Building A Showreel

Colorist Tip: Building A Color Correct Showreel

May 6, 2014

How do you build a colorist showreel / demo reel that condenses your whole career into 3mins? Dan shares with you his approach.

Building a showreel is an incredibly challenging process. When you build your first showreel you may not have a huge amount of choice of shots to use but as you evolve as a colorist there is a lot of thinking required to build an effective showreel. You need to be able to take all your hours of  hard work grading, perfecting your artistry and technical knowledge and boil it down into a montage video that will ultimately help a client decide if they want to grade with you or not.

You have 3 minutes to showcase your whole career

When it comes to creatives like directors or advertising agency folk viewing your showreel the technical side of color grading goes out the window and means pretty much zero to your client. People assume if you call yourself a professional colorist you know what your doing with all workflows and camera formats and are judging you purely on your creativity and previous work.

We spend weeks thinking about the mood and target audience for my new showreels at smoke and mirrors so I thought it would be interesting for me to share the thoughts and questions we ask when building a new reel for a new year.

Pick Your Audience

The very first step is asking yourself who is your showreel aimed at. It should be aimed at the business you’re trying to attract. If your after feature film work a fast paced, cut heavy music montage reel is not going to attract them and likewise if your after music videos lots of drama work won’t attract music video directors.

You can have multiple reels of course but I find its hard enough work to keep one reel current so I decided to focus on just the one discipline and have one reel.


Before and After?

Before and after comparisons on showreels is a pretty hot topic. For the type of grading I am trying to attract there is no room for before and afters on my reel. The reason why is my clients simply don’t care what the image looked like before. It seems harsh but these are commercial directors and agencies who have a choice of about 30 colorists all in 1 or 2 square miles of where I’m based. They know we’re all good as we wouldn’t be working at large facilities otherwise but they want to find out who’s great and a cut above the rest.

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Homepage Forums Colorist Tip: Building A Color Correct Showreel

  • Jim Wicks

    Nice Dan!

    My one and only comment is: add contact info with your name at the end (website or email).
    Just in case your reel gets passed around and the hiring person who views it doesn’t know you.
    Make their job easier to hire you and they’ll love you the more for it.

    Music bed is perfect, editing is spot on.
    This reel should help you get more work.
    Which is bad for me, because I’ll see you less. -:)

    Best, Jim

  • Dan Moran

    That is a great addition and totally forgot about that Jim! I’ve been a facility colorist my whole life so far so I never thought about contact details. I think I’ll revise my insight to include that as its very important!

    We’re still working on the reel but thanks for the kind words and can’t wait to show you it when its finished 🙂

  • Dylan Hopkin


    Showreels are always a challenge to make.
    I just finished off my new reel, it took a while. A lot of thinking goes in to getting the right vibe for the target audience.
    It would be interesting to see what other members at Mixinglight have done for their reels, and what their thought process was.

    I chose to include before / after examples, based on feedback from directors / producers / DOPs I know.
    Choosing the correct music has always been important for me, without great music you can´t get the emotional feeling nailed.
    You must think about the “story” you want to tell, that being where to include imagery of happiness / beauty / drama etc.

    My story was: 1. Emotional, serious drama , 2. Transition with some kind of buildup, 3. Happiness / Feelgood

    My first edit only included new imagery. Pictures that had not be featured in previous reels.
    That turned out fine, but there will always be imagery that you love from older projects.

    So I ended up including a little bit of older stuff, just to show people what I have done before.

    I Should mention that I mainly grade TV-drama, Music Videos, Documentaries, Features, and the occasional TV-commercial.
    Covering the Norwegian / Scandinavian market. Most of the faces in the reel are well known Scandinavian actors.

    If anyone whats to check what I ended up doing, feel free to do so:

    I hope that other members share their reels too! Let the discussion flow B.)


    // Dylan
    Twitter: drhopkin

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