Assessing Different Websites

Good Show Reel Ideas:

Zachary Leggett Barrett

April 24th 2017

How to Make a Film Makers Showreel – DSLRguide – Video

Although this doesn’t follow the rules for sound design, similar rules should apply here.
Of course, knowing that it doesn’t center around sound design should definitely be noted and points will obviously be deducted when keeping this all-in mind.

One of the key points that this video makes is that you should make your showreel as unique and memorable as possible, perhaps creating a story to go with it, or having some form of underlying theme. In sound design, this is going to be very difficult to manage and I’ll have some serious struggles in making it in such a way.
That being said, if I begin and end the video in a similar way (perhaps zooming in on a television with static in the screen and then fading into my introduction or something) then it’ll definitely be memorable.
Either way, making the video memorable is simultaneously the most important and most difficult thing to do – if it’s not memorable, how can somebody remember to hire me?

Another thing which the video seems to state is that the showreel should have an underlying theme. ‘If you do wedding videos then having a wedding reel’ sums it all up, really.
I’d have trouble doing this because I don’t have too much under my belt as of yet.
That being said, if I’m making a video which has a bunch of peaceful elements, suddenly adding a swordfight would shift the tone a bunch and make the viewer uncomfortable. This is best to be avoided.
I’ll keep what he’s said in mind by keeping the similar elements with each other.

As stated, one may argue that this source isn’t too reliable because it speaks to filmmakers and not sound designers, I’d disagree; this is a showcase of work and one should take tips from anybody with experience in such a similar medium.

12 Tips For an Effective Showreel –

I’d like to begin by saying that this site looks terrible. It could really use a clean-up.
From the look of the site alone, I can tell you that I wouldn’t believe it’s too reliable. Why would I take pointers about making my work look professional from somebody who doesn’t want their work to look professional?

Once again, this article doesn’t talk too much about making a sound designer’s showreel but instead generalizes the words so that they fit anything. I don’t have a major issue with this, if I’m honest.

So, instead of reviewing each paragraph (it’s rather long) I’ll simply list all of the ’12 tips’ and review them as their own concept.

‘Best Material First’
Basically saying that I should keep all my best work to the front because few people have the time to look at all the work available in the showreel and will likely stop half way through.

I agree that this is a likely thing and will take notes there. ‘Best thing first.’

Tracking submissions’
Basically, he wants you to log every single showreel you send off to somebody. This sounds effortsome and doesn’t seem to have much to do with the showreel itself so I’ll be ignoring it.

One size doesn’t fit all’

He states that I should change my showreel to fit whoever should look at it… firstly, I don’t have time for that. Secondly, I don’t have enough material for that.
I don’t disagree with the overall concept, I think it’s a sound idea and definitely worthy of the space it’ll take in my mind, unfortunately, it’s just not a thing that I can do.

‘Contact info’
He wants me to put my contact info onto the showreel.
I hadn’t actually considered this… if somebody doesn’t have my contact details, how can they call me and hire me for some work?
I’ll certainly keep this one in mind.

Short and sweet’
Make sure it’s not too long… yeah that’s fair. I doubt I have enough material to lengthen it out beyond 3 minutes and he suggests keeping it below 4 so I’ll remember that one.

The article suggests putting music over your work to make it look nicer.
I’m a sound designer so I’m just going to ignore this one… if people can’t hear the sound in the video then they won’t bother calling me up, will they?

Online Video Quality’
He says that it should be at the highest possible quality. No arguments there – I actually think it’s the most notable thing here.
He also says to avoid YouTube because of it’s popularity and the fact that it’s set the ‘lowest common denominator.’ As much as I agree with this, it’s expensive to buy a domain name, learn a new video encoder and then put the showreel up on there. YouTube will have to do, these are leaps which I cannot jump over.

Personal Photo’
He says I should put a photo of my face on there because people struggle to remember names, but rarely forget faces.
I have a good idea to do that as well… Maybe in a Doctor Who-like style?
Either way, I don’t think this is exactly important and I won’t judge other people’s work over it but it’s not the worst idea.

Put a breakdown of the details from each video.
I don’t like this idea personally because it means I have to consistently state ‘college project that I did sound for’ over and over again. I’ll pass.

Most of the later few are unimportant if I’m honest.
Mainly about making it personal to you and making it an epic video etc – he obviously ran out of ideas.

The last noteworthy thing he said was that it’s worth putting your showreel onto as many things as possible. A memory stick. A DVD. Anything you can get it on, you never know when somebody will wanna see it.

Of all these things, I believe that the first five are the ones worth looking at and remembering.
I’ll certainly take another look at my work.
I almost feel bad for judging the quality of the writers work off of the poor website presentation. I suppose it all comes down to the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover.’

