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How To Create A Production Reel For Your Animation Studio

ben marvazi 2020

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You've spent a lot of time and money creating your animation studio, so it makes sense that you want to show people what you're capable of. One way to do this is by using a production reel to market the work you've done in the past. If you want to get noticed as an animation studio that takes pride in its craftsmanship, then using a well-made production reel is essential.

I'm sure you've seen some pretty bad ones out there on YouTube or Vimeo—and maybe even created some yourself when trying out new techniques for your own projects. But just because a production reel is easy doesn't mean that it should be cheap! Here are some tips on how to create a professional-looking production reel that will showcase your skills in the best possible light.

Do Your Homework On Your Production Reel

Do Your Homework On Your Production Reel, Sylvester working on a drawing board and looking through a telescope

GIF by Looney Tunes via GIPHY

You'll want to do your homework before you start putting together your production reel. Take a look at other studios' production reel work and websites to get an idea of what they have done. Watch their social media accounts for inspiration, too!

It's also important to read client testimonials so that you can see what people have said about the studio and its work.

Have A Library For Your Production Reel

Have A Library For Your Production Reel, Belle in a library singing

GIF by PennyLane6 via Tenor

Having a robust library of work samples for your production reel is essential for any aspiring animation studio to have. This will allow you to show off your style and skill and give potential clients an idea of what they can expect from your company.

Having a variety of styles will show that you're capable of adapting to different projects, which is essential for any freelancer or small business owner looking for work. You don't want to pigeonhole yourself into one specific niche; instead, try expanding into different areas so that people know they can trust you with their projects regardless of whether it's 2D or 3D animation (or both).

Your production reel should include your best work. If there are any pieces in particular that stand out as being especially good examples of what makes your studio unique, include them! 

These could be anything from short films made by other studios with whom yours has collaborated on previous projects (assuming those studios gave permission) all the way down through things like gifs made by yourself personally just because they were fun projects at home rather than serious commercial endeavors intended for public consumption.

Include a range of different styles in your production reel. It's important not only for variety but also because this shows off how versatile an animator you are! 

Use recent examples in your production reel. This means everything from within the last year or two; otherwise, there may not be enough relevant material available yet since most companies don't start out making content until after they've been established long enough first.

Showcase The Best Work In Your Production Reel

Showcase The Best Work In Your Production Reel, cool character taking off its sunglasses


Putting your best foot forward is always a good idea, but it's crucial when creating an animation production reel. You want to show off your best work first and last so that the viewer will remember those projects most clearly. If you're going for a chronological order, make sure that at least one of these pieces is at the beginning or end of your reel; if not both!

The opening seconds are crucial for grabbing attention-if viewers don't care about what they see within 15-20 seconds then they won't bother watching any further than that point (and let's face it: nobody has time for boring stuff). Your goal here should be something eye-catching but not too distracting from what follows in later parts of this section (which we'll get into soon).

Similarly important is choosing how long each clip lasts before moving on to another one; don't leave anything hanging around too long because it may start feeling repetitive after a while-think of how fast people scroll through content online nowadays...

Showcase A Variety Of Styles In Your Production Reel

Showcase A Variety Of Styles In Your Production Reel, a 2D grey park scene turning to a 3D bright colored park scene with a man and a dog

GIF by Bazookaloop via GIPHY

When you're creating a production reel, it's important to showcase a variety of styles. This will help potential clients see the range of services you offer and give them an idea of what they can expect from your studio. You want to show that you have animation skills, design skills, and storytelling skills and then prove it by showing how well those three things work together in one project or another.

The best way to do this is by telling short stories with your work! Your production reel should be filled with mini-narratives that demonstrate how well each section functions as part of a larger whole. 

Set The Mood With Music For Your Production Reel

Set The Mood With Music For Your Production Reel, Jerry listening and dancing to music

GIF via Luisgibi by Tenor

Music can have a powerful effect on the mood of your animation. A happy, positive soundtrack will set the tone for your production reel and make viewers feel good about what they're seeing. If you're going for something more serious or dramatic, then consider using music that's in line with that style.

If you're targeting an older audience, use royalty-free tracks from sites like Audiojungle and Pond5 (which are both owned by Adobe). For younger audiences who may be more familiar with pop culture references or music from current artists, try searching YouTube for free soundtracks from popular songs or videos by artists such as Drake or Taylor Swift!

Make Your Production Reel Short And Sweet

Make Your Production Reel Short And Sweet, 10 second count down timer

GIF by diegokunz via Tenor

Keep your production reel to 3 minutes or less. You don't want to bore your audience, and you certainly don't want them fast-forwarding through your reel just so they can get back to their work. If you have a lot of work to show off, break it up into multiple reels if necessary (e.g., one reel per year).

Don't include every project you've ever worked on - choose only the best ones! This will give viewers an idea of what kind of style and quality level is typical for your studio. 

Lastly, make sure it's not too slow - because then no one will watch them either way since they won’t have the patience and will lose interest.

Include Contact Details On Your Production Reel

Include Contact Details On Your Production Reel, girl on the phone conversing

GIF by LaHaus via GIPHY

Make sure your contact details are visible to the viewer on your production reel. This means including your name, email address, and phone number somewhere on the reel (preferably in the upper-right corner).

Include a link to your website in case someone wants more information about you or your studio and also don’t forget to include links to all social media accounts that are relevant to animation, such as Twitter and Instagram.

Put A Non-Disclosure Agreement On Your Reel Contact Page

Sample of Non-Disclosure Agreement On Your Reel Contact Page

GIF by Browniess via Tenor

The non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is a legal contract that prevents people from sharing confidential information, such as your studio's business plan and intellectual property.

It's important to protect your intellectual property because it can be stolen by competitors if they know what you're working on before you're ready to announce it. If someone posts something online or sends it to someone else, then anyone can see it--even if they don't sign an NDA themselves!

A Production Reel Is Essential

Animation Production of a car being picked up and turned on

GIF by Benjy Brooke via GIPHY

A production reel is a tool you can use to showcase the work you've done, and it's an important part of your studio's marketing toolkit. A well-made production reel will help potential clients get a sense of what sort of projects you have experience with, while also demonstrating your abilities as an animator or director.

A production reel should highlight both the styles that are unique to your studio and those that are similar across many studios in order to show off what makes yours stand out from others but it should also include examples of best practices so people know what kinds of things they can expect from working with you.

Make sure your production reels are short and sweet; longer than five minutes may lose viewers' attention span before they even get into the meaty parts (and if they do watch all five minutes before scrolling down through their phone), while shorter than three minutes might not give them enough time to see everything they need!

For more information about production reels, as well as answers to any other questions you might have, be sure to follow our blogs, check out our free masterclass, and our Animation Business Accelerator Program, download a copy of our free marketing handbook, and check out our blog on “How to Start an Animation Studio”!

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