Need help in building "Rigging" demo reel


edit 2 months later
For anyone that cares, I’ve finished ver 1.0 of my demo reel. There’s still a ton I wanted to put in there, but… well… there’s also a lot of work I have to do yet.

2004 Demo Reel

I’ll keep the backstory for the end of this post, for those that don’t feel like listening to me vent and just want to see the meat of this message.

Basically, I have had very little time to make a nice/clean demo reel with everything I have, but I threw this together in hopes to get some FEEDBACK on my skillset. All rigs were built out of my head, or by example/inspiration from stuff I’ve seen in other rigging reels (what little I’ve managed to find).

I’m confident in my abilities, but have run out of time and need to know EXACTLY what I should throw together in hopes of getting a job.

Obviously, for my finished reel, I plan on cutting this down to 1/4 of it’s current size (if not, smaller) and clean it up a bit. To use the word again, I need to get to the “meat” of it. What is the meat… THAT is what I need to know. I also need the brutal/honest truth of whether or not I have a prayer vs the competition.

I’ve tried to focus on rigging, because of the demand for technical personel in the animation field. Plus, I’ve worked with PERL quite a bit in the past, and I’ve heard that’s a little plus.

I’ll start out with some of the more recent stuff, and you can decide from here, if it’s even worth your time to continue (I hate to waste someone else’s valuable time). The model was given to me by a friend in Belgium. He obtained the model from his animation instructor, and I was given permission to rig him and use him in my reel. The other character (LUMA) was modeled by me.
Recent Rigging Stuff - temprigdemo.avi (43MB, please do a Right-click / Save As…)

Here’s a link to an animation (Annie)I modeled/rigged/animated in less than 8 days. Had been using 3D for less than 2 months, at the time of it’s creation… so yeah… it sucks. There’s also some other misc stuff on this page, for those that want to see what my abilities started out as.
Outdated Temp Portfolio Page (html link) Should I even bother including this in my reel? Maybe a quick pick of the model? The rig itself is pitiful.

Again, PLEASE BE BLUTALLY HONEST. I can’ handle it. I believe that whatever hurts ya, makes you stronger, and I’m here to learn.

Tiny bit of that borin backstory (you’re welcome to skip this)

Blah blah blah. I deleted the long-winded backstory. I was just venting anyway. Lets just say it’s been a tough two years, and I let it get to me.

  • Jeremy


double post


i like the reel alot, check out your PM


Hey Jeremy.

I watched your reel, and I must say, Im impressed. You know what you are doing and you can tell that. I can say without any doubt that you would likely be an assest to many studios.


Now as you read this, I would like to to keep one thing in mind: I am coming from your exact same position. I am a rigging TD. I tell people Im an animator. I’d even like to be cocjy and say im a decent animator, yet I havent been given anything other than technical rigs in just under a year. Hopefully that will change soon.

Sadly, 8 minutes is too long for a reel. I have a rigging portion tacked on the end of my reel. I loved your commentary. Very witty, and the fact its sped up really works for it.

Ok, now I would try and keep it down to rig highlights. The face setup is great, run through that quickly. Every TD worth his salt can do eye aims and fk/ik switches. Yours are set up well, but are not notably different than most people would set them up. If you are going to highlight certain portions of your rig, consider touching on WHY you have done things the way you do:

I have found that animators don’t like to work in the channel box for this, so I set up a controller.

I find the Osipa face setup great, yet I prefer the visual appeal of curves over the box GUI.

Maybe even throw in a tech nugget or 2 just to show you know what you are doing. I see you have some scripts up at the end of the reel, but I couldnt hear if you were explaining what it is they do or what offhand. Something that will give people reviewing your tape something to bite on or even take to thier own shots.

Now heres the unfortunate truth I have found… No matter how much a studio may need a technical person, it is REALLY hard for them to review a TD reel.

Visually, they are unapealing. Have no plot, and generally showcase some mid-grade character models. Unless there is anther TD watching your reel, there is a good chance they will miss out on one VERY skilled individual.

