Saturday, January 25, 2014

Slating is Important!?

I was watching a podcast and one of the guests was a booth/casting director for a major, reputable Los Angeles recording studio.

She was asked what she listens for in selecting auditions to send to a client.
She responded, "the slate."

I was as surprised as the host. The slate?

She said the slate was a key for her. A bored, ho hum slate indicates to her that the talent wasn't excited about the project; they're just going through the motions.

She did go on to say she does listen to the actual audition..."maybe the first sentence or two."

I guess that's taking the old saying "first impressions...." to a whole new level.

From now on, I'm adding some smile and energy when I slate.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

I Don't Get It

A few Voice Over things I just don't get:

1. VO coaches: Reading countless Coaching ads, Facebook posts, etc. why don't they taut successes? I'm not referring to accounts/spots they've personally done. I'd like to see them say "I've worked with Joe/Jane Blow, who's now doing this and this". 

2. Websites: Sure, it's important to have a presence. But, I really think a website is basically the 21st Century demo CD; a place prospective clients can hear your work. A website needs be simple and to the point; demos and contact info should be easy to find. Clients are hiring a voice, not a web designer. And let's be real - how many talents can honestly say "A company looking for a voice did a Google search, found me and now $$".

3. No Brag, Just Fact: It's truly wonderful you were booked for a project. It can be great PR. But why post/tweet something like - "Working on an awesome project, but I can't say anything because of an NDA." Is a potential client going to think "He must be good. Plus, he can keep a secret. Let's hire him."? If you're going to promote something, make it the end result...a link to the completed project.

Off the soapbox...back to the Mic.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Professionalism on Both Sides

A professional voice actor is used to rejection. They might do at least a dozen auditions daily that don't get accepted by potential clients. It's part of the game.

You do your best to interpret the copy and the copy direction, record, edit and submit. After that, as one of my cohorts said "submit and forget". You've done your best, there's no sense dwelling..move on.  If you get a callback, that's super!

However, recently I encountered a different situation. An ad agency liked my audition. They retained me, sent me the copy, which I recorded. There were some issues in my submission; some were my fault (pronunciation of some words) and some were copy revisions. I rerecorded and submitted.  I got an email from the agency saying all was well.

Late that evening I received an email from the agency saying their client wanted a new recording and they wanted to phone patch the session. I immediately responded with an affirmative and told them to I was available in the morning.

I was up and ready to go at the time I specified. No call. Then, maybe two hours later, I saw the exact job/copy I'd been working on posted on a P2P site. When I saw it I sent the agency an email asking if I was no longer a part of the project.  No response.

I can understand that a client might not approve what their ad agency has prepared. Having worked on that side, I've had it happen numerous times. But for the agency to leave a talent hanging, to seek other talent without any notification ("the client decided to go in another direction") smacks of unprofessionalism.

I can take rejection...I get it every day. However, after a few reads, I'd at least expect the common courtesy of an email informing me of their client's decision. To me, that's the professional way to conduct business. 

Maybe I'm just too old school.

Monday, August 12, 2013


There seems like there are tons of websites for aspiring Voice Over artists.  Most promise you big bucks (if you pay them big bucks) or "insider' secrets you could have found on your own if you Googled.

One site that has done a lot for me and some of my friends in the business is and it's attached sister site VoiceRegistry.  This isn't a site for beginners.  This is a site for those that have been at it a bit, have professionally produced demos and a few spots under your belt. 

Through this site some of my friends and me have landed agents as they have a huge data base as part of the site, with contact emails and website URLs.  A key point made by a friend is don't just click on the email address and send away.  The best plan of attack is to click the company's website URL and see what submission process they have (most agents have it listed, along with exact exact submission instructions). That way your email isn't deleted or you're not black-flagged for the inability to follow directions.

One outstanding aspect of Voice Registry is something they call Weekend Workout.  You have to be a paying member ($10 a month or $84 for a year) to participate.  Each Monday afternoon they'll post a few scripts and announce the "guest reviewer" which is always a top agent or producer.  You pick a single script, do your best job recording it and then upload it.  The deadline is the following Thursday at Noon, so you have plenty of time.  Then, the next Monday, there will be a page with all of the submissions and a personalized "review" of each effort. 

The review usually is only a sentence or two...but always some valuable information from the "judge" on what they heard right and/or wrong with your effort.  Solid information to improve your craft from someone truly in the know.  Recently, the site had the judge actually record a personalized review for each participant instead of a typed response.  Pretty cool.

And, while very rare, participating might actually land you an agent.  I've seen past reviews where the "judge" ended their review with "if you're seeking representation....".  And, I'm pleased to know, first hand, a good friend that recently landed with a very prestigious agency by participating.  Sort of like the "being discovered in a drug store" movie star story.  True, it's rare (there is probably 120 or so submission each week) but I know it does happen.

Of course, the reviewer may not volunteer interest but could look you up as the site provides space for you to upload your demo(s), head shot and resume.  You never know.

