Do I need a Show Reel? – by Sam Cartwright

I’ve been talking to a lot of industry professionals and reading a lot about this topic recently, and the consensus seems to be an overwhelming hatred for show reels. Schools like the AIE often place a lot of emphasis on the creation of a show reel. So, the question is; is that effort justified and will it help you during your job hunt?

To understand why industry professionals can hate show reels so much we must once again look at the recruitment process from the hiring manager’s perspective.

At some point your application is going to be looked at by a developer – someone who is making games full-time while also trying to find a bit more time in the day to juggle the recruitment process. These are time-poor people who need to get a good understanding of your abilities as quickly as possible. Shifting through dozens of potential applicants, each with a three-minute show reel, isn’t the best use of that time.

You need to question whether or not a show reel or demo reel is the best medium to highlight your particular skills. If you are applying for an animator position, then a show reel is certainly going to be the best way you can show an employer that you can animate a character. For other specializations, like concept art or character modelling, there is nothing a video will add that can’t be captured by some static images displayed in your ArtStation portfolio.

Another reason to forgo the show reel is that it takes a significant amount of time to prepare. If you don’t absolutely need a video to showcase your skill, then the time spent preparing one could have been better spent polishing your 3D models or other artwork.

The games industry is really shifting away from show reels, with sites like ArtStation becoming industry standard. Profiles highlighting an artists’ best work in a series of images showing material and wireframe breakdowns for a character are standard. If you really want to show off your models, applications like Marmoset Viewer and Sketchfab will allow you to embed a viewer directly into your page. In this way, a recruiter can see all of your best work with a quick glance at a single page.

When creating or reviewing material to submit alongside your application, it’s important to always remember the human on the other end of this process. It is critical to make sure you’re presenting your best work in the most efficient format, allowing recruiters to quickly and easily see all of your skills and hard work.