How I Put Together my Latest Sports Showreel.

In a time before the Internet, a photographerís portfolio was a carefullly printed collection of their finest work. Carried around and opened for anyone who was interested. This tome was shown to as many important eyeballs as possible because it was a very important medium for showing off oneís work to people who matter.

Then, along came the Internet and things changed big time. A printed portfolio wasnít the promotional tool of choice anymore. That honour fell to the those new fangled websites. An online portfolio was THE thing and for good reason. As we all know it meant that an online image collection would have the potential to be seen by hundreds if not thousands of people. It was a no-brainer. Now, all photographers have a website, an Instagram account, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. All offering the ability to show off and promote that work.

Now though, many photographers, including myself, are embracing video. Weíre becoming skilled in the art of the moving image as well as the still. We need to show off our filmmaking wares but how do we do that now? We do that with a showreel. Filmmakers have been using these for years, making short collections of their best work to promote themselves just as photographers have used a portfolio. Whereas a filmmakerís showreel is going to be 100% made up of footage, a photographer can mix the stills in there too to show off both mediums.

There is an additional dimension to the showreel that makes for an even more entertaining experience for the viewer, music. Synchronising those images and film to the beat of the music is a pleasant thing to watch.

Showreels are a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with clients and let them see new work in a new way, perhaps more entertaining that just flicking through a printed book or clicking on images from that website. Of course making a decent showreel is a lot of work when compared to printing a collection of images and inserting them in to a folio book but that extra dimension the viewing experience brings can be worth the effort. As I recently created a new showreel to bring together some of my latest imagery and footage I thought Iíd share that process. It might give you some ideas for doing your own. Before starting, I have to have a few things, the images, the clips, an editor, some music and a place to put the thing on the Internet when itís finished. Lets take a look at each of those requirements.

The Content
At this point I have to decide what the theme of the showreel will be and as itís sports and lifestyle I have to pick out some of my images and footage that fits in with that. Some of the work is quite old however Iím still very proud of it and itís still exciting to show that so to me, thatís a very good reason to include it. Some of the work is only a couple of weeks old so itís a real mix. I only include the very best work just as any creative would do when they select work to put in to a printed folio.

As film is a natural landscape format I select as many landscape images as I can but thereís also a few portrait-format shots I want to show so as Iíll use some of the panning features of my editor itís not impossible to include them. I could reduce the size to fit in its entirety but that would mean black bars either side of the image which I donít like so thatís not an option.

An added selection criteria was to find media that fitted with a beginning, middle and end, that is, I wanted those I use at the start to be non-action to match the pace of the music, to then move to action as the music tempo hots up then finally to go back to a very slow set as the music comes to an end. I also added a little start, middle and end to some of the clips, using action from a hockey final I filmed.

The Music
Iím always amazed by how much use there is of copyrighted music on the Internet, where Itís unlikely that permission has been granted for the use of that music. So as someone who respects otherís copyright, I was not going to be one of those people. That leaves me with a couple of choices, either pay to licence some music, or make my own. Now Iím no musician but I do know itís possible to buy software that lets me put together a decent track using loops supplied with the software. Iíve made use of my own tracks now for almost all of my films. The big advantage to this is I can design the track to suit the tempo and length I need. As I wanted a start, middle and end, I created the track with three zones of pace. Anyone can do this, it does however need a little practice to get it right.

The Editing
We arrive at the stage where we throw all of that media together in the editor. First comes my brand graphic which always goes at the front. I then decide when I want the music to start and work out which images and footage Iíll show at the beginning. I like to order the work such that thereís a flow, to have some cohesion. It might be where a subject appears in a couple of shots, or two different subjects that share a dominant colour or perhaps water is important to the image. I find it makes for a pleasing viewing experience. As part of the attraction of a showreel is the pace of the media matching the music, Iím careful to change the media to the beat, this is what gives the showreel some zing and is pleasant to watch. (At least I think so). I donít use any cheesy transitions, only simple straight cut or melts, generally the simpler the better, the work should be the attraction, not the editing. To make the images more interesting, my editor Corel VideoStudioX9 has a feature that zooms in, out and around the image. Certainly makes watching a still photograph more dynamic. I'll be careful to use different zooms and movements to avoid repeating effects too often. After the imagery is in place, the last addition are the titles and copyright details, contact details and credits. In case youíre wondering the credit for the music is Bloke & Swagger, which is the name I give to my own music-making persona.

A few test renders to see how it looks, followed by any necessary tweaks and weíre about done. Render to an MP4 file format at HD 720p which gives me reasonable quality for the web in a file thatís not too big to upload and Iím good to go. As I have some footage that's only 720p I can't make this a 1080p file as it would lose some quality in those clips. However I'm happy enough with 720p. Sometimes Iíll render to .MOV for better quality to archive locally.

We all know about the big platforms for our videos, Vimeo and Youtube. There are more but these are the sites I use. I like Vimeoís look, itís somehow a cleaner interface and they also allow a video to be replaced. Always useful if youíve got stats on a film and want to tweak it a little and replace it. Youtube doesnít allow that. Any replacement video has to be uploaded in its own right. They do offer one small concession, allowing a link to be added to the original video pointing to the new version. To do this a tag has to be configured to pop up on the video. Youtube also allow advertising revenue to be generated from views so that can be a possible source of income. Finally, both allow free uploading but Vimeo restrict free accounts to monthly upload limit.

What Next?
Time to let a few people know about the new showreel, afterall ,whatís the point of spending that time and effort if nobody is going to see it? Itís a marketing tool so it has to do some work now!

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