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kyah

tips for my reel

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I am about to finish up school in two weeks, and am looking for a few opinions of my reel. half were school projects, and the rest are client pieces. I'm looking to tighten it up as much as possible.

 

www.kyleelder.tv

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Kyah, I would cut the "rubber" clip in the begging by half the time, it holds too long and lacks interest. I would think about taking out the "Goonies" clip as it feels like it was a test to learn AE and feels dated as well as the "Universal Vibe" clip at the end. Really the only thing slightly interesting in that clip is the CD closing at the end but it's not enough to show.

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Okay, so school's over. You're looking to enter the real world. This is where the coddling ends. Buckle up.

 

 

Here's what I'm thinking when I load up your site:

-This site is poorly considered. It's made for one monitor size only, and that's not my monitor size.

-That's a decent basic idea for a logo, but you've stopped there and presented a sketch for an idea, not a finished logo.

-That's some horrifically indifferent and unskilled typography down there.

-The entire presentation is uninspired, generic, and therefore uninteresting.

 

(The overall effect achieved is that you started sketching an idea for a site in illustrator, laid down some shapes, got bored and called it done. The conclusion on my end is that you're suffering from that syndrome where you start projects in the computer, and everything that the computer makes has an air of perfection, so you think whatever you lay down first looks pretty good, so you must be about done. That's a common beginner mistake but it gives me the impression as a viewer that you're either lazy or have no eye, and likely both. Of course, you don't want to give anyone that impression, let alone employers.)

 

 

Here's what I'm thinking when I watch your reel:

-This intro tells me almost nothing and seems to be a collection of arbitrary default-ish software-generated images slapped together.

-Rubber displays a distinct lack of type and image legibility, muddled concept, and languishing inactivity.

-The LACMA shot is a lazily composed tripod shot which gets its value from someone else's art (Chris Burden's urban light installation) and passably attractive subjects, and the compositing attempt is unnecessary, heavy-handed, and self-interested.

-Shot of two dudes is lit acceptably, but not composed terribly well otherwise. Not a deal-killer, but not really helping you either.

-TV shot is acceptable, but the "rap review" imagery presented on it is lazily conceived, poorly designed, and lazily animated.

-This website thing... again, it's a lazy animation of a really generic and poorly designed frame.

-Acura... also again, lazily conceived, designed, and animated. Legibility is an issue.

-AMC... at this point, the incongruity with other pieces implies that this isn't really your design and that you took someone else's design, replicated it to some degree in 3d and lazily ran a camera through it. That's fine as an exercise, but it's not really a portfolio piece because it doesn't represent you or your abilities.

-AIO... same problems as everywhere else. Poorly designed logo with no meaning and lazily animated.

-It's more of the same beyond this.

 

(You're showcasing some basic skills, but no attention to detail, which means you're really not putting those skills to any useful purpose. You seem to be interested in photography and shooting more than graphics or animation, which is totally fine, but you're not interested enough to do it well. If you're really interested, then put enough effort into it to make it interesting to your audience. Right now, your shots have kind of an over-reliance on cute girls or acting prowess, which attempts to mask the lack of compelling content, shot composition, etc.)

 

 

In summary:

You're presenting yourself as someone who has a volume of work, and so must be interested in doing the work, but whose work is relatively unconsidered, unpolished, unfinalized, and seemingly ill-cared for. The conclusion from the outside, be it true or not, is that you're a prima donna (ouch, I know), and you definitely don't want to be seen that way. You want to be seen as a person who's going to give their all to every project of which they're a part.

 

So here's the deal... I get the feeling that you're not really that excited by graphics, and that you more readily enjoy shooting. I can't say that what you're shooting is very good yet, but I think it may be because you're struggling to commit to it. That's not gospel, it's just an educated guess based on this presentation, but it remains true that you want to play to your strengths, so consider for yourself what it is that interests you enough to apply the dedication that it takes to develop real strengths. Give yourself the advantage of being super into what you're trying to do. To do otherwise is just an exercise in misery.

