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  1. #1 Reel 2018 
    Senior Member david evans's Avatar
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    Hey guys! Maybe I got a bit carried away and did a too long of a reel. Still, would love some constructive feedback.

    https://youtu.be/MvH9V4eLFhg

    Thanks
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  2. #2  
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    Great work! One, lose the girl at :53 with the velvet cake. Her skin is super pink/red and it looks bad. I like pretty much everything else but it does feel repetitious at points. there's a lot of sun flare shots so maybe weed out some of those and just stick to the different looks, movement, feelings. so it's just a best of and not everything. I feel like you could go another round or two with favorites and least favs. my two cents. I'm doing mine right now as well. probably do the same thing you're doing.
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  3. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven6d View Post
    Great work! One, lose the girl at :53 with the velvet cake. Her skin is super pink/red and it looks bad. I like pretty much everything else but it does feel repetitious at points. there's a lot of sun flare shots so maybe weed out some of those and just stick to the different looks, movement, feelings. so it's just a best of and not everything. I feel like you could go another round or two with favorites and least favs. my two cents. I'm doing mine right now as well. probably do the same thing you're doing.
    Oh and I love the holding hands shot at 1:05 I like the idea that you're going to take some ones hand and lead them through the shoot.
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  4. #4  
    Senior Member david evans's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven6d View Post
    Great work! One, lose the girl at :53 with the velvet cake. Her skin is super pink/red and it looks bad. I like pretty much everything else but it does feel repetitious at points. there's a lot of sun flare shots so maybe weed out some of those and just stick to the different looks, movement, feelings. so it's just a best of and not everything. I feel like you could go another round or two with favorites and least favs. my two cents. I'm doing mine right now as well. probably do the same thing you're doing.
    Thanks for watching and taking the time to comment, Steven! Those are also my thoughts. But sometimes it's hard being the judge of your own best of hehe. Sun flares are part of my obsession as you can see ( https://youtu.be/UOQSL_Mo8EQ ).

    I will definitely do some more rounds. I think the reel is still 20seconds too long.

    Thanks!
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  5. #5  
    Senior Member DPStewart's Avatar
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    How this could be cut depends a lot upon what purpose you want it to serve.

    One thing that many of us do that doesn't help much with getting hired is using still static shots that look like a typical snapshot anyone could take (even if it is of a pretty place) and shots that are plain in setting and show someone just sitting there talking. Anyone can do those shots and they say nothing about what YOUR tastes and style are.

    Moving shots say more about your individual skill and style.
    Highly artistic and stylized shots say more about your individual skill and style.

    I've been through a lot of demo reels myself AND I've been privy to what a director or producer responded to in their hiring decisions.
    They want to see how well you do what THEY are trying to get done.
    That might imply "add diversity of material". I think that's WRONG. -it means you're more likely to have material they are NOT looking for if you go that route. And that will NOT work in one's favor.

    Based on their responses I also STRONGLY suggest doing "some degree" of shot grouping. Anything that looks like corporate interview or training video - get those together. If your potential customer is NOT doing that then don't pollute your presentation with those kinds of shots all throughout it. Same goes for any other style of shots.

    The above reasons should also show why things like flares, dramatic moments, camera movement, and subject movement are generally going to be your strongest shots - they do a much stronger job of showcasing and defining YOUR style. And THAT is what the potential client wants to see.


    So...think about those things and go for another round of editing and sequencing. It's all about distilling it all down to show what is most YOU.
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  6. #6  
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    Apologies for maybe being a bit too blunt, but you asked for criticism

    Agree with what's been said so far. Definitely take that cake girl out, it's not helping your reel as a colorist.

    Looking at camera moves, composition, and lighting setups - a lot of these clips are the same. You can cut this down to maybe a minute. Many shots are outdoors with what looks like the sun as your only light, with maybe a bounce, AND many are sun backlit. I'd limit having so many, makes it look like a creative crutch. I'd also count how many of these are handheld and consider only having a few of your favorites. You can see the letterboxing moving in some shots revealing that you stabilized the shot, which also means you added black bars. That takes a LOT away from the whole thing. I'd remove those shots and re-do your blanking.

    That western scene might seem cool, but as a reel clip it's also not helping you. The framing isn't very good, and the wide doesn't show off anything. There are crew in the shot! That's a no-no.

    Best shots to me are -
    Opening shot
    Doctor closeup
    Tree scenes with moves (on the slider)
    Window push and tilt
    I like you included some industrial footage, but I'd group it together as Stewart said.

