I’ve worked for a lot of different clients. Some are interested in showcasing their assets, others, their capabilities. Most of my clients share one major goal: The attraction of their audience.
The best thing I can do when I’m cutting a sizzle reel for my client is to clearly understand their needs. A short conversation about what they’d like to accomplish usually does the trick. I ask one question and try to put them in the position of their audience. “Describe the feelings you’re experiencing while you watch this sizzle reel.”
If they say “Wow,” then I know they want some flashy transitions and a lot of quick cuts, probably some energetic music. If they describe a sense of broad comprehension, like, “This agency already knows exactly what my business needs, and clearly has the resources to accomplish this.” Then my priority shifts from simply collecting “cool shots” to qualifying various contrasting examples of past work that showcase versatility. I may use more of a particular asset in the latter example to establish a deeper understanding of the project, wherein the former, I can accomplish a more effective and efficient sense of wide-eyed awe in the viewer by using only the best 2 or 3 seconds from each asset, and moving very quickly without “explaining” any context.
Below are two reels I’ve cut, one for the Music Video Web Channel ZUUS, which falls into the “wow” category described above. We used narration on this one so that we could keep it under a minute, but still describe all the things ZUUS has to offer. The second, for the digital marketing agency iostudio, valued a slightly more in-depth look at what they’ve done for their clients and wanted to showcase their skills a bit more. This one starts out with plenty of “wow,” then progresses in a linear fashion through the company’s client base. By the end of the piece, the viewer has been shown the highest quality animation and production, and in the closing sequence, gets a defined “roll call” of client logos. Both are dynamic and engaging, but they tell subtly different stories. Enjoy.
ZUUS: See More Music
In some cases, I’m contracted to create a sizzle reel for a specific brand, not an agency that services multiple brands. In these cases, I’m usually asked to provide a feeling of excitement or eagerness to engage with the product or service provided. These jobs often provide a less robust collection of contrasting assets, and usually, have tighter requirements for music beds and copy. What is most helpful in these cases is a clearly defined message or vision of the service being showcased.
In the example below, you will see a specific service showcased in a way meant to appeal to a specific audience. The first, The Nashville Blue Tones, is a promo for an amazing wedding band. They asked that I showcase their wide variety of songs, but stay focused on the “fun” that they bring to every wedding they attend. I worked with the client to produce a “mash-up” audio bed that cut from one very recognizable song to another, then another, then another. I then traveled to several of their gigs to collect footage. Everything is captured live and unstaged, which gives the entire piece a “POV” feel like the viewer is actually there in the middle of the action. I used color profiles and composites to stylize the footage a bit and created the graphics.
The Nashville Blue Tones: Online Promo
In each of these examples, the use of quick cuts, graphic elements and effects, and a clear purpose work together to engage the viewer and energize the brand. I love cutting sizzles because I enjoy finding the very best elements to showcase, and solving the puzzle of how they most effectively work together to accomplish the goal.
What do you look for in a sizzle reel?