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Saturday October 25

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Weekly Script Recording Contest!

Archived contests

Past Contest Quicklinks

Contest ending Friday, October 24

Contest Title:

Pain Treatment

Director's Notes:

This is a simulated audition for a presentation of contemporary approaches to the treatment of pain, concluding with the presentation of a new treatment being explored by a startup company. The audience is medical professionals and potential investors. Start by slating your name or username.

Script:

Despite four decades of literature, studies are inconclusive as to the effectiveness of Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation in treating chronic low back pain. However, lumbar TENS therapy is seen as effective in reducing pain of peripheral diabetic neuropathy.

Results

Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

This hypothetical script was from a presentation to medical practitioners and potential investors. So it’s likely that later in the script, the presenter is selling something to them – a product, a company, we don’t know what. That doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the voice artist know what he or she is talking about, and know the audience. In any copy, it important to truly understand what you are saying. Otherwise, how can you hit the words and phrases that embody new, contrasting, or clarifying information? But with Medical Narration, this issue is especially serious, even critical. The talent must get everything right, sound authoritative and interested, and relate to the audience’s own level of understanding and interest. There is no recovery from failure.

  • A few people slated as “Dr. _____,” which they would not (or should not) ordinarily do. But it does make sense in this situation, considering the genre. Despite the title of this article, that’s a good thing, no points deducted.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Of course, if you are not a physician, you should not present yourself as one.

  • Many people had trouble with the first sentence, which is long and rather complicated. Some stumbled through it. Some charged through it, as if to prove they could do it without a mistake and in a single breath. Others isolated each word, reading so distinctly and slowly that the sense was hard to follow and the read went on forever.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: When faced with a long, complicated sentence, first identify which parts of it are not essential, and mentally discard them for a moment. What’s left is the overall meaning of the sentence. Then add in the discarded phrases, a bit at a time, which will show you how those phrases color or alter the meaning. Now that you know what you mean to say, it will be easier to say it, as normal speech. Then, rather than charge through the entire sentence, think of it as a series of those various thoughts, varying your speed, intonation, or emotion, etc., as appropriate to each thought. Just don’t overdo it, and don’t pause unnaturally at the transitions unless a hesitation is called for.

  • Some others seemed to be noticeably trying to make the first sentence interesting.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: The first sentence is already interesting to someone who is interested in this subject matter. Simply be interested yourself.

  • Some sounded salesy, particularly by saying "despite FOUR decades....” It’s good that they noticed the rhetorical tension between “four decades of literature” (meaning four decades of published studies on the subject) and the statement that “studies are inconclusive.” However, this is not so remarkable in the medical arena.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: In medical copy, be careful, and somewhat conservative, in how strongly you hit words. Medical professionals will already note the implications of what you are saying, so if they’re your audience, speak as if you were their peer. If your audience consists of patients and/or other lay people, then you should sound helpful, supportive and respectful of their intelligence. Too much emphasis might make you sound alarmist, or as if you are talking down to them. Go for the “Goldilocks” zone: j-u-u-s-s-st right.

  • Some people read in a monotone. It is important to read with energy. Although (as we’ve said), a hype-toned read would be inappropriate, and exaggerated inflection would be unnatural (and annoying over a long read), real speech has variations in pitch.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Don’t be mistaken for a robot. Robots may understand sentence structure but they don’t understand what they are voicing. If you understand and are interested in what you are saying, you will sound interested. Even with serious subject matter such as this, reading in a monotone is ... monotonous.

  • Many people sounded very stern. Serious is appropriate. Stern is overdoing it. Even this script might, in places, merit reading with a smile.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: A medical professional must be matter-of-fact. But they are people, too. For them, this is not tragic news or about the consequences of avoidable errors. This is “conversation.” If the script were, say, a presentation to medical professionals who do not disinfect their hands when travelling between hospital rooms, and the failure would be cause for dismissal, that might be cause for a stern tone. But even then, bear in mind the psychology of some people in the medical community. Some do not take well to being scolded.

  • Many people read sloppily, with not enough articulation. Some even missed words. In Medical Narration it is essential that you know what you’re talking about, and that you speak with confidence. It is also important to sound authoritative, and as if you value accuracy and precision. Sloppy reading does not sound as if you are confident and value accuracy and precision.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: In any voice over recording, after you’ve got the take you want, listen to it critically, word by word. Are all the words correct? Are they all there? Are any sounds missing or swallowed? (For example, is the word “pain” missing its “N” sound?) Will every word still be intelligible after music is added underneath? Did you pause at the commas, or conversely, did you pause unnaturally somewhere else?

  • Some people slipped up in their read, but kept on going.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: In live speech (e.g., a live newscast), if you make a verbal slip, the ability to “recover” from it cleanly is admirable. In arecording, the slip-up is painfully obvious, and your recovery from it is irrelevant. It’s totally fixable (use part of another take, or do another one), so delivering an audition with such an error marks you as an amateur.

  • From a technical standpoint, we heard quite a bit of sibilance (excessive, strident “S” sounds).

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: The hissing of sibilance has several possible causes – your mouth, your mic, or your processing. Regardless of cause, it can lead a casting pro to reject your audition. The first step to a cure is to identify the cause. If the cause is technical, adjust your mic or processing technique. If it’s inherent in your mouth structure or the way you speak, practice ways to minimize the effect, such as how you form your S’s. In extreme cases, it might require some advice from an experienced coach.

  • A few people spelled out the word TENS, which is not common practice. A few minutes of online pronunciation research will show that it should be pronounced like a wad of Alexander Hamiltons: “tenz.”

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Here are some resources that will help determine correct medical pronunciation: MediLexicon (http://www.medilexicon.com/medicaldictionary.php?t=90229); Howjsay ( http://www.howjsay.com/index.php?word=tens&submit=Submit ); Mirriam Webster – and also their Medical dictionary ( http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tens ); Dictionary.com; Wikipedia; or do a search for medical pronunciation TENS.

  • Some people didn’t catch on that “TENS” (in the second sentence) is an acronym for Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation (in the first sentence). Their misunderstanding was apparent in their choice of emphasis. “TENS” is not the news in that sentence, so it’s not the word to hit.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: To cite another example in this script, even with just a few minutes of online searching you can learn that peripheral neuropathy is by almost by definition NOT in the lower back (the spine is not peripheral to itself), and, to our understanding (we are not doctors writing this), diabetes is not directly related to lower back pain. Therefore, the likely words to hit are “is” and “peripheral” and possibly “diabetic” – the thoughts in the second sentence that contrast with those in the first.

  • Some people extended the slate. The Director’s Notes said simply to “start by slating your name or username.”

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Except for rare cases where you might add a relevant, commonly understood professional title (such as “Doctor” as mentioned above), slate exactly as directed. And even those rare cases are in keeping with these instructions, because the word “Doctor” is part of the person’s name.

  • There were also various entries with pops, some hiss, mouth clicks, low volume, intrusive breaths and bad edits.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Take a bit of extra time to remove or minimize breaths after you’ve recorded. And if those volume changes or edits are at all discernable, do them over. Eventually, you’ll know how to do this more quickly and to do it right. That’s good, because things like breath-reduction are almost always something you should do for a professional audition.

  • Some people clearly pieced their recording together from several takes.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: If you can do this imperceptibly, it’s acceptable, since no one will know. But you will know. Why did you need to do this? If it’s because a fire engine passed by, or you needed just one edit in a much longer passage than this, okay. But otherwise, patchwork is not a healthy practice. in an actual session, faced with a long script and studio time ticking away, will you be able to replicate what you’ve submitted, in a single take? Besides, until you’ve had a lot of editing and listening experience, it’s possible a professional producer will hear edits that you thought were clean.

1st place winner: amyjoywarner

97 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear amyjoywarner's recording

Very good, with a nice voice, nice inflection and nice pacing. She sounds comfortable with the material. Just one note: She barely pronounced the "n" in "pain. If music is added, this word will sound like "pay." Whether or not music will be added, an audition reviewer may note the flaw. Recording quality was very good.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by October 31, 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/EDGE-Pain Treatment.mp3

2nd place winner: terry66

76 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear terry66's recording

He, too, has a nice voice with nice inflection and pacing (if just a hair too fast). And he’s another person who sounds comfortable with the material. We have the same concern over the word “pain” – the “n” sound is missing. But overall, we like his very loose voice. Being vocally free makes him sound confident and trustworthy. From a technical standpoint, there were some mouth clicks, noticeable breaths, and room reverb – none of which are optimal, and can hurt the chances of being awarded the job.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by October 31, 2014 by calling our team 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/TerrySpeckcontestmp3.mp3

3rd place winner: Tracy Lindley

73 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear Tracy Lindley's recording

Overall a fine voice, but we’d want more smile in it. The audition passage likely leads to a position on some product or concept. A smile would make her sound more proud or confident about it, and make the audience more receptive to her. She spelled out the word “TENS,” which is not common practice, and might suggest that she is not a medical professional. However, with guidance from the director or client, or a bit of research (as discussed above), it’s easily correctible. In an actual assignment, she should not be embarrassed to ask the client about any uncertain words or concepts. In an audition where no such help is available, she should do the research. Another concern is the presence of slight hesitations here and there, such as between "inconclusive" and "as", and her rushing through the words “as to.” The recording quality was noisy and a bit muddy.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by October 31, 2014 by calling our team 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Tracy Lindley--Script Recording Contest--TENS therapy.mp3

To view all entries from
Contest ending Friday, October 24 click below

Contest ending Friday, October 17

Contest Title:

Adventure of the Black Fisherman, Washington Irving

Director's Notes:

This is a simulated audition for an audiobook in the public domain. The setting is Manhattan Island, c. 1825. In the scene this passage is excerpted from, Sam has spotted a small boat filled with five men and something heavy. They have just landed, and have not spotted him. Optionally, one of the men may be given a foreign accent (that is, not American or British). Please slate your name or username before the read.

Script:

They had stopped to rest a moment, and the leader was looking about the bushes with his lantern.

“Have you brought the spades?” said one.

“They are here,” replied another one, who had them on his shoulder.

A cold chill ran through Sam’s veins. He fancied he saw before him a gang of murderers about to bury their victim.

Results

Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

  • Quite a few people missed words in the script , or added words, or simply got them wrong. For example, “They are here” became “There they are.” For obvious reason, the Audiobooks genre is one of the many genres where reading EXACTLY what the author wrote is critically important.

    EDGE STUDIO VOICE OVER TIP: Although you must read exactly as written, you still have plenty of leeway as an audiobook narrator. You can vary the emotion, the timing, the inflection, character’s mannerisms, etc. But you must read the words as written. For example, if the author wrote “they are” instead of “they’re” you might read these two words quickly so that they sound almost like “they’re.” But first think about possible reasons the author preferred the two-word version. It might reveal the character’s nature (deliberate), or an accent (e.g. French), or attitude (annoyed), or be more in keeping with the times (1820s), or serve yet some other function.

  • Some of the accents were vague or unrealistic. For some reason there were a number of Russian accents, or sometimes something that sounded kind of Russian. In other cases, the “accent” sounded more like a speech impediment or general gruffness, not characteristic of any particular language.

    EDGE STUDIO VOICE OVER TIP: When effecting an accent, if you don’t already speak that language, study up a bit. If the choice of accent is up to you, choose one that you know you do well (assuming it’s compatible with the story). If the accent is specified in the story, listen to people speaking the language, or people with that accent. One source for practice is The International Dialects of English Archive in EdgeStudio.com’s Voice Over Yellow Pages . To know if a particular accent is required, you’ll need to ask the author or director, or read the story or book before recording.

  • The Director’s Notes allowed the option of giving an accent to one of the characters. Many people gave both characters an accent. That might interfere with other parts of the story, might not, but in any case it indicates sloppiness in following direction.

    EDGE STUDIO VOICE OVER TIP: Ability to follow direction is another key quality that casting people look for in talent. As soon as the casting screener hears an inability to follow instructions, he or she is likely to move on.

  • Some people gave the Narrator an accent, but not the characters. Did that result from misunderstanding the instruction or title, or was it simply a daring departure from conventional practice?

    EDGE STUDIO VOICE OVER TIP: Usually the narrator is the “author’s” voice, not that of a particular character, so no special vocal characteristic is needed when reading the “narrator” parts. If the narrator is himself/herself a character in the story, and must logically have a certain characteristic (e.g., an accent), that might call for some change in the way you speak – but you must be able to do it authentically and consistently. If you do it badly, you probably won’t get the job anyway. So, even when a difficult accent is called for, if it's beyond your ability, you might as well read in a voice you do perfectly – your own. Or wait for a different audition.

  • Some people read well but without much variation. Over the course of the entire story, this can become entrancing (in a bad way).

    EDGE STUDIO VOICE OVER TIP: How to incorporate variety into your read is one of the decisions that is up to you. Before you begin, decide what phrases are more important than others. These are the phrases you might emphasize in some way –by reading haltingly, or quickly, or with a slightly different pitch or changing inflection, etc.. For example, consider “a gang of murderers” and “about to bury their victim.” Which of these two phrases might you read more slowly, more deliberately? Or more quickly? In this passage, either seems appropriate, but the choice changes the listener’s focus. If you instead emphasize “fancied” (meaning “supposed” or “imagined”), that would change the meaning even more. Which is best in this case? That’s why it’s important to have read the rest of the story !

  • Some narrations were very, very dramatic. Even when it’s sort of effective in a brief passage (as was the case with some of these entries), an entire story like that would be tiring. It’s also likely that the exaggerated narration would not be consistent from start to finish.

    EDGE STUDIO VOICE OVER TIP: In the audiobook genre, remember that the original was written to be read to one’s self, silently. All the clues as to the narrator’s and characters’ emotion, etc., are there in the words. The reader of a book embellishes these words in his or her head. When reading aloud as the narrator, allow your listener this privilege. Read with interest and energy, but let the words set the scene, and let the listener do any further interpretation.

  • On the other hand, some people did not have enough energy.

    EDGE STUDIO VOICE OVER TIP: Obviously the characters should be conveyed with appropriate energy. So should the Narrator. While not necessary to be overly dramatic (as we’ve just mentioned), it is important to be interested, with an appropriately confident quality in your voice. A quality that helps keep the listener interested, too. Maintain an undercurrent of, “Hey, this is a good story here ... stick with me, let’s see what happens next!”

  • Many people didn’t have a good transition when going from the character to the narrator.

    EDGE STUDIO VOICE OVER TIP: Practice transitioning in and out of each character until you can do it smoothly, without excessive hesitation, and without “overlapping” the character into the narration.

  • Some people’s characters sounded virtually alike, or one character was distinctive while the other sounded too much like the narrator.

    EDGE STUDIO VOICE OVER TIP: The listener knows you’re doing all the voices, so it’s not necessary to make each person sound totally different (as you would in, say, a cartoon). But it’s important that the listener know at all times who is speaking. Remember, the listener doesn’t have the benefit of seeing paragraph breaks, quotation marks and “he said/she said” at the end of a line. So before you record, think about what one or two distinguishing characteristics you’ll use for each character (e.g., pitch, speed, mannerisms, attitude, accent, etc.).

  • Some characters sounded like cartoon characters, not real people.

    EDGE STUDIO VOICE OVER TIP: Unless you’re trying for comic effect with a particular character, choose characteristics that sound like real people. It might simply be a matter of dialing back the low-gruff voice you’ve chosen for one, or softening the Southern Belle accent you’re using for another.

  • Many people over-enunciated (e.g., pronouncing the article “a” as a long A, or pronouncing the G at the end of “gang”), and/or were overly deliberate (almost reading each word one at a time), while many others slid through some of the words (e.g., not pronouncing the V in “victim”). Some combined these two unfortunate qualities, making the mispronounced, slurred, or un-ended word even more obvious.

    EDGE STUDIO VOICE OVER TIP: Read as you speak, but speak clearly. For example, most people say “Ay” for the article “a” only when they are reading. Probably the only time you want to use the long-A form is when you’re indicating that someone is reading, or to emphasize that your meaning is very precise (e.g., “The recipe says ‘a pinch’ of salt, not 'several pinches'!")

  • Some people put too much time between phrases, others not enough.

    EDGE STUDIO VOICE OVER TIP: If you allow too much time, the read can become tedious before long. But the listener needs to imagine the scene, even time for their mind to wander a bit. So give them just the right amount of “air.”

1st place winner: dstromberg

147 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear dstromberg's recording

A very good read, with good variety, and she tells the story without vocal tension. Good characters, with just enough variation. She could use a little more space between phrases. The recording had some room reverberation. A bit of room tone is desirable in the Audiobooks genre, but reverberation and room tone are not the same thing.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by October 24, 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Deb Stromberg-Adventure of the Black Fisherman 101414.mp3

2nd place winner: RTKline

142 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear RTKline's recording

Also a very good read. He tells the story well and has no vocal tension. But at times his voice drifts a bit nasal, especially at the end (from “murders” on), but also in his pronunciation of “bushes” (sounds like “byooshes”), and the “G” at the end of “gang” is disconcerting. Another unusual distinction is that the characters were clearly recorded separately from the narrator (or after pauses which he later closed up). The characters’ volume level, his proximity from the microphone, and EQ are different. Although from a technical standpoint he did it effectively (and the recording is also technically good in other respects), this splice-up makes the transition from narrator to character and back very abrupt. It seems like a “radio play” rather than someone telling a story. More importantly, considering that this is an audition (albeit a simulated one), it’s not what the typical audiobook producer is looking for. It tells the audition reviewer nothing about the talent’s ability – or inability – to switch voices as he reads. In addition, the time required to process and and/or insert or close up each character’s lines would be very costly. Ironically, his read could also could use a little more space between phrases.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by October 24, 2014 by calling our team 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/RTKline - Weekly Contest - Book Narration - Take 3.mp3

2nd place winner: Tom Lennon

142 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear Tom Lennon's recording

Another very good read, with good characters and without vocal tension. He has nice variety. It’s possibly a hair fast, with not quite enough space between phrases. He missed the "n" in "lantern" (sounds like "lanter"). This recording, too, had some room reverberation. It manifests itself especially in what sounds like an edit after “moment” – the T sound has a double echo.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by October 24, 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/The Black Fisherman - Tom Lennon.mp3

To view all entries from
Contest ending Friday, October 17 click below

Contest ending Friday, October 10

Contest Title:

Atlantic and Pacific

Director's Notes:

This is a simulated audition for a video documentary comparing Columbus’s voyages with those of Pacific Islanders. The target audience is high school youth, but address them as you would any adult. The words “Te Puke” are pronounced “Tay POOkay.” Please do not slate.

Script:

Who but Columbus would brave open ocean in vessels barely 60 feet long? Well, the Polynesians did, centuries before. In twin-hulled canoes called Te Puke, these Islanders would have put Europe’s best dead-reckoning navigator to shame.

Results

Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

As the Native American said to Columbus in Stan Freberg’s recording The United States of America, Part One:

Native: What you mean, you discover us? We discover you.

Columbus: You discovered us?

Native: Certainly. We discover you on beach here. Is all how you look at it.

Winning or losing an audition is like that – the difference is often in how you look at the script. And the instructions. In this hypothetical narration job, both gave lots of clues as to how to read it.

  • Some people mispronounced the last syllable of "Te Puke.". The Director’s Notes said to say "Tay POOkay,” but some people ended it with “key.” Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Always read the directions and follow them. And to follow them correctly, you need to read them carefully.
  • A lot of people went too fast, the words were running together. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Although it's ultimately up to the Director, a narration of this type is generally not read all that quickly. As we’ve noted in previous contests, the visuals are the star of the show, and the viewer needs time to take them in. (Or, in an audition, the audition team needs time to imagine them.) The engineer can generally insert some pauses to space your sentences out and synch audio with the video, but a more “deliberate” read helps with this, too. Not too slow, but slower than, say, some commercials and some other types of narration. (Narration is a very broad category that sometimes includes other genres.)
  • On the other hand, some people went way too slowly -- the read seemed to go on and on. A whole documentary at that speed would put the viewer to sleep. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: How slow is too slow? If you would never actually talk to someone that way, it’s too slow. “Real" and "natural” are still the goal. (However, as noted above, relatively long pauses are appropriate between phrases and sentences, to help match your words to the visuals.)
  • Many people made the word “ocean” plural. While it makes sense, it shows a lack of attention to the script. That can really hurt you in an audition, when plenty of other qualified prospects will get it right. And in this case, singular makes more sense where Columbus and the Polynesians are concerned – each sailed only one ocean. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: When you’ve got the take you like, “proofread” it. Listen to it back while focusing on each word in the script. Better yet, if there's time, have someone else proofread it. The time to catch any error is before you proceed to editing and processing.
  • A few reads were too dramatic. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: As we said above, the visuals are the featured player. A cheetah catching a gazelle ... a tired, soot-covered miner ... a tiny canoe in a vast ocean ... those provide enough drama in themselves. If you’re the reporter who’s reporting an air disaster as it happens, you have liberty to be (naturally) dramatic. In fact, like the guy who reported on the Hindenburg explosion, it may be unavoidable. But when you’re narrating material that your audience knowsis recorded, they would hear the same dramatics as unreal. Nobody this week was as over the top as that ... but the same principle applies, just a matter of degree.
  • Although most narrations don’t need such dramatics, there are times in many scripts where there’s a bit of humor, or irony, or some other type of line that calls for a bit of “comment” in your voice. This was one of them, as indicated by the use of the informal interjection, “well.” Some people missed this opportunity – they just weren’t quite entertaining enough. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: If you value every word, you’ll more easily spot such situations and easily handle them. We don’t mean to ham it up. Just say the words – each of them – as if each is there for a reason. Because in good writing, each is. (And if it’s not-so-good writing, your job is to make it better ... not by changing the words, but by how you read them.)
  • Many did not leave even a tiny bit of time in between the question and the response. The question was rhetorical, but should have a bit of a pause there. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: This isn't e-learning, which might require a gap or clean break for user response. but even a rhetorical question requires a bit of pause, a sort of dramatic/comedy timing.
  • Some people were a bit sloppy. For example, beginning with a slight “uh” ... or saying “tah” instead of “to” ... or spoke with glottal stops (constricting the throat before certain vowel sounds). Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: One of the qualities that casting people listen for is “vocal freedom.” This is a relaxed sound, lacking tension. A glottal stop works against that.
  • And some people were choppy. Columbus’ managed to survive choppiness. These people did not.

1st place winner: actingmaven

179 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear actingmaven's recording

A great performance. Nice timing, nice inflection, nice enunciation. However, even she said "tah" instead of "to" for the second-to-last word. The technical quality was good.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by October 17, 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Atlantic and Pacific_1.mp3

2nd place winner: Scott Martin

154 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear Scott Martin's recording

Great voice, great read, great inflection! Except too fast!!!! Not only were the words too fast, there wasn’t enough space between phrases to let the casting team imagine the visuals ... so they'll feel as though he's rushing. He pronounced “te puke” nicely, but in his haste the word “hulled” could be heard as “holed.” He, too pronounced the penultimate word as "tah" instead of "to." From a technical standpoint, there was some noise in the recording, which was masked by the gate during pause, but can be heard during his speech.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by October 17, 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Scott Martin_MTS_Te Puke Edge Contest.mp3

3rd place winner: redfrohock

137 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear redfrohock's recording

Top-notch. It’s an interesting read, nice inflection, tension free ... all good things! EXCEPT that it was choppy in many places, especially towards the end. And she sounds as if she’s reading for 10-year-olds, when the Notes say to read for adults. Technically, there’s noise in the recording.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by October 17, 2014 by calling our team 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/RebeccaRoberts_columbus.mp3

To view all entries from
Contest ending Friday, October 10 click below

Contest ending Friday, October 3

Contest Title:

Supernatural

Director's Notes:

This is a simulated audition for an animated game. The talent will be responsible for voicing multiple characters. This script has three characters, so let’s see how you do in giving each one a distinct sound and personality. They can be all male, all female, or any mix. (The names here are irrelevant.) Slate your name or username at the top.

