By Stephanie Ciccarelli
November 20, 2007
Join Voice Over Expert Marc Cashman as he coaches you on "Auditioning in Your Home Recording Studio" to set the stage for success. Learn how to create a perfect audition from home by following directions, being professional and paying attention to detail.
Marc Cashman, Auditions, Auditioning in your home recording studio, Voice over work, Home Studio, Commercials, Voice Acting, Voice Overs, Cashman Commercials, The Cashman Cache of Voice-Acting Techniques
Julie-Ann Dean: Welcome to Voiceover Experts brought to you by Voices.com, the number one voiceover marketplace. Voiceover Experts brings you tips, pearls of wisdom and techniques from top instructors, authors and performers in the field of voiceover. Join us each week to discover tricks of the trade that will help you to develop your craft and prosper as a career voiceover talent. It's never been easier to learn, perform, and succeed from the privacy of your own home and your own pace. This is truly an education you won't find anywhere else.
This week, Voices.com is pleased to present Marc Cashman.
Marc Cashman: Hi. I want to thank Voices.com for letting me air this podcast which is a duplication of an article that was published last month. So let's get right to it.
VO auditioning and its protocols are changing now that home studios are becoming ubiquitous. If you put together a home studio or planning to soon, then subscribing to audition services like Voices.com is a great idea and you'll be submitting auditions with your software via e-mail.
Now if you are a full or part-time voice actor, when you go to a casting company or your agent, you usually have two to three takes and then you're done. In your home studio though, you can do as many takes as you want until you feel you've nailed it. But there's no one to direct you. This is a totally self-directed exercise with no feedback.
Doing this myself for the past few years has given me invaluable insight into the process of auditioning and submitting so I wanted to share with you a few things to keep in mind and a number of things to do to prepare you both physically and emotionally for this process.
First, warm up your voice before you record. Do whatever vocalization exercises you need to do before you enter the booth just like you would do for a live audition. Next, as with any audition, go over any directions, mark, rehearse and time your copy before you record. Rehearse your copy standing up and speaking at the volume you'll be speaking in the booth. If the spot requires a lot of energy, read standing up and don't forget to use your hands and arms to help you with emphasis and projection but if the spot asks for a relaxed laid back read, consider sitting on a stool or chair.
If a job asks for an audition, audition the copy provided. If you don't have time to audition, don't send your commercial demo. You won't be considered. Clients have a very difficult time making the leap from your demo to their copy. If you have a number of different auditions to record, record the ones that are on the low-end of your vocal scale. In other words, the deepest ones. Your voice is most resonant first thing in the morning when you haven't been talking for six to eight hours. Then proceed to the scripts in a higher key then finally, to any scripts that require a louder sound or say a textured voice or gritty character.
If a job gives you a description or direction, follow it. Read any directions carefully and give the client at least one take the way they want it. Then record a second take the way you think it should be. If you don't match the casting specs, don't embarrass yourself or waste your time or the client's time by attempting to cast yourself in a role that's obviously not even close to what they're looking for.
For instance, if they ask for a young twenty-ish voice, don't audition of you're 60 plus. Be objective enough about your voice to pass on an audition that's not right for you. If a client asks you to label a file in a specific way, follow the instructions to the letter especially cognescent of details like upper and lower case, spacing, underscoring, hyphens, et cetera. If there are no labeling instructions, ask your agent if there's any particular way they like the file labeled. If not, label your files generically, your name, hyphen, product, dot MP3 or the reverse, product, hyphen, your name, dot MP3.
Every casting director has his or her own way of managing filenames and if you don't pay close attention to the template they give you, you can rest assured your audition won't be considered. If the template shows a hyphen or dash, use a hyphen or dash, not an underscore. If the template shows all upper caps or upper and lower case lettering, follow the template.
The reasoning is simple. If you can't follow labeling directions, you won't be able to follow real ones in a session. If the client gives you a file labeling template like J Doe, hyphen, announcer, dot MP3 with your information, don't be an idiot and label it J Doe, hyphen, announcer, MP3. I work with agents all over the country and they can't believe that they constantly get submissions labeled with the template that they gave their talent instead of the talent's actual name.
Lastly, if a client asks you to slate your name at the top, just slate your name at the top. Slate it clearly and follow any slating instructions carefully. Some ask for a slate before the audition, some after and you don't need to give your life story. Keep the slate short and sweet and get right to it. Don't give your phone number, don't give the client's name, don't give a pitch. As long as your name is labeled correctly on the file, that's enough information. If you haven't been given the proper pronunciation of the product or service, try looking it up online to see or hear how the name is pronounced or call them if you can locate them. If you still don't know, take your best guess.