    I would also have separate reels for color and for cinematography. Color reel should emphasize the effect your grade has on the image, and is all wipes.
    That slider is your friend! Do more with it. All the dolly shots are in another league compared to the rest.
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  7. #7  
    I want to start by saying that I really like your stuff and there are some fantastic images in your reel! I do however think that you need to condense it down a bit and target it more towards what sort of work you want to attract. I wouldn't have the interview shots or the cake stuff; I think its distracting to have people talking without hearing what they are saying anyway. I would also leave out the colour grading stuff. Personally, I don't think many producers will want to watch a long reel so I wouldn't have my reel exceed 2 minutes.

    On the other hand, I can see that you have a style with the naturalistic lighting and the lens flares etc. I would go in that direction if that type of work is what you are after. I might have even created a separate reel for the corporate/interview stuff. I think there is a lot of potential with the images that you have!

    Hope this helps somewhat!
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  8. #8  
    Senior Member LochnessDigital's Avatar
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    There's a spectrum of quality in these and I am very confident you could boil it down to a 60/90 second kick-ass reel, no more than 2 minutes total running time with credits/titles.

    It's Sunday night and I have nothing important to be doing, so I'll go through shot by shot and write out my thoughts. Constructive criticism, there's a lot of potential here, just needs some polish. Here we go:

    0:00: I like the idea of a frame within a frame. But the whisper and the record scratch does not fit the mood for the rest of the reel. I was expecting some kind of rock music, a lot of cuts, and something bleeding style like an Edgar Wright film or something. But what comes next is this uplifting and charming piece with a lot of happy moments in your reel. It was jarring, to say the least. I'd reconsider your intro.

    0:06: The lighting coming off the rock is nice, but the composition isn't entirely interesting. It's half rock, half white sky, and just a bit of the water, which I would have wanted to see more of, especially as it crashes against the rock, but you cut before I could see it. The star flare is cool though.

    0:09: Woman walking into the sun in the field of flowers. Great. Keep this one. There's a weird compression thing where the image snaps into high quality halfway through, but I'm not sure if that's a YouTube thing. I'd also maybe try and grade the transition the clipping on the sun to be a little smoother. Also, this is your only shot that isn't 2.4:1. Was it meant to have letterboxing?

    0:11: Girl writing at the desk. The lighting here is really nice, I like the sunrays coming in, especially as she moves in the light. Yellow stuffed animal is a little distracting in color, perhaps you could desaturate the yellow just slightly in grading.

    0:14: Girl the beach. I like the symmetrical composition on this
    -- Shot of her hand, less interesting to me. Doesn't really tell me much "story" if you understand what I mean.

    0:17: Redhead woman. I would cut this shot.

    0:19: Guys picking stuff out of the dirt - Cut this one too.

    0:20: Talking head piece - It's okay. Seems pretty corporate and standard bread & butter type of work. Certainly a nice usable shot, but a lot less exciting to me as a viewer for a reel. I'd cut it unless you're really trying to get more corporate/commercial work, in that case, there's not enough of that kind of content in the reel.

    0:22: Close up dust mask guy. I like the colors of this shot and the angle you chose. I am disappointed the very next shot is not one of whatever he was working on.

    0:23: Dolly in on girl half in the light. This is really nice. With the camera move, it's the first time something in this reel really screamed "cinema" at me.

    0:28: Girl in a tent/playhouse. I'm not exactly sure why this one is framed as it is. The big void on the left of frame isn't telling me anything.

    0:30: Girl running on a path. This is nice for movement reasons, probably worth keeping. You wouldn't happen to have the reverse shot of that would you? They'd be nice back to back.

    0:32: Hand running through the overgrown weeds. I like this shot, but I see it way too often. Could be cut for time if you need.

    0:34: Tilt up of sun behind tree with windmills on either side. Personally my mind wishes the shot was wider so we could see the mills. Or if it was a dolly back. As it is, it just seems like you couldn't get everything in the shot that you wanted and it feels like a compromise. I do like that this one is on a tripod and not handheld like most of the others, though.

    0:38: Windmills. This one is pretty nice. I like that you went dark on this to bring out the sky more. It's a nice balance of geometrical shapes and organic ones.

    0:40: Reaching out to the sun. This is one of the nicer variations of this backlit shot that you seem to keep doing. The sky doesn't have any harsh transitions, I like the focal length, and the wind is a nice touch. This is another case where I would have liked to see the reverse shot immediately after this one, instead of cutting away to something else.

