GSG Reel Critique Episode 2

October 1, 2009 - By 

Thanks for all of the great feedback from last week’s GSG Reel critique. I’m really excited to share with you the second episode. Check out my Reel Critique Rules and Overview before watching. Also, the critique shouldn’t stop here. I would love to hear what you think about the reels or about my critique in general.

Today, I critique the following reels:
Eric Woods

Orlando Peña

Wii Yatani

  • Hey Nick!

    Love your C4D tutorials. What REALLY would be awesome is a “No Keyframes”-break down. You know that Maxon 11.5 Mograph 2 beauty..

    Lights, dynamics, attractors etc.

    Thanks for a great, great site!

    Love from Sweden!

  • Yeah Nick I’m down for joining you if you want a hand.

  • This is great stuff Nick. My new reel will be out soon! I’ll keep you posted.

  • Great review, loved the varying style of reels and experience. Can’t wait for more yo.

  • I am lovin’ these reel critiques. I am working on my reel now…so hopefully I can get mine up there and tore apart! Keep it up!

  • Good Job Nick! Keep’em coming….

  • Nick, once again a great review. I think your idea of sharing the duties with fellow industry peers would be a good idea, assuming they’ll have the same insights as yourself, which come across as genuine and helpful, even when critical.

    It’s also important for the artists submitting the reels that it’s recognized that
    a) sometimes the clients do force us to use crappy color schemes
    b) while some critiques about particular designs are typically clear and obvious, some will naturally fall under the reviewers ‘subjectivity’.
    c) as you mentioned and recognized, we should get props for being able to pull off some of the work we do under the ridiculous deadlines we get, and that’s not always easy to get across on a demo reel.

    On that note, I’ll humbly share my personal thoughts on one of the reels, perhaps to offer additional eyes on the work. (This, as a fellow motion graphics designer working on his own reel)

    Re: Eric Woods.
    -I might suggest his ‘particle burst’ intro doesn’t give a good preview of his actual skills, as it feels a bit ‘generic-y / preset-ish’ for that particular effect, and the transition into his Name Logo is kind of jarring and unrelated.
    -Since it seems the “My Phil 17” stuff seems to be a large part of the reel, would it be a reasonable suggestion for him to perhaps remove the “MP17” logo from some of those animations, and present them as distinct pieces? (Just so it doesn’t feel like he’s trying to squeeze every drop of juice out of that project). In other words, use the great 3d models he’s built (like that globe thingy), but make it something else? (Would that be allowed?)
    *For instance, there’s a piece where he uses the B&W image w/ pink graphics. I might remove the “MyP-17” reference, and use a “Sex & the City” logo or something like that, since we don’t need the MyP-17 reference for the piece itself to be relevant.
    -The yellow “Watch TV Shows like MP17” animation feels unfinished, and is cut off too quick.
    It feels a bit like the wheel from the Price is Right.
    – I hear where you’re coming from about the critique re the monotone sequences, but I don’t think they’re that bad, and it kind of fits with the theme; a kind of “living in the blueprint/architectural plans” vibe thing. It feels HGTV-ish, and maybe with a little touch up, could really go up a degree in coolness.
    -The price tag thingy can definitely go.
    -The robot animation is great, but can use a little more context / background / etc. Give them a home of some type. They kind of remind me of the little wooden drawing mannequins I had in college. Maybe they’re the Hi-Tech version of those on someone’s futuristic art desk or something (and that way, avoid it looking like the NFL dancing robots).

    I personally like monotone stuff, because when it’s done well, it says something about being able to design well without using bright color as a crutch, as it sometimes is.

    The guy is certainly talented, with great potential, and soon enough will get enough diversity in his reel to really take it to another level.

    Once I get my reel done, I’ll post it up for some Hulk Smash.

    As you said, having the guts to put your stuff up for critique is, in the end, really to your advantage, especially coming from fellow designers who are motivated by camaraderie, and their own pursuit to excel in this field.