Have water in the booth at all times and drink in between takes. Stay hydrated. It truly helps to cut down on mouth noise. I even recommend a nasal rinse before you get behind the microphone which helps abate adenoidal deliveries. Record your auditions at 128 kpbs or 96 kpbs if it's a particularly long audition. Mono, you don't need a stereo file for an audition and you want to try to limit the size of the file you're e-mailing. If the file is really big, arrange to upload it instead of trying to attach to it to an e-mail. Yousendit.com will allow you to upload 100 megs free. You'll know if the file is too big when it bounces back with a "Cannot be delivered" message.
If the script is 60 seconds, submit one solid take. If it's a 30, submit two. If it's a 10 or 15, submit three. If it's an animation audition, decide on your character's voice and commit to it. If you're using an audition service, you should know that there are a lot of voice actors out there with great equipment in their home studios with a great sound. Check, double check and triple check your recording settings before submitting your audition. Make sure your recording is like Goldilocks, not too soft, not too loud, no distortion but just right. Send some of your sound files to people you know in the business who can give you feedback, no pun intended, and constructive criticism about the sound you're getting out of your microphone.
The bottom line, if your audition sounds like crap, forget about being considered for any job because most clients can't make the leap. If that's the case, get your recording system tweaked before you send out any more funky-sounding auditions. And also, make sure you're recording in a dead-sounding space where the sound isn't bounding off hardwood floors or high ceilings. You can do a lot to dampen the sound around you mic. Many times if you have some basic soundproofing, your auditions will sound great and can be used as a final track. Remember that you're competing with professionals who have been in the business a long time so your sound needs to be competitive.
If a job asks you to submit a specific demo, in other words, commercial, narration, audio book, whatever, make sure your demos or the demos you've posted on the audition service site are competitive. If you want examples, go to my website to hear some of the demos I've produced for my students. If your demo isn't competitive, you better think twice about submitting yourself for a job because a lot of other demos out there are going to make yours sound amateurish and that's the last thing you want.
Here's another thing. Listen to your playback objectively. Do you believe the person you're hearing? Be honest. If not, record it again and again if necessary. If you capture a convincing performance, send it on. If not, pass on it. It means you're just not getting it. Don't worry though. There will be plenty of others down the road.
Now for auditions going to agents, a cover letter isn't necessary but you should always attach one to every audition that goes directly to a client. It should not only have all the necessary information like your name, phone number and e-mail address, it should clearly state what you're auditioning for, the reasons why you would be a great candidate for the job and where they might be able to listen to other examples of your voice work.
If the want you to submit a quote for your service, be as explicit as possible given the job description and address any ancillary costs involved such as studio costs, phone patch or ISDN charges. Finally, there are myriad factors that determine who is hired for a voice acting job, voice print, acting ability, rate quote, turn around time, studio equipment, availability. But your first impression, how well you sound, how well you follow directions, slating, acting, labeling files, et cetera can help a potential client decide quickly whether they're dealing with a pro or an amateur.
Performance is important but always pay attention to the details of the presentation. Good luck. You can contact me through Voices.com and hear examples of voice demos on my website at Cashmancommercials.com. Thanks for listening.
Julie-Ann Dean: Thank you for joining us. To learn more about the special guest featured in this Voices.com podcast, visit the Voiceover Experts show notes at Podcasts.Voices.com/VoiceoverExperts. Remember to stay subscribed.
If you're a first time listener, you can subscribe for free to this podcast in the Apple iTunes Podcast Directory or by visiting Podcasts.Voices.com. To start your voiceover career online, go to Voices.com and register for a voice talent membership today.
The Cashman Cache of Voice-Acting Techniques
Ask The Voice Cat Blog
Marc Cashman Voices.com Website
Listen to Voice Over Experts on YouTube
Marc Cashman : Finding The Music in Copy
MARC CASHMAN creates and produces copy and music advertising for radio and television. Winner of over 150 advertising awards, he also instructs voice acting of all levels through his classes, The Cashman Cache of Voice-Acting Techniques in Los Angeles, CA.
Cashman Commercials Â© 2007
Voice Over Experts is the industry's most downloaded educational podcast featuring renowned voice over coaches from US, Canada and abroad. Join us each week for pearls of wisdom and tricks of the trade to improve your voice over career. Listen online or subscribe in iTunes to hear from leading experts in the field of voice-overs.
Explore a new resource hub covering all aspects of planning, scheduling and launching successful radio advertising campaigns.