I have found myself to be stuck in that very same area. I do a lot of character rigging. I have rigged characters on a bunch of cool projects, but in the end, the only people that ever really see your brilliance are the animators… (and you only ever hear from them when they break something.) Now this isnt a whine or a rant. I love what I do and I am happy with how everyone treats each other, but in the end, the character riggers are the thankless minions that dwell in the shadows. Animators and modellers get the glory and the girls. We get coffee stained MEL manuals.

Can any of you character setup guys agree?

Jeremy: In short, I think you are on the right track. Consider rigging a quadruped, a bird, a snake, a transforming robot… anything that can set your TD work apart from everyone elses. Good work so far dude. And if my opinion means anything, you wont be looking for long.

Mike Rhone


Hi verbal007.
I enjoyed your reel.
It shows that you have a strong grasp of much of Maya’s rigging tools.

At your request, I will level some criticism in where I believe your reel could use some improvement. ( - BTW I’m a Character TD myself.)

  1. Make it shorter.
    With the amount of material that you’ve shown, I’d try and keep it under 2 minutes.

  2. Rather then just showcase the articulation of the controls, have them animated (preferably by a good animator) so that the rigs can be seen in action, as a whole.

  3. Try and show some stuff that demonstrates your ability to create complex deformations (i.e. realistic shoulder deformation, organic creatures . . .)

  4. Show most of your stuff at final render quality. You want to show your stuff looking the best it possibly can. The quality of the motion on the rig will be a testement to the quality of the rig itself.

  5. Conversly, you could show some close ups of some of the deformations using wireframe shaded mode, to illustrate how clean and controlled your deformations are.

  6. This is a matter of opinion, but I think that you’d be better served if you didn’t talk on your reel, but instead provided a written breakdown. It would be more business like.

Good Luck!



Hey man,

Gotta hand it to you, you definitely know what you’re doing in Maya and that’s a big plus for being a Character TD. As a TD myself it’s nice to view a reel of someone who knows what they’re doing within a program but there are a couple quick things here that I’d suggest off-hand.

  1. Just like the others have said, cut the reel down some…try to keep it under 2-3 minutes (3 minutes is at most MAXIMUM if you desperately need to).

  2. The commentary is cool and all, but when reviewing a reel most of the time it’s just on mute (unless it’s an animated story or lip sync).

  3. Take all the controls you’ve setup and hand them off to an animator, or work on some little sequences yourself that can showcase the attributes in action ( I like to see alot of playblast work on reels, shows all the controls, deformations and such). Render out anything really complex but majority I would suggest being kept wireframe on shaded playblasts.

  4. Showoff those deformations you got, the arms, shoulders, legs…put the characters into some funky poses to really show off your deformation skills.

  5. For most of us character td’s it’s sometimes hard to animate alot of our stuff, typically I have found motion capture to be a saviour at times. Creating a solid rig and then editing and testing mocap data on it is an excellent option to show off your stuff as well.

  6. Create a technical portfolio that has an index for each character you have created, include any scripts for the characters, still frames and an overall explanation of the character setup and features.

A TD reel is by far one of the hardest reels to actually view because just as Rhonedog says, most of the time there’s not a TD in the room viewing it. You’re either submitting through HR or you’re getting the lead artist viewing it. Put your best foot forward and pound out alot of playblasts as well as deformation tests and keep up the good rigging man.

As for examples on rigging reels and such…there are a few people I would recomend checking out: Joe Harkins is a great TD…he’s done alot of work with Reel FX in Dallas and is workin with Tippett Studios right now. You can check his site out at (it’s being updated now but if you google his name you can find his reel). Ben Hindle is another good character td you should check out, worked with Aurenya Entertainment for a while and I believe just updated his site at

Off the top of my head that’s about all I can really give to you right now…if you’d like to view my reel or work you can check it out at my site at Hasn’t been updated in a little while :slight_smile:


Shawn McClelland
Character Technical Director

Meteor Studios
Montreal, QC H3K 1G6


elfufu: Thanks, a PM is coming back at ya.

Rhonedog: Ultimately, I would LOVE to become an animator. When I had the chance/time to play around with it… I dunno… the graph editor SPEAKS to me. Heh, plus… I’ve always considered myself an actor (actually, I’m a goof) and would love to act through a character, especially one that’s not suppose to move. Glad you liked my commentary… I like to think of it as “Oh shit, what am I going to do!!! Oh! I’ll just record me playin with my rig and rambing… then I’ll edit it up a bit for now.”