Script:

Able: I count seven. Can you see all of them?

Baker: One of them just disappeared.

Able: You mean you can’t see him anymore from your angle?

Baker: No. I mean he just vanished!

Charlie: That can’t be good.

Results

Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

Yippee! If doing one animated-character voice is fun, imagine how much fun doing three must be!

We found an interesting range of characters in this week’s entries. Just about any type of voice(s) was appropriate, considering that this script suited either gender or both, any age range, and could have been taken from any kind of game, ranging from extraterrestrial combat to a kids’ cartoon adventure.

A good range of distinct characters in any one entry turned out to be a rare find. Here’s why some people didn’t win ...

  • Some had one really good character, with the other two seeming to be just afterthoughts. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Specialists in the Animation genre have a stable (or a menagerie?) of characters that they can call up in an instant. The characters should sound different from each other, with different vocal characteristics and personalities. Some voice actors even give their stock characters individual back stories (which of course, the actor doesn’t need to divulge). From these various voices, they can pick one, add an ingredient or two to match the situation at hand, and, voila – yet another character is born. Just like adding ingredients to stock for a soup.
  • Some reads were very disjointed, the characters didn’t flow as in a real conversation. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: If you’re doing the recording, how you record multiple characters is up to you. You might record all of one character’s lines, then those of the other character, and put them into proper sequence later. Or, you might voice them in sequence, pausing between each character, so then you simply tighten up the recording. (If you’re really, really good, you might slip quickly from one character to another, but still should leave clean breaks so the engineer can adjust timing if necessary.) The first approach helps you stay in character, but (as may have been the case with these reads) you must be careful not to lose the sense of relationship between characters. Practice both approaches, because if someone else is engineering, this choice might be up to them.
  • Some good ideas suffered from bad execution. For example, “cross tracking” (overlapping dialog) helped the listener know that more than one character is speaking. It’s also something people do in real life. But the overlap needs to be executed in a way that doesn’t sounding like a recording glitch or a script-reading mistake. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: “Ad-libbing” is a similar situation. While the term “ad-lib” can mean improvised dialog (i.e. words and sentences), it also applies to unscripted non-verbal utterances (e.g., sighs, grunts, etc.). When ad-libbing during another character’s line, it’s important that the ad lib be realistic and meaningful. That is, it should be understood as the character, not some random noise, and hopefully it expresses something relevant to the script – for example, a sigh reveals an emotion. A grunt might be an emotional reaction, but a random grunt might just be a meaningless, confusing noise. The ad-lib should also be timed well and not obscure the other character’s dialog.
  • Many people had characters that sounded similar, varying just their personalities. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: In real life, one person can have different “personalities,” depending on changes in their situation and what emotion they’re experiencing. So, without visual cues, it can be difficult for a listener to tell which character is speaking unless the voices qualities are also distinctive. A person’s head and throat, even body language, affect vocal characteristics, so use these to further vary the ways your characters sound.
  • Some people were the other side of the above coin – they differentiated their characters pretty well, but gave them all the same personality, the same emotion. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Personality is an integral part of a character voice, so varying personalities helps vary the characters. And in a game such as this, you can act “bigger” – exaggerating each character and emotion for greater differentiation and energy.
  • Inappropriate characters. Actually, this is a tiny excerpt from a script that could be about anything, so if one character sounds like a farmer and the other sounds like Dracula, who can say that’s wrong? And it’s an audition, so showing a wide range of capability is a good idea. But (using our example just for example), how many scripts are likely to involve a Transylvanian? Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: In an audition, give them something they don’t expect. But also make it something they can use.
  • Some people showed good acting ability and sounded like real people do. But others sounded artificial. By that, we don’t mean they sounded like “cartoon voices” (a voice never heard from an actual human). We mean they didn’t act natural. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Real voices and cartoon voices are both saleable in the Cartoons genre, so in developing your “stable” of voices, include some real-people sounds and some cartoon-character sounds. Listen to popular contemporary cartoons and games, and you’ll often find a mix.
  • Technical issues. These included mouth noises, pops, room noise and so on. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: If you know the production will be recorded in professional facilities, then a bit of room noise or such may not matter much if your audition is otherwise excellent. But a pro should know how to avoid pops, at least, and if the final recording is to be made in the talent’s own studio, the recording quality will have to sound professional, too.

1st place winner: alexdormanvo

251 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear alexdormanvo's recording

Fun characters, and each has a distinct personality. Good acting and timing, too. Also, he ad-libbed well, adding various chuckles and stammers in a realistic yet distinctive manner . (See ad-libbing discussed above.) Ad-libs can be appreciated in this sort of copy. Agents sometimes request such ad-libs, even in commercial auditions (which tend to be otherwise rigidly worded for legal and client approval reasons). His inventive utterances are not words, so they don’t change the meaning of the copy. We suspect from his performance that if the Director said (as often happens in animation) “now say it three different ways,” he probably could. The only downside was a bit of room noise.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by October 10, 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Supernatural - Alex Dorman.mp3

2nd place winner: BJPetersen08

187 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear BJPetersen08's recording

Pretty good overall. The characters are distinguishable, with one of them having a different accent. To differentiate them further, he might vary their energy, pitch level (more than he has already), or voice placement. His slate is EQ’d differently, which is okay ... in fact it shows the audition team a “fourth voice.” But he pops the P in his name a bit, which doesn’t get things off to an impressive start. There’s a small amount of room noise and a few very slight mouth clicks. He should also watch enunciation – the “D” at the end of “disappeared” was ... disappeared. In this script context, we happen to know that the word is past-tense, but in other situations, that D sound might be important to hear.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by October 10, 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Supernatural_1.mp3

3rd place winner: Robin Rowan

139 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear Robin Rowan's recording

Her first two characters are good. But the third voice (Charlie) doesn't sound that different. There are a couple of seconds of silence before her slate. That’s way too much. The noise (hiss) behind the recording is made even more noticeable by using a gate – as it fades to silence between lines, the hiss becomes all too obvious by its absence. Some of the gaps between characters could stand tightening in any case. That would help make this sound more like a real conversation, instead of a series of lines.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by October 10, 2014 by calling our team 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Supernatural - Robin Rowan.mp3

To view all entries from
Contest ending Friday, October 3 click below

Contest ending Friday, September 26

Contest Title:

Late Show Promo

Director's Notes:

This is a simulated audition for a series of show promos for a TV program celebrating its final days. Have energy. Have clarity. Have fun. Make them want to watch! Music will be added underneath; do NOT add any music or sound effects yourself. This is a network position involving a wide range of programs. You do not need to sound like Letterman’s announcer Alan Kalter. Do not exceed 14 seconds!

Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

Script:

Just so you know, we’re going to stud your screen with stars: Johnny Depp, Jennifer Lawrence, Benedict Cumberbatch … Cher! … and the best of Stupid Pet Tricks, on the next Late Show with David Letterman.

Results

Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

To be clear, this simulated audition was for a spot for imaging promo talent, not for an announcer position on the Late Show or any specific program. The Director’s Notes said this: “a network position involving a wide range of programs.”

Some of our entrants seemed to get it backwards. Rather than adopt a Promo genre style, they came off as the person who introduces the show. Although the Notes did say (among other things) to “have fun, make them want to watch,” it wasn’t asking for a show intro. The prescription is a tricky one to fill, granted.

A network might employ various promo voices, depending on what type of show is being promoted. For example, one person for comedies, another for dramas, or for kids’ shows. But there can be a tremendous range within any such category, so the auditioning talent needs to demonstrate the clarity and energy, yet ease and naturalness, that will make them appropriate for any situation.

  • Most people this week had no such enthusiasm. A shame, because there are many places in this script to have fun. For example, “ ... Cher! ....” Those dots are a clear tip that something special is going on there. The other star’s names also each connote their own special qualities or eccentricities. Certainly “Stupid Pet Tricks.” Even “the best of” Stupid Pet Tricks is an opportunity to vocally raise your eyebrows. Punching every one of these words and phrases would probably be excessive. But there’s plenty of opportunity to be (and thus sound) enthusiastic.
Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: You can be enthusiastic and still “have clarity.” Clarity doesn’t mean you have to sound dry or pedantic. It just means your expression of energy should be more like you’re showing, oh, a great new device to a friend, not like you’ve just finished a foot race.
  • In other cases, if they showed energy, it sounded fake and forced. 
Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: using the “DJ sound” to convey energy. (That’s the stereotypical constricted-throat technique that you’ve surely heard on some radio stations.)
  • Some read too quickly. The Notes allowed 14 seconds. Our three winners brought it in comfortably at 13 to 13½ seconds. It’s a fairly long script, and to read it much more quickly does both it and you a disservice. 
Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: When given a time target, try to hit it on the nose, without going over (just like The Price is Right). Even if you could read it a lot faster, there are probably creative, thoughtful ways you can use the bit of extra time. That way, you’ll show both your professional ability, and distinguish yourself from the competition. (If the time limit is really excessive, that might be a different story. If you’re given 30 seconds to read what is clearly a 15-second script, either you should read it as you feel comfortable doing it, or you’ve misunderstood something in the direction or the script itself.)
  • Many were “game showy.” Again, this is a Promo job, not a replacement for a show announcer. The instructions did note that there would be a series of these promos, and given the Late Show’s special “personality,” it’s reasonable to go near the edge in the style department. But this particular job (as described) is nevertheless for a wider range of programming. 
Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Whatever genre you are auditioning for, listen to a range of good examples within that genre. Don’t imitate them, but do learn from them. Determine what qualities they all have in common. In promo work, you’ll hear that enunciation (even over-enunciation) is one of those qualities, along with a natural excitement, and a natural voice.
  • Quite a few people butchered the name “Benedict Cumberbatch.” We put that in the script on purpose, along with the phrase “stud your screen with stars.” The latter, in addition to having a double meaning and a visual element, is a bit of tongue twister. 
Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: A good script writer will avoid writing tongue-twisters, not insert them on purpose. But sometimes they creep in, or are unavoidable. Work on vocal agility as part of your daily VO practice.
  • A LOT of people, even our winners in some places, slurred words. Even words that can easily be pronounced distinctly got mangled. For example, “Chust” instead of “just.” “Gonna” instead of “going to.” “Jusso” instead of “Just so.” Again, listen to professional promo people on the major networks. One thing you won’t hear from them is sloppiness. (Another signal that enunciation was particularly important in this audition: “Music will be added.” Your words must be understood over it.) 
Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: If the writer wanted you to say “gonna,” he or she probably wouldn’t have written “going to.” Such informality is fine in some contexts. But you don’t have to sound sloppy to sound natural and friendly.
  • Slating was inconsistent. No specific slating instructions were given, so we don’t fault people who did or did not slate. Some people extended their slate with the script title or whatever. Why is this significant? Well, since the instructions said not to go over 14 seconds, we were using a stopwatch. When someone didn’t slate, we were caught off-guard. When someone simply said their name, waited a beat and began the script, we were happy. 
Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: In most audition situations, simply follow that last example. And for more slating insight, get The Edge Studio Guide to Slating free, when you subscribe or renew your subscription to our newsletter. This comprehensive 18-page manual will have you slating like a pro! 
[http://info.edgestudio.com/voice-over-slating-guide]
  • Many people sounded like they were just reading a list of names, running all the names together.
Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: When reading a list, it’s generally best to end each item with a downward inflection. (Exceptions include informal deliveries, very first-person reads, and some character reads. But the “downward inflection” advice applies to Promo reads and almost any script where there’s music, or where visual changes might occur between the list items.) But you can make the list more interesting by varying speed, your pitch, tone of voice, etc. And, as followers of Letterman’s show will know, you can have an extra bit of fun with the name “Cher!”
  • Even some good performances had technical problems, such as flanging (a fluctuation in frequencies that sounds like Darth Vader), poorly set gates (typically used to minimize breaths, the gate can take effect too abruptly), bad edits, and popped plosives. 
Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: It’s not too difficult to learn how to use your recording software’s basic audio processing capabilities correctly. But good-quality audio is best achieved at the outset. Use a pro-quality condenser mic (notice we did NOT say “really expensive”), use a pop-screen, avoid computer fan noise, etc., and record in a quiet, non-reverberant room. That way, the need for processing will be minimal.

1st place winner: Chris Koprowski

9 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear Chris Koprowski's recording

He has a clear, friendly, exciting delivery, with clarity, good emphasis, and nice word-value. And he’s free of vocal tension, which is also nice. But like so many others this week, he can work on vocal accuracy. His first word sounds like "Chust," he said "gonna" instead of "going to,” and there’s a bit of “lazy mouth” (that’s when the voice starts before the mouth opens) before "Benedict." He could have made "stupid pet tricks" sounds more amusing. Also, he cut off the end of the recording, where he was still exhaling on the N at the end of “Letterman.” The resulting artifact is awkward, and distracting, and poses an editing difficulty for the engineer. Better yet, instead he should have held his tongue in the final "n" position for a moment (against the roof of the mouth) ... and then released his tongue. Doing so makes it an easy edit for the engineer. (On a long-copy job or for a long-term relationship, engineers prefer hiring a voice actor who requires less editing.)

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by October 3, 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/LateShowPromo-ChrisKoprowski.mp3

2nd place winner: myscript

168 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear myscript's recording

Like our First Place winner, he has a nice, friendly natural quality. In places, he has exemplary enunciation (“Cumberbatch,” “the best of,” “Letterman.) But the clarity comes and goes. The first word "("just") has a small amount of lazy mouth (he says, "nnnJus..."), and he also says “nnnJohnny” and “nnnJennifer” and (especially noticeable) “mmmBenedict.” “Just so” became “Jusso.” “With stars” is “wistars.” And so on. These slurs are far from optimal when mixed with typically loud music. (And if it’s a live promo from the booth, it’s even more dangerous.) As noted above, he could have had more fun saying "Cher." Stupid pet tricks probably has a funny visual, and so his delivery should be more amusing. The comma after "Tricks" doesn’t have to be a long pause, but should be a clean break, if only for later synching it with the visual. It certainly calls for a change in emotion and tempo at that point (it’s the big finish). Instead, he had a tiny hesitation before "David," which is not the same thing.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by October 3, 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Late Show Promo SamuelFleming.mp3

3rd place winner: Todd A Wilson

173 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear Todd A Wilson's recording

His rich voice has a nice smile (especially toward the end), and good vocal freedom at points (e.g., “so you know,” “screen with stars,” “Benedict Cumberbatch”, “Cher”). Although there’s a bit of lazy mouth before “Benedict.” And there are a few moments where he tends to go “DJ” (“Johnny Depp,” and “on the next”). We suggest he keep the energy, lose the constriction. It even turns into a small pause before “David Letterman,” which in itself is awkward. His rushing the first word (Just) will make the word hard to hear over music.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by October 3, 2014 by calling our team 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/LATE SHOW PROMO TW.mp3

To view all entries from
Contest ending Friday, September 26 click below

Contest ending Friday, September 19

Contest Title:

Out of the Park

Director's Notes:

This is a simulated audition for a sports documentary. Read it as if it were live play-by-play, but with a sense of excitement and drama. The audience knows, as you do, what’s about to happen in this scene. The ball/strike count “1-0” is pronounced “one and oh.” Start matter-of-fact and build. No slate, please.

Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

Script:

It’s cold and drizzling, but he doesn’t notice. The count is 1-0. Al Downing lets go a fastball, and Aaron swings. It’s a line drive to left field, sailing just over the 385-foot marker! Chalking up number 715, Hank Aaron has just sailed past Babe Ruth in career home runs!

Results

Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

It was interesting to note the range of variation in people’s approach to this script. The Director’s Notes for this sports documentary said to read the script as if it were a live play-by-play. Our winners did that, effectively. Others did not.

  • Some people sounded as if they’d never heard a baseball game announced in real time – because some of them showed little sense of the timing, or the spontaneous excitement, or even baseball’s general announcing style. Some people sounded as if they were narrating a movie ... which of course this is, considering that Aaron broke Ruth’s record in 1974. (A traditional sports narration could have some of that spontaneity and extra energy, but could just as likely have a more deliberate, scripted tone.) Other people sounded like they were reading a story to kids. We grant that the script does have a touch of “narrative” to it – a live announcer couldn’t read Hank Aaron’s mind to say “he doesn’t notice it drizzling.” But the Director’s Notes are clear, and it wouldn’t be unheard of for a live announcer to make up a small bit of drama like that.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: You can’t emulate what you’ve never heard. So do research!!! Extra time spent researching can help you win extra jobs! For a random selection of baseball play-by-play announcing, watch some videos at mlb.com. http://m.mlb.com/video/v16184539/mlbcoms-top-10-plays-of-the-week]. Here are some older baseball films.


  • Others had the proper feel for it, but many of them sounded like they were mimicking existing sports announcers’ styles. We suppose even some professional sports announcers start by doing that. But do you suppose the classic voice and lyrical manner of Vin Scully came from imitating his boss Red Barber (another classic sports announcer)? In fact, according to Wikipedia, Barber advised Scully not to listen to other announcers.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: If this genre appeals to you or if you want to emulate it, do start by listening to others, and practice, practice, practice. In fact, budding play-by-play announcers can be found announcing a game into a recorder while they’re still in high school, just for practice. By the time they’re looking for a job, they’re already old hands at speaking sports vernacular off-the-cuff. But once you’ve gotten started, forget what you’ve heard. Be yourself. If you’re seeking to develop a style, let it emerge from your natural mannerisms. Give it your own spin. Fans don’t like clichés, and that applies to cliché voices as well as phrases.


  • The Notes said to build excitement, as announcers do when a routine hit ball suddenly becomes an outstanding play. Unfortunately, as the excitement built, often so did the sloppiness. Even some of our winners sounded like they might have said “joking” instead of “chalking.”

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Listeners don’t have the script in front of them. As a narrator, you do, and you have the luxury of knowing what’s coming up. Don’t lose the spontaneity, but do retain your voice over standards. How? Make enunciation a habit, so that when you get excited, you’ll continue to speak clearly and won’t stumble over words.


  • Some people were not excited enough, or sounded as if they were faking their excitement.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Are you inhibited by your neighbors hearing you shout? Stifling yourself or “imitating” a raised voice sounds fake. If necessary, talent have been known to tell their neighbors, “I’m going to be shouting for a few minutes, and yelling for help. I’m just recording a script. No need to call 911.”

    (By the way, varying the volume of your voice is generally a VO no-no for technical reasons. If you do speak more loudly, move a bit away from the mic, and if working with a recording engineer, warn him or her beforehand. To express excitement, raising your pitch rather than increasing volume is sometimes just as realistic.)


  • Some people were inconsistent. For example, they didn’t started off well, but then produced realistic excitement. Or part of the recording was clearly edited on. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: In a short audition, edits should be rare. And if you can’t make the edit totally undetectable, do another take, straight through. Because if the casting team hears that you can't get through 15-seconds of copy without needing to stop and start, or if they hear that you're not good at editing, the job could go to another voice actor.


  • Some people had bad audio. Sometimes it was bearable, but in some cases, it was extremely distracting.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Always record in conditions that make you sound as good as possible. If the audition is just to get the job and you know the production will be recorded in a professional sound studio, you might get away with some reduced audio quality. But at some point a technically poor recording makes you sound unprofessional. You probably won’t get away with that.

1st place winner: KentClark

185 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear KentClark's recording

A very good read, especially realistic in the first few lines. It was a tad too fast with a few words (e.g. on “385”). There is a bit of hiss throughout, and the opening and close could have used some attention. There’s a bit of noise or exhale before his start, and he loses energy on the last word. But overall, a very realistic sounding delivery. Play ball!

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by September 26, 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Kent Clark - Out of the Park.mp3

2nd place winner: dvoice

114 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear dvoice's recording

Another realistic read, especially once sound effects are added. They will naturally fill the long pauses. But the pauses are a bit long for another reason: his read doesn’t match up with the actual events. For example, he recognizes the pitch as a fastball, and there’s a relatively long time before saying “Aaron swings.” Then the time before realizing it’s a line drive is longer than necessary. And by the time he announces it’s a home run, the ball has long since touched ground. Granted, viewers know subconsciously that this is an after-the-fact narration, so exact synchronization isn’t absolutely necessary. But something in a baseball fan will know when the timing just isn’t quite right. However, this wouldn't cost him the job, because an engineer could easily tighten the phrasing, and the laid back style is both realistic and distinctive. Technically, this is another hissy recording. (Good monitors or headphones expose this. Ironically, it sounds like a rainy day.)

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by September 26, 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Out of the Park_3.mp3

3rd place winner: Ken Young

117 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear Ken Young's recording

Very realistic, but could have could have had even more excitement by the end. He stumbled through “385” a bit, and the very last word drops unnaturally low in pitch. (No pun intended.) Technically in the background there is room hiss and room reverb that could be avoided.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by September 26, 2014 by calling our team 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Out of the Park - Ken Young .mp3

3rd place winner: Charactervoices

119 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear Charactervoices's recording

Another realistic style, but we can’t fully evaluate it because he added crowd sound effects. So if he slurs words, the casting screener might be wary of not hearing it. If the final recording is to be done in his studio, there’s no way to know how clean a recording he can produce. And the client will need to be experienced at separating his performance from the overall effect. Some casting people might therefore see the sound effects as “cheating,” and hiring him on the basis of this submission as risky. Especially considering that the SFX were mixed a bit too loud relative to his voice.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by September 26, 2014 by calling our team 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Out of the Park-Joe Mishriki.mp3

To view all entries from
Contest ending Friday, September 19 click below

Contest ending Friday, September 12

Contest Title:

Holding the Phone

Director's Notes:

This is a simulated audition for a telephone message. In this particular script, the caller has been on hold for about 5 minutes. The point of this message is not only to encourage the caller to keep holding, but to make the caller feel like a wanted customer (or prospective customer) and to convey a positive tone regarding what is probably by now a frustrating situation. Please slate your name before the read. Put yourself in the listener’s position. Although this is an apology, don’t sound patronizing. Your apology needs to sound as if you mean it, and should convey a sense of optimism and positivity – a bright ray of hope.

Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

Script:

We’re sorry to have you waiting so long. Our representatives give each caller as much time as necessary, and sometimes things get a little backed up. But when it’s your turn, we’ll give you all the time you need, so please hold on a bit longer.

Results

Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

Businesses are very aware that their customers do NOT like to wait on hold before speaking with a representative. But sometimes it’s unavoidable, a matter of budget, or maybe unusually heavy call volume at that time of day or for a period of days. Whatever the reason for holding, studies show that callers are more willing to hold when they hear music and/or messages or status updates.

Although any music will clue the caller that they haven’t been disconnected, the quality of the music probably influences the amount of time they’re willing to wait.

So does the quality of message and status recordings.

This week’s messaging script serves several functions:

  • Keep callers engaged.
  • Keep them from becoming anxious.
  • Make them feel good about the company.
  • Discourage them from hanging up.

A pleasant hold experience might even speed the eventual conversation, because the caller won’t start with a long complaint about having been on hold.

