Voice Over Education Blog

2011 Wrap-up - PART 2


Here’s a controversial move, I’m going to briefly discuss demos. Yes, I prefer to write about the production and studio specific side of the world, but lets take it out of the comfort zone for a minute. I’ve seen a lot of these things. I’ve recorded a bunch of demo sessions, and mixed enough of them to qualify me for a lifetime achievement award at the secret ceremony each year presented by That Dude That Imitates Morgan Freeman™ and the Ghost Of Gilbert Godfried. Its a secret ceremony, don’t try to get an invitation.

Most if not all of the normal studio rules I have written about apply to recording demo’s. All beginning voice talent is going to need one, but that doesn’t mean you should sound like a beginner. Recording a demo is basically an audition for an audition. The person coaching you is a professional voice talent, who makes their living that way. The engineer recording you is a professional engineer, who also works on non demo projects. The studio in which you are recording handles a variety of sessions. How great of an opportunity is that!? How are you not so excited right now!!!!!!??? It also means, be nice to these people. Despite my curmudgeonly demeanor in these posts, I’m very pleasant and encouraging to work with. As are all of my colleagues here at the studio. They can get you work. They can also NOT get you work. That’s not a threat, but just think about it. And if a horse head shows up somewhere, don’t look at me. (I guess it would be half a pop filter or one ear of headphones in this case)

Prepare for a demo session as if it were the most important professional gig of your young voiceover life. This is the recording that will represent you until you have enough work to make a new one....so take it seriously. Work on lots of different copy. Improvise a bit, get into the style. Sure, if you can read the 2 sentences on the page perfectly, that’s great, but what happens when the client changes the copy on the fly? Yeah, I guess that only happens....on every single session ever in history. In that case, over preparing with your exact copy is going to hurt more than help! The best idea is to just be prepared in general. Have your breath control down. Understand where to pause, pronounce words correctly!

If you’re coming in cold, having no VO experience, learn everything you can. Work with a bunch of different coaches. Again, these people are professionals, and probably have an idea of how the VO world works. Everyone has a different style, take what you can from everyone. I’ve worked on a lot of sessions as an engineer, and I’ve learned a ton from many different coaches. I like to take little bits of style from each, create a giant amalgamation I like to call “Super Coach” and use it’s powers purely for evil.

Everyone has their strengths in different areas, find which match best between yourself and the person teaching you, and again, make that abominable snowman of VO Power. Even if you just want to be Movie Trailer Guy, as we talked about in the last post, work on a few other things. The #1 thing we have been burned by is someone not being able to read long form narration. It’s such an essential skill, and that’s where so much of the work is. So even out those breaths, and do some reading out loud!!

And finally, if you are a student recording a demo....Trust the engineer and coach!!! Come on man, put some faith in people! These people have done a lot more of these than you. They understand which qualities you should be showcasing (or hiding!!) so please listen to their opinions. Yes, we know you want to be Movie Trailer Dude and have 45 segments on your demo, but come on, how often did you listen to that double album by the concept prog rock band? Probably not that often. A good demo is like a pop rock song. Don’t bore us, get to the chorus. Put your best stuff on there, leave out the 15 minute Jazz Improv solo.

If you can take away anything from this post, make it the need for perspective when recording something of your own. In this case, a demo. Listen to those directing and recording you. Remove the ego from the process, and try to get technical with it for a second. The engineer and coach/director are here to help you! No one wants a bad demo to escape from the studio, so why not let them help!

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