If I do find some time, I will definately take your suggestions in rigging a quadroped, snake, etc. I planned on making a pet for Luma (the robot). Actually, the original idea for him was he’s a servant droid and the only time he gets to go outside is when he is forced to walk the master’s dog… and… yadda yadda.

Glad you like the facial rig, as that’s where I obviously spent quite a bit of my time on.

I would like comment more on your response, but this is getting long enough. Lets just say, “I agree with everything you said.”, and “Thanks.”

James Jacobs: I would LOVE to have him animated by an experience animator, unfortunately the guy that I rigged him for is now working on a separate project (and has wife and 3 kids), which has pulled his attention away from the character. I could probably do a decent job myself… but I’m wondering HOW decent it will be if I have to get it to look good for Siggraph (my last hope of getting a job and pursuing a career in 3D).

Good call on the wireframe mode to show off the deformations. You actually gave me a really good way of showing that clearly, without having to simply render it in a playblast.

I agree about the talking, but I wanted to cram as much info as quickly as possible, so to have less questions and quicker feedback. I may talk a BIT on my reel, but it won’t be my spur of the moment rambling… but probably some well planned out stuff. Did I mention that I can do voices? :wink: Actually, you make me think of another important question. I come from a technical background… but a very STALE one (Systems Admin/Developer for the auto industry). In the entertainment field, are the technical groups still expecting the same standardized professionalism? I’ll love to go a little beyond the corporate buzz words. Any advice in this area would be very helpful, and may provent me from making an ass of myself.

Thanks for great tips, and I’m hopin to hear back from ya. No pressure. lean

M.E.L.: So they really watch reels on mute? I assume on fast-forward also? Wow… they get that many reels eh? Any way I could make my package stand out? Maybe put some monopoly money in there? :wink:

Mocap would definately show off the deformations… but my current rig wouldn’t benefit much from them. However, when I build a more realistic rig… er… or ACTUALLY… that would probably work good for the robot… ahhh… neat.

Good idea for the technical portfolio. I’ll see if I can integrate that idea into my final reel. Also, a seperate PDF or MS-Word file with everything documented wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Did I mention that I used to be a technical writer too? :slight_smile:

Thanks for the links. I googled Joe Harkins and can’t find his reel. Can ya point me in the right direction? Also, I’m getting a “Site not found” for your site, whazzup wit dat? The other (B.Hindle) has been viewed, respected and bookmarked.

To ALL the TDs who’ve responded so far:To be honest, I feel the skinning on the model STINKS, but I’ll… uhm… blame the modeler for that one (along with my lack of time) ;p. I was hoping that my usage of SDKs, joints, blends in the face show how capable I am at creating driven complex decormations. Which reminds me… I totally forgot to display any of the blends I made for the face (puffing cheeks and puckered lips). However, I do realize I need to show that I can do arms/legs/fingers nicely… but I’ll need to either fix this model (unlikely) or find a newer/more animation friendly model to rig. sigh That damn “time” issue keeps poppin back up. I think I’ll try and set some time aside to make just a forearm, but put sick (aka ‘wicked’, ‘crazy’, ‘badass’) detail into it. It’s important to me to show those tendons flexing behind the knuckes when the fingers are stretched back. I’m a sucker for detail, and I guess that’s kinda proving to be a crutch in some respects.

As I said in my original post, I completely agree that I have to keep the length of my reel under 2-3 minutes. I didn’t really plan on this being my reel… but actually… I guess I would have sent it off to job opening if I had nothing else to send, and couldn’t pass up the opportunity, but I’d be worried about scaring a potential employer off by such a crude reel. In my final reel, I plan on getting a nice/clean/organized reel together. I know Premiere (yes, I know it’s not FinalCut), and Combustion 2 and I’ve been using sound editing tools since my radio days in highschool… so I figure that I might as well put those skills to use in creating a nice presentation… but… again… “time” starts laughing at me again.

