The dust started to settle, the holiday season had passed, and Jpixx headed into the offseason with an entire year’s worth of new content. With being well into the new year, the decision was made and a new demo reel was in order. Where does one start? you may ask. After all, anyone familiar with video and media production understands that the task of sifting through hours of footage can be intimidating. The experience is similar to looking at the peak of a tall mountain you’re about to climb. Compiling a reel seems straightforward, but we decided to interview our very own, Caleb Chamberlain, about the nuances of his editing journey and artistic choices.
I always approach situations like this with full force. I love opportunities to stretch my creativity and imagination. When it came to this project in particular, I approached it with a fresh perspective. I was at the base of a mountain and could only see the peaks, nothing else mattered. If the idea was too outrageous, it was left on the trail, but that didn’t stop me from experimenting with them. The most difficult part was creating something for a company. For myself, I would have to keep checking my status and making sure that what I was doing was representing the company well. Having edited for other companies before, I have an understanding of creating and staying on brand but I wanted to make Jpixx stand out and really own the mantra, “Capture Life Creatively” with that, I started running up the mountain towards the peaks of my creativity.
There were not a ton of surprises necessarily but there was a much bigger process. As creatives, we tend to want to run up mountains like this just to see the end result. But the two most important things you need to check yourself in is your preparation and your pacing. Going into 4 years worth of work from an entire company is no easy feat. I decided early on that I didn’t want to piece together already exported videos. I wanted the raw clips so I could color and customize the reel to feel on brand and cohesive. In order to do this, I went through over 50 of Jpixx’s top videos from the last 4 years, timecoded the shots I wanted, went deep into our archives and pulled individual shots that I knew I wanted for this edit. That wasn’t all though. There were several shots and scenes that were specifically curated for this reel. Organizing, filming and weaving those into the story was another key part of this reel. Before the editing of this reel began, the visual elements alone totaled 2,174 hand picked and created video clips which weighed in at just under 3 terabytes of space.
There is a moment in the reel right before everything goes to extremely high energy where you see the interview chair change lighting setups from completely lit to a singular light source. This was by a total accident in complete honesty. When we were filming the interviews, I went ahead and rolled a take where I walked around and turned off one light at a time. Initially, the shot faded to black (note to all editors, if you are fading to black; don’t. There is almost always another way to achieve the transition). Anyways, I really didn’t like the way the moment was working until I remembered the extra take I had done of that same shot. So that small moment you are watching is actually 5 shots blended together to transition from fully lit to dark and ominous. It became the perfect cue to explode into high energy for the rest of the reel.
When it comes to editing a piece like this, I usually start by looking for music. I will search for several tracks and begin narrowing them down one by one. Once I find one I like, I put it on repeat, close my eyes and imagine every possible thing I can. I remember after I had an idea of what I wanted to do, there wasn’t really any way to explain it without just doing it. But the tricky thing about something like this is you can never fill in all the blanks before you start. If you can, you’re limiting yourself and your creativity. So, start with what you know. In the first cut of this reel, I started about 2/3rds of the way in and started building towards the beginning and end simultaneously. This allowed for a unique approach as I was building the middle to be the strongest point that holds the opening and closing together.
Something I have learned as a creative is to never take critical feedback personally. There were many revisions from my initial narrative driven cut of this reel that brought it to where it lives today. Part of that process was getting feedback and notes from colleagues and peers alike. When it comes to any comment, it is rarely objectively based. Nearly everything is a subjective preference in this stage. Having an open mind and being able to approach everything on the second round can be daunting with endless notes but also a rewarding experience. Revision notes can open your mind to new ideas because it’s no longer your point of view. Now your perspective has the shared knowledge of another viewer. Does that mean what you initially did was wrong? Not necessarily. Does it mean that without input your work sucks? Nope. It is a tool, just like anything else. Use the notes to make something better, because if you add everything, you’ll only degrade your end product.
If you’re not invested in it, don’t make it. Your reel is your showpiece, the first thing your clients are going to see or know about you. If your reel is generic, so will be your clients. I recommend you make a reel for the client you want to have, not the ones you think you can get. Express yourself and your creativity to stand out. In a sea in which everyone is drowning from over-saturation, at least make a life raft if not a boat, or a yacht. Also, involve people in your network but apart from your work. These people are going to be the most honest and give creative and critical feedback to your work. It’s nearly invaluable to have this input in your workflow.
Inspiration. Far too often, companies come up with an idea and then try to find a production house to execute just that single idea. But what if there could be more? When clients or other video production companies see our reel, I want them to see the peaks of the mountain that were previously covered in fog. They can watch it and know we have climbed the mountain and want to bring them and their ideas to their peaks, no matter how high. But a challenged mountaineer never pitches his flag where he is comfortable. There will always be another lofty peak with its own challenges, and I cannot wait to climb them.
Months of hard work and tearing through terabytes resulted in one of our best reels yet. Caleb took our tagline “Capture Life Creatively” and crafted that into an entertaining piece while displaying our ethics and values of modern day creators. While we’re proud of the end product, we’re thankful for Caleb taking the time to give us some insight and shedding light on the subtle parts of the process. Having said that, what are you waiting for? View our 2020 Demo Reel in all of its glory!