By Stephanie Ciccarelli
March 10, 2014
What makes a casting director cringe? David Goldberg, Chief Edge Officer of Edge Studio, shares 6 pet peeves casting professionals can attest to when listening to auditions submitted by voice over talent. Are you doing any of these? As a casting director, producer and voice-over instructor, David has much to say on this topic. Take some notes and prepare yourself for success by avoiding 6 of the most common pet peeves when casting voice talent.
A leading authority on voice-over and "Chief Edge Officer" of Edge Studio, David Goldberg has cast and directed thousands of voice-over productions. He has also coached innumerable voice actors, from beginners to top working pros and celebrities.
David says, "Although I don't have a golden voice, I guess my ears work pretty well."
Indeed. David's ears are considered the best in the industry.
He's known for an uncanny ability to provide super-quick yet precise direction. Because he sees things from all industry perspectives, many veteran voice actors rely on him as their mentor. David is also one of the most active directors and speakers, frequently illustrating his practical answers with fun anecdotes from his many years of experience.
Soon after founding Edge Studio as a music-recording facility in 1988, David added spoken voice recording to its repertoire. In response to many clients asking him for voice over guidance, David wrote the first edition of the "Voice Over Technique Guidebook" in 1992.
Since 2000, Edge Studio has focused exclusively on spoken voice, and is now one of the world's premiere voice over production, casting, and training facilities.
Clients and agents rely on David's ability to pinpoint the right voice actor for their production. Voice actors rely on his ability to help them find their full potential, benefiting from his perception, straight-forwardness, production savvy, and those acute ears.
People and companies that David has worked with at Edge Studio include: Nickelodeon, Disney, Pixar, DaimlerChrysler, The US Postal Service, Scholastic, IBM, The United Nations, countless radio stations, National Public Radio, ESPN, Discovery, Mel Brooks, Joan Rivers, Eartha Kitt, Tom Brokaw, John Ratzenberger, Denise Austin, Mark Linn-Baker, and scores of leading Broadway and TV performers.
Edge Studio remains one of the country's most acclaimed voice over facilities, offering voice over production, casting, and education.
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David Goldberg: Hey, everyone I want to talk to you today about the sixth biggest casting professionals' pet peeves when listening to auditions. To win auditions you need to know what turns off people like me, the casting director. There are other casting directors at Edge Studio, there are thousands of us around the world, agents, engineers, directors, copywriters, clients. All of us listen to auditions every single day, lots of them. And there are things that just cause us to hit stop, hit delete, toss out the audition. I'm going to talk to you about the six biggest ones today. My name is David Goldberg, I'm from Edge Studio.
So here are the six biggest pet peeves. First actors who audition for things that are not right for them. There's no reason to record something that's not right for your voice, you'll sound contrived and when we listen to your audition you're just wasting our time. You're also setting a bad name for yourself, there's nothing good here. Likewise there's no reason to record an audio book audition if you don't have to record an audio book. Because if we hire you need to set aside 20, 30, 40 hours every week to do that job. If you're not capable of doing that then don't even audition in the first place.
The second biggest pet peeve is sound quality, poor recordings. We get auditions with buzzes, hums, all sorts of sirens and airplanes in the background, kids talking, dogs barking. It's amazing. It does matter. Now in all honesty if you're going to be hired for a job where you were brought into a commercial studio, that's fine, you know what I mean. Because if there's a little noise or a little buzz on your audition it's technically okay but in most jobs as you know you're auditioning to record things from your home studio so the quality is absolutely imperative. Clients can hear the difference. Us casting agents we can hear the difference.
Some of the more specific things that happen with poor sound quality are poor recording levels. We play two auditions back to back, one is full volume, one is recorded very low. The low one just doesn't sound as good. Also you should know when to send raw audio and when to sound processed audio to your client. Also, rooms that have reverb and echo and room tone, unwanted noises, get rid of those things. Finally the last sound quality issue vocal annoyances, like popping and sibilance, get rid of that stuff. We figure it this way. If you can't get rid of it on your audition then you'll never be able to get rid of it when you're paid for a job.
Okay, the third biggest pet peeve is editing quality or should I say poor editing quality. We get auditions where the voice actor is using a gate and words are cut off, breaths are cut off, it just doesn't sound good. Take pride in what you send someone, listen back and make sure the edits sound good. We get phrases which are cut too closely together, half breaths, two breaths cut together. Sometimes there are no cross fades when there should be cross fades. And another big thing that happens with respect to editing is that the slate and the audition are at different sound levels.
So, for example, my guess is that a voice actor records a slate, they think it sounds pretty good, they always use that same slate and they just match their new audition up to that previously recorded slate. But they are at different volumes. So when we begin listening to your audition we hear the slate, we quickly adjust the volume to where we want it to be but then your audition comes in and it's either lower or higher in volume. It's just not good, it's a pet peeve.
The fourth biggest pet peeve of six is direction taking or should I say lack of direction taking. If you can't follow the slating instructions no one will ever trust you and they won't hire you. I will estimate that at least a third of auditions come in and voice actors do not follow the slates correctly or the slating directions correctly. Same with file naming, file naming is very key in our industry. It's one thing if you're recording a short commercial but if you're recording a telephony job or a GPS or presentation with hundreds or even thousands of files it's imperative that you know how to name your files correctly. So follow the directions very, very carefully. My suggestion is to have someone else check your work before you send it into your casting agent.
The fifth of six big pet peeves, performance. Voice actors tend to read things, they have wrong emotion, maybe they have not even read the directives that we send them. They skip words, they change words, they ad-lib words. They sometimes think that there's a mistake in the script and they fix it and most of the time it's not a mistake. Mispronouncing the client name is huge, okay. Take time with your auditions, care about them. This is the direct link between you and getting a job.
Okay, are you ready for the sixth biggest pet peeves from casting professionals. It is - drum roll - reads that all sound the same. So think about this, we have an audition, we get 30 auditions back from voice actors. Sometimes they all sound the same and as a result before long we just, we can pretty much recite the typical read in our sleep. So, while it's very important to follow direction it's also important to not be so predictable. You should be unique. I mean, obviously not so unique that you don't follow the direction. You know, give clients what they want but still make it your own. So what that means is take pride in what you send a casting professional, change it up a bit, tweak the cadence, hit different words, change your tone, change your body language. Do something to make your read interesting, own that read as long as it is consistent with the direction that you've been sent. If you do that you will stand out apart from, you know, the other competitors out there.
So let me leave you with two notes about not being so predictable. Number one is that the client is often looking for a voice actor who can help shape the script. They often say things like "I'll know it when I hear it" meaning that they're looking for a voice actor who brings something different to the script. They bring themselves to the script, they make it their own, they own those words, right. So be yourself.
The other thing to think about is that voice actors often try so hard to capture the style that they think the client wants that they forget to infuse their own style. And that's really the irony is, the irony's that the clients select voice actors because they like their style, they welcome the voice actor's read and help in shaping the script. So own it.
So those are six very big pet peeves that casting professionals have. My name is David Goldberg from Edge Studio and if you want to spend a day with me, I teach around the country. I teach a full day workshop and I look forward to working with you.
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