–== THANK YOU ==–
Thanks to everyone who has responded so far. I just want you to know that your entries have been PRINTED and POSTED on my wall in front of me. They will be very helpful in giving me focus on what to work on next. I did not expect so many responses, or such warming praise. It gives me motivation to push on. I only have a few spare hours per week… but be assured that they’ll be spent working on your suggestions and not going out partying or playing games. You’ve all spent quite a bit of your time reading this thread and typing your responses… I think that acting upon them is the LEAST I can do.

Most of my friends think I have fallen off the face of the earth. I keep telling them, “No… not yet.” heh

Thanks again (and again).


Jeremy Sabo (the guy who was almost out of fuel)


I completely agree with all the comments made so far.

M.E.L. has some great points. I’m working with Ben Hindle at the moment (not for Aurenya) and his demo is pretty good, I’ll agree.

While I’m currently in the process of throwing together a new demo reel, you can check out my current one at . I went through all the same concerns as you when I made my first TD reel.

Good luck, and keep up the good work.


Hey Jeremy,

great to see you’re taking strides and taking all this stuff in man :buttrock: It’s alot of work but it definitely shows that you have the dedication and determination to pull it off. Big congrats to you there.

As for my website…I am guessing that the host had yet another error again… would be the site again…I had to take the DivX reel down as it was causing massive issues, but the QuickTime reel is there and a decent size as well (better quality too).

Any questions, post em up in here or I am sure you can PM any of the TD’s posting here or even email us!

best of luck!

Shawn McClelland


hey fellas, glad you all likes my reel, it has been a lot of work. :slight_smile:

here is a link to a pretty awesome thread on this exact subject. the jonhandhisdog forum in general is pretty good place for maya riggers!

hope that helps! i think your material looks awesome so far, the voice over is a cool idea. i like the way you did it.

Ben “sedric” Hindle


Sup guys…

I took a look at your reel/portfolio Jeremy. and I think you’re on the right track. As far as a character rigging demo reel, I would agree with pretty much everyone here with what they have told you.

One thing I would say, like Rhonedog pointed out, try some different types of rigs and objects. Also, you really need to get ahold of something highRes, at least 20-30k polys, something dense. Can’t animate? Use moCap. How good a character looks moving around is just as important as the animator’s ability to use your controls. Everything you currently have is either not complex enough or is too light on the polygons. You could probably get a job doing setup at a game company with this reel, but you might have a harder time getting into film.

No point in showing the scripts on the reel in my opinion - chances are no-one is going to be able to see them on the TV your reel is being watched on, so you’re better off leaving them out. Also, the entire dynamics stuff should get the boot. It’s just an added bonus later down the line if you can actually make a decent contribution to any other departments.

At most studios (tippett included) the TD’s know more than anyone about Maya. You will most likely be supporting other departments, helping them with tasks, tool writing, etc. Helping out other people does not make you good at what they do, it just means that maybe some people need more help with the software than others. You get to learn from them, make a contribution, and possibly help your job security in the process.

The main thing that stands out to me as being important is the ability to communicate your ideas and solutions effectively, within your department and elsewhere. I can think of 100 times I’ve seen someone explain something to an animator(or otherwise) only to have them more confused, often resulting in the 1000 yard stare, a blank look, or an annoyed nod…

What is obvious to you is not so obvious to everyone else, so you have to be able to explain why you did things - and could you repeat the same task in 30 seconds at someone else’s desk if you had to? What if someone breaks something, are you going to have to spend all day figuring out how you ever made it work in the first place? Logical to you? yes…but make it logical to us, and if you could sum that up in 30 seconds at an interview then we would be much less annoyed about you wasting our time in the first place.

By the way - your reel is being watched in fast forward on mute by some hr guy probably having his morning coffee and reading his email. Quality control is a series of lucky mishaps that somehow manages to get your reel from fedEx packaging onto the desk of someone who might actually care. Said person might be waiting on his friends reel anyways and now your tape is just something else in the pile of daily junk to filter through…

That’s why you’ve got to stand out, be short and to the point. Don’t ever show the same thing twice, and don’t show me something you should be able to do, show me something that might make me go “hey…how’d he do that?” and then next thing you know you’re on the phone and you’re getting a job.

