Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

Ever Had Your Demo Critiqued?

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

May 15, 2007

Comments (5)

Voice Over Demo CritiqueLooking for ways to improve your voice acting or voice over demo?

At VOX Daily, we've compiled some of the most applicable and interesting tips from industry professionals on the Hot Seat Panel at VOICE 2007, sharing them with you to learn from and prosper by!

Check some of these tips organized by category. I'm sure at least one of the nuggets of wisdom presented will be of use to you.

Getting Your Demo Reviewed

When getting started or as a pro testing the waters in a new niche of voice over, it is always wise to have a few pairs of ears listen to your demo to give you their perspective.

For instance, a couple of Mondays ago, Nancy Wolfson offered four demo critiques in her Acting for Advertising teleseminar with Anna Vocino at the end of the class, dishing up great advice with her agent ears. Those fortunate to have their demos reviewed were encouraged and given some constructive feedback to help improve their demos.

One gentleman was even told that Nancy would change his demo at all. What a compliment!

At any rate, the art of critiquing demos is industry wide and a portion of the closing day of VOICE 2007 focused on just that.

I took some notes that I hope will be useful to you, generic though they may be. Take these tips into consideration when listening to your own demo or the voice over demos of others. They might just help you out in same way :)

Here we go, random tips from the panel as noted as per the "Hot Seat" at VOICE 2007:

Variety

• Have variety!
• Have variety in tempo (speed, pacing)
• Variety is in the emotion and attitude - focus on those aspects
• If you have a radio background, be sure to change up the pace and sound
• Don't have "too long" spots or too "similar spots"
• Lots of different attitudes and emotion - no one trick ponies
• Something really good at the beginning and then something funny - anything you can do to get a producer to listen more than once is good - if they like it, they will pass it along to others

Interpretation

• Have a sense of conversation
• Don't be "on the edge of reading"
• Try not to have negativity in your demo
• Communicate and tell the story - Subtleties can change the tone and open communication very quickly
• If you can't picture yourself making money doing a certain voice, don't put it in your demo
• Get control over your voice and make sure that variety is in the mix
• Leave the announcer voice out of it
• VO actors are not salespeople but persuasive and effective communicators
• Don't be all things to all people - your demo should highlight your talents and not what the producer wants

Money Voice

• Use your money voice first (signature voice), don't "save" it until the end
• First :06 - money voice sets up the flow - You have to win in the first :06
• Different agents have different ideas and will very often ask you to rearrange your demo to help them better market what they consider to be your money voice

Commercial Voice Over Demos

• Don't put two character voices in a row in a commercial demo
• Strong comedic punch needs to be followed by something that's unimportant so that people can laugh through it
• If there is a movie trailer, leave it out of your commercial demo - trailers are promos
• Conversation evokes emotion

Production

• Aim for solid production value and diversity of sound
• Don't have a long intro
• Have something good enough at the start to get a listeners attention
• Leave at least :02 between tracks if you have multiple tracks
• Personal reads are best without sound effects, dry voice is nice sometimes
• Any deleted bit should or could be placed at the end or could act as a second intro
• Have as many tracks as you want in your demo, but send people what THEY want (i.e. if people want to hear narration, send them narration!)
• Spend lots of time sequencing the demo
• Production should complement the voice (on all speakers)
• So long as the people who are receiving a compilation demo know that it's not specific to a given style, it's OK, however, it is very good to be specific
• There is still value associated with having a CD with your voice over demos on them that you can send to clients or agents, so be sure to have a number of promotional CDs available for those who request them

It takes a lot of courage to throw your hat in the ring to be a demo critique done, but it is worthwhile and will help you in the long run if conducted by a professional instructor, demo producer or trusted peer.

Have you found any of these tips useful?

If you have a tip that you'd like to share, please leave a comment and we'll keep the conversation going!

Cheers,

Stephanie

P.S. Read the sister post inspired by David Bourgeois' comment!

©©©iStockphoto.com/Peter Finnie

Related Topics: agents, industry, radio


Comments


    This will mark the first time I've ever commented twice in two days, but your topics continue to be interesting.

    As a professional VO Producer and as a trainer and demo producer there are certainly a few things that I believe one would be wise to keep in mind when it comes to demo critique.

    #1. Your Demo

    Your demo is an audio resume and just like a resume on paper, it will change as you develop additional range in skill. Few and far between are the voice actors who feel that their demo is "perfect".

    #2. Critique or Sales Pitch?

    Unfortunately there are coaches and individuals out there who will charge you for a so called demo critique in a masked effort to convince you that you should pay them to re-do your demo. Though professionalism keeps me from naming names here, I became so concerned about one NYC based company's practices that I met with them about it.

    Also keep in mind that everyone, even those of us with a lot of experience here, can have vastly different opinions.

