Composer Showreel – part 2

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In part 1 of this series we explores some of the best tips shared by the Film Scoring Tips community on how to make your showreel as good as possible. Here are more great tips along with the best software to achieve your goal.

Learn from the cinema

What was the last movie trailer you saw? Whether or not you remember the film, you can probably remember the experience. Trailers are truly masterful at engaging the audience. They create a sensation of thrill and tension, which doesn’t let go until the very last second. 

This is all technique that we can use in our showreels. Begin by mapping out the pacing and dynamics of your showreel. Consider having a beginning, middle and end, ensuring the pacing and tension flows seamlessly from one section to the other. Hook your listener to begin with, then perhaps gradually increase the tension and pacing until eventually releasing at the end. This technique is the same process that’s used to grip your attention during a movie trailer – try it out on your work too. 

If a filmmaker has 20 of these to get through, the only thing that’s stopping them from skipping to the next candidate is if your video engaging and interesting to watch. 

“Make it exciting and engaging. Build intrigue from the start so that the person wants to keep watching. Learn about video marketing and how to create amazing YouTube videos for advice on storytelling in videos.” – Anonymous survey respondent

Sell yourself

Marketers love the term “call to action”. This is where you ask your audience to take an action, such as buy a product or send you an email. If someone’s looking at a whole load of showreels, it’s pretty easy to forget who sent which one in. However, if you have a title card showing your website and contact details, you can have your own call to action to encourage them to contact you. If they like your work but don’t know your email address, you might miss out on that project!

Test it, then test it again

Be sure to review your showreel. Ask yourself: does it demonstrate what your client is looking for? Is it engaging? 

One easy way to find out is to ask a friend to watch your video. Do they get fidgety or bored? Was their facial expression engaged or confused/distracted? Their body language will tell you everything you need to know.

Video editing software for creating your music showreel

Just like most digital audio workstations, most video editing programs are very similar to each other. It’s best to just find one you like and stick with it. If you’re comfortable and familiar with your chosen software, you’ll find it easier and faster to create great results.

Try your digital audio workstation

Some DAWs also offer basic video editing facilities but neglect the ability to add titles and effects. If you’re looking for a quick solution and you require only a very basic video, this might be worth considering. 

Software to try:

  • Cockos Reaper

Free video editing software

Type “free video editor” into Google and you’ll get loads of results. Be wary – some of these are pretty bad. However, there are a far professional-standard programs that will cost you absolutely nothing. Don’t forget your computer’s pre-installed video editor, too. While basic, it might be all you need.

Software to try:

  • Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve (highly recommended)
  • EditShare Lightworks 
  • Windows MovieMaker
  • Apple iMovie

Professional video editors typically use very powerful software, which comes with a high price tag. While these are incredibly in-depth programs, their cut-down home editions might be all you need for creating a showreel. 

Software to try:

  • Adobe Premiere Pro/Elements
  • Apple Final Cut Pro
  • Avid Media Composer
  • MAGIX Vegas Pro

Hire a friend

Why not hire an experienced editor? A great editor will save you time and you’ll benefit from their professional expertise. It might even be the start of a future working relationship!

Now it’s your turn

I hope some of that is useful to you. Once you’ve created your showreel, upload it to your website via Vimeo or YouTube – or try Reelcrafter which has been designed specifically for composers. 

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the survey for this article. I’d like you leave you on this final point: One of our survey respondents spent four whole days perfecting their showreel. They selected their very best work, edited it meticulously, then presented it all to likely potential customers. They won absolutely no new clients. 

Ultimately, the key lesson here is that your showreel is only one part of your strategy to gain new work. No matter how amazing your showreel is, it won’t replace getting out there and making great relationships. But if you’ve already made that relationship, your showreel might be the very thing that helps you win that next project. Good luck. 

What’s your favourite showreel tips? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section below. 

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Giovanni Rotondo

Giovanni Rotondo

Editor in Chief of Film Scoring Tips. Giovanni Rotondo is an experienced film and television composer based in London. He has scored many award winning feature films (Elijah and the Rock Creature, Orphans & Kingdoms), TV movies (Il Giudice Meschino, Il Confine), documentaries (Ilaria Alpi - L'Ultimo Viaggio) and video games (Thunderbird: The Legend Begins). More info here:

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