If you’re going to include a breakdown sheet of all your shots and contributions, please keep it simple, and don’t try to impress anyone with fancy lettering or paper. We use regular paper and black ink too - don’t try to be special.

Copies of your resume will be made and are going to be folded, highlighted, and circled in places and might even get lost…so make it easy on the eyes. Don’t even think about putting big words on there that you don’t know the definition of, because if you can’t use it in a sentence then it’s not important and each word counts when someone is glancing over something. Unless you have years of experience then your package should include 3 pieces of paper: a cover letter, a one-page resume, and a reel breakdown page that outlines your contributions.

Have a section on your resume that sums up your skills, what you’re good at…and again, use english here, not jibberish. I don’t care if you are master of all things kinematic, just tell me you’ve been using Maya for such and such time and you have blah amount of experience rigging, etc.

Keep in mind though - the reel comes first, and if it’s not obvious on your reel what you want to do, or if it stinks, then chances are the resume will never even get looked at and the whole thing will get put in the file cabinet (pronounced “trash can”).

So there you have it - kind of a mix of reality/advice, at least from my point of view anyways. :slight_smile: I have some old reels online that you could look at if you can find them, but I don’t know offhand where they might be. I look at my old reels now and wonder how the hell I ever got a job…because god knows the first reels are just crap, and how you ever get that first gig is beyond anyone…it just happens.

There are few of us though who actually enjoy this, and so your chances are pretty good that eventually you’ll find your way in. Keep in mind when someone asks you “is this what you really want to do, all the time, every single day?”, it’s probably a trick question. This is the most stressful job there is, and if you don’t love it you won’t last long. Don’t say yes unless you really mean it…



-dc-: Thanks for the advice. Your reply was the harsh reality that I was expecting and NEEDED to read. I work best when motivated by pressure. :wink:

I have a few responces to your comments, but they are only defensive in nature… and therefore I’ll omit them… considering how pointless that is. I can’t really argue your points.

Hopefully the next time you see a reel by me, it will be about 2 minutes in length, and will contain at least 2-3 parts that will have you saying “Hey! How’d he do that?”, or “Now that’s handy!”

Looks like my 8-minute horror generated better feedback than I had originally hoped to receive. Thank you. :slight_smile:

I sincerely appreciate the time you took to make your comments, and I should also let you know that they’ve also been printed out and posted on my board.

  • Jeremy

P.S. Where should I begin to look for your reels?


Jeremy, if we all didn’t believe that you were honestly trying your best and are sincere about doing this - then we wouldn’t bother replying. I’m glad I could offer you any advice at all! :slight_smile:

here’s some links:

Right-click and save target as…

first rig I ever did (robot)

A muscle system and rig I did about 2 years ago

The reel that got me the job I have today that includes stuff from Reel FX, some freelance stuff, and the above mentioned

Hope you find some of this stuff helpful.



Ok i wasn’t gonna reply, cause a) I was gonna wait for the finished product and b) I’m not an industry character TD, unlike all these helpful guys, but I do know what looks good and what I like, and I also know you.

I will now go into random mode random enabled, everything is blurted out.

I like the facial setup on the guy and the arm on luma, bin the model display of luma, helium voice like it, bin all those scipts, we did them in class, and are lame in comparision to what I know you can write, even when Rick and I sucked at MEL we wrote that big UI in 20 mins. Focus, on your rigging, do another for scripting (side question, can I get a job as a UI writer like that?) full body IK script? maybe like MB. Rigging facial tests, keyframe then in poses, a lot of that is “bread and butter rigging” which you can do, the quadroped to do won’t be hard, SDK bird wings, cloths and pendants on characters, luma’s eye looks very tutorial, there was an iris door i remember.

ok end of random words and phrases.

You are a clever boy Jeremy, and unlike me you have remained focused, even it out, take a breath and then look at this

Alias rigging by some guy

lots of helpful stuff for you.

EDIT: I also know this is just for feedback and ideas :wink:



M.E.L you demo reel is good, but there are a few tutorial items in it, the leg rig from Fast animation Rigs, the horse from the alias Quadropeds dvd, not that I am in any way picking you to bits, its better than I could do, but I think it highlights the problem we all have of what is orginal these days, as 3D gets pushed further away from us, what looks good and impressive anymore.

whats with the ray in kiaran’s and M.E.L’s are they the same?

