Video editors make a living from cutting footage together. You might think putting together a demo reel is a no brainer. But that’s not necessarily true. There are a lot of common mistakes editors make when cutting reels, and a lot of things that get overlooked.
Here are some tips for making a better video editing demo reel.
1. Highlight Your Strongest Skills
Duh! While this may seem like common sense, sometimes editors put in work that isn’t their best because they have an attachment to it. Or they put in older work that no longer holds up.
Don’t put in less impressive work just to pad the reel. A shorter reel with really great stuff is better than a long one that is lackluster.
2. Keep It Short
Speaking of a long lackluster reel, don’t overdo it on length. You may love everything you’ve ever worked on, but potential employers and clients don’t always have a lot of time. If you want them to get to the end, keep the reel on the shorter side. Anywhere from 1 to 2 minutes for most reels is enough.
3. Front-Load Your Best Work
Along the same lines, not every viewer will get through the entire reel. They may only take in 15 to 30 seconds before moving on, so start with some of your best and more recent work to make a good first impression. It may be the only impression you get to give.
4. Pick A Style That Works For You
Some editors prefer to show their techniques with longer scenes, while others prefer to use a montage or collage technique with short bursts of content. Either one is fine, but consider the work you are trying to get, and be consistent with your technique.
Having a bunch of short clips, followed by a slower scene based edit will be jarring and make you look like you don’t know what you are doing.
5. Consider Your Music Choice
You may not use music as all if you are creating a longer scene based edit reel, but if you are going with a montage approach, pick a piece of music that speaks to your personality and has a good rhythm to edit too.
It doesn’t have to be pulsing techno either. If that’s your bag, then go for it, but sometimes great reels are cut to show tunes, ethnic music, or any other assortment of fun and quirky music selections. Just remember to use the music to your advantage when cutting.
6. Make Yourself Known
Start your reel with basic information like your name and logo with you have one. Take some time to design these (or even animate them) so that you make a great first impression and show that you have a good eye.
End your reel with your contact information. If someone is interested, don’t make them fumble around to figure out how to contact you. Strike while the iron is hot friends.
7. Add Variety
It’s important to get some of your best work out there first, but then make sure to add variety to show that you have a range of skills and work history.
Unless you are trying to land a very specific job, you’ll find that different people react to different types of work. Adding variety will give you your best chance of connecting with most people.
8. Transition, Transition, Transition
When working with lots of pieces of video from all sorts of projects, things can get jumbled quickly and the viewer can get lost. Find natural edit points that segue from one piece to another.
In fact, you can even create clever edits from project to project that will help showcase your ability to work with any type of footage to tell a cohesive story. Bonus points.
9. Review Your Work
Here’s another common sense tip, that often gets overlooked. Pay close attention to your cut and review it thoroughly before publishing. Try stepping away and coming back to it with fresh eyes later.
Spelling errors, black frames, frame rate issues, sync issues, and the like will leave a sour taste in a potential employer’s mouth and can ruin a lot of hard work on your part.
10. Make Your Reel Represent You
You may work on a lot of projects for all sorts of clients, but what makes you a great editor is your eye and your personality. Try to infuse that in your own reel.
If you like to have fun with your work, show that off in your cuts. If you tend to be a stickler to the details, make a meticulous reel that will let that shine through.
Remember, this is about your work, but it’s also about you. You want the viewer to have a sense of you after watching your reel, and the best reels do that.
When it comes to making an editor demo reel, it’s sometimes an afterthought that just gets pushed out at the last minute. Don’t let that happen to you. This is a representation of your personality and your skill. Use the tips to help ensure that you have the best reel possible.