To accomplish all these objectives, the voice actor should sound natural and friendly. If you read too quickly, you’ll sound like you’re not paying attention to the caller. (Yes, we know, even though the customer knows you’re a recording, it still has that psychological effect.) Moreover, the caller might not catch what you’re saying – it could be a bad connection, they may have a language difficulty, or their mind might be elsewhere. If you read too slowly, you may sound bored, unbusinesslike or condescending.

And whether too fast or to slow, you’ll sound unnatural. So the speed to speak at is – a natural pace … as if you were live on the phone, having a conversation. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: To get the feel for a natural pace, it might help to precede the script with a line or two that you make up. Then delete the added lines from your recording.

Sounding unnatural was a major reason some people didn’t win. Here are some others:

  • Not effectively apologetic. The Director’s Notes said to sound apologetic but not condescending. It should go without saying that the tone should also sound authentic, as with any apology. Some people appeared to try their best, but nevertheless came across as fake and insincere. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: What’s a sincere apology? Imagine you did something wrong but not a crime – for example, suppose you ate somebody else’s sandwich by mistake. How would you apologize for that?
  • Some people were too apologetic or empathetic. You’d think they ran over the caller’s dog, or were talking the caller out of suicide. The caller has simply been on hold for 5 minutes. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: You can’t sound genuine if you aren’t in a genuine mindset. Are you just reading? That might be the problem. As you voice the words, who ARE you? Adopt the mindset of someone specific. In this case, it might be helpful to think you’re the business owner. Or the boss’s positive-thinking executive assistant. Or the rep who will eventually answer the phone. What’s more, don’t just think like that person. Bethat person!
  • Some people wandered back and forth through believability and artificiality. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: When you think you’ve got a good take, listen back to it. Is it consistent? Does each statement you make convey an emotion? Is the emotion appropriate to that statement? If not, do another take – in entirety. (Another cause of inconsistency is when you splice together a bunch of takes.)
  • Some people were a bit sloppy. Sometimes it was because they sped through the copy. Slowing down may be the fix for that. Some simply didn’t sound clear and professional. For example, some people said “tah” instead of “to.” Above, we mentioned several reasons a caller might not catch what you’re saying. E-nun-ci-ate, without overdoing it. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: To enunciate without sounding unnatural, simply be careful to fully use your jaw and lips as you form each sound. At first, it might feel like you’re exaggerating the movements. But soon, it will feel natural, and you’ll no longer be mumbling and slurring your words.
  • Mouth noise, especially wet mouth. Some people worked a bit too close to the mic. Maybe it was in order to sound more personal, maybe because we typically hold a telephone closely. But a telephone mouthpiece or microphone doesn’t reproduce the wet-mouth noises as much as a condenser mic will. It may not be evident once played down the phone line, but for all you know the audition reviewer is listening on studio monitors! Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: If you find your mouth is excessively salivatic, one fix is this -- remember to swallow. (If you do swallow audibly during the take, edit it out.) Other cures are to chomp a bit of green apple, or a piece of bread. Also move back from the mic a bit, and aim it at your face or chest, not directly into your mouth.
  • Many people did not slate as directed. Maybe this was because the slating instruction was buried in the middle of the Notes? Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: These slip-ups might signal an even more important failure: Always be sure to read the instructions, carefully, in their entirety. Missing an instruction will cost you the audition.

What’s a good example of on-hold messaging in a clear, natural manner? As you wend through life, make note of any good examples you come across, for your future reference. Meanwhile, we’ll cite the woman who voices on-hold announcements for GODADDY (480-505-8877). Thing is, unless you’re calling their billing department at 11 p.m., you might not be put on hold, so you won’t hear her announcement (which goes something like our audition script). But she also voices their menus, so you can at least get the idea. (Please don’t all call at once.)

1st place winner: theheartofmel

218 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear theheartofmel's recording

She has a nice tone in her voice, and she enunciates naturally. Her read is a tad fast in a couple places, but she nevertheless sounds natural and genuine. Her slate is a bit stylized, as she emphasizes the alliterative M’s in her name, but that’s okay..

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by September 19, 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/MelanieMurphy-EDGE-Phone9-8-14.mp3

2nd place winner: sshahawy

179 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear sshahawy's recording

She sounds businesslike and sincere. At a few points she is too "pretty" with her words. There’s also what seems an obvious drop-in (“we’ll give you all the time you need”), which could be of concern to the audition team, considering this is not a long passage. In fact, the whole recording seems edited back-and-forth between two or more takes.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by September 19, 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/ShireenShahawyHOLDING THE PHONE contest entry.mp3

3rd place winner: JHBvoice

175 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear JHBvoice's recording

A pleasant voice and a pleasant read. But at first, that’s what it sounds like – a read, overenunciated and theatrical. He speaks more naturally as he progresses. There are a couple moments where he seems to have lost his place in the script. (e.g., Weee’ll … give you all the time you need.) That may not be what happened there, but when overdoing the drama, that can be the effect.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by September 19, 2014 by calling our team 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/HoldthephB_JHoraceBlack.mp3

To view all entries from
Contest ending Friday, September 12 click below

Contest ending Friday, September 5

Contest Title:

Labor Day electronic release

Director's Notes:

In this simulated audition, the producer seeks someone to voice a trailer. Trailers typically run 2 to 2-1/2 minutes. For the online release of the movie Labor Day, a much shorter trailer is needed for special situations. It’s almost a teaser. Do not read the lines that are quoted – those are audio from the movie that will be inserted there. Just pause (a second or less) at those points, giving the editor a clean break. Slate your name or username at the end.

Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

Script:

Love knows no bounds.

“How does a fellow let a woman like your mother get away?”

People do.

“…Serving 18 years for murder.”

When the idea of love transcends two people, it’s time to change the boundaries. As two lovers do … on Labor Day.

Available now.

Results

Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

This script somewhat resembles poetry. It would be a good model to follow. The general advice when reciting poetry is “cherish the words, but don’t over-do it.”

  • Some of this week’s entrants did, and didn’t.
  • Many tried to sound too deep and low. As a result, the listener is more focused on them, not on the message. And, unfortunately, what the listener may be thinking is, “Why is this person sounding so weird? Is this a put-on?” Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: If your voice is naturally basso or breathy, great. You have an advantage for certain types of scripts. (Not everyone can play a Darth Vader.) But nothing about this script necessarily calls for a deep, low voice. A natural voice is perfectly suitable if read well. The listener might think it’s the voice of a fellow townsperson, or a relative, or an storyteller. Someone like you.
  • Many showed no thought, no understanding of the words. They were not connecting with the script, let alone with their listener. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Whenever you have time to do so, check the script’s back story. If the script is a breakfast cereal commercial, give it a try, and more importantly, know who it’s marketed to. If it’s a cartoon character, what’s that character’s history and personality? And if it’s about a movie, get a sense of the movie if you can. And in this case, you can – trailers for it are available on YouTube.
  • In some cases, it seems as if the person just recorded it, made an mp3 and uploaded it without listening. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Although the importance of listening to your recording would seem to go without saying, do more than just listen to it. Listen to it critically, as others will. And while you’re at it, read the script while listening. Sometimes this will point out a mistake, and maybe even give you a new idea for approaching the read.
  • Others went too dramatic, maybe trying to do what they think is the standard movie trailer sound. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: There is no “standard movie trailer sound.” The imposing tones of Don LaFontaine, Hal Douglas and others of their ilk are just one possible sound. And with the passing of both LaFontaine and Douglas, there may be a trend to “less is more.” Some current trailers let the movie scenes speak for themselves, with minimal narration. Want to reverse that trend? Do a great read in your own voice. Odds are producers haven’t heard that.
  • Too fast or two slow. If you’re thinking “poetry” or “drama” the tendency is to go too slow. More typically, people went too fast. Moderate is just right. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: If you’re nervous, or not sure what you’re reading, it’s likely you’ll read at too fast a clip. One way to fix this, other than simply slowing down, is to think about communicating with the listener. You probably speak clearly to your friends. Not like an athlete full of adrenalin in a post-match interview.
  • Moments of naturalness, but fleeting. Some recordings were artificial in one way or another (overdone, listless, fake voice, affected-sounding, etc.), but there was a phrase somewhere that sounded great. Unfortunately, that ray of sunshine rarely convinces an audition screener to ignore the rest. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: When listening to your performance, try to identify the part in the script where you sounded more natural. Can you bring that quality to the entire script? Think about what gives it that natural quality, where it came from, and maybe another take is in order.
  • Poor enunciation. This being a movie trailer, there’s likely to be music and/or sound effects under you. Not only will untreasured words be wasted opportunity for emotional effect, often they won’t even be heard. Mispronunciation and malformed sounds are related problems. For example, several people didn’t fully pronounce L sounds at the end of words. (E.g., “people” sounds like “peepo,” “Idea of” sounds like “ID of.”) Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Sometimes sounds such as L and R are badly formed due to laziness or inattention, but some people do have a physiological reason for such difficulty. A session with a qualified coach or even a speech pathologist might help fix or work around the problem.
  • Bad audio: hiss, background noises, poor placement at the mic are some examples. Sometimes the defects are not noticeable when listening on speakers in a room with some background noise. But using studio-quality headphones, they can be painfully apparent. Guess what we generally listen on? Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: You can only do your best, and while you’re in training, a bare minimum of technical quality may do. But to win actual auditions, you’ll need to know and do a bit more. The good news is, it’s more a matter of knowledge, training and experience, not necessarily one of dollars.
  • Some read everything with no space in between, which suggests they didn’t understand the instructions. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: When there are points where an engineer will need to insert other audio or silence, leave a clean break. That means just enough silence that it will be easy to cleanly select your phrase in the audio editing software.
  • Three people did not slate, and one slated incorrectly. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: In the real world, not slating as instructed can cost you the job. In this contest, we don’t necessarily reject a mis-slated recording, but the read had better be extra special. Incidentally, a “weird” slate can also cost you, whether it conforms to instructions or not.
  • Some entrants won our contest within the past two months. Recent entrants aren’t eligible to win, but if you want to use the contest as “practice under pressure,” that’s fine with us. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Regular practice is important. Our Weekly Script Recording Contest can always be part of it, giving you the benefit of competition, deadline pressure, possible feedback, and showing others what you can do.

1st place winner: AndrewRomano

204 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear AndrewRomano's recording

He begins great, at a suitably slow pace, valuing each word. However he gets faster at times, and throws some words away. He also gives some sounds short shrift. In particular, the trailing L sounds, as discussed above. The recording had background hiss. The gate makes it more noticeable, but the gate itself is set pretty well. The movie’s title, “Labor Day” is sufficiently sold, whereas some entrants threw it away.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by September 12, 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Edge Studio - Script Contest (2014 09 01) Trailer Labor Day.mp3

2nd place winner: kellyfinandrews

221 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear kellyfinandrews's recording

A nice, natural approach. The opening lines are a bit quick, but the later ones are especially too fast. The speed makes her quick breaths less apparent, but on slowing down, they would be better deleted or minimized, especially the mouth noise between phrases. Recognizing the “timeless, poetic” nature of this script, we’d like more precision in pronunciation ("To" was pronounced as "tah" --sometimes that's good, but not in this case). And this was a case where “idea of” might be heard as “ID of,” momentarily confusing the listener. I her slate, she says her name almost as an aside...as if it's less important. That’s a friendly sound, but not optimal. For one thing we can’t tell if she’s saying Wilson, or Wolfson, or something else.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by September 12, 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/082514_KellyWilson_LaborDayEdgeStudioContest.mp3

3rd place winner: jpconn

169 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear jpconn's recording

He’s way too close to the mic, which in addition to introducing technical flaws such as pops and mouth noise, might be heard as rather repellant, not romantic. (No ear-licking, please!) But if he stands back and stops relying on the mic’s proximity effect, his read shows promise. In particular we like that he was one of the rare entrants to hit the word “do” in “People do.” (And for that matter, in “lovers do.”) He said most words a little fast, and some of them way too fast, even staccato. For example, "When". . . once mixed with music and SFX, that word will be near-impossible to understand. (context would help listeners' brains figure out the word...but we shouldn't rely on that). And pay attention to those L’s.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by September 12, 2014 by calling our team 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Labor Day Comp.mp3

To view all entries from
Contest ending Friday, September 5 click below

Contest ending Friday, August 22

Contest Title:

Sewer Party

Director's Notes:

This simulated audition for a political radio commercial. If you’re a woman, read the script as-is. If you’re a man, change “my lawn party” to “our lawn party.” Slate your name or username first. (This being a hypothetical script, the name of the candidate has been changed to avoid complication).

Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

Script:

The day of my lawn party was the day they broke ground for the new sewer. Right in front of our house, without notice. We need a mayor who’s more sensitive to people’s lives. That’s why I’m voting for David Goldberg.

Results

Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

This week’s pretend audition was a political spot. Political advertising is often highly tested. We wish all political advertising could be positive, but it seems tests generally show that negative political advertising is more effective at times. It stands to reason – negativity gets people angry, and when they get angry, they get motivated.

In any case, the character in this script should sound angry. As he or she sees it, the mayor ruined their barbecue.

  • But many people sounded as if they could hardly care less. Some even sounded amused. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: When auditioning, consider what emotion the client would direct you to use, rather than what emotion you would like to use.
  • And then there were the people who seemed to want to sound angry and upset, but just came off as whiny. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Don’t choose a tone of voice that most people dislike. Most people don’t like whining. (Think about it – how often to you hear it used in voice over?) Even if it’s a logical voice for this commercial, it could annoy the listener every time they hear the spot. Politicians (and advertisers generally, not to mention Program Directors, etc.) don’t like to annoy their listeners. So unless directed to be whiny, or maybe briefly for good comedy effect, consider another tone of voice that would also fit the situation. In this case, real anger.
  • A lot of other people didn’t sound authentic at all. Rather than conveying any real emotion (even the wrong one), they sounded like they were reading a script. It’s conceivable that an ordinary person off the street might write out their thoughts and read them, awkwardly, but that’s a different creative concept. More importantly, such a low-energy read is unlikely to get listeners angry and motivated. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: When voicing any commercial (not just political commercials), think first think, is there an underlying “concept” behind it? If so, what is it? (A grocery-sale or car dealer commercial may not be conceptual; a car manufacturer’s commercial might be.) What will further that concept and make it effective? What action or emotion, etc., is it meant to elicit from the person who hears it?
  • Quite a few people took liberties with the script, adlibbing or misreading words. That in itself is usually a red-flag to audition screeners. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Anyone can make a mistake. Pros correct them. After you’ve recorded, listen back as you follow the script.
  • Failure to follow slating instructions (if any) is another potential disqualifying factor. Two or three people didn’t slate, or slated incorrectly, even though the Director’s Notes included slating instructions. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Follow slating instructions to the letter. Especially if you’re starting out in the business.

Some reads were in the right ballpark (genuinely angry character), but were inconsistent or missed the boat on important fundamentals, let alone the nuances that win auditions.

  • Some recordings were technically deficient – e.g., poor sound quality, distracting background noises, (wet) mouth noise, too much silence before and/or after slating, etc. (By the way, have you noticed that the name of our contest is “Weekly Script Recording Contest,” not “… Reading Contest.” That’s because in a real audition, the recording quality is almost as important as the quality of your read. In fact, it can be a deal-breaker if the actual job is to be recorded in your home studio.) Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Practice and peer feedback doesn’t necessarily require technological perfection. But in a real audition, there is a limit to how much slack a screener will cut you. Do what you can to bring your home recording capabilities up to professional standards. And in addition to practicing reads, practice using your software’s basic processing features, too.
  • Many people trailed off at the end. Some people sped up. Either is bad, especially in this case, because that’s the part where the character says who to vote for. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: In a commercial, ALWAYS hit the product name, and say it clearly. Do it in a natural way that fits the tone of your delivery. If it appears often, you might hit it a different way each time. But never let it be misheard, unnoticed or unremembered. It’s paying your fee.
  • Some people paused oddly before the end, or between phrases. A dramatic pause, maybe. But not a “real” one. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: A dramatic pause is often too obviously an “acting tool” and will be heard as such. If you do use one, use just one, and in exactly the right place -- where it is natural and will enhance the script’s overall impact, not so it stops the flow of thought or confuses the listener. Consider: in your own real-life conversation, how often do you actually use “dramatic” dramatic pauses? Very rarely, if at all.
  • Some people just charged into the script. Remember that this is a commercial, and you need to capture the listener’s attention. Part of that responsibility is the script’s, but part of it is yours. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: If you’re going to slow down anywhere (but not pause), do it in the first word or two, speaking with energy but deliberately. This lets the listener get up to speed.
  • The character’s tone should shift in the last two sentences, where talking about who to vote for. Some people still sounded angry. At the other extreme, some people sounded rather comforting and friendly at the end (that can be good), but also sounded that way in the “story” part. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: What’s important is not necessarily what’s in your mind. It’s what’s in the character’s mind.
  • Some people sounded theatrical. In most cases, that’s as bad as sounding like you’re “reading a script,” because it’s equally unreal and unbelievable. In this script, you don’t want to sound like a trained actor. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: For this type of script, a great voice isn’t necessary, as long as the voice isn’t repellent. The more you sound like a real person on the street, talking from the heart, the more effective this script will be.

The bottom line is what we said at the top – this commercial should make the listener angry, angry enough to vote out the incumbent mayor. To do that, you have be real.

1st place winner: veronicaaustin27

257 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear veronicaaustin27's recording

Her read sounds like a real person talking, which is the goal. And the reality effect is enhanced by a very nice chuckle in the set-up. But that chuckle should have become more rattled -- especially in the phrases "sewer" and "in front of our house" -- because her read stays too consistent in tone and doesn't bring in the necessary anger, as mentioned earlier in this article. The pause after “we need a mayor” is distracting – the listener may first think that’s the end of her sentence. The recording’s technical quality is not good. To control background noise between phrases, she used a “gate,” set very aggressively. But a gate does nothing to reduce noise while you’re speaking. So, because it was set to cut the noise abruptly, her gating just made the remaining noise even more noticeable. It also cuts off the tails of words at the ends of phrases, sometimes even sounding like a click. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Used in combination with other basic audio processing tools, a gate can make noise less apparent. But the gate must be properly adjusted. When in doubt, don’t be too aggressive, and do what you can to reduce ambient noise to begin with.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by August 29, 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Sewer Party - Veronica Austin.mp3

2nd place winner: Patty Gibbons

198 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear Patty Gibbons's recording

Nice smile and a pretty good read. Something she could do to make her read sound more natural would be to not articulate so carefully. Enunciational overkill makes her sound unnatural at times. This recording, too, had background noise throughout, excessive sibilance, and some movement noise at the end.

Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Famous intro announcers have various styles in the way they introduce their hosts. For example, Ed McMahon intoned “Here’s Johnny!” as if suggesting, “who else but?” Joel Godard stylizes “Conan O’Brien” as “Co-nan O-Bry-Yan!” And Alan Kalter introduces David Letterman with in a very promo-ish style by raising pitch and extending the vowels. Here’s the tip. Don’t necessarily imitate anyone, do think about your approach. But then “hear” someone in particular in your head as you read. The result will be a mixture of them and your own personal touch, that you can experiment with further.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by August 29, 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Edge Script Contest - Sewer Party.mp3

3rd place winner: Carolsplace

172 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear Carolsplace's recording

In some ways, this is a good read, but too fast at the top, with no attention-getting punch in the first word or two. She would benefit from incorporating more emotional change. This would make it more interesting, keeping the listener engaged.

Edge Studio Voice Over Tip

: As people express various thoughts, they express various emotions and levels of emotion. The angry phrase, “without notice” should not convey the same emotion (should not sound the same) as the relatively matter-of-fact “day of my lawn party” did at the start.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by August 29, 2014 by calling our team

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Carol Knizek Sewer Party.mp3

To view all entries from
Contest ending Friday, August 22 click below

Contest ending Friday, August 15

Contest Title:

Miscast Podcast

Director's Notes:

This is a simulated audition for a podcast’s opening billboard. The situation is this: Inspired by an old Bob and Ray radio comedy bit, a metal foundry has decided to actually sell steel ingots to consumers. As part of the marketing plan, the manufacturer will present a weekly podcast, hosted by the foundry’s Founder, a Mr. Widget “Ace” Flange. Mr. Flange’s content will be a weighty discussion of ingots and their many household applications, but the intro can be either serious or lighthearted, whatever builds energy to point where Mr. Flange will begin speaking. From that point, all we can do is pray. No music, no echo, no slate. Music and effects will be added later. Incidentally, whereas the company name used by Bob and Ray (Monongahela Foundry) was hypothetically real, the names of this company and its founder are really hypothetical.

Script:

Now, In the search for better living, Weehawken Foundry presents Ingot Insights. Wherever homemaking ideas are floated, Weehawken ingots bring them down to earth. Here’s your host, Mr. Ace Flange.

Results

Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

Two phrases in the Director’s Notes were key this week.

The first of these phrases was “Bob and Ray.” If ever there was a hint that the client is looking for something at least a little absurd, it’s the name of this classic radio comedy team. And we’d think the rest of the Notes and the script itself would have confirmed that this was a prime opportunity to have fun.

The other key direction was “whatever builds energy.” Instructions were to be either serious or lighthearted, so it wasn’t necessary to go over the top. (In fact, many people this week apparently tried to slide under.) But most of the low-key intros were off-target. It takes something extra to be both high-energy and quiet/reserved.

(What would that “extra something” be? Well, Bob and Ray themselves had energy, but their characters generally spoke as ordinary people would. Thinking further, and putting this particular script aside for the moment, “quiet energy” might be a noticeable attempt to restrain genuine emotion; or it might be an exceptionally flat style (like the comedian Steven Wright); or it might be a low, menacing tone. For example, Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lechter is often reserved in his speaking, but rather high energy, no? However, would that character be right for this script? Probably not.)

Some other reasons people didn’t win …

  • Many people took a television promo-announcer approach. That’s good for this. But most lacked genuine excitement, or were too over the top. Although this simulated audition was lighthearted, it was meant to simulate an actual audition, and thus the resulting read needs to be appealing.
  • Some of the above people, and others, were TOO energetic, and their endless emphases strung the read out too long. The result was exhausting.
  • Some people did not hit the manufacture name or show title, or they stumbled or mumbled it. Many lost the word “Ingot” by either swallowing the “g” or rushing the second syllable too much. True, it is correctly said more like “een-g’t” than “ing-gaaht,” but -- especially because it’s an unexpected word -- the listener needs to know for certain what it is you’ve said.
  • Some handled the funny parts of the copy (and we thank them for thinking it funny) as if constantly poking the listener in the ribs – “now wait, get this one, it’s funny, right? Right?” No need for that. The effect is counterproductive, making the whole thing drag. Humor is best delivered in a real manner. That’s why comedy timing is so hard to define and prescribe – it’s not “created,” it’s fundamentally real.
  • Some reads were simply dull and lackluster, showing no imagination, and, again, no energy. In some cases, they suited the Director’s Notes option of having a “serious” tone, but they were being read seriously, not spoken as if the presenter’s own words.
  • Some people voiced as if they hadn’t seen the copy before, let alone planned how best to read it.
  • Some had bad audio quality. And there were other technical issues in many performances, such as slurred words, or just plain sloppiness. Some mispronounced (or misread) words, or pronounced them oddly. Whether electronic or in the talent’s read, technical issues detract from even a good performance.

Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: The best intro announcers -- no matter how extreme their intonation or enunciation -- still come across as if they’re introducing from the heart. Learn the script, think about your approach and mark it up, but then try putting it aside, and – in the manner you planned – smile and just say it. It will probably come across more “real.”

1st place winner: arranh

187 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear arranh's recording

This was a fun take on the assignment. He shows personality, having made it sound like a talk show. But he starts abruptly, without energy. “Building” energy doesn’t mean to start at zero. The second half of his read is better. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Voice a bit of extra text before the script (or simply repeat the first sentence). Have a clean break where the script begins, and later delete the added text from the audio file. That way, when you begin the script, you’re already in character, warmed up and rolling.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by August 22, 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Arran Haynes_3.mp3

2nd place winner: Lynn Marshall

145 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear Lynn Marshall's recording

Articulation is a bit lacking at the beginning (“Now in the” runs together and lacks punch), but then she gathers herself and heads in a respectable direction. However, her read falls short because she falls flat. She doesn't emphasize (doesn’t hit) anything in the first half. Given that music will be added, this dull monotone could cause a casting pro to hit Stop before finished. If she would value the words more, it will also help her enunciate (and not stumble/swallow the word “Foundry”). The second half is much better, except for the last word, the person’s name. It still doesn’t “build.”

Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Famous intro announcers have various styles in the way they introduce their hosts. For example, Ed McMahon intoned “Here’s Johnny!” as if suggesting, “who else but?” Joel Godard stylizes “Conan O’Brien” as “Co-nan O-Bry-Yan!” And Alan Kalter introduces David Letterman with in a very promo-ish style by raising pitch and extending the vowels. Here’s the tip. Don’t necessarily imitate anyone, do think about your approach. But then “hear” someone in particular in your head as you read. The result will be a mixture of them and your own personal touch, that you can experiment with further.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by August 22, 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/LM Ingot Insights.mp3

3rd place winner: Rick Hord

169 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear Rick Hord's recording

Okay, he’s doing a comic announcer, and “announcers” have long been out of vogue. But he does get that this is a parody. More importantly, he’s done several things to liven it up – he hits and extends the introductory “now” without blasting it or totally pausing; he takes his voice through a wide pitch range (albeit artificial when he gets a bit growly); and he varies the pace, by sprinting through “wherever … are floated,” then changing up. The recording is noisy, and it might have been interesting to see if he could have ranged a bit more to the extremes without going too far.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by August 22, 2014 by calling our team

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Miscast Podcast_1.mp3

To view all entries from
Contest ending Friday, August 15 click below

Contest ending Friday, August 8

Contest Title:

WAAAY Imaging

Director's Notes:

In this simulated audition, , the [mythical] radio station WAAA wants a new “trademark” voice for its imaging. (“Imaging” is to radio stations what “branding” is to products.) Like most radio stations, WAAA uses jingles and recorded slogans and announcements to reinforce its carefully defined image. They’re not sure what voice they want, they’ll know it when they hear it. But it should have energy, a sense of quality, and be one a young adult can relate to. WAAA’s primary audience is adults age 25-44, and it plays only hits, from a range of musical genres and periods (but not classical).

Here’s what the audition script is about: Before each commercial break, it plays snippets of three songs, followed by the imaging voice telling listeners to stay tuned. There will be a very quick musical segue from the last song, to music that will be added under the voice over. (Record just your voice. DO NOT add music yourself!) Then, before the last commercial in the break, there’s another quick “stay tuned” announcement. Slate your name or username, and separate the two announcements by one second of silence.

Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

Script:

… These three and many other WAAAY Better Hits coming up, right after this product information especially for you!

In 60 seconds, the most requested Hit of the week!

Results

Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

Radio station imaging scripts are short, and sweet in terms of challenge. Frame the talent with strings, throw in some musical stingers, and just about anybody can sound “good” here. But that’s not the challenge. The challenge is to establish a memorable station identity in a way that attracts and retains the listener. It’s a very important role, because, while radio station ratings are sometimes based on electronic technology, the “listener diary” method is also used … listeners sometimes forget which station they’ve listened to, or aren’t sure, or even list the wrong one. And if the listener has tuned out during the commercial break, it doesn’t matter what rating method is used – they’re gone! Imaging is carefully planned and placed to prevent all that.

So, above all, three things are highly important here: 1) The station’s name, call letters, slogan, etc. 2) A distinctive sound and/or manner. 3) An attractive, involving delivery – positive energy.

Notice that we haven’t said, “a deep voice” or “hype.” Today’s range of possibilities is wider. And today the chosen voice is as likely to be female as male.

It is, however, important to have energy, clarity and some sort of distinction. What does that mean in this particular script? The direction didn’t much say. It can be frustrating to talent when the client says they’re “not sure what voice they want, they’ll know it when they hear it” (as in the Director’s Notes). But whether the client says that outright or not, it’s very often the case. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: In an audition, the talent needs to differentiate themselves from the competition, in a constructive way.

Oh, and one other thing. Radio stations are busy places, often requiring fast turnaround, and the economics of efficiency, without needing re-do’s. Mistakes and a disregard for workflow are warning signals.

Some people lost out on those and other grounds.

No energy. Energy isn’t shouting. It’s not fake excitement. It’s not the traditional “DJ” sound. (The “DJ sound” is a forced or tense, constricted voice, also known as an “epiglottal push.” Some call it the “puke” sound, which pretty much says it all.) Energy comes from inside, from emotion. Unless you’re bored (and boring), energy is not expressed in a monotone. Remember, the second and almost as important a goal in this read is to convince the listener to stay tuned! Hey, folks, this is the MOST requested hit, OF THE WEEK. You don’t necessarily have to shout that (in fact, do NOT shout), or even hit exactly the words just capitalized. But you should feel their meaning, should convey the appropriate emotion, and transmit that emotion to your listener.

Misread or mispronounced words: We heard “Expecially.” And some said “hits” when the script said “hit.” And so on.

Poor enunciation: For example, “product” sounded like “proct.” “In sixty seconds” sounded like “issixysechhs.”

Some people had the right sense of eccentricity, but overdid it. The station probably isn’t looking for a 1960s-style oddball DJ. The chosen voice won’t be the “star” of this performance. The station is to be the star here. For example, some readers will remember the TV promos for the show “The Love Boat.” The promos were read by a deep-voiced announcer (standard procedure in those days), pretty much a standard promo read, but he dug down extra deep when he said “The LOVE Boat.” The point is this: One distinctive characteristic, otherwise normal. Do more than one weird thing, and the resulting impression might not be so much “memorable” as “eccentric” or even “erratic.”

Many people pronounced “WAAAY Better Hits” as “W.A.A.AY better hits.” In other words, they spelled out the station’s call letters (which were cited in the Director’s Notes). Someone even said it both ways. This, in itself, was not a disqualifier. A bit of direction can clear that up. The more important factor, where the auditioning talent is concerned, is that by not saying the word “WAY” and elongating or playing with it as that spelling suggests, they robbed themselves of a chance to do something distinctive. Especially considering that the station’s ID is the part of the script that most needs to be memorable. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: When you receive an audition script, as part of your preparation and markup look for one place in the script that you might do differently than the “usual” way, which most people would do. It should be an appropriate creative choice, of course. But it should be creative. That makes you memorable.

Another opportunity might have been the phrase “this product information especially for you!” Really? Radio stations are careful not to run commercials that would clash with their programming, or that would offend their listeners, but it’s unlikely each listener gets his or her own set of commercials. So the phrase seems pretty tongue-in-cheek. Nobody seemed to voice it that way. Maybe that would have been too much. Or maybe it’s another opportunity lost.

Among these entrants and others, many people also seemed not to notice that the words “Better Hits” were capitalized. In other words, the words “More Better Hits” is one phrase, an identity, the brand. But many people paused after “More,” as if the words “better hits” were just words. As a result, to the first-time listener, it could change the entire meaning of the sentence, to: “These three, and many other way better hits (than these) ….” That’s certainly not what it means to say.

Some did seem to have a good sense of what the script means to say, but were too conversational. They extended the announcement too long, as if it were just that – an announcement. Thankfully, they didn’t have a “DJ” vocal sound, but they did have a DJ manner – as if they were just talking to the listener, like the host on an album-format station. It’s possible to be vocally free (a very good thing), yet not sound like you’re just shooting the breeze.

Some had odd phrasings. For example, in “most requested hit of the week,” pausing before the word “hit” instead of after it. (Note that it’s not “Hit of the Week.”) Incidentally, in such short scripts, unnecessary pausing often makes a delivery choppy. But in this case, when music will be added, the pause will be filled by music, or maybe even a “stinger” (e.g., a trumpet note, drum, cymbal, violins flourish, etc.). It is important, however, that any pauses be logically placed.

Some people sounded like they took a different tack with the second part of the script. But there’s no way of knowing if this was to show different approaches (usually they weren’t different enough for that to be it), or if they were just inconsistent (inconsistency is not good).

Some extended their slate, or slated at the end. One person slated in the middle! That’s novel, but not helpful for anyone. Don’t make it hard for the casting people to find and identify you. Furthermore, it could disrupt the listener’s workflow. Suppose they are adding some music behind you, just to get a feel for the final production, and there’s no gap to stop the recording at, or they stop at what looks like the start of that sentence and it turns out to be a false start (your name)? Yes, they might remember your name in that case … perhaps unfavorably.

Some people raced through the script. Others had a good pace, but hit nothing, no emphasis, anywhere.

Some reads were very badly recorded. We try not to disqualify anyone on the basis of their studio sound, but sometimes it sounds like they just spoke into a $35 tape recorder’s built-in mic. Their read would have to be extra extra-special to get past that. In an audition, it’s important to appear professional.

None of the entries this week were perfectly on-target. If this were a real-life audition, the client might give the top prospects a bit more direction and ask them to take another shot. But as it’s not a real audition, so we’ll make our choices now…

1st place winner: keith@keithlobrien.com

205 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear keith@keithlobrien.com's recording

His unique style could work well for the intended demographic (ages 25-44). He reads without tension, which makes it work well. He extended “WAAAY” well, and voiced “Way Better Hits” as a coherent phrase. Shows he’s thinking.

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by August 15, 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/WAAAA_Keith OBrien.mp3

2nd place winner: dan@vo4u.com

192 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear dan@vo4u.com's recording

In seeking “a new ‘trademark’ voice for its imaging,” does the station want something unusual, or a “traditional,” even cliché DJ sound? Ideally, the former. But if the latter, he’s got it. He has more than a touch of “DJ push” but it’s tolerable. Great enthusiasm, and consistency throughout. His extended slate could be annoying. The “Hi” and “I’m” aren’t such a problem, but the audition reviewer would be expecting the script to start after his name, and might cue it to that spot. Instead, we hear “Thanks for listening.”

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by August 15,14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Waaay_DanHarder.mp3

3rd place winner: Happy2Voice

226 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear Happy2Voice's recording

Is hers a “hits” sound? She has very little energy. But her voice is kind of squeaky cute, and maybe she might work it to become coy and flirtatious with the listener. Unfortunately, she’s not doing even that here. We chose her because even though it sounds more she’s reading a children’s book, her fundamentals are sound, she has a smile in her voice, and it sounds like she has more in reserve. However, regarding fundamentals, her slate is an exception: after repeated listenings, we’re still not sure of her name. Is it four syllables or five, and does her last name start with a V or a B?

Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

Claim your prize by August 15, 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/WAAAY_Imaging_08.05.14_Lynn_Voutsinas.mp3

To view all entries from
Contest ending Friday, August 8 click below

Contest ending Friday, August 1

Contest Title:

So, You’re a Parent!

Director's Notes:

This is a simulated audition for an online public relations video by a baby food company. The occasion is Parents’ Day, but the video will remain on line throughout the year. The audience will be driven to the video via social media, news stories and TV interviews. Slate your name or username.

Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

Script:

It might not seem so at 2 in the morning, but maybe you’ve already noticed: kids grow up so quickly. In the next 4 and a half minutes, we’ll show how to make every moment count.

Results

Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

This week’s script is an interesting case, because unlike some elearning situations, it has a marketing angle. So (although this is always important) the video needs to be fresh and interesting, right from the start. No relying on the audience being captive here.

Here’s why some people didn’t win…

  • Many people changed the words in the script. That’s simply not allowed without prior permission. And there seemed to be no apparent justification, such as there being an obvious typo. The biggest culprit was reading, "we’ll show you how to make" when the script actually says, "we’ll show how to make." (In other words, many people added the word "you" to the script, probably inadvertently.)

  • Almost as bad, a bunch of people did not slate, and a further few people slated incorrectly. When competing with scores, even hundreds of other contenders, these errors are reason enough for an audition screener to push the “next!” button.

  • Apparently some people thought being a parent meant being overly emotional. At times it sounded as if this video were discussing how to deal with the death of a loved one. Voices were soft, even grave at times. Quite the contrary, the subject is newborn kids, and should even be joyful!

  • In any case, there’s no need to be overly theatrical. The better reads were those that came across as “natural.” And better still is natural enthusiasm. “Enthusiasm” and energy are, after all, entirely natural behavior when speaking. It’s overdoing it that becomes problematic.

  • Some people included some really weird pauses. We often mention choppiness as a trait to be avoided, but this week, the seas seemed exceptionally rough going.

  • Glottal stops (cutting off the breath by momentarily closing the throat before an initial vowel) also contribute to choppiness. At least one otherwise good performance suffered from too much of this. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Relax yourself, especially your throat and consciously avoid glottal stops. Just “talk” as if to a friend, without analyzing your performance as you speak. Before long, this fluidity will feel completely natural, and you’ll sound much smoother. While you’re at it, smile!

  • Slurriness is another common problem that manifested itself this week. Not sure why.

  • We also consider technical issues, such as popping, background buzzing and noticeable edits. Even when an edit is not itself discernible, they’re evident when different phrases are said at different speeds, or pitches, or with a vocally impossible transition. In an audition, editing is always cause for concern, because the client thinks, “If they can’t get through 10 seconds without patching it together, the actual job will take us forever!”

  • 1st place winner: rdoyle1978

    250 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear rdoyle1978's recording

    A great delivery – with a nice, warm natural-sounding smile. However, he goes too fast on "In the next", and he loses some steam toward the end. The audio is adversely affected by his voice rattling (echoing) off his music stand. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: To prevent sound from being reflected off the music stand, cover the surface with a folded towel, or blanket, or piece of carpeting. Also, angle the surface so that your voice bounces away from the mic (consult your local billiards player). If that puts the stand at a steeper angle, the cloth will also help keep your page from sliding off. The Director’s Notes didn’t say whether to slate at the beginning or end, so his slating at the end didn’t count against him. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Except in certain situations, or unless directed otherwise, standard practice is to slate your name (only your name) before the script.<'p>

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by August 8, 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Everymomentcount-RDoyle.mp3

    2nd place winner: Ceyacoach

    220 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Ceyacoach's recording

    A pleasantly voiced, clear read at a good, attention-retaining pace. The friendly smile in her voice is mixed with a touch of empathetic irony. But that ironic touch, where words are very delivered in staccato fashion, is overdone. Separating each word in a phrase such as “It might not”, “kids grow up”, “we’ll show how” and “every moment count” gives emphasis to the phrase. But doing it four times in 13 seconds turns legitimate emphasis into a repetitive gimmick. Talk about irony – she says her last name too quickly, and loses the “th” sound at the end. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Before the take, plan what phrases most need emphasis, and if they’re close together, emphasize them in different ways.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by August 8,14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Christine Cullingworth_Edge Script Parents.mp3

    3rd place winner: Ainjell

    188 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Ainjell's recording

    This is not the first time someone has mixed music or sound effects with their audition without being instructed to do so. But she won despite this extra effort. In fact, we had to overlook the fact that the music is too loud and not quite in the right style (it’s too emotional/heart-rending). Her voice has a pleasing tone to it, an audible smile, good enunciation, and good pace. But our concern is that the music could be covering up breaths, pops and maybe a click or rattling mic stand near the end. It also seems to have distracted her from including a slate, which was requested. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Don’t add music or sound effects to an audition unless requested. Your choice of music might be nothing like what the producer would choose, or the way he/she would use it. And even if it’s a great choice, if you don’t do it expertly, it’s just something else for a reviewer to find fault with. Even more important, as in this case, the audition reviewer might wonder what you’ve covered up. Even if you’re not covering any fault intentionally, you may have covered some in any case. One function of the audition is to determine that you correctly use the mic, that you have a professional sense of breath control, that you don’t have a lot of edits, and that you have good diction. Music frustrates the audition team’s ability to evaluate these qualities in your performance. Lacking this confidence in you, they may move on.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by August 8, 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Voice Contest - So You're A Parent!.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, August 1 click below

    Contest ending Friday, July 25

    Contest Title:

    Financial Documentary

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for an Economics Channel documentary about the historic sale of one major firm to another. It’s serious stuff but hardly dry. In corporate terms, it’s a life-and-death story. The video for this segment is not yet known, but will probably be simulated cinéma vérité (sign on a door, backs of people in a hotel suite, etc.). Slate your name or username after the script.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    With the fatal deadline looming and both companies’ support teams standing by and holding, it remained for the CEOs to countenance hammering out a deal. And for them then to get out of the way.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    Financial meltdown anyone? This script fragment is pretend, but its scenario is anything but fictitious. It could be a documentary about any number of major corporate mergers with riveting implications and nerve-wracking timelines. In a way, the voice artist’s role in this production couldn’t be easier – just tell the story and stay out of the way.

    Yet we chose three winners who did more than that. While some people read the script stone-cold seriously, others had a bit of warmth in their tone, or other comfortable quality. Documentaries are all about trusting the producer, and that means trusting the narrator. A touch of warmth helps create that identification between the voice and its listener.

    With “low-key” being the guiding directive as to style, that gives talent plenty of time to focus on the more technical aspects of their delivery. Such as enunciation and timing. Quite a few people stumbled over the awkward (but meaningful) phrase “for them then to … .” Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: When met with a tongue-twister, don’t focus on the sounds. Focus on the meaning. If you’re actually thinking “for them then to get out of the way,” you’ll say it. It also helps to move your lips and tongue more deliberately (not so much “exaggerating” their movements, as completing them), but the change in mindset can make it all so much easier.

    Some people inserted long pauses, possibly to sound dramatic. Sometimes it does, but it can just as often make the read choppy, or cause problems for the producer who then may have to close them up. If space will need to be added in order for the voice script to stay abreast of the video (and assuming you don’t have the finished video or time specs in front of you), just leave clean breaks where the engineer can then add space.

    Some people sounded a bit forceful, even aggressive. Again, let the video and the events drive the drama.

    This week, we also heard some really bad audio, including hiss (more than acceptable for even just an audition), and audio that was either way too low or too loud.

    And this week also presented an unusual slating situation. The Director’s Notes said, “Slate your name or username after the script.” Apparently some people thought this meant that they should slate after reading the script title . Thus, they said the title, then their name, then read the script. It is unusual to slate after a script, but sometimes it is requested. And if the Director had meant “title,” it would have said “title.” Others disregarded the notes completely and slated just their name, as they normally would, which, considering the instruction, makes no sense at all.

    1st place winner: dstromberg

    229 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear dstromberg's recording

    We placed her first because, although she apparently misunderstood the slating instructions, she seems to have clearly understood the meaning in the script. She hit “CEOs” just right, to contrast it with the support teams. She hit “countenance,” which is a key action required of the CEOs, yet is the only action required of them. She therefore had just the right hint of irony in “get out of the way.” She treated “standing by and holding” as a unified phrase. (“Standing by” means essentially the same thing as “holding,” so it’s actually a bit redundant and there’s no need to focus on each word.) And she valued both words in the potentially troublesome combination “them then.” Yet, she didn’t push the delivery; she never overacted. One suggestion: her enunciation was very good, but she should pronounce the "t" in "countenance" for the sake of both clarity and tone.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 8/1/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Deb Stromberg-Financial Documentary.mp3

    2nd place winner: Marianna

    194 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Marianna's recording

    Her performance was also good, except that the first few words are too slow, and the words "countenance" and "hammering" are said too tightly together. (In this case, there should be some differentiation between them.) As with many entrants, she almost lost the L sound in “holding.” From a technical standpoint, the recording has a very hollow sound, which is not good.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 8/1/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Financial Documentary Mary Ann Jacobs.mp3

    3rd place winner: Mike Jacobs

    178 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Mike Jacobs's recording

    His was an interesting approach in its low-key, close-miked sound, and he valued the various key words nicely. But, although at least one other entry was even more reserved, this was just too quiet. The tone would be better for, oh, describing or advertising jewelry. His slate had more energy, so the intimate style might be fixable by the director. But there were other flaws not necessarily so easily corrected. When the first word of a phrase is small, he rushes the word – specifically the words "with,” “it” and “and.” If covered with music, no one would hear these. Listeners would also miss the L in “holding.”

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 8/1/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Mike Jacobs - Economics Channel Documentary Entry.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, July 25 click below

    Contest ending Friday, July 18

    Contest Title:

    Injecting Knowledge

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for an industrial video on using an injection molding machine. The audience is any factory worker who might be called upon to operate this tool. It’s possible that English is not their first language, so please enunciate, but don’t talk down. Slate your name (or username) and “Model PS-46.”

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    Fill the empty hopper with plastic beads. Be sure nothing else falls in. The light indicates all the machine’s parts are properly secured and it is ready to begin extrusion.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    Every voice over genre involves acting to some extent. Acting is a matter of empathy. Not so easy to do sometimes. Like, if you’re supposed to portray a factory worker but you've never worked in a factory yourself. Even if you’re supposed to talk with a factory worker, this might be one of those times.

    Imagine your job is not in the “swinging, swirling world of show business” (thanks to a young Don Imus for that phrase), but simply to run the plastics extruder on an assembly line. Or Management wants everyone in the shop to understand the overall production process, for reasons of pride, or multitasking or whatever. As the Director’s Notes state, this script is from a video you’ll be asked to watch. Oh, joy, how to fill a hopper!

    It might seem hard to get too emotional about that. But it is somebody’s job, and it’s important to them. And, to everyone who works at the factory, it’s important that it be done right. There’s a right way and wrong ways to do it.

    So – at least to some extent – knowing how to do this job is a matter of pride. Pride, you can relate to.

    In many reads, we didn't hear that emotion, or any emotion. Over the course of a long video (that this script is supposedly excerpted from), some people this week would leave the viewer bored -- because they sounded bored themselves. They read in a monotone, or robotically, making it hard to concentrate on even this short passage.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Emotion happens in the moment, so from moment to moment a person’s emotion can change. For example, each sentence in this script carries a different thought. Your emotion should progress accordingly, however subtle the changes. That’s key to making a script like this interesting, and keeping your emotion ... or rather, emotions ... relevant to the listener and what you’re saying.

    A cousin to robotic reading is choppiness. Unnecessary, unnatural pauses tend to tire the listener, and suggest the talent is taking too mechanical an approach to the copy.

    In the case of this script, some of the pausing, slow pacing and over-enunciation might have resulted from the instruction to speak precisely enough to be easily understood by people for whom English is a second language. That’s good, but it’s possible to err too much on the side of such caution. Some people sounded almost like they were dumbing down their reads. Remember empathy. You’re talking to an adult factory worker who runs an expensive machine to earn money and run a household. This is not a video for kids.

    At the other extreme, some people had a forcefulness in their reads that made them seem a bit harsh. Whether that came from adopting a “managerial” tone or whatever, it’s an unnecessary addition. And some had an overly dramatic or “DJ” approach that just doesn't work.

