How To Create An Eye-Catching VFX Breakdown (or Showreel) That Will Set You Apart | ActionVFX

How To Create An Eye-Catching VFX Breakdown (or Showreel) That Will Set You Apart

How To Create An Eye-Catching VFX Breakdown (or Showreel) That Will Set You Apart

An effective VFX breakdown or showreel can separate you from the competition on portfolios, gigs, and more.

Visual effects production takes a LOT of work. No matter your role in the post-production pipeline, VFX breakdowns allow you to showcase your skills in a way that is both compelling and insightful into your areas of expertise. 

It’s perfect for your portfolio, as well as sharing on social media and LinkedIn. In the VFX industry, visual demonstrations are proof of your skills, creativity, and innovation — and they have the potential to set you apart from your competitors.  

Let’s take a look at how you can build an effective VFX breakdown!

How to Build an Effective VFX Breakdown

One of the best places to start is finding what you've liked about other VFX breakdowns so you can become inspired and generate ideas for building the framework for your breakdown.

There's no exact formula for creating the perfect VFX breakdown, so think of ways you can most effectively showcase your work.
Of course, VFX breakdowns are all about layers. When you stop and consider all the work that goes into a single completed VFX shot, there's so much to pull from. 

You can render out several passes as effects are stacked up, which will gradually build to show the full process.  Even starting with an ungraded image can make a big difference as color grading is added, creating an impressive final product.

As shown in the video above, linear wipes are ideal for showcasing before and afters. You can also work in revealers between scenes to build natural segways if you are feeling adventurous and have several elements to work with.

Adding 3D layer breakouts and camera orbits can add a lot of depth and visual interest as well. Using wipes in addition to this 3D layer technique can help your breakdown also feel more dynamic.

Side-by-side comparisons
at the end of your VFX breakdown can hammer home the impressive results of your work and provide a great reminder of where your shot started.

You can also use screen recording software to capture your process as you work, then speed it up into a timelapse for your breakdown. This is especially engaging when using digital content creation tools, 3D modeling, rotoscoping, and matte painting.

The Art of Crafting a Showreel

Whether you're a VFX artist, content creator, or filmmaker, it’s easy to get so caught up in the day-to-day that we forget to take time to save highlights of our best work. A showreel gives you the opportunity to share a myriad of work, while demonstrating specific proficiencies that you possess.
This is a great example that shows the artist’s skills in practical applications, and segmenting a showreel with a specific software focus (like Nuke, in this case) is perfect for potential employers who may be seeking users of a particular program or workflow.

Aside from focusing solely on cool shots, look for ways you can demonstrate competency in your field for solving real-world problems (lighting, object removals, compositing, set extensions, keying, rotoscoping, matchmoving, etc). 

If your expertise isn’t necessarily VFX, you could segment your reel into sections that show examples of commercials or short films you’ve produced, corporate work, and more. 

The idea is to show that you are knowledgeable and skilled at what you do, while also giving a sense of the scope of your experience.

Helpful Ideas to Keep in Mind When Building a VFX Breakdown or Showreel

Above all, your VFX breakdowns and/or showreels should never be boring! Keep your video concise and only as long as it needs to be.

Turn to peers and even consider reaching out to others who may be willing to provide valuable feedback on your VFX breakdown or showreel.

A great place you can receive and provide feedback is in our very active Forum, so be sure to stop by and check it out. You can also share your breakdown or reel with us in the comments below!

If you want to continue developing your career in the VFX/film industry, providing demos of your work will put you that much closer to landing the next gig, and hopefully one that you’re a perfect fit for.

There are so many considerations to keep in mind when developing your reel, so be sure to check out the video below for several awesome tips to help you showcase your work in its very best light!
We encourage you to now head to the new ActionVFX Forum to discuss this article or other topics related to VFX and filmmaking!


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