    Kudos to you, Nick, for providing a forum for this kind of helpful endeavor.
    Peace, I’m outty on da realz fo da reelz.

  • Regard Eric Woods: I agree with the stuff you said to cut (and would cut the Ink splatters too maybe, but Orange Living Room. My eye was immediately drawn to the people, not the colors, which i think he’s got kind of a cool multi-shade thing going on with it. Maybe crop in a bit on those scenes but that’s about it.

    • Don’t know what happened to my comment. Was trying to say I actually liked the Blue Kitchen and Orange TV room pieces, and was not distracted by the colors at all.

  • Regarding Orlando: very cool stuff but surprised Nick didn’t mention more on the text-only pieces. The large, squarish blocks of text were very hard to read because you can’t make out the shape of the individual letters very well IMHO. If it were me I might pull those two short pieces too, considering how awesome the rest of the real is. That spinning 3D city bit with the P-51 type plane was *sick*. 🙂

  • Some very nice reels. Good job. Good critique.

  • The Wii Yatani is very cool, thanks for your critique Nick, it’s always a pleasure 😉

  • Impressive stuff.. Just trying to keep all the comments in mind. A lot of times it’s easy to see that something doesn’t work, but hard to say why – “a problem well defined is half solved” as they say..

  • Hey Nick-
    It was a pleasant surprise to see my name in this episode of the reel critique. Thank you so much. As with others, I value your input greatly. There’s definitely things I need to re-work for my reel, especially the repetitive shots you mentioned (snowboarding). I have some projects I’d like to replace it with but they haven’t gone “live” yet. Also, I’m not quite sure how to visually show my role in the website projects aside from just showing the final end product. However, I am planning to add a reel breakdown on my site to properly show what area I was responsible for. I should also say which projects were for real clients and which were personal correct? Or does that not matter as much…

    Thanks again and looking forward to future critiques!

  • hey nick can I be on your panel? can you record ichat conferences? I’ve got a camera and I’m totally game (plus I’ve had to look at a lot of reels for work lately)…

  • Everyone,

    Thank you for all of your input. This will be unbelievably helpful for my next reel. I promise to post it upon completion. I agree with the design critique whole heartedly. I’ve always felt that my design took a backseat to my animation and now I can see that I’m not the only one that sees this. You answered my question on your uStream.TV talk today regarding how to go about solidifying my Design skills and I feel like I got a good understanding of how to do so.

    To Nick, Rich and VancouverMan. I’m aware of the weaknesses in the simpler pieces and plan on replacing them with some of the newer work already posted at .

    I do have a question maybe someone can answer. The collection of work as you have mentioned is mostly Broadcast Design, with the occasional freelance client thrown into the mix. How can I focus my Reel into a direction beyond Broadcast and open myself up to the possibility of a production house work? Do boutiques like that usually frown upon an abundance of Broadcast Design?

    Anyway thank you again for everyone’s input and I’m open to all criticism.

    • Very nice reel man.

      You said “You answered my question on your uStream.TV talk today regarding how to go about solidifying my Design skills and I feel like I got a good understanding of how to do so.”

      I missed that episode of GSG, could you post here what those tips on improving design were? I also have to improve my design skills.

      • good design is so hard to understand because it is classified differently by everyone, but I think my college design professor summed it up pretty well:

        Good design is communication that can be understood by everyone…if it’s super complex and looks awesome but isn’t understood or interpreted correctly, it falls into the category of fine art and not design…fine artists have to please one person:themselves…designers have to please everyone…

        Seriously tho any design basics book should get you hitting the ground running…

    • I think people can see past that fact that there is a lot of the same station in your work. As long as you can make it varied. maybe do a five second project in a style that is “all yours” or one that you really like. That way, it would flesh your reel out.

  • Another nice reel breakdown. I would like you to show good and bad reals in the same session. Those three were really well done, and on the last two the only comment you had was: trim it up a bit more.
    How about showing 1 good, 1 medium, and one “bad” real so we can compare them and see not only what is good but also what not to do.