    #3. Focus On You

    I believe strongly that your demos should demonstrate your individual "Voice Personality" and "Strength Range", in other words the material that you perform best and material that you perform strongly. Demonstrating material that is not a true strength on a demo not only wastes valuable demo space, it can distract the listener from material that you are truly good at.

    #4. Commercials are Great, but...

    When preparing a demo, keep in mind that a major portion of professional work opportunities are narrative or non-commercial in nature. Be sure to have a non-commercial demo track as this will open up a much broader range of work opportunities.

    #5. Use Technology Effectively

    I love technology as much as the next studio owner, but despite the ability to email demos and place files on a site as intuitive and professional as Voices, in my experience it is in your best interest to have an actual CD. You remember them, the round mirror like disc shaped things with the hole in the middle?!

    Emails are very easy to delete, emails with attachments are usually automatically deleted, and no web site, even one as well crafted and valuable as Voices should become your end-all method of self promotion in our field. Web marketing should be a COMPONENT in your marketing effort.

    #6. Keep It Honest

    One other area I want to address is the unauthorized use of national brands and product names on a demo. Regardless of the fact that a lot of people do this and, worse yet, many of those teaching in our field suggest doing this, this practice is a pretty bad idea.

    First off, though it's a grey area, you technically can't use and replicate a trademarked brand name without permission from those who own the trademark. Now in reality, I wouldn't imagine Pepsi is going to pursue legal action against you for making up a fake Pepsi spot on your demo, but they could.

    Here is the more important problem. By using well-known national brands on a demo, you are misrepresenting yourself as a professional. Voice Actors, even at the highest national level don't often have faces or names attached to them like actors in visual media do. So if I get a demo with a Ford truck spot on it, am I to assume the voice actor on that demo did that spot? Further more if I throw that demo in with a few others to present to a client, will the client know the difference. Worse yet, will the client feel I am misrepresenting the talent to them?

    At our studios we have a very simple solution to this. Demos that arrive with fake national scripts for products or companies that are currently on the market are discarded. I just met with an ad group and many agency reps echoed this.

    Rather than misrepresenting yourself, develop your own copy, or work with a friend who can help. At the very least change the national brand names in the scripts you read!

    There are many folks out there who will make a number of excuses for this, but, at the end of the day, using national brands on a demo makes it very hard for those doing the hiring and casting to make accurate decisions... unless you really did do the Pepsi spot!

    Best Regards

    David at Voice Coaches

    Posted by:

      Hi David,

      Thank you for another illuminating and insightful comment!

      We all appreciate hearing your thoughts and I'm glad that topics we discuss at VOX Daily pique your interest :)

      I liked how you highlighted the use of trademark related material in demos. I too feel that it is better not to mention a brand name in a demo for those reasons specifically. That's one of the reasons why we wrote some scripts for talent to practice from or work with to craft their demos completely free of brand names. Thank you for providing your opinion on that highly debated subject!

      Thanks again David. You are always welcome here :)

      Stephanie

      Posted by:

        Stephanie,

        Great post! I was one of the fortunate ones to have my demo critiqued by Nancy Wolfson - wow! I have been wanting an honest critique for a while. I had submitted my demo at the VOICE conference, but wasn't chosen. Now I feel like I have a clear direction in my demo making goals!

        It is important to have professional ears listen to your work. I knew my demo needed changes, but I didn't know what they were. Now I feel more confident in my abilities, I just need to showcase them better.

        In fact, I have my first private phoner with Nancy in June! As she says... Away we go!

        Kara

        Posted by:

          Thanks to all 3 of you for some GREAT note taking and insightful comments regarding the most important calling card we all have, our Demo!

          Posted by:

            Oh boy, seems like I have a ways to go. Well anyone who wants to have a listen to my first go around, click on the AUDIO link. I'm working on it. Practice, practice, practice. BTW, just bought a Sennheiser MD-421. The other mic (on my demo) slurs everything and washes it out.

            (click on my name to hit the demo site which is almost done)

            Posted by:

Leave a Comment



Recent Articles

Can Non-Union Work be Converted to Union Work? YES! It can!

Can Non-Union Talent be hired for a Union Production?

How Are You Promoting Your Voice?

5 Stages for Creating a Killer Explainer Video

Need Royalty-free Music? Check out YouTube's Latest Offering

3 Tips for Casting Voice Talent in Animation

3 Ways To Spot A Signature Voice

Your Business Has a Story to Tell!

6 Tips for Writing a Stellar Voice Over Script

Are You Attending Voice Over Virtual?

   

Do You Have a Project?

Request a Quote

Looking for voice talent? You've come to the right place. Post a job and you'll get sample recordings of your script and price quotes.

Tell us about your project

Subscribe by Email

About Vox Daily

Vox Daily offers a daily dose of voice acting news, articles, tutorials, interviews, intelligent conversation and business ideas for voice talent and voice actors.


Follow Us

   

Our feed & social options update you with special offers and news as it happens.

New YouTube Video

Watch videos on YouTube