Order of portfolio pieces?

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Old 06 June 2013   #1
Order of portfolio pieces?

When it comes to the arrangement of portfolio work, I've heard a few people say, 'put your second best piece first and your best piece last'.

It'd be interesting to get your thoughts on this. And extra useful to hear from those of you in a hiring position. If it makes a difference I'm referring to an online digital portfolio.
 
Old 06 June 2013   #2
Hey man,

Obviously I'm not a hiring manager, but I think its a good idea to place your strongest piece first. I've heard that some managers only look at a reel for 10-15 seconds, and if they like what they see, they'll squib through the rest.

-AJ
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Old 06 June 2013   #3
I would think of it as a great, short movie. You have to hit certain "beats" to sustain the drama and culminate in a big finish. If you have a personal favorite, one that will leave them salivating and craving more, put that at the end, but never at the expense of captivating them from the onset. It's as simple as that.

Start strong. End strong. No bad work in the middle. Only ever show your best pieces, which are (ideally) equally good - even for different reasons.
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Old 06 June 2013   #4
Put only your absolute best work on your reel, and of those pieces, always put the very best first.
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Old 06 June 2013   #5
Of course what you think is your best is only your own opinion. I have seen great works passed up from demo reels as the creator doesn't think its good enough.
 
Old 06 June 2013   #6
and of those pieces, always put the very best first.


This. Especially when you apply at a big shop where the recruiter flips through 1500 reels even before lunch. Dramaturgy is only important, if you craft a company reel, but for freelancer/employee reels the order is "very best to least best".
 
Old 06 June 2013   #7
I've always put my best couple of pieces first and my least best in the middle. After hearing 'second best first' a few times, I began to think I may be missing a good reason why.

Very good point Hun about very best to least best. It's a toss up between leaving them with a stronger impression at the end, and making sure that they actually get to the end.

Yes, this is for a freelancer/employee portfolio. I'll give that one some thought.
 
Old 06 June 2013   #8
As Hun mentioned, there's absolutely no necessity to somehow build the drama in your reel to culminate in your best work; a studio's reel may do this, but an individual artist's reel should never do this. The staff reviewing reels don't want to see drama, they want to get straight to the point by seeing your best work immediately.
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Old 06 June 2013   #9
As someone who used to be a studio art director that reviewed hundreds of portfolios and responsible for assessing, hiring, managing, firing, and training artists (on top of many other responsibilities), my advice is this:

Art directors usually take only a couple of seconds upon seeing the portfolio to decide if they want to look any further, or move on to the next portfolio in a stack of dozens/hundreds. The process of assessing portfolios is time-consuming, and the art director's got much more pressing things to be working on, but hiring artists is part of their job, so they have to do it even if it grates on their nerves to see hundreds of bad portfolios from people who don't have a clue what "professional level" work should look like. So don't waste their time--you have to capture their attention right off the bat, upon the very first glance, or else you'll lose them completely because they will not look any further if the first piece didn't look promising.

There are so many other portfolios waiting in line to be assessed, so don't give art directors any reason to skip yours--you must capture and hold their attention, and it must be done with the sheer quality of your portfolio pieces and not irrelevant gimmicks like fancy editing/music/presentation/elaborate flash website. Let the quality of your work speak for itself, period, and make it easy to navigate and get relevant information (contact info, resume, what you did in each shot/project, what's your expertise, what software you have mastered, etc).
 
Old 06 June 2013   #10
Best stuff first, for the reasons others have mentioned.
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Old 06 June 2013   #11
Just to add a voice to this: Best work first. As for leaving in extra work that's not your best, well that depends. Sometimes it's useful to show a little breadth of ability but definitely leave out poor work that replicates skills you've already demonstrated.

I often have someone else pre-screen folios and reels for me, usually a producer or an artist.

Also music, I listen to audio for showreels rarely. If it gets a second viewing then maybe I'll unplug my ipod and check it but otherwise...

Maybe that gives some insight into the mindset ADs/Supes are in when reviewing folios/reels.
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Old 06 June 2013   #12
I would like to extend the question. Should I group my shots based on project? Currently my reel is organized by shows. 3-4 shots from each show, starting with the best one. I thought it is easier to follow and nicer to look at but I am not sure. Or I should not care about grouping and put in the best shots from all the shows in the beginning? What do you guys think?
 
Old 06 June 2013   #13
Originally Posted by Obi: I would like to extend the question. Should I group my shots based on project? Currently my reel is organized by shows. 3-4 shots from each show, starting with the best one. I thought it is easier to follow and nicer to look at but I am not sure. Or I should not care about grouping and put in the best shots from all the shows in the beginning? What do you guys think?


Hard to say, two options:


  1. best shot first, then two quick ones from the same show (very quick) then bring up your next best shot.
  2. just use the one good shot from each show and either dump the rest entirely or, if you've got not much else to show, put those after.


If you think the weakness of your CV is in your experience then it might be worth going for option one as that could demonstrate a more production orientated mentality, like you've worked on bigger shows, taken multiple shots etc. If however you're worried about the quality of your work compared to the position you're applying to then option 2 is best.

Bare in mind the following is an absolute truism: I'd rather see a show reel that's 20s long and shows three awesome shots than one minute that shows mediocre repetition.
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Old 06 June 2013   #14
Thanks for sharing your opinion.
 
Old 06 June 2013   #15
Originally Posted by Lunatique: As someone who used to be a studio art director that reviewed hundreds of portfolios and responsible for assessing, hiring, managing, firing, and training artists (on top of many other responsibilities), my advice is this:

Art directors usually take only a couple of seconds upon seeing the portfolio to decide if they want to look any further, or move on to the next portfolio in a stack of dozens/hundreds. The process of assessing portfolios is time-consuming, and the art director's got much more pressing things to be working on, but hiring artists is part of their job, so they have to do it even if it grates on their nerves to see hundreds of bad portfolios from people who don't have a clue what "professional level" work should look like. So don't waste their time--you have to capture their attention right off the bat, upon the very first glance, or else you'll lose them completely because they will not look any further if the first piece didn't look promising.

There are so many other portfolios waiting in line to be assessed, so don't give art directors any reason to skip yours--you must capture and hold their attention, and it must be done with the sheer quality of your portfolio pieces and not irrelevant gimmicks like fancy editing/music/presentation/elaborate flash website. Let the quality of your work speak for itself, period, and make it easy to navigate and get relevant information (contact info, resume, what you did in each shot/project, what's your expertise, what software you have mastered, etc).


I totally agree. I had to go through hundreds as well beside working on stuff. As mentioned before, time per portfolio is short so if someone had a "Portfolio...of..Name...have fun watching it..." blending text in the beginning that took more than 2.5 seconds, I got impatient and annoyed already. Also I and a lot of people I know watch reels with sound turned off. So don't focus too much on the music. It's good to have something to cut to but it's not the most important part. It's also helpful to have a number per shot which refers to a list which holds a description what exactly you did on those shots.
 
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