    0:42: Girl in front of mirrors - Cut it. There's nothing going on here, really. She's being dressed and she looks bored.

    0:44: Western show - Lose it. The horizon isn't level, the composition isn't drawing my attention, and the lighting is flat. Is that crew on the left or an audience? Either way, they look out of place. If you had some shots behind them or of them watching, maybe, that could demonstrate that this is event coverage videography and not a piece of narrative work.
    -- Next shot, cut it too, same issues and it isn't clear the horse rider actually shot the other guy.

    0:49: Cake making. Needs a re-grade if those highlights are even salvageable. If not, lose it. I'd probably lose it all anyway unless you specifically have clients that want to see food.

    0:54: Close up bearded guy. The color contrast is nice, but I'm not sure what the shot says to me. I can't tell if it's an interview or a music video.

    0:57: Dolly in on tree trunk. Doesn't really speak to me.

    1:00: Reveal of city. This is a really nice reveal. It's got a lot of style in the camera move and the final picture is beautiful. Please tell me you have more footage after the edit point so you can hold longer on the city. This one should also probably be much sooner in your reel since I think it's one of your strongest.

    1:03: Grabbing hand. This answers my question about the shot earlier. I'd definitely lose the shot just after 0:14 and replace it with this one. This one has story.

    1:07: Dolly up the tree trunk. Pretty cool shot. Weird cutting to such colorful trees immediately after. Maybe you could put the 0:57 shot right before this one and it'd be a nice little piece together.

    1:08: Green trees dolly. I like the parallax going on with the trunk on the right, but the scene behind the tree is kind of a mush of green, I don't really know where to look. This one could be cut.
    -- Next shot. Close of up of bark. Not that exciting to me. Lose this if you cut the one right before it, too.

    1:11: Baby. I like the Dutch angle on this a lot, it does really nice things to the composition. I don't need to see before/after grading, personally. If you're trying to get hired as a colorist, I'd do a separate reel for that.
    -- Next shot. Same thing, don't need the before/after grading. It's almost the same shot, but a little closer. I'd either pick one of these, or cut the second half of the first one, and then cut right to the baby already looking at the camera. Though, I really do really like the baby turning and looking, dare I say it's more reel worthy than the wide shot.

    1:22: Trees. I like the leaf falling. I felt like this shot was going to reveal something at the bottom but it didn't. Might be a candidate for cutting.

    1:26: Woman running in a field. All three of these shots are superb for a multitude of reasons. These really do the backlit thing well. I might move these up with the shot at 0:40 since they're from the same shoot. I'm less of a fan of the sprinkling shots throughout a reel and more of a fan of clumped together mini-stories. All four of these shots together will tell me everything I need to know, so we can move on to something else after they paid their way in the piece.

    1:31: Trampoline. These two shots are okay. But they're definitely diminished by the coloring of the one before it. I'd cut these or mix them in with the ones at the end.

    1:36: Girl in veil/curtain. This one is nice for the smile but it's hard to make out what's going on, with the blown highlight on the left and the dark blue shape on the right. I'd cut it.

    1:38: Waves backwards. Pretty cool. Playing them in reverse makes them more surreal. But I'm not sure we need to spend 6 seconds on these.

    1:44: Dolly in on tree trunks. This one is wayyyy cooler than the one at 1:08. The composition is better and there is a clear sense of what I need to be looking at as an audience member. Maybe bundle this one with the one from 1:22 and then I'd have less complaints about that one. Put these two together and you could probably afford to lose just about all the other shots of trees and trunks.

    1:47: Mom and daughter at the beach. I'd start the shot after the girl turns around so they're both looking out onto the beach. The girl looking towards camera is a little odd when we can't actually see her face.

    1:49: Rack focus of purple flowers. There's some posterization or something going on here in the colors. I personally don't need this shot in the reel.
    -- Next shot, another rack focus. I don't need this one either.

    1:53: Dutch angle water. I don't think this works for me.

    1:54: Static shot of lake. Not particularly interesting as barely anything is moving and the trees are blocking the building I want to see as a viewer.

    1:58: Shot of car on bridge. Pretty nice for a B-Roll kind of shot. Not sure it needs to be in the reel but isn't bad for filler. I can see you post stabilized it though because the black bars are moving. Definitely fix that.

    1:59: More backlit dreamy stuff. I'd lose it unless you have more footage that shows her face. It seems like you were trying to swing around and get it, but it got cut short. Otherwise, it's pretty similar to the other kinds of shots that do this backlit idea better.

