By Stephanie Ciccarelli
February 7, 2011
Over the years, we've learned a number of things about how clients want (and don't want) in terms of auditions. As such, our suggestions to voice talent applying for work through Voices.com have evolved.
One of these areas is how to protect your audio. In the past, we've suggested watermarking but over the last year or so have been moving away from this technique in favour of slating.
Let's take a few minutes to go over why this is and how slating can serve as a suitable addition to your auditioning strategies and a way to connect better with prospective customers.
We first opened up for business as a voice over marketplace in February of 2004. If you've been part of our site since the beginning, no doubt you're observed the many developments and changes we've made to improve the service making it easier to use resulting in a heightened user experience for our members.
Before we offered our safe payment service SurePay to provide more security to our members, we needed to find ways that would help our talent to protect themselves and their audio in audition situations.
When it came to recording custom demos, we used to advise talent to use audio watermarks as a means to protect their work.
These sound logos were not meant to obscure the audio file but essentially make it harder for clients to walk away with the audio before paying for it.
Think of this like how a photographer provides sample proofs with a watermark on them that renders the image less polished and therefore less desirable for professional use. In this scenario, the higher quality version is not made available to the customer prior to purchasing.
While this was good in theory, clients were not terribly keen on how talent were choosing to make use of beeps and the like as it distracted them greatly and ultimately detracted from the read. As a result, people who were bothered by watermarking didn't feel comfortable presenting samples to their clients and were less likely to consider talent whose initial audio submission was less than desirable.
We also thought slightly changing the script for audition purposes would be a good idea back then but over time and from feedback received, it isn't wise to touch the copy. The original motive for this was yet again protecting auditions, however, some clients did not perceive these changes as positive and were less likely to present auditions to decision makers if the talent did not read a portion of what was written.
Some of these scripts go through many hands before they are approved and what's on that page is what should be read. If a talent were to change up the copy or make suggestions, the client may not receive this well... especially if this includes the changing of the pronunciation of a client or company name.
From personal experience, I know that I'd rather hear a shorter version of my script than to hear someone changing the words. While it may not be true, changing the copy may suggest that the talent either can't follow directions, that they don't respect the copy or that they are having difficulty reading the script as written.
After attending many, many workshops and understanding how slates work, our opinion began to shift toward slating as opposed to watermarking.
Slating is simply saying your name at the beginning of the recording. There are different ways you can slate, however, the basic slate is simply stating your name at the beginning of the file.
I acknowledge that a slate doesn't serve the same purpose of a watermark, however, a slate is beneficial in other ways that don't compromise the trust between talent and their prospective clients.
à¹ Readily identify the speaker
à¹ Set the tone for the read
à¹ Get your name in the client's head
à¹ Is considered to be an industry standard auditioning technique
à¹ Serve as another way to document whose voice is on the file should it get downloaded
à¹ Act as a watermark of sorts for clients who are unable to manipulate audio *
à¹ Be perceived as the least disruptive form of protection on an audition file
* It may be hard to believe but there are some people out there who either can't be bothered to edit audio or who simply don't have the means or desire to do so. While this isn't watermarking per se, if someone cannot remove or doesn't care to remove the slate, the slate would still in effect render the audio less usable.
If you find that other audition protecting techniques are working just fine for you, for example watermarking or reworking copy, good for you! That being said, we are not encouraging talent to watermark or change up the copy in auditions but do want to stress that we are in favour of slating in auditions. As I said earlier, reading a snippet or a shorter segment of the script is better than mangling copy or taking liberties with an approved script.
If you have any comments about what you read or about how you go about protecting your auditions, I'd love to hear them!
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