the batter. Get rid of the penguins. The next three shots are good, but the following bathroom shots are a bit weak (the weight's not very convincing). I'm not so sure about the next batter shot, either. Looks like he's chopping wood. :shrug: The bomb should be cut.

I like the next bathroom shot. You got the weight a lot better in that one. The stop motion character has got to go. Compared with the motion in a lot of the rest of the reel, it seems pretty restrained, choppy, and lifeless.

Although the scene with the batter trying to bunt made me laugh, I'm not quite sure it belongs here. It's sorta in a grey area. The running penguin is the best of your penguin shots, but I'd still say to get rid of it. I'd actually say you should put the guy at the desk earlier in the reel. It's got some pretty good acting, and it should be seen earlier. The stuck zipper and throwing the bat scenes are good, but the jumping penguin should go. The guy falling off the curb is almost good, but there's a point where his hips completely stop moving. Speed up his falling a little and maybe give him a bit of overlapping action, and it would be a lot better.

One last REALLY important thing: put contact info on your reel! You want to make it as easy as possible to contact you, so don't make them have to search to find you.

08 August 2003, 06:16 PM
Hi all!

Man, Zack gave an awesome critique. Thanks so much for taking the time to do that! And just because you're a student doesn't mean your point of view is any less valid than others. Fresh eyes are always good, and that's why I'm here.

I just thought I'd address some of your points in hopes of opening a dialogue about demo reels in general (and mine in specific, of course.)

The reel does take a bit of time to begin. Initially I had just the animated logo, which, from a promotional standpoint, can be really important. I want to establish my identity to the companies. I had a much longer logo segment initially, and I eventually shortened it significantly. I'm pretty comfortable with the current length since it does show a bit of animation already.

The countdown is a different story. It works for the VHS content in that it allows for the tracking and whatnot to right itself. I added some animation over top just to make it more interesting. I guess it really doesn't work for an online version because it has no technical purpose. It may be a bit long for the VHS version, so I'm looking at just trimming it to 5 seconds or fewer.

I have a serious problem with montage reels for animators. I think they totally limit the animator's presentation... especially when it comes to storytelling. I like to think of myself as an animator/storyteller, so I'd really like to show longer pieces in the reel to showcase character and story development. BUT, I need to be able to present myself quickly and give folks a taste of what I've done and what I can do. So a montage is the best way to start. I placed a lot of the edits to the music track I chose, which can be good and bad. The music gives an initial structure... good. But it can also limit me in choices of scenes/scene length... bad.

You're right. The penguins are fairly weak and should probably be the first to go. They were part of a longer story, something I'm rather proud of, but neither the story nor the animation really comes through in these cuts. Good call.

The stop motion is a tough issue, and maybe somebody else has had experience with this situation. I liked the piece as a whole, but it feels a little out of place in the reel. The reason I've left it in is that some industry people I've spoken with suggested that it's good to show different forms of timing. The stop mo piece itself is well-timed to certain musics, and I was able to find a little of that here with a different audio track. I'm still up in the air about that.

The bomb I've kept in to show movement/acting in a VERY LIMITED situation. No arms or legs to speak of and only itself as the antogonist. Sometimes the simple moments work best.

The bathroom shots have come under scrutiny on this board, and that's really good. I collaborated with a friend for the layout and camerawork on that short. He did a phenomenal job; the short as a whole was enhanced TREMENDOUSLY by his camera work. However, the weight of the character's initial run and slide is lost a bit in the overhead camera angle. I may reposition the cam to convey more weight. I want to keep the move, but apparently it's not portrayed well. Thanks for pointing that out.

Heh, the baseball player's "chopping wood" movement was actually intentional, but maybe doesn't read as well taken out of the context of the piece. But that's something for me to think about.

