Gavin Goulden: “Why I Hate Demo Reels”

Gavin Goulden: “Why I Hate Demo Reels”

“No one will hire you based on your ability to edit a demo reel as a character artist, but they will hire you for that new model you just finished.”

Gavin Goulden has published an article that explains why Character Artist should not waste time making a demo reel. The artist states that your time is better spent mastering the core skills of your craft and pushing your work as much as you possibly can. No one will hire you based on your ability to edit a demo reel as a character artist, but they will hire you for that new model you just finished – that’s a fact.

Let’s get started by clarifying what I mean by “Demo Reel”, as there are certainly exceptions to the case. When I say “Demo Reel” I mean the standard video, about 3 to 5 minutes long, showing the rotating character on a turntable, generally phasing through digital sculpt, render, and low poly model. This video is usually a mandatory part of attending and graduating from schools in North America and, presumably, worldwide. I am specifically looking at demo reels for character artists in games, as that is my industry and trade. There are obvious exceptions to this rule, such as being an animator, VFX artist, rigger, etc. Generally, if your job requires motion, a demo reel is fairly standard and expected. I avoid these exceptions, again, because it is not an area of expertise and the “Yes, but…” type argument distracts from the main point of view I am trying to share. Regardless, this is a greatly shared opinion of Leads, Art Directors, Hiring Managers, and Recruiters related to the games industry and common reasons why demo reels are not as helpful as you may think when searching for a job.


-Time spent creating a demo reel can be better-used modeling and texturing.
-Not an easily shared format for your work.
-Time-consuming for the viewer, especially during recruitment.
-Unreliable video formats and complications from browsers.
-Below the industry standard, most working artists use Artstation.

Gavin Goulden

The artist describes demo reels as an archaic form of showing your work stemming from the days of acting and film. The times they are a changin’ and you have to understand that! You now have tons of tools to automate parts of our workflow and other artists can discover your art through social media. The industry has changed, and you need to keep up with it or be left behind.

I am an instructor and my students are required to complete a demo reel, what should I do? Please, if it is possible, understand the context of your student’s discipline. If they need motion in their work, make a demo reel mandatory. If they do not, make an Artstation profile mandatory and teach them how to better edit their work and present themselves in a professional way. If it is absolutely required by the school and your hands are tied, tow the line and have it be a minimum effort project with an emphasis on creating a standard portfolio and the common expectations of the industry.

Gavin Goulden 

Make sure to read the full article here.

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