Edited by Binky

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To do otherwise is just an exercise in misery.

 

Poetry, man, poetry. Wish I could finish my novel and get published (it's about a teenage witch who loves a vampire who's into fifty shades of bondage, with a natty summary of what caused the global economic crisis) so I can turn my back on post-effect lens flares FOREVER

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Awesome Binky. How you still have the energy to do these detailed reviews for the umpteenth time is beyond me.

Was just talking with C.Smith about that a few days ago. On the one hand, someone comes to the community looking for help... what are you gonna do, pat him on the head and send him away? Tell him "nice job", it's all peaches and rainbows and other condescension? He's gonna go back out there and get the door shut in his face repeatedly and not understand why. That's not cool. We've all been confused, asked for help, and gotten a pat on the head, and it's frustrating as hell.

 

On the other hand, it sort of helps me out too. It's hard to explain things to people when you don't really understand those things perfectly yourself. Explaining things forces you to understand them better. You kind of have to agree with Einstein saying “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." So usually, sitting there struggling to convey an idea for two hours helps you clarify it for yourself. Sharing that clarification hopefully helps other people.

 

Don't accuse people of being lazy, Binky. Maybe he's just crap at animating :)

I think your sarcasm kind of underlies a really important point, right? Most people can learn to animate or compose an image or communicate visually, but most people aren't interested enough to really learn on their own. Their attitude toward the subject is lazy. Kind of like mine is toward technical issues. I could probably understand xrefs and cuda blah blargle, but it's insanely boring to me so I live without it because I don't really understand the value of it. If someone who really understands something sits down and effectively conveys the tremendous value of that thing to you, you're likely more open to putting effort into continuing to learn about it. For Kyle, the honest truth is that, to a decent art/creative director, his presentation kinda looks like that of a prima donna. It's really important for him to know that so that he can gauge for himself how important the effort is.

 

that kyah is the best damn advice you'll ever get ... ever

Let's hope not.

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Binky

 

I think developing good habits and a solid sense that "you suck and you need to get better" is a great thing to have fresh out the gate. Granted I've only been working professionally for 6 years but to have someone destroy my earlier work would have helped me immensely as a developing artist (who am I kidding I'll always be developing). You sugarcoated nothing and in the end you've "saved him" from the initial disappointments that follows being rejected in this industry. I say it's the best advice you'll ever get because you took the time to explain why this wasn't a strong reel whereas the rest of us will critique the pieces and not the whole.

 

Either way I always enjoy reading your responses.

 

keep on keepin on duder

~Florio

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I appreciate the time everyone took to observe my reel and break down the flaws (and yes, there are many). I was warned about making that length of a reel, for the fact that it is only as good as your worst piece on it. And being a newbie to the industry, I am only given the chance to work on basic videos that do not have too much responsibility throughout the creation. youtube videos, kiosk presentations, etc. with short turnarounds. Even though that helps pay the bills and keeps me in L.A., it is not benefiting me building up my reel. In no way was I expecting a bunch of compliments or a pat on the back when I posted this. I knew it was going to be brutal, but I needed to know exactly how a person perceives it. My school lacked many things. One of them being constructive criticism which is essential. I could go on forever on how worthless the school was, but I'm sure you all know the story.

 

As for my site, I know its gaudy and the placement text sticks out like a sore thumb. I actually launched it the day of posting this so it was more of me playing with muse and having some other place to view my reel aside from Vimeo. That day I noticed how the page size varies depending on the computer I view it on, and it shows the art board outline for some reason behind it, and so on. That's a whole other issue I need to tackle. But I'm just rambling now.

 

My biggest concern is how to keep a fluent style, while showing that I still want to go down the "generalist" path. I like 3D, but I don't want to be stuck doing that all day since I love after effects so much more. And these kiosk videos that are pretty much moving power points (clients words) tarnish what my "style" is. But realistically, if I were to take those out I would be left with a very very short reel. I'm at the fork in the road where I need to choose to either to keep pushing the generalist concept and absorbing all the techniques that I can, or becoming a specialist and fine tuning that. I'm not sure which one would benefit me more in this industry yet. All of the live action shots were for either clients or friends. None of those were personal projects, so it's interesting to find out that it passes off as me being fond of the filming aspect, which I need to address.