    And some people went too fast.

    The right approach? Simply talk with the video’s viewer as you would talk with him or her while explaining the machine in person. In that situation, you’d speak naturally, be friendly, and probably smile from time to time, right?

    Another thing to remember with a voice over job like this is there will probably be some tech terms and critical instructions, so mistakes in the read can be especially problematic. Some people (even one of our winners) had such mistakes. They missed words, or contracted words when the script did not. Some of these errors would be functionally inconsequential, but that’s not for the talent to decide. And in an audition, they’re glaring, because some errors are not inconsequential. If the talent can’t get through 10 seconds without a mistake, that suggests they would have difficulty reading a long script correctly, or might require extra money and time for re-recording. Even worse, what if a mistake goes uncaught?

    Finally, there were some “technical” technical concerns, such as sibilance, excessive volume (going over 0 dB frequently), low volume (for example, never going louder than -10 dB), noticeable editing, overprocessing, bad process settings (for example, an over-aggressive gate), and hiss and/or background noise. In our contest we don’t give these factors overwhelming weight, but do consider them. Because the prospective client would.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: When reviewing your recording, use an “honest” set of studio headphones. They’ll help you hear noises, bad edits, etc., that you might not hear from speakers in your studio surroundings.

    1st place winner: KentClark

    324 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear KentClark's recording

    A terrific read with appropriately slow pacing. Yet he made it interesting. He extended the slate with “This is ....” Some audition screeners find that annoying, others don’t mind it as long as it’s short. In any case, he quickly followed with his name, said confidently and in a positive manner. Also, after a beat he said the model name (as requested) without undue pausing or elaboration. (We might suggest cutting the pause to half a beat.) He lost energy at the very end of the script, sort of “shutting down” with a throaty, closed-mouth exhale – “extrusionhmmm.” (Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: To help maintain energy right to the end of an audition excerpt, pretend the next sentence is there. In fact, you might even write a short phrase to follow, include it, then edit it out.) On the technical side, his recording had significant hiss, and repeated clicks which may be mechanical or digital. (They are not mouth clicks.) His volume level frequently exceeded 0 dB (that causes distortion), but unlike some other people’s recordings, his entire slate was at a good level (about -3 dB, which is perfect).

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 7/25/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Kent Clark - Injecting Knowledge.mp3

    2nd place winner: Scott Martin

    216 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Scott Martin's recording

    A terrific read, with appropriately slow pacing. A very mellow sound. In addition to being good for this training video, we can imagine him voicing one of the several industrial “how-to” programs on TV. But – and this is why he didn’t place First – he missed the word "it" in the phrase "and it is ready". Although his recording, too, frequently exceeds 0 dB, the opening syllable’s volume level in his slate is perfect (about -5 dB); the attack on some other people’s slates was so loud and abrupt that it blasted out.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 7/25/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Scott Martin_MTN_RNC_Model PS-46 no 1.mp3

    3rd place winner: amyjoywarner

    204 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear amyjoywarner's recording

    A very good read, pleasantly voiced, and articulate without “talking down.” But we’d like to hear a tad more smile, warmth or interest in her voice. Her separating “S” and “46” in the product name is not a good idea. It’s important to show you can flow through names and terms that are even more technical, and surely the client’s sales team doesn't pause as she did. Her recording level, too, frequently set off our volume meter’s “distortion” light.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 7/25/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/EDGE-PS-46.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, July 18 click below

    Contest ending Friday, July 11

    Contest Title:

    Independence Day Sale

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for a prototype Macy’s 10-second TV commercial. Do not exceed 10 seconds. 9.75 seconds is better. This is a hard sell, but please still sound friendly. Slate your name or username up front. Edits are allowed (e.g. breath reduction), but please do not use time compression and do not change the script.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    Macy’s savings are coming! Add them up, for summer fun! Selected items save an extra 15%. Clearance items, save even more. Monday only, at Macy’s!

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    Just 10 seconds, but oh, what a challenge seemingly mundane spots like this can be. Especially when the chosen talent could wind up voicing the advertiser’s brand personality for years. Hypothetically, the client here was Macy’s, which would probably suggest a different personality than, say, a bargain warehouse or a string of car dealerships ... that is, although urgency and salesmanship are key, a sense of friendliness is also desirable. In addition, it would be great if the voice is also distinctive in some way. For the reason we’ve just described, a “crazy” approach would probably not be appropriate, and it might be too much to expect, say, a new Tom Bodett (one who doesn’t sound like Tom Bodett, because he’s been done). But this is a mere 10-second spot that will run just a few days at most, for a one-day sale. It HAS to stand out from the advertising clutter.

    Yes, accomplishing all that in 10 seconds is a challenge. Some people came pretty close. Various others fell short for various reasons.

    We didn’t notice anyone going over 10 seconds, but if they had, it would probably be an almost sure disqualification. Broadcasters don’t allow any leeway, so being able to read copy within the prescribed time is absolutely necessary. On the other hand, a large number of people were significantly under 10 seconds – sometimes just 9 and even almost 8 seconds. While an advertiser, if otherwise entirely pleased with the delivery, might welcome that as an opportunity to add another word or two to future copy, more likely the talent is shortchanging themselves. Use that extra second to make sure the audition team will be entirely pleased with your delivery.

    And if you’ve already dealt admirably with everything we mention here, use that extra second to be extra special. Depending on the script and client situation, you might stretch a word or two, or affect some distinctive, attention-getting or memorable mannerism, or just slow the delivery down a tad, so as to make it more friendly or whatever.

    Some people sounded completely different in their slate than they did with their read. This can be helpful or harmful. On the harmful side, it might cause one part or the other to be disappointing. A busy audition screener might press stop after a disappointing slate, never hearing your wonderful read. On the helpful side (less frequently the case), it can let the listener know you have other vocal options than the one used in your read.

    Another slating issue is when someone “mispronounces” his or her name by not enunciating (often by losing the ending consonant). Not to single anyone out here, we’ll pick an example at random: Is the talent’s last name “Harold” or “Harrel”?

    Some people did not slate at all. In general, when slating instructions are given, failure to heed them is taken as a lack of professionalism (either lack of training, or lack of attention, or inability to follow direction). In the case of this audition, a missing slate might be especially annoying to the audition screener, because they might be using that time to start or reset their stopwatch. Similarly, when slating instructions say to slate your name, that means only your name. Many people added other information, which can be equally annoying.

    Even more concerning is when someone omits or mis-states a word in the script, or adds words. Commercials for major advertisers are very carefully written to say exactly what needs to be said in the exactly the allotted time. Talent should never change the script without permission. Doing so in an audition suggests the talent might be prone to costing extra production time and/or causing embarrassment. (If you’re absolutely sure it’s a typo, the thing to do is inquire about it, or record it both ways and say “two takes” in your slate.)

    As many entrants demonstrated, it is possible to read this script in 10 seconds without slurring words. But some people did not enunciate well. In a 10-second commercial, every word must be clear. Although enunciation is always important in voice over, in some situations the visual or subject context helps makes meaning clear. This is not one of those situations.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: To help keep from slurring, exaggerate your mouth and tongue movements to be sure you are forming your sounds fully. Listen back. Once you have this down, you may then want to reduce the exaggeration a bit. But probably not. It might feel exaggerated, but it will sound right.

    There were also various technical snafus, including poorly edited-out breaths. (While, physically, talent can read this entire script without a breath, by the end of it your voice quality will probably be changed, even if you aren’t straining. So one or two “micro breaths” might be called for, or a bigger one that you’ll edit out.)

    Many recordings had bad audio (e.g., buzzing, volume too low, background noise). Some people sounded as if they were on a speakerphone.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Although professional quality studio equipment and room conditions are not always needed for auditioning, it never hurts to sound technically as professional as you intend to be. It costs nothing more to use proper mic technique, pay attention to volume levels, and control reverberation with blankets or other materials you probably have around the house.

    So much for mechanical aspects of delivery. That’s just the start. Now let’s get to the art of it.

    It’s a sale commercial, and as we said, the commercial schedule and the sale itself are for a limited time. It’s also a fairly “ordinary” sale – the sort of pitch we’ve all heard many times before. The message needs to sound special, even if it isn’t. Which in turn means the talent needs to sound as if they believe this sale and its message is special. You need to have energy.

    But as we said above, this read is also an expression of brand personality. So, considering the client, you should also convey a sense of trustworthiness, friendliness, product quality, any or all of those attributes and more. Are these two characteristics compatible? Sure. We all know plenty of friendly people who sometimes get happily excited.

    Many people went too far in one of these directions, others not far enough. Some read the script too bouncy. Some sounded “happy,” but their happiness was not believable. Some of the reads were too forceful. Some were way too low-key for a one-day sale. In fact, some people sounded like they didn’t really care about it. And some had a false sort of energy, often described as “DJ-ish.”

    Some reads were disjointed. Unnatural pauses in a 10-second spot are both disconcerting and a waste of time. Similarly, some people hit (emphasized) the wrong words. Examples:

    * The most important words in this script are “Macy’s” (the client’s name is ALWAYS important), “savings,” and “Monday.” If listeners note only those, they have the message. But some people eased through the opening “Macy’s” and instead emphasized the word “coming.”

    * In the sentence “Add them up, for summer fun!” which half is more important? We’d argue it’s “add them up,” because that is unique to this sale, and it’s a reference to “savings.” “Summer fun” is a nice thought, but there’s nothing urgent about it. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: When faced with a choice like this, it is actually possible to hit both phrases without sounding pushy. For example, the second phrase might be preceded with the slightest of pauses, or might be in a different pitch, or said at a different speed.

    * Another key word is “extra.” It sometimes got lost.

    * While it’s hard to say which word in the phrase “save even more” is most important, by saying the entire phrase quickly, you can effectively call attention to it as a single thought.

    * Some people misplaced the comma in the last sentence. It supposed to be “Monday only, at Macy’s!” Not “Monday, only at Macy’s!” The difference in meaning is significant.

    There were even a few reads that sounded very nice ... nice voice, clear delivery, mellow manner ... every bit a friendly, “professional voice over” sound. But absolutely nothing was hit.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Always analyze and mark up your copy, using symbols that you come to standardize on. With practice, heeding the symbols will become a virtually subconscious process, so you can focus on the words, saying them as if from your heart. (And do your markup in pencil, so you can easily adjust it if necessary.)

    Put it all together, and it’s a classic commercial voice situation, where you’re telling a friend about something you know -- something they don’t know but you think they should, and you’re really excited about this opportunity to clue them in. As a script, it’s challenging. But it’s achievable, and it’s not an unusual situation. In fact, outside the studio you probably do it every day.

    1st place winner: acer7b

    342 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear acer7b's recording

    Very nice. She's having fun and that shows. She sounds possibly too young to be the regular spokesperson, and a bit shrill, because she’s working too hard at being excited. Instead, she should let it come out naturally. (We especially like the nuance in the “at Macy’s” close. It sounds like a lifted eyebrow. And we note that she lost a bit of that energy in the closing sentence, which may have allowed it to be more natural, less hype. Keep the energy, but don’t force the hype.) Furthermore, that forced sound might be raising her pitch, adding to the young sound. But although her energy is not always consistent, on average it’s right in the pocket. And it works, considering that the teen market goes with “summer,” even if Mom does the shopping.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 7/18/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/AnneGordonMacys.mp3

    2nd place winner: theoutlaw

    208 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear theoutlaw's recording

    Some reviewers would call this too “screamish,” but it’s not outside the limit. She’s in the same ballpark as acer7b. Yes, she’s a bit pushy. But, whoa! The last couple syllables were in a totally different, more mature ballpark. On the downside, that’s inconsistent and inconsistency is not good. But on the upside, we’d like to hear what she can do between these ranges, and (very important) she interpreted the script well, so she squeaked in.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 7/18/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/JoseyMiller_Edge_Macys_VOContest.mp3

    3rd place winner: Cheryl Cherise

    214 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Cheryl Cherise's recording

    She was in danger for lack of energy, but her friendly sound won out. Her delivery is consistent, and although it doesn’t exactly command attention, when you do pay attention, you hear her speaking in thoughts, not just words. She just needs more “salesmanship.” One thought we’d like to hear her hit better is “add them up.” As noted above, the second half of that sentence is more a reminder -- people already know that summer is fun. She at least confirms that.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 7/18/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/CherylCherise.Macy's.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, July 11 click below

    Contest ending Friday, June 27

    Contest Title:

    Making Father’s Day (Take #2)

    Director's Notes:

    IMPORTANT NOTE: We’re repeating this contest, because none of last week’s entries were of winning caliber. We encourage everyone to give it another go, and we invite new entrants to join in. For details and suggestions, please see the comments in Archived Contests. (Technically, you can re-submit your original entry if you want, but if any were of winning caliber already, we would say so. You’ll learn more and improve your chances if you try recording this script again.)

    This is a simulated audition for an audiobook of short stories. The scene is a father teaching his teenage child how to parallel park. The car is currently next to the car they will park behind, and there is someone in the back seat of that other car. Read this with a sense of amusement. No slate.

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    Script:

    The woman, sitting alone, tried to ignore us.

    “Now turn the wheel,” Father said.

    “Right?” I asked.

    “Right,” he said. “No, wrong! Left! Turn it left! Where’s your sense?”

    Father was adept with spacial relationships, not so much with ours.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    Lots of people like to do audiobooks, and for good reason. It’s a satisfying accomplishment when you’ve done it right. But this week’s assignment, which was a continuation of last week’s, demonstrates that turning a work of fiction into an audiobook isn’t as easy as it might sometimes seem.

    Unlike a non-fiction work, which nevertheless requires the expression of emotion, a work of fiction requires genuine acting. Yet, as we explained last week, it requires the acting to be toned down. An audiobook is not a radio play. But the listener needs to know who is speaking – the narrator, or this character, or that character – without relying on the “he said, she said.” The acting was better this week, but still clearly the dialog bits are what everyone needs to work on.

    Pretty much everyone had the same problems that we discussed last week. For what those were, and solutions to them, we’ll refer you to last week’s article in the Archives.

    This week we didn’t hear as much amusement in the narrator’s tone. Maybe this was because last week’s discussion focused on the character’s lines, and the differentiation between them? Whatever the reason, the Director’s Notes instruction remains: “Read this with a sense of amusement.”

    In some cases, though, the narrator’s opening and closing lines were done well, even if the sense of humor was rather dry. But then the character’s lines in between were either unchanged, or overacted.

    Many of the reads were choppy. As was the case sometimes last week, it sounded more like a series of automated phone prompts, rather than telling a story. Sometimes the narration and the character’s lines were delivered at significantly different speeds; while this might have been an attempt at characterization, it also strained the listener’s concentration. This was true of even some of our winners. Reads were halting, disjointed, didn’t flow. In many cases, we got the impression that the talent was very consciously reading us the words, just so. But never actually talking to us, as someone would tell someone else a story from memory.

    1st place winner: JCDunnVOX

    267 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear JCDunnVOX's recording

    He did the best acting this week, and his recording is technically pretty good, too (although a tad too loud). But there is a ways to go. We suggest he simply have more fun while recording, he'd be even better. He hit the word “relationships.” We would have preferred hitting “special” which plays against “ours.”

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 7/04/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/JChristopherDunn-Audition_0.mp3

    2nd place winner: GabrielDunn

    212 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear GabrielDunn's recording

    Another passable acting job, but it’s a noisy recording. Worse, he gated the sound, and the resulting sudden silences make the noise even more evident. The noise fluctuation gets in the way of enjoying his delivery. He varied the pitch level between his character and Father’s voice, that’s good. He swallowed the word “spacial” a bit (“shpashorelationships”), that’s bad.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 7/04/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/EdgeStudios-Script_Contest-Gabriel_Dunn.mp3

    3rd place winner: boxermom2000

    180 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear boxermom2000's recording

    Unfortunately, the first thing that comes to mind is the recording’s reverberance. Far from the mic, in an empty room? It won’t do for a finished production, but maybe it’s that sitting-down-at-the-kitchen-table quality helped us feel like she was just talking to us, which is good. But past that, there’s not much emotional change through her read, and Father’s voice is not differentiated from that of the woman narrating. She kept a good pace, not pausing too much between roles, although there were a few odd hesitations in the second half. The clicks at the start and stop of the recording should also be removed.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 7/04/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/FathersDay-LMadsen.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, June 27 click below

    Contest ending Friday, June 20

    Contest Title:

    Making Father’s Day

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for an audiobook of short stories. The scene is a father teaching his teenage child how to parallel park. The car is currently next to the car they will park behind, and there is someone in the back seat of that other car. Read this with a sense of amusement. No slate.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    The woman, sitting alone, tried to ignore us.

    “Now turn the wheel,” Father said.

    “Right?” I asked.

    “Right,” he said. “No, wrong! Left! Turn it left! Where’s your sense?”

    Father was adept with spacial relationships, not so much with ours.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    We’re repeating this contest, because none of last week’s entries were of winning caliber. We encourage everyone to give it another go, and we invite new entrants to join in.

    Here are some tips that might help:

    • Many entries had a good foundation. They were pretty good as the Narrator, and if this script were a non-fiction audiobook, we might have chosen winners and moved on. The dialog was the problem. Usually when recording fiction, you stay in the narrator role, and when voicing the various characters, you change your voice or manner slightly for each. That way, the listener knows that it is a character who is speaking, without having to wait for “he said” which often comes afterward. Remember, the audiobook was originally written for reading off the paper, which has the benefits of quotation marks, paragraphing, and the reader being able to see the entire sentence at a glance – all of which make it clear that a character is speaking. The audiobook listener has none of these cues. It’s up to you to provide them ... without actually changing the author’s content. In some reads, when Father speaks, some narrators changed their voice barely or not at all. That’s something to work on. It didn’t help that they paused before “Father said,” so the reader was still in the dark as to who said “Now turn the wheel.” Being able to change quickly from the character’s voice and manner, back into the narrator’s voice, without pausing, is one of the qualities of a good audiobook voice actor.
    • On the other hand, some people overacted. Remember, an audiobook is not a stage or radio play. All you need to do is differentiate the character and suggest the character’s attitude, emotion, or feeling (whatever word you care to use.) Again, it was originally written to be read by a person off paper. On paper, the written word has NO emotion. It’s ink. The emotion is discernible from what the character’s and/or author’s actual words. So how much do you need to add in the way of emotion? Overtly, maybe just a smidge. Internally, more. Know what each emotion is. Think in terms of emotional progression or change (which we’ve discussed in more detail in previous contest reviews). It’s more important for the emotion to be real, than for it to be vocally “worn on your sleeve.” Again, this definitely calls for acting, but it’s more like an actor telling a story.
    • Also watch your production values. Many people, especially when voicing Father’s reaction to the wrong turn, got VERY loud. This can be problematic for a number of reasons. At the most basic, the recording process (especially digital recording) does not like volume levels that exceed 0 dB. Just as fundamental is that the human ear (especially if wearing headphones or with the speaker volume up high) does not like sudden increases in volume. It can actually be painful, either in terms of annoyance or distortion.
    • So what about Father’s response? First, bear in mind that it may be enough to suggest his emotion, not resort to actual shouting. Then, again, maybe (in the scope of the overall book) you know that Father is a “shouter,” so you feel obligated to convey that. In that case, lean or turn away from the mic as you raise your voice. Some people mitigated the issue (intentionally or not) by “swallowing” their shout. But that just sounds unreal. If you’re going to do the character full blown, then stay in that character. At the very least, check your volume levels before making the final file (or better, re-record if necessary), to be sure no parts are too quiet or too loud.
    • Incidentally, we wonder if the author meant to portray Father as being so angry as some people made him sound ... especially considering the Director’s Notes regarding “amusement” and the overall tone of the passage.
    • Don’t pause too much. We’ve already mentioned that people paused before “Father said.” Many reads were very disjointed because of “dramatic pauses” throughout their reads. The gaps made it hard for the listener to focus on the passage. It’s very short passage. Imagine how disconcerting such a halting style would be through an entire book.
    • Although the director’s notes say to read with a “sense of amusement,” don’t overdo it. Again, help the author’s words carry the humor. No perma-grins, don’t laugh artificially at your own joke, and don’t work too hard at the setup.
    • The last word (“ours”) was often a problem, because it could be heard as “hours.” (Once again, the listener does not have the advantage of seeing the printed page.) To prevent this confusion, we might suggest shading (very slightly) the word’s pronunciation to “arz” rather than “oww-erz.” The latter is usually preferred, but in this case the former could help. But a more important observation is that the misunderstanding is more likely when the line is delivered haltingly. A ... disjointed ... reading style ... encourages the listener’s mind ... to think ... ahead, ... finishing the thought before you’ve said it. Don’t rush the line, but don’t string it out. Let the listener hear your read as thoughts, not as individual words. That way the link between “spacial relationships” and “ours [our relationships]” flows naturally. (By the way, some people misread “spacial” as “special.” And speaking of flowing, when all the analysis is done, you’ve marked your copy, and you’re ready for your takes ... relax, be vocally free, and go with it. Telling stories is fun!

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, June 20 click below

    Contest ending Friday, June 13

    Contest Title:

    Akshara’s Remorse

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for a new superhero animated series. The producer hasn’t yet decided whether the hero will be a man or a woman. He or she has no superhuman powers, except for greatly enhanced senses of empathy and deductive reasoning. Think Deanna Troi combined with Sherlock Holmes. The character’s name is Akshara, but he or she is of no particular heritage. Please slate your name or username.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    AKSHARA:

    I’ve never killed anyone and I won’t start now. For one thing, it would make no sense. For another, it would really, really hurt. Me, I mean. I’d feel it.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    There tended to be two patterns in the way people characterized this superhero. Many people under-acted -- in fact, they didn’t seem to be acting at all, but rather reading the script as if storytelling. We can’t know if this resulted from lack of acting experience and training, or from a misunderstanding of the project. To be clear, this simulated audition is “for a new superhero animated series.” In other words, it’s a cartoon, not an audiobook or documentary narration. Each of these genres calls for a very different approach.

    And the other extreme, many people tended to ham it up, by which we mean they gave the character some sort of dark or brooding personality (a la Batman?), or a foreign accent (that in at least some cases was not their natural one), or spoke unusually haltingly, rather than making their character real.

    Okay, granted, Akshara (our superhero) is not real. As the Director’s Notes state, he/she has no particularly superhuman capabilities, but does have a superior deductive intellect and a heightened sense of empathy. But while those could make all the difference to the plot, does it mean the character must be vocally exaggerated?

    After all, NO fictitious character is real. Acting is the process of making the character seem real. That’s no less true with this one, and bringing it about is pretty much the same as it would be to portray a fictitious ordinary next-door neighbor. What was missing in most cases, even among our winners, was a sense of reality.

    How to get that? Add emotions. Note the plural -- ascribe a different emotion to each thought. (Our winners added emotion, but did not sufficiently change their emotion from thought to thought.)

    Emotion is all the more significant with this character, considering that he/she is especially empathetic (and apparently even somewhat empathic), but emotion is the key to the soul of any character in voice acting.

    Some people did find the groove between non-acting and over-acting, but in most cases they made it a very narrow one – using the same “song” for each phrase, with no change of emotion as the character’s thoughts progressed. An odd voice, while not necessary, might be appropriate. But above all, the team casting this character would need to hear the range of emotion and variety in speaking to give them confidence in the actor’s ability to sustain the character through the entire episode.