To me, this site is great and I highly recommend it.  $84 for a year of weekly exposure to the top talent agents and producers is nothing to sneeze at.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

YouTube - Part Deux

In my previous blog, I showed how to add a cue sheet to the beginning of your Voice Over demo video.

I did fail to mention one other annotation you can add.  At the end of your video you can add an annotation to your website, another demo video, etc.  Just slide the annotation box to the end...and enter the correct link (a video link, page link, etc.).

Now, there are a few things you can do to your YouTube channel to enhance your marketing.

First off, in the description of your video place the URL to your website.  It should include the full HTML (  That will make it clickable.

Now, click your name at the top left corner of your channel page.  Now in the top center you'll see the word "About".  Click that and now you can add:
  • A description of your site
  • Add a link to your webpage
  • Add links up to 4 other social media (sorry, LinkedIn isn't there)
Once you hit complete, all of those links will appear on the header (oh yeah, don't forget to personalize your channel with artwork.  No need to add your picture, as Google/YouTube will do that automatically.  YouTube has instructions as to sizing and uploading your Channel header artwork.

Now your Video channel has all your links as well.  I'm certain doing so will enhance your SEO. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Voice Over Video Demos - Get A Cue

I wrote recently about the importance of having a video demo.  Recently I discovered a little trick you can use with YouTube to put a cue sheet at the beginning of your video.  This allows a prospective client to jump right to a specific point in your video.   The only drawback is once they jump, the cues disappear so they would then have to manually move the marker back to the beginning.

Here's what it looks like at the beginning of my video:

The potential client would then click onto one of the product names and it'll jump right to that portion of your demo.

Here's how I did it:

1.  Edit your video to add about 15 seconds to the beginning of your video.  It can be blank or use a title card as I did.  NOTE:  YouTube only gives you two choices for the text - black or white - so choose your background accordingly.  (NOTE:  While you're editing, jot down the start time in the video of each'll make things easier for you later)

2.  Upload your new Video but mark it "Private" for the time being to allow you to edit.  Soon, YouTube will email you a link to the video and go there.  Now (this is important) click "Video Manager" that's located on the bottom right.  Now you'll see all your videos.  Click the name of the video you just'll take you to it again.  Copy that URL because you're going to need it later.

3.  When you open the video, you'll see some icons under the play time bar.  Arrow over to the "Voice Bubble +" (Annotations) and click.

4.  Now click "Add Annotation" and select "Note".

5.  Type in the Product Name (keep it short)

6.  Now you'll see a box pop up below your video screen and see a box below your video.  That's the new cue you're starting to create.  Now to the right you see "Start" and "Stop".  Set the Start at 0:00:00:0 and the end at 0:00:15:00.

7.  Click the  Link checkbox and, to the right,  you'll see a drop down box.  Click the down arrow and select "Playlist"

8.  Paste the URL to this same video (remember I told you to copy it?)

9.  Now you see a place that says "start linked video at"  Now, I happened to jot down the times of the place each "Product" started on my video when I was editing (that's the best option as you can be a bit more exact).  But, if you don't you can slide that little circle on the play bar to the right to get the start time.  Enter that start time (it's Hour:Minutes:Seconds:10thSecond).

10.  Last step for this Cue is to place the Copy for it on your screen.
You see in the upper right of the picture above the box that says "A Cue".  Just slide it down to a position you want on your title/cue page.

That's it.  As you see I had 9 products, so I went back up to the top, clicked "Add Annotation" again and added the next.  Scrub, rinse, repeat.

Once you're done adding all, click Publish at the top right of the page.  Now go to your Video Manager and make your new "Cues" Video Public.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Make a Video Demo

Recently I read about how video was making more of an impact in voice over.
So, obviously being behind the times, I thought about making a video with my demo as the soundtrack.

I say "behind the times" because after my project was completed, I found a ton of voice over pros had already done the same thing. So much for being "cutting edge".

I use Windows, so I chose to use the free Windows Movie Maker. It has a great deal of effects, relatively easy learning curve and makes it easy to upload to YouTube. I chose YouTube as my "host" primarily because, as best as I could determine, its playable on any browser.

I completed my video (with a lot of trial and error) and uploaded it to YouTube. A few minutes later YouTube sent me an email telling me my video was ready. You'll see a "share" button and a lot of options. Since I wanted to put it on my website, I selected "embed" and up popped the HTML code. You can (as I did) change the size of the video to fit the space you have allotted on your site.

In my opinion the video, if it's not overloaded with too many effects (making it too busy), can "hold" the listener/viewer longer as their mind is occupied with both sound and sight.

Under my video, I still have an html5 audio player for those who might want to use it. Also there is a link to allow the potential customer to download the demo mp3. I think this is very important as I can't think of a potential client wanting to download a video.

I honestly think a "video demo" is a great way to make your demo "come alive" for potential clients. You can do it for free, host it for free (via YouTube) and add that little extra that might capture a new client.