Ah, contact info... it's been a point of contention between a lot of my friends, classmates, professors, mentors, etc. Some folks believe that the contact info really has nothing to do with the visual content and should therefore be part of the cassette label, jacket label, resume and reel breakdown. Others think it's just easier for people to see it right there on the screen. Personally, I'm in the first camp right now. Obviously, the info on the cassette does no good while the tapes in the VCR. But I believe the contact info on the jacket, resume, breakdown and flatbook is more than enough for them to reference at the time. My demo reel online is secondary and part of my website (outside the link I posted here for sheer ease) which has my contact info handy.

So, sorry for the long reply, but Zack's critique really got me thinking. Hopefully some other folks have some similar issues (or responses to such) and can add them here.

Thanks to Zack and all you folks who've reviewed my reel. I'm gonna start working on some new edits, I think. Hope to have some fresher ideas soon. Of course, more crits and comments are always welcome.

- A

08 August 2003, 09:44 AM
Hey man Great stuff. After watching your reel i wanted to see the rest and I really enjoyed watching the stuff that's on your website. You got some honest laughs out of me I really like your character animation. The bomb animation's punchline was also great.
As for critiques since we are here for that, I'll agree you need to put your info on there. But also for example since you started your reel with te baseball player it'd feel more appropriate to finish off with him...somehow the shot of stretch on the sidewalk doesn't work too well as a good finale for the reel.
The acting of your character is prtty good overall. But the action is sometimes a little stiff.
Take the baseball player for instance, he could twis t his body around a little more when he hits give more flow to his shoulders. Also more anticipation and reaction would give him a little more weight. Just finess your action animations, right now some of it feels like first pass.
But overall one can tell from watching your stuff that you really enjoy what you do, let us know when you make anything new.
Cheers :applause:

08 August 2003, 09:47 PM
Very nice work for a demo reel! Here's my thoughts:

Although I see your point about showcasing a variety of animation styles and situations, in a demo reel the most important thing is to catch the viewer's eye and keep them interested, and to showcase only your very best work. The second a lower-quality piece appears, the reviewer will hit FF or move on to the next tape.

Personally, when I saw the stop-motion piece my attention was lost. Although it is a decent effort, it doesn't really fit in with the rest of your work, and the animation quality is much lower than your other pieces. You might be wanting to show that you can do both CG and stop-motion, but I don't think any stop-motion houses would be interested in you based on that piece. I would say your first step should be to trim that out.

The penguins as well, although might be a cool story, unless you plan to present the whole story on your reel (and I don't recommend it unless it's less than 30 seconds) then leave that stuff out. There's just not enough there to justify the time it takes, the animation is fairly bland and non-emotive so doesn't capture my eye like some of your other work. Also, the bomb piece is definitely under-par, regardless of the reasons you put it in here, so I would recommend you drop it as well.

That leaves us baseball guy, school guy, bus guy, and bathroom guy. I think the order you display these is pretty good, although the school guy's first piece is a bit slow, not much going on, so I would move that to later or cut down on the part where he's just lying back. I agree that the bus guy as a finale is a bit of a let down, I would prefer to see the baseball guy throw his bat as a final piece (I liked the movement in that one).

This means you will need to adjust the timing to the music, sorry about that. I liked how the action sorta fit the music, especially at the beginning.

I think your name animation is a bit too long. Maybe it's the fact that the run cycles several times, and the guy doesn't seem to move across the screen to match. I would have him run more quickly on the screen, then do the name thing and move on.

Oh, and you should DEFINITELY put contact info at the end. We see your name for several seconds, anyway, so you might as well put a phone number or email or something. There's really no reason not to. Even for the reel on your site, if your movie gets passed around a bit and loses its link to the site, people would have trouble finding you.


08 August 2003, 09:52 PM
OOPS, almost forgot: Your baseball guy stuff was pretty good, but I was frustrated by the framing you gave the action. I would like to see the camera much closer, there seems to be a lot of wasted space on the screen. Of course, the part where the ball rolls on the ground seems framed pretty well, but the angle is off, the first pose where he holds the bat in the middle is wierd, you can't tell what he's doing until he moves. Maybe angling the camera more to the left of him would help.