    Interpretations may vary, but here’s one analysis of the script to demonstrate how the character’s emotions would change. The words in parentheses describe what’s in our character’s mind, as the audience senses it, plus a one-word description of the character’s emotion at that point. Your choice of word might vary, even with the same thought in mind.)

    I’ve never killed anyone

    (A statement of fact, relatively low key. Proud.)

    and I won’t start now.

    (A personal reminder to self. Or maybe a firm statement to the listener. Adamant.)

    For one thing, it would make no sense.

    (Depending on the plot, this might be obvious. Be quick about it. Confident.)

    For another, it would really, really hurt.

    (People getting killed tend to hurt from it. Convey that. But see the next line first... Silly.)

    Me, I mean.

    (Oh, we see, it’s a bit of dark humor. So make this and the preceding line work together. It’s a matter of contrasts and timing. Instructive. )

    I’d feel it.

    (Remember, he/she senses the feelings of others. This is the classic kicker – the “third item” in a series. Suddenly, yes, the meaning has gotten dark. Milk the word “feel.” Introspective.)

    By ascribing a different emotion to each thought, it should be almost impossible to read each line the same way.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Acting is also reacting. As you deliver your lines, how is (are) the other character(s) reacting? Determining this will give you further clues as to your own character’s frame of mind and emotional progression. Who are the other characters? What is your character’s relationship with them? Where are you (your character’s turf, or theirs?) This might all be apparent in the other character’s lines, etc. But, as we see in this excerpt, quite a bit can happen while the other character says nothing.

    So, the point is that even though this is a short monolog, it is still a dialog. Some people sounded very introspective, as if they were delivering a soliloquy or a theatrical monologue. Both have their place. It’s probably not here. Granted, these could all be thoughts voiced out loud, as the character works out his/her feelings. But nothing in the script or direction suggested that. And given that it’s a cartoon superhero – and an audition – more action and variety is probably called for. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: If you seek the job, show them the qualities they seek.

    Some people sounded angry, as if embroiled in an argument. Again, maybe, and it has inherent energy. But a wider range of emotion would show the casting director more.

    What about the fake accents, the dark, somber tones, the lighthearted approaches, the occasional dramatic pause, etc.? Nothing in the Notes required them, but nothing ruled them out. Suffice it to say that any such affectations need to be consistent, and should be secondary concerns to the voice actor. First, nail the basics. And if you feel an absolute need to use a (hopefully very rare) dramatic pause, make it real, not just “dramatic.”

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip:

    To help nail the basics, build your animated character one step at a time. Start with a flat read. Then add the various emotions. Then, whatever actions might be involved, including facial expressions. (Typically in cartoons and other animated productions, the character has a different facial movement and/or body gesture for every (or almost every) line ... the voice will appropriately change emotion to match. Or, the animation will be drawn to reflect the voice.) And only then, add the accent, or whatever other characteristics you want to play with. In addition to assuring a more robust, consistent characterization, it will give you a better sense of the effect, and maybe suggest additional options.

    And after all that, go back and listen. Have all these various additions degraded intelligibility? It is important to enunciate, in character and still sounding natural. Here are some examples of words that were problematic, and would be more so when music and sound effects are added:

    *"I've" -- too breathy . After mixing, it will be difficult to discern.

    *“And I won’t” – slurred, said as “An I won’t.”

    *“It would really” -- nearly impossible to discern, because it begins with lazy (closed) mouth ("nnn’it") and the “d” in “would” sounds like a “t.”

    *"Me, I mean" -- slurred together, could be heard as “May I mean?”

    Some technical snafus:

    • Some people did more than one take but did not mention in advance that they were doing this. In a busy casting office, it’s possible the screener has already clicked the “next” button before the first take is finished. And a second take should be included ONLY if it is equally good, and significantly different from the first.
    • Some people misread the script. The result made sense, so it’s not clear if they intended to do so. But such inventiveness won’t endear you to the writer. As we’ve demonstrated above: “It would really, really hurt me. I mean, I’d feel it” has a different meaning from “It would really, really hurt. Me, I mean. I’d feel it.”
    • One person didn’t slate, some extended their slate unnecessarily. Instructions were to slate talent’s name or username, and that’s it. When given a specific instruction, stick to that.
    • Some slated out of character, sometimes overdramatically, to boot. While this demonstrates that they are able to change their voice or personality, and also gives the casting person a “second option” (their natural voice), it sets up a confusing and sometimes unimpressive first impression. In some cases, the character voice was so different from their natural voice and produced in such a potentially painful way as to suggest it could not be sustained for an entire script.
    • Some audio levels were very low, making them almost inaudible without adjusting the volume. Some were a bit too high, especially annoying when the loudest point in the recording is the first syllable of their name and the start is tightly cut. Worst is when a soft one happened to precede a loud one. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Pay attention to your audio level when recording, and in the final file. If it’s so low that the listener must up their level, that won’t endear them to you if they forget to turn it back down and the next person comes blaring out!
    • At least one recording was empty. Well, at least that leaves lots of room for improvement.

    1st place winner: jpconn

    280 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear jpconn's recording

    He has a wonderful voice, and wonderfully expresses emotion with each line. However, there's not enough variety in his performance to hire him with confidence. Remember that the client is casting a voice actor for an entire series, and even the character’s gender hasn’t yet been determined. This is the voice actor’s golden opportunity to demonstrate ability to carry the character for an entire episode, week after week, and in this case, it’s also an opportunity to help shape the character creatively.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 6/20/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Akshara's Response C.mp3

    2nd place winner: peterhassinger

    188 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear peterhassinger's recording

    He has better variety than most. While some people drew out the speech too much, our Second Place winner could have slowed down. A little more attention to enunciation would also be helpful. For example, "for one thing" could be heard as "for wanting," especially when music and SFX are added. Similarly, the following phrase "it would" is slurred. But we wouldn’t want to lose the natural quality. The hesitation after "it would really" sounds very natural ... as does the stutter he adds before "I'd feel it." Nice touch!

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 6/20/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Hassinger Akshara's Remorse.mp3

    3rd place winner: terry66

    153 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear terry66's recording

    He has a good voice, and brings out an interesting dark sort of character. The character’s voice is not so extreme that he could not sustain it, and it’s very much a contrast with his pleasant “good guy” slate. (This is an example of where slating out of character tells the casting pro something good about the talent.) Our biggest reservation is his overuse of very long dramatic pauses. They’re too dramatic. Furthermore, they interfere with the listener’s focus on other aspects of his performance. Instead, we’d suggest choosing one place to pause (if he must), and instead adding more emotional variety. Also, his level was too low, which in a real audition situation could invite a potentially tired reviewer to simply move on to the next recording.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 6/20/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/TerrySpeck1.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, June 13 click below

    Contest ending Friday, June 6

    Contest Title:

    Scout's Honor

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for the narrator of a documentary film. The film follows the events as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts prepare for their town’s Memorial Day pageant. The audience of this cinema-verité production is young teens through adults. Do not read the “Video Sound”; pause only briefly there. There might be some noise under you in the mix, as the film shows people talking and moving about in the scene. Please slate your name or username.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    The flag is torn, the result of last year’s mishap. [Sound on video: “How did we forget that?”] Billy saves the day. His mother is a professional seamstress, and always keeps a sewing kit in the car.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    It’s among the biggest of genres. It’s among the smallest of genres. It’s “Narration.”

    The Narration field is wide and varied, that’s obvious. But in a sense, it’s also a relatively narrow field, because in narration often “less is more.”

    Unlike some other genres, where you’re more or less the “star” (or at least a co-star), in Narration the subject matter plays the lead role. The visual is the key player. So as a narrator, it’s important that you speak with energy, but equally important not to overact. Convey that you understand the significance of what you’re saying, incorporate subtle changes in emotion, but at the same time have a certain detachment. The story is worth telling, worth hearing and seeing. There’s no need to embellish overtly.

    This week, the line between excess energy and too much detachment was even a bit narrower, considering the subject matter -- a probably solemn Memorial Day context, but about kids.

    Some otherwise promising entrants didn’t hew that line. While some read in a monotone, with no emotion or energy at all, many people sounded theatrical, too polished, even slick. Some had a “newscaster” quality to them. (While that might seem appropriate to a documentary about Memorial Day, it’s not optimal for this, and not what casting people typically want.) Some entrants really dumbed down their read, sounding almost condescending. (Remember that the Director’s Notes indicated that the audience for this film is wide – teens through adults – and not little children.)

    What do we mean by “polished”? Certainly, you should be polished in the sense that you should master your craft. But by thinking about how you sound, by trying to sound cool, by inserting many “dramatic pauses,” by apparently focusing on how you say the words rather than what you’re saying ... by including all these affectations, it’s very easy to leave out the most important thing: a relaxed, natural, tension-free quality in your voice. Lack of tension wins out over drama and announcer-ness time after time.

    As directors will attest, someone who is habitually theatrical and slick in their delivery is less likely to be directable than someone who sounds naturally loose and appealing. If the latter type is a good voice actor they will be malleable, and the director can focus on subjective and creative preferences.

    The following matters come under the heading of “mastering the craft”:

    Many reads were very choppy. Some sounded as if the phrases were a series of computerized prompts. Some were choppy because of attempted drama (the “Captain Kirk” effect).

    Some reads were clearly edited together. In at least one case, it resulted in a double-breath. A casting pro will realize that’s an edit, and may wonder if you can read even such a short passage without error. Some less attentive listeners might think it was an unintended hesitation. Either is bad.

    Even among our winners, some people were sloppy. The word “professional” was particularly troublesome, in that some people stumbled through the “sh” sound, and some rushed it (“profeshn’l”).

    Another example of sloppiness is “lazy mouth.” That’s where the speaker starts vocalizing with the lips still closed. For example, the word into "Billy" sounds like "mmmBilly". (Of course, words starting with the letter “M” are exceptions.)

    A few forgot to slate, one person slated at the end, and a couple (including one of our winners) slated not as directed (e.g., by including a script title, too.)

    On the subject of slating, our First Place winner illustrates the importance of slating clearly. His name is Rick Hord. But if the listener isn’t looking at the list of names, he or she is likely to hear Rick’s name as another word often heard in our business: “record.” (Yes, this actually happened with one of our reviewers.)

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Whether your name is easily misunderstood or not, always slate it clearly and confidently. This may be your one chance to be heard by that casting pro, so be sure you leave a strong, favorable impression, making your name ring correctly in their ears. In cases where misunderstanding is likely, taking liberty with the slating direction might be justified. For example, Rick could say, "Record with Rick Hord!" Or "Hire Rick Hord to Record!"

    Here’s another example of the writer’s intention differing from what listeners might hear:

    “His mother always keeps a sewing kit in the car.”

    Unless the “T” in the word “kit” is clearly enunciated, listeners might hear that as “kid.” Especially considering that this film is about kids, so it’s a word the listener would (at least subconsciously) not be surprised to hear. By the time their mind realizes “Wait, that makes no sense,” the moment is gone and the listener is losing focus. With care and experience, a good audio writer can anticipate and write around many such booby traps. As talent, you may not always have time to spot them, so this is yet another reason why general clarity and enunciation is always important.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: You know what the script says, so you know what to listen for. Your listeners don’t have that advantage. So as you rehearse, give it a pass with your ear in the role of “listener.” As in the song, “Mairzy Doates,” almost any common words can be made almost unintelligible if read unthinkingly. Just do your “thinking” beforehand, so that your read will come out natural.

    Then there was the person who had the habit of breathing out through his nose, even after his slate. Not fun to listen to, especially when wearing headphones.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Control trailing breaths. Whether through your nose (which should be avoided altogether), or as a result of over-enunciation, they become distracting and could even be mistaken for laughter. This is apart from “normal” breaths, which should also be controlled and are typically reduced in volume or deleted altogether after recording.

    1st place winner: Keith Harris

    242 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Keith Harris's recording

    He has a pleasant, unaffected, conversational sound. In particular, there’s a nice and appropriate smile in his voice, most evident toward the end. He could stand to slow just a bit in the beginning ... or else give a smidge more space between the first two phrases. The "t" in “kit” is too clear. (Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: If you pronounce the "t" and it's too loud or too clear, lower its volume in post. ) There is a double break before “Billy saves the day” which is probably the result of an edit. In the slate, the recording is very sibilant on the "s" in "Harris." Since that’s a name he’ll be saying often, he should practice ways to soften that.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 6/13/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/HarrisFlagSave.mp3

    2nd place winner: Chris Koprowski

    214 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Chris Koprowski's recording

    We love his tension-free delivery. Pacing is good. He left a major breath intact (after "day"), but we like the effect. The word "professional" is slurred, and as we’ve noted above, the phrase "sewing kit "sounds like "sewing kid." He also has a slight tendency toward lazy mouth. ("Billy" sounds a little like "mmmBilly.")

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 6/13/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Scout'sHonor-ChrisKoprowski.mp3

    3rd place winner: Rick Hord

    186 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Rick Hord's recording

    A bit fast, but his tension-free delivery is nice. He got choppy at the end ("always keeps a sewing kit---in the car"). Regarding his slate, see our comments in the article above. The irony is that by unnecessarily adding the title, he increased the chance that the listener might hear “Rick Hord” as “Record.” He also should heed our warnings on the word “professional” and trailing breaths, above. Technically, the recording’s volume is not compressed enough, so some words are a bit too low, and room tone is apparent.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 6/13/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Scouts Honor_0.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, June 6 click below

    Contest ending Friday, May 30

    Contest Title:

    A Stitch in Time

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for an instructional video aimed at medical professionals. It is about alternatives to the suturing (stitching) of wounds. The video images will proceed rather quickly, as this is only the introduction. It not show everything you mention. We assume you will look up the pronunciation of any word(s) you are not familiar with. Before the script, please slate your name or username only.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    A topical medical-grade cyanoacrylate adhesive is indicated as an alternative or adjunct to sutures. Contraindications include the ocular region, and oozing or possibly contaminated wounds.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    On the job, physicians may speak to one another efficiently and without visible emotion.

    But medical practitioners are people, too, and an instructional video is not the Emergency Room. So what’s called for in this video script is a serious attitude, but mixed with a sense of calm and helpfulness.

    The key is in finding the correct middle path. If you’re lifeless or stern, you risk losing your listener. If you’re too emotional or flamboyant, you come off as unprofessional (medically, that is).

    There’s no need to overact. Things that ordinary people (including even you) don’t understand can perk the attention of a medical professional. And words and thoughts that ordinary people might find unusual or interesting are common medspeak to a medical practitioner, so special emphasis on them may be unnecessary or even odd to their ears.

    That is all paramount. And yet it is all secondary. The first concern, as in medicine itself, is to be accurate.

    A medical analogy might be this: First, you want your doctor to be totally competent. But you also really, really, really hope they also have a pleasant bedside manner.

    Some people were not accurate. Occasionally we heard “contradictions” rather than the correct word, “contraindications” (which means situations where the specified treatment is NOT to be used).

    Some people slurred words. This is often just the result of vocal laziness or lack of training, but we wonder if some people used it to cover possible mispronunciation.

    Many reads, including some of our winners, were choppy – more of them than usual. Here, too, we suspect this sometimes reflected a desire not to trip over the many complicated words.

    The formality of the subject matter may have been another cause of choppiness. Formality, for whatever reason, tends to breed glottal stops. (A “glottal stop” is when you momentarily constrict the throat before an initial vowel). In most cases and with most people, glottal stops are unintended. They’re also unnecessary, so they are a particular yellow flag in an audition, and VO pros should know how to avoid them. Done to excess, glottal stops tire the listener. Done on occasion, they make for a choppy delivery that (like other unnecessary pauses) interferes with the listener’s attention or understanding.

    At the extreme, some entries sounded as if they were just trying to get through the script one word at a time – their reads had no flow.

    At the other extreme were people who went too quickly. There are almost always entrants who need to slow down, but this week we wonder if some people speeded up intentionally, so as to show how well they can deliver hard-to-pronounce words. The irony is that, with practice, anyone can pronounce complicated words quickly. The professional voice actor says them at a normal pace, demonstrating the ability to take big words in stride.

    An even bigger issue is that choppiness or rushing can make the voice actor sound as if he or she doesn’t understand the copy. Choppiness can literally change the meaning, depending on where the pauses fall. Examples in this script were: “as an alternative or adjunct to sutures” (should not pause after “alternative”) and “the ocular region, and oozing or possibly contaminated wounds” (should not pause after “oozing”).

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Developing a personal copy-markup system and following it consistently is extremely helpful in reading copy as you had intended. Use whatever marks seem to work best for you, but here are some ways to indicate “read this as a phrase,” that you won’t confuse with an underline, parentheses or circle (which you might prefer to give other meanings):

    *Draw a long arrow over the phrase.

    *Draw a “ligature” over the phrase (as composers do in scores to slur from note to note)

    *Draw an incomplete loop around the phrase. (This has the advantage of being clear even through linebreaks.)

    Some people were simply boring, speaking in a monotone. Some people spiced it up by sounding broadcaster-ish. Professional-sounding is good. But in this case, not that profession.

    Fewer than half a dozen people forgot to slate. Considering the need for absolute accuracy and efficiency in this voice over genre, we would not be surprised to see a casting professional disqualify anyone who could not follow slating instructions. That includes the few who included the script title, when the Director’s Notes said “slate your name or username only.”

    And on another technical note, a word about editing. Some entries clearly contained edits. As we’ve noted in our comments on the winners, a bit of editing and/or processing can improve the impression made by an audition recording. But it’s vitally important for the post work to be done expertly. Edits should not be noticeable, and processing should not be overdone.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Where you must edit, such as when removing a breath, crossfading can help hide the transition. The technique for crossfading between segments varies depending on what audio editing software you use.

    In this genre, it’s also important not to accomplish correct pronunciation and phrasing by resorting to assembling a lot of separately recorded segments. For one thing, edits are likely to be apparent to the expert ear. And even more important, for everyone’s sake, is that you must be able to replicate any audition performance you submit (whatever the genre). Intensive editing can create an unnatural flow, and even if undetectable, it will take an inordinate amount of time, effort and expertise to do the entire job.

    It is much better to spend the time up-front, researching troublesome words and practicing phrases until they come fluidly. Over time, the process will become easier, you’ll avoid most mistakes in the first place, and you’ll be able to deliver on-time and profitably, without misrepresenting your performance ability.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: For our Weekly Script Recording Contest, we encourage everyone to enter even if the script or genre are not best suited to them. Whatever your VO specialty or ambitions, it’s helpful to explore new territory, and it might turn out to be surprisingly friendly territory for you. That said, if medical terminology is not your cup of tea, we strongly advise that you not submit to real auditions that involve heavy medical terminology. You’ll spend a lot of time researching word pronunciations and on getting through them. It’s not necessarily that you couldn’t do it. The problem is that, if awarded the job, you'll be in for trouble.

    1st place winner: evalowe

    303 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear evalowe's recording

    All terrific! A great voice, she’s articulate, and everything is well pronounced. She has just the right measure of variety in her presentation, and her voice shows no vocal tension ... except for some glottal stops. From a technical standpoint, her recording would sound much better if she had compressed the volume. For example, that would have made the third word "medical" sound more natural, because compressing would have eliminated the word’s sudden volume increase.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by June, 6 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Eva Lowe-Edge Studio Script Contest-A Stitch in Time-5:27:14.mp3

    2nd place winner: achoicevoice

    216 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear achoicevoice's recording

    Another great voice with the same good qualities as mentioned above! Except that it was too choppy. It would have sounded SO much better had she avoided the glottal stops and also edited out the breaths.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by June, 6 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/LindaScott_A Stitch in time.mp3

    3rd place winner: cncarlson4

    216 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear cncarlson4's recording

    Another good example for all the same reasons, plus he has the smoothest read of these three. And, for obvious reason, it was smart to include his title “Dr.” in his slate. In fact, he would have made first place except for one critical factor: He did not value his words sufficiently. Giving word-value helps the words and visuals work better together. Maybe he was thrown off by the Director’s Notes saying “images will proceed the Director’s Notes saying “images will proceed rather quickly ... [will] not show everything you mention.” That direction withstanding or not, as a separate issue, this is not the operating room; it’s important to convey the copy as thoughts, not just instruction.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: There is no way to read a producer’s mind, and audition instructions are not always a comprehensive description of the producer’s intentions or possible changes in plans. There might even be music. So it helps to show, through pacing and appropriate breaks, that you will give the producer the flexibility to match audio to video, whatever the possible options.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by June, 6 2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Edge contest_Nathan Carlson--normalized.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, May 30 click below

    Contest ending Friday, May 23

    Contest Title:

    Mother’s Day Table

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for an online flower retailer that sells fresh-cut and live flowers, vases, tools, etc. The retailer’s website has a number of videos. This one will be about flower arranging for a Mother’s Day dining table. This part of the video will show a person arranging tulips, with cuts between the steps to save time. The talent can be male or female. Please don’t add music; the producer has already chosen it to go under the voice. The person watching this video is probably new to flower selection and arranging, so make it fun, interesting and easy to follow. Slate your name or username.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    To make a dozen tulips look like many more put a grid of tape across the vase. Now space out the flowers for maximum impact!

    OR

    To make a dozen tulips look like many more, put a grid of tape across the vase. (short pause) Now, space out the flowers ... for maximum impact!

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    In an audition, your assignment is to stand out among all the contestants, with a read that is both appropriate and professional, yet somehow unusual and constructive. And to begin making that impression in even fewer words than contained in this week’s short flower-arranging script.

    In a way, by offering two versions of the script – one with the “pause” directions, one without – the client did everyone a favor: make your mark before that first pause!

    Ah, but the Director’s Notes ask for a “fun” read, and making the first part fun is an even more challenging challenge. The fun part of the script, if anything, is in the second half ... where the video shows someone spreading out the flowers and the viewer sees their “maximum impact!” Compare this action with the first part of the script, which shows someone placing tape across the top of the vase. Oh, joy, what excitement!

    We jest. But our winners demonstrate ways to accomplish this. Many people sounded dull and lifeless. They had no variety in their delivery, sounding more like they were narrating a serious history documentary. Except that even the most serious historical documentary needs variety of some sort.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: When you first get a script, think about it overall, and relate it to the direction. What is the script’s key point? That will tell you volumes about what tone to take, what words to color, where to pause, and more. For example, in this script the key point is how to make a few flowers look like many flowers. What words (and what thoughts) are therefore most important, and what points give you an opportunity to be “fun and interesting” yet natural and unaffected?

    Fun leads to smiles, and this is one of those times when smiling while you read can have a happy effect on how you sound. That’s good. But some people were annoyingly friendly, as if they were reading with a huge smile the entire time. That’s unreal. Nobody smiles unceasingly. Don’t alternate with a frown or bored feeling, but do pick your spots and understand why you’re smiling. (What thought in the script is making you smile?) Then it becomes real, and all the more effective.

    Many people went at too quick a pace. In a how-to video, there needs to be time for the visual action to unfold, and for the viewer to take it in and understand what’s happening.

    Some people read the first sentence rather mechanically. It’s possible they didn’t really understand what the video will be showing. If you don’t have the benefit of a storyboard, video description or access to the client, sometimes it requires a bit of analysis. What is the function of a “grid of tape across the vase”? What does it look like? To the viewer, the video will make it immediately obvious, but if you think about the process you’re describing, it should soon be apparent: by putting each of the dozen tulips in a different “slot” in the grid, they will be spread out and look like many more.

