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Posted Oct 24

Applications in Focus: What do recruiters look for in VFX showreels?

by Joe Beedle
Applications in Focus: What do recruiters look for in VFX showreels? by Joe Beedle

If you'd like to get into the VFX industry, your most important ticket in is a high-quality showreel that showcases your best work and capabilities. But what does a good showreel look like?

The Focus, which recruits for Technicolor's VFX studios, constantly reviews candidate showreels from all levels and has a keen eye for reel quality. Data Analyst Christian Guthrie (pictured) shared some key tips and insights into the VFX application process, what recruiters look for in showreels, and preparing for work within the VFX industry.

Got to be (show)reel

By the time you get to an interview, most hiring managers will already have a pretty good idea whether they’re likely to hire you or not based on your reel. So, here are some key points to consider when creating your showreel:

Subjectivity

What’s generally seen as a “good” showreel will vary from studio to studio, department to department and even project to project.

"As a rule we at The Focus are always looking for high-quality, photorealistic work presented in a way that immediately lets us know whether this person is right for this team or not," Guthrie noted.

So, it is important to familiarise yourself with each studio’s work, the project and the role you are applying for.

Length

Keep it short.

"With showreels, quality over quantity is always the way forward, focusing on a few good pieces rather than including every little thing you’ve ever worked on," said Guthrie.

A minute is usually a good length to aim for.

Relevance

It’s important to make sure your showreel is focused on your chosen discipline (animation, compositing, lighting, etc.) and that it only includes your best work.

"Most people will skip through reels to find the bits they want and will often zone out within a few seconds if they don’t see something that catches their attention straight away," said Guthrie.

There’s no point selling yourself short. Your showreel is an opportunity to really show off what you have to offer. So, keep it fresh and up to date with your best work front and centre.

From uni to VFX

It is unlikely that an average student is going to have a wealth of professional VFX experience or work that can be reflected in their showreel. But as far as working for any of the studios The Focus represents, we’re always on the lookout for specialists, so identifying a discipline you wish to focus on as early as you can is always advised.

Knowledge of the full VFX pipeline is invaluable, but when you’re working as part of a large production, such as what you might find at Mill Film or MPC Film, you’ll generally be expected to have an expertise.

(READ: This intern chased her VFX dream from Sweden to London)

Curriculum vita(e)lity

As a final point, unlike other industries, your CV isn’t as important in demonstrating what you have to offer for a role.

"As recruiters, our focus is always going to be the applicant's showreel and the quality of the work therein," Guthrie explained.

"The CV is still an essential part of the application but is used mostly as a secondary point of reference for personal information about the candidate."

So, keep it short, concise and neatly presented. Avoid flashy graphics or fonts, and ideally save a PDF version to send to recruiters and hiring managers. thefocus.com

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