Monday, 25 April 2016

Do Animators Need a Demo Reel and a Website?

Who needs a blog or a website? Only everyone who is a freelancer. And, in the entertainment industry, we are all freelancers.  Jobs for life, if they ever existed, are long gone, and for most of us a gig that lasts a few years is a long one.

One of the biggest mistakes an animation student can make is not to finish their demo reel and then host it prominently at their own blog or website. Nowadays, employers won't wait for you to mail in a DVD of your work. They want to click on a single link and find out all they need to know about you.

Is your work suitable for the job they have in mind? Do you have industry experience? Is your site easy to navigate, and does it give producers the information they need quickly and efficiently? If your website doesn't deliver, jobs will go elsewhere.

Why do you need a website or blog?
Remember that most animation studios, when they need extra hands on deck, need them in a hurry. You won't have time to edit your reel - it should be ready and waiting, so you can pounce on jobs as soon as they come in.

As a freelancer, you need to be selling your wares. You need a shop front, a glossy window to flaunt your talent. The bad news is - this will involve some work. The good news is - it has never been easier to build your own blog or website.
Blogger - it's free!

How do you build a blog or website?
Here are some links to sites that will walk you through step by step how to create a free blog or website to host your work:
  1. Blogger. Sign in through your Google email account. If you don't have a Gmail account - get one. It's free.
  2. BBC Guide - a simple guide to creating a blog. 
  3. is a great website for setting up a free, simple website to host your work. Just follow the instructions.
Wix: free websites!
What should your website look like?
There is no need to start from scratch. Look for inspiration in other students' showreels. What does/does not work? If you see a reel you like, consider (loosely) copying their format. There is no shame in being inspired by other people's work. If you see a website or blog that you like, use that as inspiration for your own.

What styles of blogs and/or websites do we recommend?
Here are some examples of animator's websites and/or blogs that work really well:
  1. Brendan Body A nice clearly designed website with excellent character and creature work.
  2. Kiel Figgins. Excellent website with a great animation demo reel and also many free rigs. 
  3. Josh Burton. Website by the creator of the Morpheus rig and an excellent animator. 
  4. Curlymation. Blog of Matt Rees, Aardman animator. This is a very simple blog that does its job very well.
  5. Wouter Tulp blog. A simple blog that is a clear and effective showcase of talent.
  6. Wouter Tulp website. A clear, simple website.
  7. James Woods. Excellent clear, simple site
  8. Reel Barrow. A list of animator's demo reels.
Make it clear the website is about you
It's a good idea to have your name in the url of your site. This helps with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). In other words, when a potential employer searched for your name online, plus the keyword "animation", your site will - hopefully - come up on page one of Google.  If your site is titled or then it's harder to find you, and harder to know whose work is being featured. And the whole point is to be easy to find.

Don't have a one-size-fits-all demo reel
If you do both 2D and 3D animation, you will need two different animation reels at your website. Remember that a producer will likely be hiring for a specific job, and they want to know if you can do that job in particular. Demo reels which cover too many disciplines can create confusion. For more on how to edit the perfect demo reel, see this post.

Don't forget Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook
LinkedIn and Facebook are important social media platforms - especially LinkedIn, which can be very useful for finding work.  Twitter is also useful for finding out who is hiring. But you still need your own site to carve out your own internet space.

So, if you don't have a blog - build one now! No excuses! It's free!


The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To apply for our new BA/MA starting in September 2016, follow this link.  

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