 

On a side note, What is it that is giving off this "prima donna" vibe? Just the fact of lack of detail from being quick turnarounds? The longest time I have spent on a particular project was a week. And even those were because of it being a long duration. I know I should just start a bunch of personal projects and spend a lot of time on each one, but with school and work it's hard to find time to even sleep. And my job as of right now is steering me away from what I really want to do. It does give me the chance to practice basic skills. Lower thirds, logo animations, transitions, etc. and how an overall project is created from beginning to end. but the vast majority of it is editing (which I HATE), transcribing, and project organization.

 

Again, I know my work still needs a lot of improvement and I appreciate everyone that has gone out of their way to view it. The source of information that I have gotten from this site has been unfathomable the past year. My student loan would have been better off being used for here.

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Yeah, your situation makes a lot of sense, and is totally par for the course. When you're done with school in a few weeks, your schedule will open up quite a bit and you can start using the spare time to make the stuff you want/need to. The job isn't going to change to suit you, but you can certainly use the projects that you're given as opportunities to practice this and that, as you've said. One of the keys to learning on the job when the job isn't challenging you is to simply hold yourself to a higher standard than your employers do. If they give you a lower 3rd to work on, don't look at other lower 3rds they've done as reference. Instead, take some of your spare time to find the the most gut-wrenchingly awesome references you can, and spend as much time as you can breaking down why they're so good. Understand what your clients/employers are trying to achieve, and try to achieve that, but always be bringing that little something extra that you learned from studying the best stuff you can find. The context of the work (kiosk vs youtube vs film title) may affect how much responsibility you're given, but it doesn't affect how much awesome you put into your aspect of the work.

 

Don't worry about the school being crap. It's a done deal. The real value of school is in the guidance and the connections you make there. If you didn't get the guidance part, make sure you hold on to the connections. It's good to have friends. You'll hook each other up when times are lean, and learn from each other well beyond graduation.

 

As for the site, always remember that a good chunk of your job is presentation. You present information, you present ideas, you present emotional content, and it's a complicated and many-faceted job task. When you present your own work to a bunch of people who are really good at presenting things, you'd better pay a lot of attention to your presentation if you want to convince them that you're good at presenting. :D You're presenting a diamond ring to your girl in the hopes that she'll marry you. Don't stick that diamond ring in a broken off piece of styrofoam you dug out of the dumpsters behind Best Buy. Don't make an announcement about a candidate winning the US presidential election on a piece of paper that has drawings of dicks and a crusty spot where you fell asleep and drooled. It's a big "fuck you" to the audience who would care otherwise. If your site design is worse than posting on vimeo, then just post on vimeo. Cut your losses until you're actually creating real value.

 

With regard to "style", that's a confusing word. In the art/design world, a style is really something that started out as a strong visual solution for a specific problem, but now has been widely adopted and is identified by the general public by virtue of it being used ubiquitously by a range of artists for a range of reasons, usually unrelated to the original context. In that sense, "style" is something you want to learn from, but never be identified by. Styles are visual habits that are praised and then quickly mocked within short time span. Like Instagram photos, or vector graffiti with vector paint drips, or... well there's like a million mockable habits, and they're mockable because people who get into those visual habits usually just plaster them on everything instead of thinking about the actual issues. I like techno type, so I'm gonna use it unironically for this toddler's birthday card. Nope. My style is black and red russian propoganda-era stencil portraits done in illustrator so that's how I'm gonna do this golf commercial and everything else I touch. Nope.

