12 tips on creating an impressive showreel

Need to spice up your showreel? Take a look at these 12 tips on creating an impressive showreel, as detailed by the artists at Mondlicht Studios…

Mondlicht Studios' Website


A short video with your best work is the easiest way to promote your art. However, it’s not that easy to create a perfect showreel. To gather some tips on building an impressive showreel, we talked to the artists from Mondlicht Studios.

Include the most relevant work

Before putting your reel together, it’s better to choose artworks you want to include in a video. You should clearly understand who you want to impress with it and why. When you get this understanding, it will be very easy to choose several most relevant projects. Imagine the situation: an artist, who was creating still CGI shots decided to work more in animation. If he adds too much still CGI artworks into the reel there are almost no chances he gets a job in animation. So, try to avoid projects which don’t show your skills in the sphere you’re more interested in. Instead, concentrate on projects which will help you to get a dream-job.

Put your best work first

The beginning and the ending of your reel are the most important parts of it, so start to work on them first. If your reel doesn’t impress a viewer from the first seconds, there are chances that nobody will watch it till the end. What’s more, our memory works this way: we pay more attention to the beginning and ending of any video, speech, book, and so on. Which is why successful speakers put so much effort into the beginning of their speech.

“You’re as strong as your weakest shot, so pay attention to the projects which demonstrate your strongest skills. It would be best if you were confident in your reel to use it freely and impress clients. The worst thing you can do is to put everything you have in your folio to fill the timing. Always choose quality over quantity. And if you have not so many interesting projects to show, just invest some time in creating beautiful artworks”

-         Dmitriy Glazyrin

racer driver sport car male model advert

One of the latest projects of Mondlicht team created in collaboration with Vitaliy Yakin.

Make it clear

Your reel should demonstrate your skills, even if there are a lot of team efforts in your folio. To clarify what you were responsible for, you may add parts of breakdowns into the reel, showing your working process. If you see a 100% ready animated CG-character, it’s not obvious whether you did all the job from scratch, or were responsible only for animation, or modelling, or rigging, or concept. It’s very important to make it clear to avoid any misunderstandings.

The breakdown for the latest project created by Mondlicht team is a good example of storytelling.

Shorter is better

Firstly, no client has enough time to watch a reel longer than three minutes. Also, during long videos, people get tired and distracted and may skip some imposing parts of a video. Which is why 1-3-minute reels became a standard.

You have to think about where you are going to use it. For example, if you post it only on YouTube and Vimeo, it’s okay to make a 3-minute version. But if you are going to use it as a promotional video on Instagram, it’s better to stick to 1-minute.

“Unfortunately, art directors don’t have much time for watching 10-minutes reels. We have to deal with so many production and organization tasks. What’s more, a too long reel doesn’t create a good impression. Remember, brevity is the soul of wit. Keep your reel dynamic, excitingn and packed with your best projects and it will get noticed”

-         David Schäfer

driving sport car night photography 3d model render

If you take a look at videos created by different studios, you’ll notice that the majority of them last less than a minute. This helps to use a video on every platform and tell the story in a very dynamic way.

Tell a story

Storytelling is a powerful tool, which may enhance your showreel too. After all, people love stories, why not to tell them one? Like any other movie, a reel could impress the audience, make it bored or intrigued. Think what emotion you want to provoke and choose projects, pace, and music which will fit your story the best.

Pay attention to the quality

If you are working in the industry for a long time, you must have a lot of works of very different quality. Beginners face the same problem – their skills grow very fast, and sometimes the gap in quality between the first and the last artworks could be really huge. Make sure you include only artworks of similar quality. Otherwise, there is a chance that you’ll ruin the first impression.

“Another very useful tip is to think about your reel as a single whole. To achieve this result you’ll have to think not only about the projects you want to include, music, and other details, but the combination of the concrete shots, angles, and grounds”

-       Arthur Nalobin

Pay attention to music

You should clearly understand what style of music will enhance your reel and make it more impressive. The worst possible idea is to add your favorite song just because you like it so much. Music should fit the mood of the reel perfectly. So, be patient and invest some time on searching for the best possible solution. The easiest way is to look for the music on Audiojungle or any other similar service. The best solution is to create an original track. For that you don’t need to be a sound designer, you need only to find one. There are a lot of talented musicians ready to create something cool for free. After all, they will also get an impressive video in their folio.

Add personality

Viewing others and watching tutorials on building the perfect showreel, it’s hard to avoid repetition. To make your reel unique, you should think of adding your personal experience. That could be a tough task, but if you figure out how to do this, the result will be very impressive.

For example, you may think of how to show your working process, or add a concepting stage to the reel. There are a lot of options, no matter what exactly your specialization is. If you are totally lost, try to speak with your friends and ask them how they see your work and what part looks the most inspiring.

“The industry is full of similar projects. Which is why I’m always trying to come up with some creative ideas when I have time to work on personal artwork. The same with reels. Usually, people stick to a proven method. This leads to the situation when you stop distinguishing one reel from another and can’t remember who did what. But when you see something unusual, something extraordinary, it just sticks out”

-         Maksym Khirnyy

In his latest project, Maksym Khirnyy decided to tell how his ideas are born. As a result, he created a step-by-step guide anyone can use.

Keep it up-to-date

If you update your reel once in 5 years, it would be hard to gain new clients and show the development of your skills. So, try to do it once a year. It could be tough, especially when you think about how much time you have to spend on a new video, but it’s a part of the job and good investment in your career. To avoid huge workload, try to plan your next update and think of it as a new personal project. Usually, artists produce new reels at the end or at the beginning of the year. Christmas holidays provide us not only with endless celebrations but with free time too.

Pay attention to dynamics

A showreel has to communicate a full range of your skills and diversity of your artworks, which you have in your folio. At the same time, if you mindlessly put inside the reel all major projects, forgetting about how it looks altogether, you’ll disappoint your viewer. The reason is the lack of dynamics. This is not obvious and at the same time an incredibly important part of a reel, which needs your attention from the first to the last second.

“A reel is a small journey around your creative world and incarnated ideas. It’s similar to a roller coaster – a few stops will heat things up, but if the ride is slow and boring, participants will just lose interest. So try to keep up the pace and make your reel an unbelievable experience for a viewer”

-       Nikolay Okolita

An animation “Nike Air Max 270” is the latest project Nikolay created with Mondlicht team

Use Vimeo over Youtube

It’s always a good idea to post your reel on every platform, but when it comes to video-sharing platforms, it’s better to use the best. Despite the popularity of YouTube, Vimeo is the industry standard because it gives you a higher quality of video. What’s more, it’s much more flexible and allows you to adjust the settings to your taste even for external usage. You can easily share the reel everywhere, but make sure that you send a Vimeo link to your clients.

Think of it as an ad

Artists don’t usually like to think about their artworks as a product. But it is what it is. And any creator wants to show the strongest sides of his product first and hide the weakest ones. At this point, we get back to the first tip, where we were talking about the purposes of the reel and your understanding of what you want to get.

Also, if you have enough time, it would be a nice solution to spend some time on investigation and watch the reels of other artists. Try to get what makes them so popular and figure out several rules, which may fit your personal video.

“I came into the CGI industry from marketing, so there is always an annoying little marketer inside me, reminding me that all we do is a product. Yes, for many artists that could sound offensive at some point, but this depends on your perception and understanding of the market. It doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice your talent and style, but it does mean that you need to understand your audience, its needs, and the strongest sides of your creation”

-         Zhanna Travkina

3d model car advertisement realistic

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