08 August 2003, 01:12 AM
Thanks again for all the crits, folks.

mehdianim, thanks for the comments. I'm glad I could bring you some laughs. Yes, I do very much enjoy animating. I had part of the baseball piece as the finale, but it was actually a "downer" segment, so I thought something more neutral and active would be better. I'm thinking about finding a way to bookend it with the baseball player, nonetheless.

jellyfish, WOW! You spent a lot of time on the crit. Thanks so much. The more comments I read, the more I'm seeing that I should remove the stop mo stuff. I enjoyed doing it, and the piece as a whole is OK, but maybe it doesn't flow well with the rest, after all.

The bomb stuff is simple, but that's the point I'm shooting for with that. I've gotten some real positive feedback on it from another board. I think I'm gonna leave it.

The penguins are making their way out. I just really liked the way the running shot fit in the flow of everything.

I have much editing to do. I don't think I'll alter camera placement until I know which scenes I want to change for the reel. But that's a very good point about the batter in the beginning of the scene. He doesn't have a good silhouette. I'll have to work on that.

Do you think it's enough to put my website address at the end of the reel? I'm thinking only for online purposes. That's a good point about how the reel may get passed around separately from my site (a little more hopeful than what I would expect!)

Thanks again for all the comments. I'm re-editing. My current animation is, unfortunately, taking precedence over it right now. More soon.

- A

08 August 2003, 08:45 AM
Nice work. I liked the little bomb, cool to see how you mannaged to put personality into such an 'simple' character. Also liked the baseball scenes, you can realy feel how anoyed he is with the pitcher. :applause:

Nice work, not too cartoony and not too realistic eighter, a good balance I would say.

Keep it up! Cheers!:thumbsup:

09 September 2003, 05:48 AM
kamsvag, thanks for the crit. I really appreciated your comments. I'm really happy to see that you liked the Bomb piece. That part has received a lot of criticism, but I still left it in the latest edit.

I've removed the stop motion work to allow more room for further 3D additions. I'm hoping the pacing isn't too choppy.

- Adam

09 September 2003, 04:19 PM
hey Adam.... err Amo_77,

I really enjoyed your reel as well. the music was hip and "catchy".

the baseball player was definitely the strong point in the piece.

on a side note, I visited Savannah a few weeks back and really enjoyed it there. the bartenders at Spanky's were really hot! well...some anyway. we hung out at the Bar Bar most of the time.

a really artsy place! I'm suprised I didn't see any of that atmosphere in your reel.(?)

09 September 2003, 04:44 PM
I'd take out the animated intro, But I love the countdown scene. The slide in the logo animation doesn't look right, 'cause there's no reference and the cam is moving.

10 October 2003, 05:57 PM
Been away for a bit... on the job hunt and working on my thesis. Ack.

I've updated the delivery page for my reel. I included four animated "shorts" or exercises after my montage on my demo tape. If people feel compelled, they can view more after they see the montage. I really want to showcase various points of character animation (storytelling, weight/action, lip synch, acting, etc.) through these shorts. I'm hoping prospective employers continue to watch after the montage. (

Joss, glad you had a good time in Savannah. It can be fun. I'm not a big fan of Bar Bar in the Spring and Autumn. I see no reason to go downstairs in a "cave" when it's nice outside at night. Cool place, though. What did you mean when you said

[Savannah is] a really artsy place! I'm suprised I didn't see any of that atmosphere in your reel.(?)

I guess it's true that I didn't really include any hint of the city in my reel, but it really didn't apply, I guess. What are your thoughts?

zachgrachan, thanks for comment. I'm looking into a way to make the logo character movement more pronounced. I really don't want a background and I want to keep the running time where it is. Still working on it. Thanks for the comments!

- A

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