    2:03: Night exterior. Again, a nice B-Roll type of shot. Good for filler, but a candidate for cutting, especially if you don't have any more coverage of that night scene -- seems out of place/random.

    2:05: Girl looking at flowers. This is really nice. It's different type of lighting, the color contrast is great, the slight tilt up works.

    2:08: Jurassic park shirt guy. The dutch angle doesn't work for me, and the forced perspective doesn't quite sell. The color isn't nearly as interesting as the very next shot.

    2:10: Same dude, different location. I like the symmetrical framing of this and the colors are nice. You wouldn't happen to have the wide shot of this would you? Stick that with this one and lose the other shots of him.

    2:12: Old man - I like the colors of this and he is an interesting guy to look at. What is he doing right before this shot starts? The action you have included seems incomplete to me, I either want a little more at the beginning or a little more at the end. I don't like seeing his hand come down the second the shot starts.
    -- Next shot: This one is really nice. I like the low angle, the framing, the color, and the people passing through the frame. Might need a little bit of post stabilization for me, but probably still fine without.
    -- Next shot. Him walking, I don't really need this shot at all. There's no definite beginning or end of this shot, and nothing terribly interesting in the middle.

    2:20: Homeless man and girl sequence. I'm not sure this tells us anything new about your style, though it is a good example of a "mini story" that I was talking about above.

    2:27: Doll with bokeh. Something about this I don't quite like and I can't put my finger on it. I think it's the edit. It's weird how long it lasts on the doll before the hands on the left enter frame. And then it's weird that you cut before I could see them take the doll away. The bokeh is nice but I'd like this shot with the next shot in the sequence, since I don't know who's getting the doll and since we're talking cinematography, I want to see the face of the character and their reaction as they get the doll.

    2:30: Girl in car and man waving in window reflection. This is really nice. There's depth because of the reflection. There's faces to look at which is always good for cinematography. Symbolically I like the waving goodbye for the end of the reel. And since it's not as in focus as I'd like, it's good to stick this one at the end.

    2:34: Waves. This would be a good shot to close out your reel if you put your end credit over it, assuming you have more footage to work with. But since you're kinda doing that with the trampoline stuff, maybe this shot can mix in with the other stuff from the same day. Feels out of place here.

    2:36: Trampoline stuff again. I don't particularly need it in the reel, but it could be a good thing to overlay your credit on instead of just fading to black with your credit on that. This sequence currently lasts 12 seconds, so it's a bit of a time suck. But if it is your end credit, that's okay.

    My biggest takeaways:
    - Bunch some clips together instead of peppering them throughout the reel. It will feel less starved for content when the viewer isn't reminded of the same scene several different places. Remember, this is a piece of work in itself, so think about the story the reel is telling about you as an artist.
    - Every shot or sequence should pay it's way in the piece. This is a highlight reel, they need to be the highlights. If two things tell the same story or demonstrate the same skills as a DP, lose one of them. It's not easy, but just make the decision to cut one and run with it.
    - Front load the reel with the best shots. You don't want to chance someone clicking away before seeing the best of the best.

    Anyway, hope I didn't dig into ya too hard. Just my opinions, feel free to take them or leave them.
    Aaron Lochert
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  9. #9  
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    60 seconds. Cut all the boring crap.
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  10. #10  
    Senior Member david evans's Avatar
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    Thanks guys! Very helpful information!

    @Stewart

    Do you think it's worth it to do different reels according to the work you're trying to get, or just grouping shots (narrative / corporate / fashion) is enough?

    @ Aaron

    I think I have to post more clips on a Sunday night hahaha. I understand most of what you said, and agree with a lot. Of course there are shots that are taken out of context and end up losing a lot of their pathos. I'm thinking of the shot at 0.28 of the girl in the tent, for example. This was taken from a short film I did and, in context, that big void on the left made all the sense. It was oppressing her space. But, of course, appearing out of nowhere in a showreel, might lose its impact. I just left it there because of the dramatic lighting.

    I feel that you guys value a lot the grouping of works / stories, which makes sense. I will revisit this reel and change the structure so that each segment tells a mini story, ends a certain movement that the previous shot started, etc.

    Thank you all!

    EDIT:

    There is also a small number of shots that were only directed by me but not graded. These include the woman baking the cake (I also feel the skin was way too pinkish and clipped but I didn't want to regrade as the final product is not mine). Maybe I'll just cut it out
    Last edited by david evans; 07-09-2018 at 05:44 AM.
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