From Security to Accessibility: The Best Sites to Host Your Reel
The demo reel is a filmmaker’s business card in the film industry. So, how you choose to present it can make a difference.
When choosing where to host your reel, the main factors involved are security, cost, accessibility, quality, and the user experience for those viewing. Let’s break these factors down before diving into each service specifically.
This isn’t so much to keep your reel private, but mainly for the footage you might be using within it. If you want to showcase some awesome work, but the footage is proprietary or your client wishes to keep it out of the limelight, you’ll need to have a service that has password protection. In these cases, tell whoever you send the link to that they aren’t meant to share the video and that the password grants temporary access to the reel. After you have confirmation that the prospective client has seen your reel and you’ve entered negotiations, be sure to change the password. You don’t want the footage to end up somewhere it shouldn’t be.
If the footage doesn’t need to be private, and you mean to leave your reel on a website (or social media), password protection is a little less important.
Your reel should be easily accessible. Potential clients shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to watch it, other than something as simple as a password, like I mentioned above. Everything should be as simple as possible. Also, there should never be an advertisement before your potential client can watch the reel. The only ad involving your reel is the footage itself — selling you.
You’ll also want to make sure that your reel doesn’t rely on the content being downloaded. There should be a link that loads your content immediately, which should also be in a high-quality format. Speaking of…
Make sure that wherever you decide to host your reel, the host site doesn’t compress your footage to death. Also check that when a client clicks the link you provide, the host site automatically loads a high-quality HD version. If the host website compresses the reel or if it loads in something like 480p, your client may not recognize that it is an issue with the site and instead simply assume this is what your work actually looks like.
This spells disaster, so be sure to quadruple check any link you send out, and let this play as a major factor in who you decide to host with. By making sure your reel is easily accessible, features zero advertisements, and loads in HD, you’ll ensure a heightened user experience.
Specific Site Reviews and Cost Breakdowns
Let’s break down the best options for hosting your reel and the costs associated with each platform.
This is honestly my favorite option. The basic version is absolutely free, offers 500MB/week to upload, 5GB total, password protection, high-quality playback, and promises to never run an ad on anything you have hosted by them. The basic platform allows independent production companies, artists, and non-profits to use their services, but if you’re a business or using their site to host any form of advertising (this includes product demos/tutorials), you’ll have to upgrade to their paid tiers. If you’re worried that you might not qualify to utilize the free function, you can find more information here.
If you have other productions stored on the same Vimeo page, people who were intrigued by your reel could stick around and check out your other projects — a potential positive by choosing them.
This is another great option for hosting your reel. Open up your G-Drive, create a folder, drag/drop your reel inside, then manage who has access to your video.
This is an insanely easy and well-protected way to share your reel with one specific person, which might actually be a drawback. You won’t be able to share your reel on social, or embed it anywhere using Google Drive. Also, make absolutely sure you have this process worked out and grant proper permissions. It’d be quite the headache for the client if you sent them a link they ultimately couldn’t access. You can get 15GB on Google Drive for free.
YouTube is great for sharing openly on social media, but honestly, that’s about it. They offer limited privacy settings, might compress your footage, and will most likely roll an ad before anyone can watch it. YouTube is great for reaching audiences, but there are far more professional options for dealing with clients.
I’m not the biggest fan of this option, but it could work for you — especially if you already pay for the service. Sometimes I find the quality of a video played directly from Dropbox to be less than desirable. It also doesn’t have the greatest presentation, and if you want to be absolutely sure the quality is top-notch, the client has to download your file — which is the opposite from making this process as easy as possible. This might work for you, but I’m going to pass.
This company interests me, even though it’s not a website to host your video on. It’s more like attaching a marketing team to your videos so you can embed them somewhere else. It’s a great option if you plan to host your reel on your own website or embed it onto another website. But, as far as uploading your reel onto a specific website so you can share the link, well, this ain’t it either.
IF your main focus is actually just having the reel embedded on a website, this could be a great route. You can customize the video, even add colors to the player specific to your brand, and manage how the video player looks. You can have a super clean version of your video, with no on-screen icons. They can even provide you with some valuable SEO information on how your embedded videos are performing.
Hopefully, this guide will help you find a landing spot for your reel, since they’ve become so crucial to us as filmmakers and video creatives. One last suggestion: If you want to take your reel to the next level, add music. And, if you need some help in that department, we’ve got you covered.
Cover image via Sutipond Somnam.
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