|A motion FX clip, produced in SD rebuilt as HD.|
A true give-away that your demo reel is out of date is if all of your clips are SD (standard definition) and none are HD (high definition). This recently led me to make sure I had a high definition demo reel. The challenge for me was to to make sure I had enough HD material, so that the SD clips were few and far between.
Unfortunately, a lot of the projects I have access to are only available in SD. Although the recent freelance projects that I've cut were HD, most were quick jobs and I didn't have time to make a copy of the final sequence for my reel. For this reason, I decided to build my demo reel in 720p, that way any clips that were SD didn't have to be scaled up as much as they would have if I went with 1080p.
Lucky for me, a lot of the projects I had archived included motion graphic elements. This meant I could rebuild them in 720p. Since the SD elements used in them weren't full frame, I wouldn't really have to scale them up while going to the higher resolution. For those elements that required full-frame SD, it was the on-screen graphics or titles that suffered the most on the up-rez. In those cases, I was able to go back to the raw video source, scale it up without the overlay and then rebuild the graphic overlays in native 720p. Since the graphic overlays weren't scaled up their lines remained crisp and sharp at the new HD resolution. Even for the videos that were 4x3 SD, doing the scaling in Adobe After Effects results in a much better up-rez, than letting the editing application do the re-size.
Although I had the time between jobs, and rebuilding my demo reel was a great way to re-familiarize myself with the current versions of the different video tools used, it was also a learning experience in another way. From now on (with the client's permission), I will always make sure I go home with a copy of my current work.