Audition Advice: You had to be there!(?)
The voice over and casting industry has changed dramatically over the past decade. The internet, combined with the ability to own "a home studio" (more on that in a future post), has given birth to a whole new ecosystem for those looking to hire voices and those looking to earn a living as a voice actor. It's a big topic, and one I hope to dig deeper into a little further down the road. For now, I want to focus on what I call "traditional voice casting". You know. That thing where your agent tells you to go somewhere and hang out with your peers for a little while!
As a voice actor, you'll often have two choices when it comes to auditioning for a job: self tape or in-person. For busy actors, the ability to record and home and ship off an MP3 has undeniable benefits. It's convenient. You can do more in a shorter period of time. You don't have to take the subway on a hot day. The flip side to that is you're taking a gamble. "How so" you ask?
Here are eight ways opting to self-tape might be hurting your chances of nailing the audition, in no particular order:
1. You're apartment has thin walls, so you're talking extra quiet. The goal is to be heard, and your timid take on the copy could be working against you.
2. You have a cheap mic or you're recording into your phone. That's great in a pinch, but you're competing against people that are recording in a professional studio for the in-person reads. The lo-fi approach isn't helping anyone hear your true voice.
3. Direction! You just knocked out three takes of how you think the copy should be read. If you were at the casting session, the director would be able to clarify intentions after the first take!
4. This one is more for the clients than the actors. When I'm casting, I can tell after a few reads whether or not an actor can take direction. If I say "ok cool- now let's up the energy and brighten this next take up!", and the actor proceeds to give me the same read- I know instantly what to expect on the day. I'll make a note to the client saying "Great voice, but don't expect to dramatically change direction in session".
5. As a follow up to that last one, I am always suspicious of highly edited home auditions. You certainly want to put your best foot forward- but if I hear five edits go by in thirty seconds of copy, that's a red flag.
6. As a casting session begins, changes might get made. It could be a shift in emphasis on certain words to punch the joke or to make a point. It could be a copy change. If you're recording from home, you won't be aware of these things. It's a shot in the dark.
7. The garbage truck outside and the echo of your apartment are taking attention away from your actual voice.
8. The levels that come in from home taping are all over the map, from drastically quiet to annoyingly hot. There isn't always time to adjust before submitting reads to clients, so find a sweet spot for level!
There are so many factors that go into determining who ultimately gets picked to voice the job. Self taping certainly isn't a disqualifying issue. These days it's a necessity- for both casting directors and artists. Self taping allows us to hear more options in less time. Self taping allows you to get your kids to school and still have time to audition. But as a person hearing home recordings, I'm hoping it's helpful to point out the pitfalls along the way. There are certainly plenty of people self submitting that have wonderful microphones and excellent booths. For some, the time spent going out to an audition can take away from other jobs they're doing at home.
I hope this helps you, or gives you something to think about. As always, feel free to hit me up with questions by commenting here or by joining my site! Thanks for reading.