    There was the old “vase” vs. “vaze” vs. “vahz” pronunciation issue. Which should you say? As always, we recommend looking it up and using the first pronunciation shown, which is the more often used or recommended. The choice is also a matter of tone. If the video is aimed at a more formal audience and you know that they tend to say “vahz,” consider going that way. But this video is aimed at a popular audience generally unfamiliar with flower-arranging. That suggests saying “vase” or “vaze.” The latter seems a good compromise. Ultimately it’s up to the director or client, and if you have a British accent (like our First Place winner), that also will affect your choice. Above all, be consistent.

    Watch out for words like “tulips.” Some people said “tulups,” including our Second Place winner.

    A simple name slate was requested, and if we remember correctly, everyone slated this time. That’s much better than in months (even years!) past. And it remains important. The slate, and whether or not you followed directions, is the first impression you make on the audition reviewer.

    Some recordings were sibilant (exaggerated “S” sounds). The natural amount of sibilance varies from person to person. It can be accentuated by a number of factors, including the room, the mic, and the amount and type of audio processing. If your mouth or system seems prone to excessive sibilance, learn how to minimize or compensate for it.

    Another technical issue was the audio level. Although it’s best to record at the correct volume in the first place, erring on the lower side is the lesser of two evils (some recordings were too loud, which causes unfixable distortion). If your recording is then much quieter than typical learn how to use your audio software to “normalize” it. Done correctly, that will bring the volume up to ... uh... normal.

    Some reads were too dramatic. This is flower-arranging, not a ghost story. Let the flowers supply the drama.

    Very many people hit “flowers.” We suspect there were two possible reasons for this. Some probably weren’t thinking about it much at all. Others might have figured, “the first part is about tape, the second is about flowers.” This is the first time the tulips appear in the vase, and might even be the first time they appear in the video.

    But wouldn’t “space out” be the more appropriate emphasis? The whole video is about flowers, the viewer can see them, and you’ve already said “tulips.” The key point in that sentence is that the flowers should be spread out. And, since that action on the screen is likely to take a bit of extra time, we suggest saying those two words a bit slowly (as if doing it in your mind) so your voice better matches the sense of the visual.

    Some reads were choppy. In some cases, this was an over-reaction to the second version’s punctuation and directions for pausing. People generally realized that both versions are actually the same script.

    In some cases, people had additional short pauses. Intentional or not, they were not necessary. Choppiness wears on the listener. If there is no punctuation and no need for a breath, and no change in the action, make your delivery smooth and relaxed. That’s one of the many things that will make you stand out from the amateurs.

    1st place winner: helen.mooregillon@gmail.com

    205 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear helen.mooregillon@gmail.com's recording

    She has a nice smile in her voice. It’s genuine. She heeded the comma in the first sentence, but ignored it in the second sentence. (In other words, she “combined” the two script versions.) While this is inconsistent, it’s not a major flaw and we have no fear that she couldn’t read it either way in the actual job. More important are other nuances, such as the nice way she slightly stretched the word “now” (which itself makes up for the missing comma pause there). We would have liked to hear a clean break before “for maximum impact” (at least, somewhere in that sentence). Although it can be argued that a pause would be choppy, it’s in one of the versions and would have signaled that she understands the producer’s editing needs. It might be that those last few words are meant for a closing shot.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 5/30/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/helenmooregillon.tulips.mp3

    2nd place winner: rhondaduncan@att.net

    181 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear rhondaduncan@att.net's recording

    She followed the second version, except for leaving out the pause after “Now.” We like the way she read “space out the flowers” (and spaced out the words “space out”), sounding like she really understood what the video will be showing. Her studio is too reverberant for recording the final job, and her recording’s audio level is relatively low. In her slate, she added “This is.” Any divergence from direction invites a frown from super-sticklers, and costs the audition team time, but she did it so quickly and charmingly that it’s not much of an issue. More of an issue is her pronunciation of “tulips.” As we’ve noted above, usually the second syllable in this word passes so quickly that the vowel is barely even heard. But when pronounced slowly, as in her read, using the correct vowel sound becomes important.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 5/30/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/RhondaDuncan_Mother'sDayTable.mp3

    3rd place winner: Tom Fiske

    145 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Tom Fiske's recording

    A tad too slowly said, but otherwise good. We can almost see the final scene when he says “for maximum impact.” He emphasized “flowers,” which as we’ve noted might not be the best choice to hit, but he did it with such oomph that it actually sounds convincing. Sometimes a director can be favorably surprised. In fact, often. And that’s part of the goal. His studio, too, is a little reverberant, but okay for an audition if the final recording will be produced elsewhere.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 5/30/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Flowers_TomFiske.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, May 23 click below

    Contest ending Friday, May 16

    Contest Title:

    Outnumbered Victory

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for a computerized eLearning program aimed at high school students. The subject is the history of international relations between Mexico and the United States. The scripted question will have three answers for the student to choose from. (The answers will be shown in short video segments, so they are not in the script.) After the student selects an answer, the program will deliver one of three responses. As you see, these are included in the audition script. Leave a clean break between each answer, but to save our casting team’s time, make each break less than one second. Do NOT slate.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    Mexican-Americans first celebrated Cinco de Mayo to commemorate which battle?

    Correct! The Battle of Puebla.

    No, but try again.

    Sorry. But you get another chance.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    Question: When is a voice over read not necessarily like a voice over read?

    Answer: When it’s an audition.

    This week’s contest is a case in point. Many of the entrants didn’t show the amount of range that an audition reviewer generally looks for. That’s always an important quality, but with such a short script, it might seem difficult or unnecessary to do.

    This eLearning script is especially short because most of it consists of three alternative answers, and the listener will probably hear only one. “Aha!” we can hear some of our more experience entrants saying, “So it’s like a computer-assembled telephone script, where everything should be very consistent, in order to be put together seamlessly.”

    Yes and no. Yes, because the three answers should be consistent in voice quality, overall pacing, and “personality,” as well as in volume level, mic placement and other technical aspects. But no, because each response is different, calling for different emotions. One response is for a correct answer, two are for incorrect. This gives you the opportunity (in fact, the need) to display some range.

    And more to the point of our riddle above – because this is an audition, this gives you the opportunity to set yourself apart from the crowd. Many entrants conveyed the same emotion regardless of whether the student was right or wrong.

    If all the answers had called for the same emotion, and if it were the full script, you’d be able to show variety from one question/answer set to another.

    But again, this is an audition situation: the casting team might not listen to your full recording. So even if you have a longer script to play with, it’s still important to get your best stuff up-front.

    That’s assuming you’ve adopted the right persona in the first place. Considering that this eLearning project is aimed at high school students, it’s likely the casting professional is expecting to select someone who sounds like a high school teacher – a confident and knowledgeable adult and talking as if to adults, but friendly, not stern, and but not talking down as if to little kids. Instead, some people sounded like game show hosts, others sounded a bit stern (almost angry), some were way too dramatic, some were sing-song, some robotic.

    Instructions explicitly said not to slate. One person slated ... a verbose slate, at that.

    A note regarding pronunciation of “Puebla.” Virtually everyone got it right, saying “pwebla,” Some (English) dictionaries allow a second alternative, “poo-eb-la.” A few people gave it a bit of extra flourish, such as Pwayb-la. or Pooayb-la, or even Pweb-lahhh.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: When a respected dictionary shows more than one acceptable pronunciation for the same use of the word, the first shown is the preferred or more frequently heard. Use that, unless there is clear reason for using the alternative. And unless you are fluent in your pronunciation of a non-English word, trust the dictionary’s judgment.

    Some people had a bit of difficulty with the word “battle,” pronouncing it somewhat like “batto”. In some cases, it was awkward in one instance, but they pronounced the L correctly in the other.

    Many people sped through the read, making it hard for the student to follow along.

    That’s not to say you should pause illogically. For example, the script’s question does not include a comma and is readable in a single breath, at a reasonable pace. Yet, many, many people paused after “Cinco de Mayo,” which introduces choppiness and potential confusion. (Subconscious brain to listener: “Is that the end of the sentence? Oh, wait, there’s more.”) The key thought is not that Mexican-Americans first celebrated Cinco de Mayo, but that it commemorated which battle. Get to it.

    Some people had barely a pause between answers. The Director’s Notes did say to make each break clean but “less than one second.” Maybe some people took this too literally. How long is a “clean break” in this situation? Well, a smidge less than one second, but longer than a break between sentences. Another way of looking at it is, to look at it. In the software’s voice display, the engineer should be able to see these breaks and easily select the segment between them.

    There were some serious technical deficiencies here and there. One of the recordings was “empty” – 0 seconds long. Most were lower in volume than optimal, but some were very low in volume (for example, averaging -30 dB and never louder than -22 dB).

    And even one of our winners committed a major faux pas – he submitted two takes without mentioning it at the outset, and (worse) they were virtually identical.

    In fact, his takes are so similar that we hope it wasn’t intentional (which would indicate lack of professional judgment). It’s likely he overselected the desired region at some point. We judged based solely on Take Two. Thing is ... at least one of our reviewers didn’t realize there was a second take, and in a real-life audition, that would be typical. In fact, in a real-life audition, many busy screeners might not finish listening to the first.

    EDGE STUDIO VOICE OVER TIP: As you might have learned in 7th Grade, after adding up a column of numbers, double-check -- is the result in the logical range? Same thing in delivering your VO work: Always listen to your final recording, checking it against the script. But double check -- if you recorded about 10 seconds of copy and your software indicates the final file is 20 seconds long, or zero seconds, something is wrong.

    1st place winner: Melo78

    233 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Melo78's recording

    A pleasant voice, pleasantly used. Her manner was natural, and she didn’t pause unnaturally as so many people did. However, her overall pace was too fast (a full second or two faster than many good reads), and we would have liked to hear a bit more smile in the “answer” lines. Otherwise, she was clear and articulate (without being overly so), and the recording was technically good. In our contest, we don’t attach so much importance to the technical aspects, but it might be instructive to note that, unlike many entries (which were recorded at too low a volume), the peak and average volume of this one were pretty much spot-on.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 5/23/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/MelinehKurdian_EdgeContest_Outnumbered_9174493240.mp3

    2nd place winner: arranh

    204 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear arranh's recording

    His rough voice would not always be a casting professional's first choice. But it actually fits quite nicely here. Sometimes the casting professional says, "Hmmm... we weren't thinking about a voice like his, but it works!" Not to overanalyze, but he sounds a bit like the actor Tony Danza (who is also a teacher), a bit like a Mexican singer, and an average friendly guy. (In judging our contest, we ignore voice types and base our selection mainly on performance, with a bit of attention to audio quality.) He has a good smile and easy manner in the answers. However, the first three phrases in the opening all sound alike, as if he’s reciting. Although the ending has more variety and is thus more natural, it’s not enough to assure a screener that he just needed to get warmed up. Otherwise, he might have made the top spot.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 5/23/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Arran Haynes_1.mp3

    3rd place winner: cobryon1

    177 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear cobryon1's recording

    His read is okay. We can hear his smile in the answers, but it comes and goes. A key issue is that he included two takes, as we mentioned in the article above. Take One would not have reached Third Place. It opened too fast, had an brief unnatural pause after “Americans,” the phrase “the Battle of Puebla” was slurpy, and the answers (although virtually identical in both takes) might be thought less varied. The first take’s overall volume is low (that’s a fault of many entries) except for the first two words, which are louder and thus sound like they were tacked on. We would not have judged on the basis of “merging” the two takes, but the second take was good enough in itself. It was smooth (he didn’t pause after “Mayo”), relaxed yet with energy, well paced, and had just enough variety in the answers.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 5/23/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/CrisOBryon_Edge_051014.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, May 16 click below

    Contest ending Friday, May 9

    Contest Title:

    History Program

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for a historical documentary that will air on basic cable. The producer needs a male or female narrator. This passage is about tactics used in World War I. There will be some silence where a pause is indicated, to allow for visual events to unfold on-screen. But to save the casting team’s time, pause only briefly there – a clean break is sufficient, one second at most.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    Germany’s mobile tactics were no longer working. [Break] With the French and Russians dug in, all the armies became largely immobile, until the introduction of tanks.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    In this documentary, the images tend to take more time than the words. So if there’s one bit of advice that will usually help the narration, it’s this: Slow .... down.

    Many newcomers to Narration speak so quickly that it would be difficult for the editor to sync audio with video, or it would at least would require extra work. Or, if the video were somehow to progress that quickly, it would be almost impossible for the viewer to take in what he or she is seeing, let alone hearing.

    The art is in maintaining a deliberate pace and pausing a suitable number of times in appropriate places, without sounding robotic or choppy.

    And all the while, the narrator must still maintain appropriate “energy,” -- sounding genuinely natural and conveying a sense of conviction, interest, understanding ... whatever you call it.

    A number of entrants didn’t hit that mark. They were either robotic, or choppy.

    In fact, even though there was an actual instruction to pause briefly at one point, some people barely paused at all. Did they forget, or did they figure “less than a second” can mean “way less”? The Director’s Notes could be interpreted two ways. Perhaps the producer simply wanted to be sure of a clean break at that point, enabling the engineer to add however much pause will be needed. But, from the reference to saving the casting team time, it’s more likely that – because an audition is not the final recording – the Director wants only a clean break to save time in reviewing what might be hundreds of auditions. So, why put the word “[Break]” in the audition script at all? Sometimes it’s already in the script, would be a hassle to remove, and it’s easier just to tell talent to ignore it. Sometimes the audition team wants to see how the talent responds to this direction. Whatever, in this case, any break less than clean, or lasting more than a second, was a no-no.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: To get a good feel for the proper tempo in narration, record some of the many excellent narrators on TV. Record yourself as you speak along with them (and/or play them, then record yourself). Then listen back to yourself, and repeat, until you get it. Before long, the pace will feel natural. (Don’t try to emulate their voice, just their cadence. Your voice should be natural, vocally free, and is what makes you unique.)

    People pronounced the words “mobile” and/or “immobile” variously. First, since they’re essentially the same word, the “mobile” part should be pronounced the same. As we recall, everyone did that. But some used the British pronunciation: “mo-bīle” (with a long i). According to Dictionary.com, the only two standard American pronunciations are (we’ll spell phonetically) “mo-buhl” or “mo-beel.” We’d reserve the latter for dangling sculptures and Alabama seaports, so go with the first. A very old Merriam-Webster does give “mo-bīle” as a third option, but a newer edition does not. Perhaps in some geographic regions or in the military, this third option might be heard, but it’s not standard American English. Do you own a “mo-bīle” phone? “

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: If you’re at all unsure about a word, ask the director or client. If you’re working alone, look it up in a source such as mentioned above. (Others include Howjsay.com and various specialized dictionaries, the online versions of which often have audio links demonstrating pronunciation.) Even if you’re unsure if you’re unsure about it, it’s so much easier and less embarrassing to check, rather than having to fix it later.

    These two words raise another issue. Often, a repeated word can be as disturbing to the ear as it to the eye sometimes in print. (To bring over a term from the art world, you might think of the two words setting up a distracting “vibration” between themselves. The writer might have avoided this rhetorical issue by substituting the word “stationary” for “immobile.” But he or she didn’t.) This situation is a cue for voice talent to consider the meaning and make a choice. Is the word repeated for effect? Is the repetition awkward? Does the second instance play off the first?

    With this script, it’s the last of these three situations. Arguably the voice artist should hit the first syllable of “immobile,” to contrast it with the previous word “mobile.” But we say “arguably” because it happens that in this script the two words are pretty far apart, separated even further by the indicated “break.” So vibration isn’t a factor, and the effect of this word play is lessened.

    Nevertheless, this is an audition. And in an audition, it helps to display that you’re thinking, that you’ll come through with something that’s both constructive and different. Most people didn’t contrast the two words. Extra points to people who chose to hit that first syllable and did it well.

    Some recordings were technically wanting. In particular, we sometimes heard too much sibilance.

    Some entrants, mostly females, read with a slight smile to their voice. It’s often good to have a smile. It make sense if narrating a program about kids, flowers or any number of things. Not so much when the subject is war.

    Some read the script in a conversational tone, too casual. Again, this subject calls for more gravity. And narrations in general call for an air of confidence or authority.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: What constitutes “confidence” and “authority” in narration? It’s not being brash or bullish, not like a police detective demanding entry, a drill sergeant or a boss giving orders. It is a calm, knowing state of mind. A “quiet” sort of confidence that a friend or wise uncle might convey while telling you something you want to learn and don’t yet know.

    Some people went theatrical, with exaggerated pauses, extra inflection and so on. Sometimes it sounded like speaking to youngsters. Sometimes it carried a sense of “awe” more appropriate to bees doing a waggle dance than to the introduction of tanks in warfare (not such an unusual scene to adults these days). Sometimes it sounded more like a promo. Sometimes it was just unnatural.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: In a script like this, low-key is the way to go. Simply go slow, speak clearly and accurately with a loose, free voice, understand what you’re saying, and maintain the energy.

    Let the images carry the “theater.”

    1st place winner: banciaux

    456 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear banciaux's recording

    A good read, tension-free, with good emphases. The hesitation before "introduction" was probably intentional, and we like it. Besides, if we didn’t, his read gives us confidence that he could go without it. The recording’s technical quality is also good.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 5/16/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Anciaux_Edge_050614.mp3

    2nd place winner: Brian C. Topping

    212 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Brian C. Topping's recording

    Another good read.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 5/16/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/History Program Brian C Topping May 6 2014.mp3

    3rd place winner: KentClark

    257 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear KentClark's recording

    Good, free-flowing read. Good technical quality, too. It’s a good enough job that he squeaked into Third Place despite a major flaw: He said “tanks” instead of “tactics.” We assume it was just inadvertent, maybe the result of over-rehearsing. But it raises all kinds of uncertainty in a casting pro. While such an error is easily corrected if somebody notices immediately, it’s extra work if unnoticed till later. And what if nobody catches it at all? Or what if the deadline is too tight for re-recording? Is he prone to such oversights? What if the job requires him to deliver a finished product? Another concern is that his failure to catch it means he’s not fully aware of what he’s saying. At the least, he did not check his work against the script.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 5/16/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Kent Clark - History Program.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, May 9 click below

    Contest ending Friday, May 2

    Contest Title:

    Corporate Welcome

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for a corporate (or industrial) video. The client is the mythical conglomerate called Excellent Yellow Zebra Industries, which is replacing all their orientation and instructional videos. This script is from the one that introduces new hires to the company. The visuals will be scenes from a “walk around” through their offices and production facilities. Be friendly yet proud and confident. Above all, be genuine.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    All of our products include customer service. Everyone at ExYZ is responsible for delivering excellent service, whether before or after the sale.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    There wasn’t a lot of variety among the reads this week. Many people took a very safe, predictable approach, and the result was boring. That’s not usually the optimal way to win an audition. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Adding variety can often help you stand apart from your competitors and win the audition ... that is, as long as you stay within the boundaries of the directive. It’s a little like people who go to a carpet store thinking “black, white or purple,” but wind up buying beige. Find a way to sound brilliant! Those carpet shoppers’ interest was not piqued by seeing beige carpet in the brochure.

    Some people this week got all announcery, pompous or formal. It was not as if they were standing right next to us, talking face to face. Or, often a better way to think of it is, “talking in the listener’s ear.” (Nothing necessarily romantic suggested in this; it’s just a way to envision yourself being close-up and personal.)

    The proper frame of mind and tone of voice for this sort of corporate/industrial presentation is the same as if you were walking with the viewer in person. In the old days, when a new employee was hired, his or her boss might walk the new hire through the factory, explaining the various manufacturing processes, company policies, etc. This personal tour also helped instill a sense of pride and respect for the company. This is that.

    Many people went too quickly. Although this is probably not a “real time” walking tour of the company, the listener does need time to absorb your copy points and view the visuals.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: When portraying a boss – that is, a person in authority speaking to an underling -- don’t talk down, but also do not rush. A boss doesn’t waste time, but doesn’t need to speed super quickly for fear of losing his or her listener’s attention. The underling is paid to listen. In a video such as this, a normal adult conversational pace is fine.

    There were some noticeable edits, which in some cases made reads choppy. Some edits even resulted in distorted words.

    For this and other reasons, choppiness abounded.

    MANY people paused after the word “before.” While this may seem natural, it can subconsciously confuse the listener.

    The sense of the last clause is:

    “whether before the sale or after the sale.”

    But the listener doesn’t know that beforehand. Consider the effect if the pause is too long, as if there had been a period there:

    “... service, whether before. Or after the sale.”

    That makes no sense. Beforewhat? The listener has no script to provide a tipoff. Maybe that’s why there is not even a comma after the word “before.”

    If the copywriter had been more careful about writing for audio, he or she might have done you a greater favor by writing it this way:

    “... service, whether before the sale, or after.”

    In that case, it would be tempting to pause after “sale” even if no comma there. In fact, it would be appropriate, even dramatically effective. But that’s not what’s on the page, and you must stick with the script. Sometimes in a script, you can pause where there is no punctuation. This is not one of those times.

    And if you absolutely cannot resist the urge to pause after “before,” consider this: It might then make sense also to pause after “after.”

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Don’t drive yourself crazy by overanalyzing a script, but do think about what the listener will hear. If the script is not written optimally, don’t change the script without permission, but anticipate and do what you can to help the listener understand its meaning on the first hearing.

    The company name gave quite a few people a hard time. Presumably the employee already knows the name, so stressing it is not so necessary as in, say, a commercial. But pronouncing the company’s name correctly is essential. Some pronounced it “ex-why-zee,” others said “ee-ex-why-zee,” and still others said “Excellent Yellow Zebra.”

    If you can’t ask the client or check other authoritative sources (e.g., an authorized video or commercial), how do you guess correctly at the pronunciation? Here’s an example of the process: Consider the long form of its name: “Excellent Yellow Zebra” – that’s a pretty obvious play on “XYZ,” no? So that’s probably how they say “ExYZ.” Another indicator is the capitalization. It’s not “eXYZ,” where the “e” might logically stand for “electronic.” It’s “ExYZ,” and we know the “E” stands for “Excellent,” which starts with an “X” sound.

    In any case, there is NO way the talent should replace “ExYZ” with the words “Excellent Yellow Zebra.” Scripts are scripts, not shorthand.

    Speaking of emphasis, we were expecting more people to hit the word “everyone,” even at the expense of hitting “ExYZ.” To expand on what we mentioned above, this is a case where the client name is not necessarily the most important word in the sentence. This script is not selling the company (in fact, the employee is already hired). It is selling the message. And the key message in this sentence is that “everyone” is responsible for excellence. Or, an argument could also be made for hitting “responsible” instead.

    Many people paused too often. Some, including some of our finalists, had a lot of glottal stops. (A glottal stop is a constriction of the throat before an initial vowel, causing a unintentional momentary pause.) We’re not keeping statistics on this, but it seems in this week’s contest we heard more glottal stops than usual. Maybe it’s a subconscious response to the subject matter’s supposed formality? In any case, avoid falling into this habit. Glottal stops sound choppy and their cumulative effect can be to annoy and/or tire the listener.

    A number of recordings suffered from sibilance – overly bright “S” sounds.

    Another technical issue was volume. Some people’s recording levels were set too low, requiring us to turn up the volume at our end. (That can be especially annoying if we forget to lower it again before the next recording.) Another was recorded at too high a volume, resulting in sharp audio distortion that will remain in the recording even if played or transferred at a lower volume later.

