Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How Important is Music on a Demo Reel?

Honestly, I don't think music is important at all on a demo reel. I would question the validity of any recruiter that wanted to hire an animator based on their song choice.

I have actually never put music over my demo reel. Some people love putting a big rock song or a dance beat over their animation to help the entertainment factor, which I totally understand. Personally, I don't like putting anything on my reel that distracts from the animation. That includes both the music and the packaging.

I'm not hoping someone watches my demo and is entertained in the way they would be by a movie. I also don't want them spending time staring at the ornate box I sent it in. The goal is to have them focus on the work they are watching. I've heard that a lot of recruiters will turn off the volume if there is a distracting song playing, which won't help your dialogue shots too much.

I was told by a friend who has been in the industry for a long time that there was a general assumption among recruiters about demo reels: the fancier the packaging and presentation, the less likely the animation is good.

Less is definitely more when it comes to demo reels.

Guest Blogger Travis Tohill


David Cano said...

Totally agree, but what do you think about music on a modelling or fx reel?

I know, this is an animation blog, but i think this will be interesting for everyone.

Brendan Lyall said...

Ive heard of this as well

but could u argue that using a decent (instrumental) piece of music and syncing it extremely well with your reel could demonstrate abilities of timing?

Unknown said...

I'm not totally agree. Although thi big deal is the animations showed. I think that we have to enhance our posibilities of been selected. So You must have some little details that makes your demo reel bring out over the rest. I'm not a professional but I imagine watching hundred or thounsand animations and when you have to watch the thousand and one it beat you with a hard heavy song like Sepultura.

When you have a bunch of flowers and you must only pick one, all the flowers could be beautiful but one will shine over the rest. I ask myself why? Maybe the music?

Mathew Rees said...

I think having music on your reel is fine as long as it doesn't drown out any dialogue you have in an acting shot.

Travis Tohill said...

Hey, thanks for the comments everyone!

I know there are a lot of varying opinions on this topic, and I think you could make a lot of valid arguments for and against music on a demo reel. So of course, use your own judgment as to what you want on your reel.

The main point I was trying to make was that you are safer having no music on your reel than having music that distracts from the animation. I would shy away from any music that has vocals, heavy rock or dance beats, etc.
Basically, if there is a moment where the person watching your reel is thinking "Hey, what a great song choice!", then that was a moment where they weren't paying attention to your animation. Ivan, I totally get where you're coming from, but your suggestion of hitting them with a Sepultura song would fall into that category. It will take some of the focus off of the imagery they are watching.

Instrumental music that can sit in the background and not draw attention to itself is probably fine, but it should be subtle enough that they almost don't notice it.

The presentation quality of your reel (packaging, music, etc.) shouldn't look like you don't care at all, but it is FAR less important than the animation that is on the reel. Your focus should be to impress the viewer with your animation skills as opposed to trying to entertain them.

A song choice will never be the thing that gets you a job. It can however hurt your chances if you choose poorly, and you also don't know the musical tastes of your viewer. That is why I was making the point that in some ways it can be safer to not have music at all.

This is obviously a subjective topic, so I by no means view my opinion as the "right answer". I appreciate all of the comments, and feel free to ask questions or disagree with me. That's what this blog is here for :)

Thanks again, and have fun setting those keys!

Unknown said...

I was unable to explain myself due to my poor english.

The choice of Sepultura was my example of the worst choice you could use in your demo reel.

I totally agree with you. Music could't be more important that our animation but I understand that must be a complement. There are a lot of instrumental jazz.

I've read a lot of articles about how music alter people mood and how you could take advantage of this to make them buy more in your shop.

Sepultura is the example where the viewer could ask himself: "hey. what the hell?" And that isn't what we want.

Travis Tohill said...

haha, cool Ivan. I totally misunderstood :)

Dapoon said...

Absolutely agree! Choice of music really makes or breaks the impression. I would rather have NO music but make my pieces so interesting that it would easily go beyond making up for the loss of music, than have loud blaring death metal band playing in every piece.

I do however like to add sound effects though. But if music is what you really wanna add, then basic music should do great. Something like 'Blue Clair'? I remember my 2009 reel having loud music, so I decided on no background music at all in my 2010 reel.

As far as packaging is concerned, it shouldn't look way too fancy nor too simple (like you didn't even care). Simple, readable yet classy font AND color scheme should do just fine.

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