In 2011 I was teaching an animation class at Escape Studios in London, and we managed to get Aardman Animation in Bristol to agree to help keep an eye on us, and make sure we were delivered top-level work. They even sent one of their best animators, the very talented Matthew Rees, to come up to London and check out our students' tests.
Of course, all the students asked the same question - what sort of reel do you need to get into Aardman Animation? My answer was - a very, very good one. There is nothing more important to a working animator than his or her demo reel. It is your calling card, your talent showcase, your passport to employment.
My own rule is simple. Whatever goes on your reel - it must be completely free of mistakes. This is an absolute rule. If you submit to a studio a demo reel that has any mistakes in it, the studio will assume one of two things:
- You saw the mistake, but couldn't fix it, or
- You didn't see the mistake.
So, what was Matt's answer to the students' question? He didn't quite put it the same way I did, but he made pretty much the same point (and in fewer words) when he said "you are only as good as the worst thing on your reel".