University Blog: Creative Technologies (Week One)

What Makes a Good Portfolio & Showreel?

An Understanding by Emma Grey
Putting together your Portfolio and Showreel can be a daunting task, especially when you have no prior work experience in the industry. Now, I know what you’re thinking... What makes this girl think she can tell me what makes my Portfolio worthwhile? Well, I don’t know, But I do know that by sharing experiences and thoughts artists can learn from their peers and improve on their work, including myself. As a budding artist with no experience working in the industry I know how important it is to grab the employer’s attention quickly, so I’m going to do my best to highlight what I believe will help a Portfolio and Showreel stand out among hundreds.
                                                                                              - Gesture Drawing by Pat Keegan
·        Life drawing! – In my opinion it is the most important thing to include in a physical Portfolio. You want to show the employer that you understand anatomy and can adapt to animate and create characters in various forms. Regardless of your desired position, Life drawing is a skill everyone would gain from. Draw your family and friends, draw strangers sitting at the bus stop, draw the street you’re walking down or the birds in the park. No matter which path you want to go down, a skill of drawing will help you stand out among other applicants.
                                                                                     - 60 Sec Warmups by Wayne Carlisi
·        You – Who are you? Why do you love Animation, or Concept Art, or Environment Design? as an employer they want to see what makes you unique and why they should hire you over the others. Do not be afraid to take some gambles to try and make your Portfolio different, whether it’s a simple colour change, artwork cut into interesting shapes, or some examples of the creative process you use. You may want to stick to the book and try not to do anything that might hurt your chances, but chances are that the studio want a creative mind who will thrive and use their initiative in the team.
                                                                                                - Portfolio by Sam Coventry
Over Complication – Continuing on from the previous point, don’t go too far with your originality. Big bright colours or huge paragraphs of writing will only distract from your work. You want the main focus to be of the examples and artwork, not of the design of the portfolio. Add accents and a little extra something to accentuate your work, but don’t distract from it by making everything else too bright and eye catching.

·        Fitting Music – Probably one of the most underestimated thing in a Showreel is the soundtrack. Many people will simply finish their show reel then throw in a random song they like over the top. Don’t! you want to find your music before you even start putting together the clips. Having music that fits with the music and transitions along with it will show how you planned and storyboarded the examples used. Another key factor is using music with no vocals. Try to find an Orchestral score or Instrumental so there’s no distracting lyrics.
·        Editing – This can be what makes or breaks your Showreel. Editing appropriately can really highlight aspects you want to stand out. Rendering out a Wireframe, Shaded and Textured version of your model, then editing it together to fade between each can be a great way to show the process of your character creation. Simple things such as adding titles to your animation can help too, highlighting the name of the character and what it is an example of (Character animation, Character rigging etc.) Also staying on one scene for too long could be boring, so remember to splice between so it cuts away regularly, then continues the scene later on. Make sure it’s always interesting and grabbing the employer’s attention.

Lastly, there is one last thing that applies to both the Portfolio and the Showreel. This is one of the most important things to remember:
·        Length – Make sure your examples are not too long. Only show your best work! There’s no point in showing work that isn’t as good as the rest, because when the employer gets to that he will just move on to the next applicant and won’t even see the better work. Make sure you only have the best examples, and nothing is covered too much. You need to keep it varied, if the entire thing is just examples of the same thing then it will get boring. You want to have a desired position, but try to show examples of other work also. If you love Animating, show both 2D and 3D, it’s still animation regardless of the platform. If you love Character Design, show examples of Concept Art or Environment Design. Make sure you have a clear position in mind, but can easily adapt to other roles if it is required.
And with that, I think that is all the advice I can give at the moment. I hope it can help any of you who are struggling to create an Online Portfolio & Showreel, or even those of you who haven’t even started yet.  I wish you all the best of luck and hope that I hear from you in the future with any new tips and tricks you may have learned from reading this article.

                                                                                          Until next time, Bilby x