Hey guys, I was just wondering while I'm starting my demo reel for video games if I am allowed to cut up different trailers for my sound design demo purpose without running into legal problems?
Well, if you mean cutting up trailers and doing a sound re-design on them, you'll want to tag them as a sound re-design so as to not be confused with the real deal.
If it's trailer's that you've actually done, I believe it should be fine since it is your own work and being shown for demonstration purposes. In my reel I make sure to tag the production company and post sound house that actually secured the film (since I'm an independent contractor, not all the films I work on are strictly through my own company). That way I'm properly crediting the involved studios and not making an ill "political sidestep, however unintended it may be - something as seemingly mundane as giving credit where credit is due can actually go a long way.
Ideally you want to showcase original work (i.e. product originally had your sound, not someone else's). It's then far easier to assume you have the right to showcase the work if you haven't explicitly requested so. Realise this is a catch 22 but it also means keeping a pretty tight focus on what's included in your reel. Over time, with some luck, i'm guessing you will have less and less time to devote updating it...
Always credit whoever you worked with, and whom it was for. Be very clear about labelling the clips where you substituted the original sound with yours. Seeing that the reel is to showcase your abilities, i doubt anyone in any legal department will lift a finger. That said, asking for permission is common sense, and so is assuming you won't get it, especially on a AAA excerpt. Basically, find an indie developer and do a project. Like, right now.
Finally, trailers are slightly on the cinematic side. I suspect more often than not you will be judged on your potential to contribute to the interactive and way more programmatic in-game experience.
Interesting, When I posted an audio show reel a few months ago for feedback this matter was raised by one of our SSD mates. The issue was because I had included a clip of re-designed sound for the Ratatouille animation. According to one of the answers I got, it is not permitted to use any type of film material with out the express authorization of its owner in publc forums. How ever the more I ask around its seems to me that copy-right law is a pretty subjective matter in many situations. I think this is an interesting one...
I recommend MTV style lower 3rds with your title/role in the production and credits to the co-mixer and/or co-designer/editor for the beginning of each scene included. I have also included a credit list with this info to accompany my reel as well.
I have actually gotten a gig or two based on someone who saw my reel and knew someone I had worked with.
Note: I always ask everyone I credit. I have never had anyone say "no." They almost always are happy to hear that I am giving them the respect and advertisement.