  • Thank you for all the comments and critique, i will take all the advice from all of you guys to make a real kick ass 2010 reel!, thanks!! :D…—excuse my bad ass english

  • Rickard Bengtsson October 3, 2009 at 3:03 am

    As you said it’s is quite dated but I can’t help but loving it anyway. Talking about the snowboard ink splats in the last reel.

    Kinda strange that there hasn’t been any 5sec stuff in anyones reel yet imo.

  • i dont find this very very useful, i think only one was enough. you are getting into the small details about each reel in piece, no one except the reel owner has to do much with that. no hard critique because i know you mean good and i love your site and almost everything you make is great but this reel reviews aren’t that effective and helping in my opinion. if i were you i would sum this up with small points but you already kinda did that in your lecture.
    thanks man, but this reel stuff isnt for me.
    tell me your thoughts about what i just said, please.

    • Hi Nick,

      I would hope that most people would extrapolate the small detail critiques that I give and use those comments when making their own reel and projects. I agree that some of it can be too specific, but I try to say WHY and HOW I think it could be better in general terms (contrast, perspective, composition, colors). Hopefully the more general remarks will help out everybody, not just the reel owner. What do you guys think? Too much detail?

      • i felt sometimes the critique itself has nothing to offer me, it would probably help the owner of the reel.
        maybe you should combine between the two, the general and the very specific – that would probably work it out i think.

      • Hey Nick (The Gorilla),
        Stick to your guns man! Please don’t water these down! Your critiques can’t be too detailed. It’s hearing those details that allow us to get a sense of what you’re thinking about during a critique. If you’re thinking it, please say it! These reel critiques have been amazing and hearing you talk through the pieces has exercised our ability to think critically. Learning about formal aspects like color, timing, point of interest, etc. has been so helpful, but learning what questions to ask ourselves when evaluating our own work is invaluable. Thanks Nick for all you do here, it is appreciated!
        Keep it going!

      • Sorry, I have to respectfully disagree, Nick Rouge. I feel the reel critiques help not only the individual artists, but give an idea of what could be improved, what can be presented more effectively and HOW to approach creative problems for many still learning their craft (like me).

        Nick (The Gorilla) has created a guideline of questions that challenge the creator to communicate more effectively.

        Also, he gives extremely useful pointers based on his experience as a lead designer at a major firm. And, he’s willing to share his time and experience for a free critique. Invaluable contribution to students and pros, IMO. Thanks again, Nick.

  • Hi Nick,

    You are a person of great initiative, congratulations!

    This is my reel to be criticized on episode 3!

    thank you!

  • all your comment and solution are pretty cool input for me and those willing to do better in their reel or work or whatever. i love the detail Nick. keep it this way.

  • allthough your input on these reels are dead on, i dont really think you have a voice to say anything about the last reel. his skills are more developed than yours and he is the ideal designer that we in the industry look for.

    • Well that is your opinion and you are entitled to it. But then again so is Nick. It’s called a Reel Critique for a reason.

  • The last reel had a really frenetic pace throughout; which I liked. But honestly I think orlando’s had the best aesthetic (IMO of course.)

    Though I know it’s important that these are FX reels and not editing ones, I really like one’s that include some live action elements — like Wii’s — or really agressive editing. — like Oralndo’s —

  • I have a couple of day that I started visiting your site and it has become a great inspiration to try to improve my work.

    here you have a link to my reel for your review.



  • Orlando, deja de copiar a Espaun256

  • Hey,

    It’s so great you are doing this. I wish more people would follow your lead. I owe a lot to the feedback I get and I think this kind of discussion will help people improve.

    On a whim, though I doubt you will get to it, here is mine (if anyone else want’s to crit it, go for it!):


  • Hi Nick!
    Funny, I thought the Barton Damer’s reel was hotter and better than yours, yet you found something to say….

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