 

Don't worry about style. What you're going to try to develop is your "voice". Voice is more about a perspective, or a way of thinking about projects that's unique to an individual. Snarky is a voice. Reverent is a voice. Granted, these are really general, but they get at the idea that it's about how a person approaches an issue. It's not about saying "I will do this whole car commercial in shades of pink", it's about saying "I'm going to make this whole car commercial really girly" and then proceeding to figure out how to make it girly. And if you can figure out the difference between those two, you're on the right track.

 

And as for the "prima donna vibe", yeah, that may be the quick turnarounds. When you send someone your reel, all they have to go on is exactly what you've presented them. They won't know about the quick turnarounds. They just see what the end result is. Your combined presentation, site and reel, feel very unfinished. But portfolios aren't really things that have deadlines, so no one really thinks about them as having had to be made with a lot of compromise. Subsequently, when you present a portfolio that's not so great, they assume that you either suck or don't care. As far as yours goes, the volume of your work is just enough to tell me that you're serious about it, but the lack of concept, attention to detail, animation, and so on, can imply that you don't spend time on the work, which indicates prima donna behavior. That might not be right, but you haven't proven otherwise in your portfolio. And that doesn't mean you make a disclaimer next to your reel. The portfolio always has to speak for itself, just like every project you'll ever do.

 

Also, don't worry about your "generalist vs specialist" internal debate quite yet. Just go after the things you're interested in. If you end up specializing in something, it'll be by virtue of being interested in that thing. And you'll get good at it by virtue of your own passion for it. Don't force it. For now, you just need to stay immersed in the process of pushing yourself in all of the directions you're interested in. Look at and study the best stuff you can find. Always keep your brain turned on to it. Critically analyze why certain things work and others don't. See something awesome online? Watch it repeatedly. Watch it for the details. Watch it for the ideas. Watch it for the way a single element behaves. Watch it for the quality of a single line. Watch it a hundred times and understand where it fails to be perfect. When you know how it could have been better, you're getting somewhere.

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For your website...if you don't really want to spend a ton of time on it, and you don't really love building websites - I'd consider just picking up a premium wordpress theme. There's some really nice looking ones out there - and then you don't have to worry about screen resolution issues, mobile compatability, ease of adding new content, etc.

 

Also: I would turn off the autoplay on the video.

Edited by stutts

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+1 for the wordpress template. Or otherwise dole out the cash for something like squarespace. The time you save messing with your website you can put in your reel.

 

Also, two lengthy Binky replies. You lucky son of a bitch.

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Also, two lengthy Binky replies. You lucky son of a bitch.

 

Foreal! I lurk on here from time to time and to see those posts, which obviously took some thought was great to see. I'm pretty new to mograph in general, but really like to see honest posts like those. They really help. Even those who it wasnt directly intended for.

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Just because your projects had a 1 week turn around time doesn't mean you can't work after they were submitted.

I don't think, especially when you're a student you can ever be done with your projects.

 

I'd go back and edit and improve every project I did after they were due at school, still do that at work before putting them in my reel.

I'm not saying you should fix up every single project as a whole, but you can shorten your reel, jazz up whats in there and even try your hand in grading.

First impressions man, they count for so much.

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"Good is the enemy of great" states Voltaire, and you should state that, too.

 

Good means good enough. Good enough to ship. It functions. It technically is type on screen. Shapes move in time and it is all spelled right. You have technically made a quicktime movie, put it on the internet, and a website has been made. But, to produce any of this work, design is a prerequisite.

 

Sometimes, good is what it needs to be... you are out of time, or money. But a full portfolio of good enough means you never strived for great. It's hard, striving for great. It's inconvenient. You can't hang out with your friends or girlfriend, even after you are done with whatever it is you are working on. You are technically done, and then you have to have an internal voice that tells you to do it again, until it's crossed a weird, internal, arbitrary acceptability threshold.

 

Listen to that voice. Push the threshold. Look at work and compare yourself to it. Do this as much as you can just to the point of paralysis of production. Continue to make, but hold yourself to great standards as often as is allowable.

 

Stolen from Jonathan Ive: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-07/30/jonathan-ive-revenue-good-design

 

c

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