Video Collective – 6 Top Tips For Creating An Awesome Showreel

After such a long look at the ugly site I’d just spent the last half hour looking at, it was a breath of fresh air to finally gaze upon a clean and comfortable site.
Thank you ‘video collective’ your website is clean and nice to look at.
I’d also like to comment on the fact that these guys seem fine with showing links to people’s showreels. When you can look at a video and look out for the positive ideas which they mention on their list, it shows that they know what they’re talking about.

I believe that the most important things which this site mentions have been previously mentioned. ‘Keep the first 30 seconds reserved for your best material’ etc.
That being said, a comment which this site made did hit me.
They told me to be ‘critical.’ Genuinely. Show it to friends and colleagues and get a genuine idea of whether or not your work looks good.

I like this idea because it serves as a good reminder that work is subjective and definitely worthy of other people’s input.

This site actually states that you should keep your showreel under 3 minutes, this counters what’s said in the others who said that it should be ‘3 or 4 minutes tops.’
I’ll keep this in mind but will likely ignore it because the majority of other pieces of information that I’ve read have countered this.

Finally, the last important thing that this site mentions is that you need to keep your role as obvious as possible. You need to say what you’ve done otherwise how will they know the amount of effort you put in?
As mentioned before with a similar idea, this doesn’t fit me too much because most of my work is 100% me doing the sound and I’d like to just be able to say ‘yes, I did all of the sound in this video’ to people.

To conclude, this site looked nice and seemed very reliable from a visual side but didn’t really have much to offer. It actually was contradictory to the majority of information available to me and thus is a confusing piece of work to say the least.

Guidelines for Making a Sound Design Demo Reel:

The major lack of picture or colour definitely helps to make this site look ridiculously unpleasant, if I’m honest – not quite as bad as the early mentioned wordpress site but it’s still pretty bad. As mentioned, an ugly site doesn’t make you look too reliable.
That being said, this is the only site I’ve found which genuinely speaks from the perspective of a sound designer who’s talking about a sound designer’s showreel. It’s definitely worth mentioning that this gives it some positive points. It’s nice to hear something from the perspective of somebody in my future field.

Most of this article starts off with similar stuff.
The writer says to keep the best stuff first, keep it short, etc.
It wouldn’t be a showreel article without these things at this point.
This guys showreel is 4 and a half minutes but he believes that is too long. I’d like to avoid having it be that lengthy.

The later parts of the article are where things get interesting.
He mentions that you shouldn’t worry about what you’ve got in there. It seems like a total nod to newbies who are just getting started. He says that you should just use what you have, what you’re currently capable of making. I like this method – it makes me feel more comfortable with what I already have and makes me feel less like I have to make a shed load of new content. That being said, I’ll still make new works for this reel, I’ll just avoid making too much.

He also says to label things with all the work you did. Make sure that people know you’re more than just a sound designer, you could be a composer, audio technician etc.
This seems a little overdramatic to me. Surely if you’re showing somebody your work, it’s got to be
your work, right? Either way, I like the concept and may get doing it myself but I doubt it. It seems like it would take a lot of time and would likely take away from the flow of the showreel.


Comparing the sites:

Each of these sources seem to have their own merits. Ranging from being beautiful in their visual quality and giving some strong and helpful pointers.
If I were to pick out the most useful one of the bunch, I’d say that “12 Tips For an Effective Showreel –” is likely the most useful as it holds the most information. Unfortunately, I can say that I’d suggest improving the visual quality of the site as it makes it look unprofessional and would likely put off many potential readers.
My least favourite of these sites is simultaneously the most beautiful, Video Collective – 6 Top Tips For Creating An Awesome Showreell is my pick for least useful. Though the site is rather attractive and seems reliable on first glance, it doesn’t hold too much information in regards to holding it’s own facts and I can’t say that I’d be too likely to recommend it to somebody due to that issue.

In using these to help me judge mine and other people’s work:

To judge my showreel and other people’s ones, I’ll need to make use of each of these sources, they all show me very useful pieces of information that should definitely be referenced.
I’d say that the least useful site here is the ‘video collective’ one, this is because it doesn’t really give much of it’s own unique information in regards to evaluating my/other people’s work. It does give some strong pointers on how to improve your work but doesn’t really give any ‘must haves’ in it’s archive.
The best articles seem to be the ones with lists because they give out several pieces of information that can be listed and used in future.
I think that the main things I need to take home are:

  • The average showreel length that these sites recommend is between 3 and 4 minutes.

  • Keep the best work at the front

  • High quality video quality

  • Professional layout

I’ll keep all of these things in mind when evaluating other people’s/my own work.


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