-dc- I think that muscle rig was pretty sexy m8.

I have a couple of sexy UIs, with me talking over them, but explaining them both takes a minute of my reel, i need helium like jeremy, I am also unsure how to “release” them as I like them, but don’t want some bugger to nick my ideas.



whats with the ray in kiaran’s and M.E.L’s are they the same?

I modeled/textured, rigged and animated everything on my reel. I don’t know what M.E.L. has done, but I wanted to try my hand at some procedural animation using mel and after seeing the Finding Nemo trailer I knew what I wanted to do.

The stingray’s motion is controlled with an expression that derives it’s motion from the sin command. The occilating nature of sin lends itself well to simulating the flapping motion of a stingray’s ‘wings’. The advantage being that you can speed up/ slow down his flapping by adjusting a couple variables.


this is very cool and i am taking 100% of the info that you professionals have invested time explaining here… i too have a goal of becoming a character TD and i wish the best for you verbal007 !! your rig is very nice… :stuck_out_tongue: im from XSI myself but i wouldd love to learn maya soon



Originally posted by westiemad
[B]M.E.L you demo reel is good, but there are a few tutorial items in it, the leg rig from Fast animation Rigs, the horse from the alias Quadropeds dvd, not that I am in any way picking you to bits, its better than I could do, but I think it highlights the problem we all have of what is orginal these days, as 3D gets pushed further away from us, what looks good and impressive anymore.

whats with the ray in kiaran’s and M.E.L’s are they the same?

AnDy [/B]

Interesting way of putting things I guess. As per the “tutorial” material. Yes that stuff was released onto DVD through Alias but I like many other people attended those classes at SIGGRAPH and turned that material I made into something new and fresh. All of that work has been torn down and rebuilt into my own work and methodology. I took alot of what I learned at SIGGRAPH and applied it to many setups, but I also fabricate my own off that inspiration.

As far as originality goes, there is never an “originality” base in any form of art you will see. Art is based upon inspiration of others and influences from other artists. Where would Dreamworks be if it wasn’t for Disney inventing the wheel and Dreamworks putting that wheel into a new motion? In TD work it’s often common for many people to take setups already done and rework them into something new, or something that advances upon the other. Call it reinventing the wheel :thumbsup:

Last note, the mantaray itself was given during a conference downtown in Toronto for some Alias release party…I scooped the CD off a buddy that had just regular models…played with the joint setup, basically created a rand expression for each joint and every second joint was given an offset of 0.2 which was multiplied by it’s primary value. Look at the rigs and you’ll notice the differences between Kiaran’s mantaray and mine :wink:



As the person who made the DVD and gave the course, I certainly don’t mind people taking from the examples & coming up with their own methods which work better… of course, in that case they’d better work better than what I’ve done! :slight_smile:

Just as a side note shawn, the radius/ulna example you give in your demo reel isn’t working correctly… if you notice, the ulna is rotating when the hand rotates. If this were to happen in real life, your elbow would blow out of it’s socket! yowtch!


Originally posted by jschleifer
[B]As the person who made the DVD and gave the course, I certainly don’t mind people taking from the examples & coming up with their own methods which work better… of course, in that case they’d better work better than what I’ve done! :slight_smile:

Just as a side note shawn, the radius/ulna example you give in your demo reel isn’t working correctly… if you notice, the ulna is rotating when the hand rotates. If this were to happen in real life, your elbow would blow out of it’s socket! yowtch! [/B]

Hey Jason, the course was great…that was definitely a lecture and a DVD that pretty much are like the bible of TD work with me.

I always wondered if that arm was correct heh, I added an extra constraint and a second IK handle in there which I think may have thrown stuff off :hmm:
Thanks for pointing that out though and noticing it! Guess on my next pass of my reel I’ll pop open that scene and work away at it just so no elbows are bursting from their sockets :thumbsup:

Cheers for checkin out the reel Jason :buttrock: I’d like to hear many more crits from you as well and discuss some more rigging bits sometime.

  • Shawn