    1st place winner: Scott Martin

    117 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Scott Martin's recording

    A nice, professional, corporate delivery. At times he goes too fast. This (a) causes him to slur some words, such as the word everyone, and (b) causes slight, odd, inconsistent tempo fluctuations. However, he properly hit the word “everyone.” Like so many others, he paused after “before” but not after “after.” Otherwise, a very nice read.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 5/9/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Scott Martin_ExYZ.mp3

    2nd place winner: ZachVO

    247 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear ZachVO's recording

    Breaths are loud, but otherwise it's a very good read. Good emotion, good tempo, clear, good recording quality as well. He has more “energy” than some entrants, and energy is good if it’s legitimate – if ExYZ Industries is a hip tech company, he’d be a logical choice. Only one slight thing that we would change: the glottal stops such as before “excellent” and “after.” But, unlike many people, he attacked “everyone” smoothly, and although he didn’t quite stress that word, he bundled it with the company name that follows, so that the emphasis was on “Everyone at ExYZ” -- which is effectively the same meaning. There’s a grainy whirring noise throughout, which might be the computer fan. It can be heard right after the slate, but is also present while he is speaking.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 5/9/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Edge VO Contest 4-29-14.mp3

    3rd place winner: Lologiron

    93 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Lologiron's recording

    A mostly smooth delivery, with just one or two hesitations (one of which is glottal). Her pace was a little too fast at times. She rushed “responsible,” missing the third syllable (the “ih” sound). But she captured the emotion we seek. The audio volume is significantly lower than typical, at least -10 dB quieter than optimal Also, there’s a hollow sound to the audio, as if using the wrong side of the mic, or working too far away from the mic in a live room.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 5/9/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Lorraine_Giron_Corporate_Welcome_Contest.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, May 2 click below

    Contest ending Friday, April 25

    Contest Title:

    Egg in Your Face

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for a TV commercial about chocolate Easter eggs. The client is seeking a man or woman to voice over the visual action. The visual will be someone breaking open a chocolate egg ( as someone would crack a chicken egg to fry it), revealing a cream filling. Please pronounce the word “creme” as you would say “cream,” not as the French would say it (“krehm”).

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    What happens when you break open Cadbury Chocolate Creme Eggs? A mouthful of flavor! This Easter, be sure to put them in more than one basket!

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    Talking with your mouth full is not polite. Mainly it’s not nice to look at, but it can also be obnoxious to listen to. And it makes a person hard to understand.

    So that’s why some people didn’t win.

    In voice acting, there are of course exceptions. For example, there’s currently a commercial running with a dog talking while chowing down. But it might be instructive that – it’s a dog.

    When you’re selling people food, and the goal is to make it appetizing, and it’s not inherently funny, we highly recommend not talking with your mouth full unless so directed. At least, not in the one shot you get at an audition situation.

    There are better ways to stand out and make yourself uniquely interesting to the casting crew.

    Sometimes the better way is just to be as relaxed, at-ease and natural as you can, paired with the kind of enthusiasm that people admire.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Don’t overact. In a commercial, as in comedy, the effect is in the words. The more naturally you deliver them, the more “free” and comfortable your voice, the more believable you are. And in the case of comedy, that credibility makes the words’ irony all the more ironic.

    The tricky part is that you nevertheless need to retain the other qualities that make for effective voice over. These include clarity ... enunciation. (A person can be “natural” without being sloppy, and for that matter, without being overly formal.)

    This is why some people did not sound professional. They were either trying too hard to sound polished, or were not polished enough.

    Another ingredient, as we’ve mentioned, is energy. “Energy” manifests itself in many ways. In this script, don’t take it over the top. But do avoid the monotone that some people fell into.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Always mark up your script. Which words are most important to the point it is making? What words would change the meaning if not emphasized (or if another word is emphasized)? What phrase is the most important of all? And use a pencil, so that you can change your mark if the Director gives some other instruction.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip, Part Two: In a commercial, always find a way to “hit” the product name (“Cadbury”) at least once, and especially if it appears only once in the script. This doesn’t mean to go all “announcery” on it. The client’s name should be as natural as the rest of your delivery. But you could stress it, elongate it, go up or down in pitch, smile more broadly, change your voice quality, or emphasize it in even another way. Above all, be absolutely certain it will not be misunderstood or get lost.

    It’s important to realize that “energy” doesn’t mean loudness. For the sake of the recording quality, you shouldn’t change your volume. For variety, use pitch and tempo and voice placement, as well. And above all, think of “energy” in terms of emotion. Remember how you felt when you got the gig? That’s energy.

    Energy is also effective when it builds. This script builds in three steps. First there’s the question. (Hook the viewer, but relatively low-key.) Then there’s the flavor. (“Flavor” being the key word.) And finally, the little joke about not putting one’s eggs in one basket. It is a little joke, to be sure, so don’t play for guffaws. But, unlike some commercials, it’s not just a feel-good moment or gratuitous humor in the name of goodwill or memorability. It’s also a selling point – to get the product into MORE than one basket. (In other words, you’re encouraging the listener to give Cadbury every chance they get!)

    Which brings us back to the issue of talking with food in your mouth. Some people apparently thought of this as an on-camera appearance – as if the narrator himself or herself is eating the egg. Nothing in the script or Director’s Notes suggests that. Did people overlook the fact that this is a TV commercial? It’s very likely that the narrator is just that – a narrator. Someone else is tasting the egg, or (since watching someone eat is not always appealing) maybe the visual is just a close-up of the rich, flavorful filling.

    However, regardless of the scenario, it goes without saying that the voice over talent should sound excited about the prospect of tasting it. And, as noted above, you should up the energy at that point. Unfortunately, some people ended at the same emotional level as when they started.

    Whatever the visual, presumably the voice over needs to sync with it. When possible, ask what the visual will be. If you cannot, conjure up a mental image of it. In this case, it’s a good bet that in this commercial, someone will be breaking open an egg to show the crème (and flavor) inside. Many didn’t pause at this point. It needn’t be long, but it does need to be a clean break, in case the producer needs to add some time.

    Some people had inherently interesting voice qualities, but slurred their words and/or they lost energy towards the end. Others had good ideas, but overthought them while speaking, or aspects of their delivery were sloppy -- for example, inappropriate hesitation or “lazy mouth” (undesired vocalization before speaking).

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: The time to “overthink” is before you perform, and then mark your script accordingly. Whatever system of marks you adopt or devise, use it consistently. Then, once you’re comfortable with it, your marks will become easy to interpret and follow, as easily as other people follow words and punctuation. That leaves you free to think “in character” – rather than listening to yourself and thinking about your delivery, you’ll be truly acting.

    There was some really bad audio, including quite a few entries with echoes. Sometimes, if the job will be recorded at the producer’s location, you can land the job if your performance is excellent and your home studio is of at least “audition quality.” But if the quality is really poor, it can interfere with hearing the nuances of your performance. Or there’s so much echo or reverberation that the casting team thinks it might be masking a performance fault, the casting people will probably move on to a surer bet.

    Some of the women switched inexplicably between sexy and not sexy. Although sexiness is not called for in this script or direction, it’s an interesting option. But their sexy tone was not consistent. That could be funny, if delivered well. (For instance, suddenly switching to sultry on “A mouthful of flavor!”) But, in these cases, the effect of the possibly unintended vacillation just confused the character or sounded indecisive.

    Which brings us back to the mouthful of food thing – remember that sexy dinner scene in the movie Tom Jones? Next time you have a chance to watch it, notice that it rarely shows Tom and his lady actually eating. It’s more about the picking-apart action and their expression.

    Same with the voice over in this commercial.

    1st place winner: Michael Rhys

    301 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Michael Rhys's recording

    Nice. He has the kind of emotional change we’ve mentioned above. The read catches the listener and engages. In fact, on first hearing, some of his emotional changes catch the listener off-guard. This is good, because it keeps the listener engaged. But the read is a hair fast at the beginning (or in the Easter Bunny theme, shall we say a “hare” fast?), and he doesn’t hit "Cadbury" strongly enough. Notice how he manages to hit both “more” and “one” almost next to each other without sounding artificial; he did it by used different emphasis techniques – first a pause before and high pitch, then a little bit of volume and slightly stretching the N sound in “one.” It’s another example of “pivot.”

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 5/2/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Michael Rhys - Cadbury.mp3

    2nd place winner: Debby Barnes

    210 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Debby Barnes's recording

    A fine, consistent read, with a nice smile. But we’d want more emotional change. The idea of “more” would be one possible thought on which to base further emotional development.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 5/2/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/DebbyBarnes_EggInYourFace_Demo.mp3

    3rd place winner: mary_mccready

    226 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear mary_mccready's recording

    Another nicely smiling voice with some emotional changes. She shows yet another example of pivoting on “more than one,” but the word “basket” is not fully clear (the b is missing) and loses the excitement. Her voicing of “Easter” exemplifies what we mean by "lazy mouth,” or in this case, more of a lazy throat. The constriction makes it sounds like “N-this Easter." She, too, should emphasize "Cadbury," and her read was a bit fast throughout.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 5/2/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Egg in your face.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, April 25 click below

    Contest ending Friday, April 18

    Contest Title:

    Animated Ooops!

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for the voice of a cartoon character named “Spring Chicken.” He or she (the character’s gender is not yet decided) can’t fly, but is forever trying to spring into the air. (Hence the character’s name.) In this scene, Spring intentionally runs toward the edge of a cliff, stumbles and gyrates before reaching it, then goes over. The client needs a distinctive voice and a series of vocalizations that correspond with the action described in the script. We leave the nature of Spring’s voice and vocalizations to you. They might be a combination of grunts, groans, shouts, breaths, words, or whatever you choose. Only two limitations: (A) The scene (and your recording) must be no longer than 10 seconds. (B) Do not include recorded sound effects.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    Spring Chicken: “Gravity is a powerful motivator.”

    (Runs)

    (Trips over a log, falling on face)

    (Gets up, woozy)

    Spring Chicken: Here goes...

    (Resumes running, flapping wings)

    (Goes over the edge and fades)

    Spring Chicken: ... N-o-t-h-ing!

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    Animation is easy, and it’s not.

    It’s easy because you are often totally in charge of what you choose to sound like. When a company auditions talent for an animation role, the producer and director often don’t even know what they’re looking for. They’re expecting talent to come up with something fresh. Appropriate, and fresh -- a character they haven’t heard before.

    But it’s also not so easy, because you have to stay in character, often while coordinating rapidly changing actions, emotions, or (if you’re doing more than one voice) multiple characters, maybe even in “real time.” This little script is an example, where talent had to run, trip, shake it off, run again, jump and fall off a cliff -- all while seamlessly delivering the three lines, and within the specified 10 seconds. Sometimes, if it’s a dubbing situation (Automatic Dialog Replacement), you may also be matching lip-flap, and who knows what else.

    The key to all that is Visualization and Preparation. Apparently some people this week skimped on one, the other, or both.

    Some people’s vocalizations were really good, but most people made no apparent attempt to sound like a chicken. A high or scratchy voice is a start, but that’s just a start. What makes it a chicken? We were pleased when the vocalizations including clucking, “whirring” (or maybe we should call it, “chicken mumbling”?) and such. And, before going further, let’s correct ourselves – people shouldn’t try to sound like a chicken, they should BE a chicken.

    In the “who knows what else” category of things to remember, one is of course “reading the script”! Some people left out a line or changed it. In animation, you can take a lot of liberties, and are even expected to. But usually that is not one of them. Certainly not in an audition. Some other people, although they included all the lines, pushed everything together, making it hard to distinguish one action from another.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Visualizing and Preparation will help with this aspect, too. For example, running and tripping over the log are two distinct actions. Visualize both, and plan what you will do in the way of body language (or in this case, body motions) to replicate those actions as you perform.

    The only two things you can’t do are (1) move your feet or stomp them, and (2) hit the mic. Otherwise, virtually anything goes. If you’re a chicken, put your hands under your armpits and flap your elbows, or flap your arms some other way, shake your crown or wattle (or is that just turkeys?), move your knees as if you’re scratching the ground, move your head back and forth a little. WHATEVER WORKS FOR YOU. You should also maintain your mic distance, but it’s okay to move the mic (beforehand) so that you will maintain a consistent relative position. (In other words, if you’ll stoop, move the mic lower.) Then visualize yourself (the character) doing the action, and react to your action accordingly.

    With practice and planning, it can be done. Edge Studio animation workshop students have heard coach Jay Snyder do it with ease. (Or so he makes it seem.)

    A few people were not comfortable with doing this, and it showed in their voice. To them, we say, hooray for giving it a shot! The number of entrants was down a bit this week. Maybe they were just doing their taxes, but we suspect this challenge was outside some people’s comfort zone. How to become comfortable with Animation? Don’t be afraid to be silly. Don’t be afraid to look silly. Fully engage with the character and let yourself go!

    Some people sounded good in their lines, but their “actions” were not so good, or vice versa. We say “actions” rather than “sound effects,” because the talent should leave sound effects to the producer and engineer. That’s why the Director’s Notes said not to add recorded sound effects. But some people simulated the sound of feet on the ground or flapping wings by using their mouths. That’s not really appropriate, either. But it IS appropriate to add “vocalizations” that the actual character would make. As per the examples in the Notes and heard in some entries, these might include vocalizations like, grunts, groans, shouts, breaths, panting, “oofs,” “waaah,” and so on. These vocalizations would also include having shaky voice (e.g., because you’re running or flapping wings), shaking off the wooziness, etc.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: To effect a voice that is shaky because you are running or flapping, don’t just jitter your vocal cords. Actually flap your arms, or rapidly massage your throat, or (silently) rub your chest. These actions will be revealed in your voice, more realistically than if you just tried to “say” them.

    Many people did not slate, some did. The Director’s Notes gave no slating instruction. As usual, when not instructed otherwise, we advise preceding your read with your name. Usually you should slate “in character,” but when doing a character that is radically different from your own voice, you have two options: (a) slate in the character’s voice; or, (b) slate in your own voice. With the first option, the casting team will hear what your character can do with something as mundane as your name, and the screener won’t be tempted to move on to the next recording before you’ve even started (although few audition reviewers are so heartless). With the second option, the casting team will hear what you actually sound like, which tells them something about your vocal range, and, who knows, maybe they also need a voice like your natural one? Which way the ball bounces on this toss-up depends on many factors, including the character, your own voice, the script, and what the casting people may already have heard from you.

    Some people seemed not to get the point of the script’s last line. They pretty much just said the word “Nothing” with no embellishment. In the script, the word is stretched with hyphens, and there must be a reason. Considering the direction just before (“Goes over the edge and fades”) it’s likely that Spring Chicken’s attempt at flight is not successful. In other words, the character is probably not fading because he or she is flying off in the distance. It’s more the classic cartoon-fall-off-a-very-tall-cliff routine. (Remember Goofy, slowing disappearing while yodeling “Yahoo-hoo-hoo-hooey!!”?)

    To do the fade, some people actually reduced the volume of their voice. This works to a point, but the point is reached very quickly. The quality of your voice changes as you speak more softly, so it’s not really the right effect. Here’s a better way ...

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: To fade out, use one or a combination of these options: (a) lean away from the microphone, even turning away from it at the end. This assumes you’re in a dead booth, so it won’t just sound like you’ve entered a large room; and/or (b) read the line as the character would say it (after all, the character is moving away, not actually being quieter), then fade it in post-production. In the case of this cliff, you might really s-t-r-e-t-c-h the word as you deliver it, then add a bit of echo, increasing the echo toward the end. (This would also cover the change in room tone if you incorporate technique A.)

    We also heard a variety of other technical deficiencies, including consistently working way too far off-mic, sound on only one channel, and low volume.

    But most anyone can get the technical stuff eventually. The real challenge is in owning the character, and staying in character as you act. Keep at it. Animation is a powerful motivator!

    1st place winner: alexdormanvo

    331 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear alexdormanvo's recording

    From his vocalizations, you can almost visualize what the chicken is doing. We liked how he put in a few chicken sounds, and read the lines clearly. As he flapped over the edge and said "N-o-t-h-i-n-g" at the end, he wisely faded the line in post, rather than just reducing volume as he spoke. It seems he laid some vocalizations over the rapid breathing sound, as two tracks. We’re not sure that makes sense (who pants and clucks at the same instant?), and would prefer to hear the vocalizations delivered “in series,” but it’s an imaginative solution and conveys a sense of commotion. The cluck sounds a little like a dog, but that will not be the case when mixed with the visual.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 4/25/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Spring Chicken - Edge Studio.mp3

    2nd place winner: Patty Gibbons

    258 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Patty Gibbons's recording

    With her reading the script in less than 8 seconds, she performed more quickly than necessary, but we enjoyed it. Using the full 10 seconds that the Directors’ Notes allowed would have helped her deliver the last word (“Nothing”) more clearly, and even play with it. We liked how her character was a bit prissy. We also like how she got a lot of “action vocalizations” into the performance in what sounded like a single take (whether or not it was). However, some of her vocalizations were “vocal sound effects” rather than sounds from the character’s mouth. As noted above, those would be better left out.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 4/25/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Edge Script Contest - Animated Ooops!.mp3

    3rd place winner: randypop

    228 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear randypop's recording

    Good character, good energy, clear enunciation, good vocalizations in between the lines (we especially liked his cackle and wattle sound), distinct actions, and he didn’t bother with “mouth-produced sound effects.” Problem is, he completely blew the “n-o-t-h-i-n-g” last line. We have no idea what he said. In a real audition, that could kill his chances among stiff competition.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 4/25/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Edge Studio 04-15-2014 Contest submission.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, April 18 click below

    Contest ending Friday, April 11

    Contest Title:

    NERDart Tour

    Director's Notes:

    In this simulated audition, the client is a little known museum called the National Exhibitive Repository of Digital Art. It specializes in Techno art. NERDart is developing its first audio tour, and seeking a man or woman to voice it. The entire tour will be about 20 minutes, although the tour itself will take longer, as the visitor stops and starts the audio. The client wants someone who sounds excited about technology and the art it inspires, but not tiresome or overly “exuberant.” Be a friendly authority on the subject.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    Outdated computers give sculptors an ever-expanding palette to use. The microcircuitry bits in this piece date from 1978 through 2007.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    How hard can a museum tour be? Pronouncing names and foreign words are the biggest issue, right?

    No, there’s much more to it than that. Yes, there might be some pronunciation challenges, but this genre has some other special challenges as well.

    A key challenge in tours is in being easily understood by every sort of user, yet sounding enthused by what you are presenting. Another challenge is in having (and inducing) just the right level of “awe.”

    First, the speed. Many people were reading way, way, too quickly. Also, some people slurred their words. The phrase “microcircuitry bits” was particularly troublesome.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Remember, for some museum visitors English might not be their first language. And the audio quality of the touring equipment may not be exactly “hi-fi.” So it is important to speak clearly and slowly enough to be understood.

    There are also other reasons for delivering at a more deliberate pace. A key reason is that the listener needs to follow and absorb what you’re saying. Unlike some other genres, an audio tour presents a lot of information that is new to the listener, and it may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them to acquire it. So give them a bit of time to take in that information and mentally “file” it. They also need time to reflect on it. It’s very frustrating to a listener if they find themselves thinking “what did she say?” and during that time they miss what you’ve said next. Some of the responsibility for their paying attention is theirs. Part of it is yours.

    Your listener will also need time to move. In some tours, the user can stop the audio as they move on to the next work or location. For that, the producer may need simply a clean break between the sentences at that point, to add suitable space, a beep, or other cue to pause.

    But at each location, the user also needs time to move around the work being discussed – to move physically, or even just with their eyes.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: In addition to speaking at a “deliberate” pace, pause a bit after you have pointed out a specific feature of what you are presenting. Remember, the art is the “star” of the tour, not you. Enable the user to fully appreciate the subject.

    Some people were too serious with their approach. They seemed more interested in sounding authoritative than in sounding enthused. Or rather, being enthused. In an audio tour, as long as all other technical VO criteria are met, it is arguably more important to err on the side of enthusiasm and “friendly listenability” than on the side of sounding like a stern college professor.

    In a similar vein, some people simply recited in a forgettable monotone. Not so badly as the Ben Stein character in Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, but ... anyone? anyone? ... they did nothing to catch and hold the listener’s interest.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: If it were a classroom lecture situation and you were a student, which sort of teacher would you rather listen to for an hour? Be that teacher.

    On the other hand, some people were too overexcited. In some cases, it seemed a false enthusiasm, in others it sounded genuine. In either case, it could be annoying after awhile.

    In this week’s entries, we had a mixed bag of deliveries and personalities. Some had a polished feel to them – we could tell they have had some training – while others sounded relatively new at a professional microphone. While the “polished feel” may give the audition reviewing team more confidence in the talent’s ability to deliver, beware of being too polished (or trying to be). It can result in a forced quality.

    In any audition, but especially in Audio Tour auditions, there is also another audience you need to excite – the prospective client. If you sound friendly and easy to work with, the audio tour producer is more likely to want to work with you on a repeat basis.

    Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: As tour exhibits change or are added, you may be asked to record new segments for the tour. So your style and sound should be repeatable – remember your recording settings, room conditions, mic placement, your frame of mind, even the time of day, so that later you can match the original sound as closely as possible.

    While on the subject of mechanics, here are some other things some people missed on:

    * Over-enunciation. For example, the word “outdated” shouldn’t sound like two words. The “t” and “d” sounds should be combined.

    * Overprocessed sound. Some people, especially if they read rather mechanically, sounded almost like a computer-generated voice.

    * Unorthodox slating. Specific slating instructions were not given, so no serious fault in this. Some people didn’t slate at all. Some people added “Hi this is...” or the script title. Someone even slated after their read. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: If no slating instruction is given, by default you should precede the script with only your name, in the same voice and at the same volume as your read.

    * Some choices in emphasis were not the best. For example, in the last sentence, hitting “2007” indicates that it is a wide range of years (and a bit of irony in that 2007 is “outdated”!) – the very point of the script. Many people instead hit a less important word, or read the sentence very matter-of-factly.

    * Choppiness. In some cases, it was because the talent wasn’t 100% “loose.” One of the ways vocal tension manifests itself is in unnecessary halts and constriction.

    * Pausing unnecessarily after the first word or two is another choppiness villain. Many people do this. But it will be heard by the audition reviewing team as the mark of less experienced talent.

    * Swallowing or rushing the first word or syllable. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: Rather than pause after the first word to be sure the listener has heard it (or for whatever reason, if any), elongate the first word or syllable just the slightest bit. This audition technique will assure that you don’t swallow the word, and that your listener will hear it. It also makes you sound more confident.

    1st place winner: Paul McCloud

    280 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Paul McCloud's recording

    He wins mainly for his tone. He sounds human, relaxed and natural – genuinely excited by the technology, as the Director’s Notes requested. We would like it even better if he can enunciate without losing that quality. “Microcircuitry” sounds somewhat rushed - and could sound a bit like “mycoshuhchotry” (as we noted, many people had trouble with this word). But overall, he expressed the point of what he was reading, and subtly conveyed a sense of awe, which is Job One.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 4/18/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/NerdART-01.mp3

    2nd place winner: amyjoywarner

    238 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear amyjoywarner's recording

    She’s also at ease with the subject. We love her natural feel, it sounds like a real tour-guide showing you around. Although she sounds “interested,” she could sound a little more excited by the subject. We’d call this read more “amused.” Still, there is a pleasing smile in her slate, and irony in “outdated computers” and she read smoothly yet clearly through the phrase “an ever-expanding.” Her hit on “expanding” was a logical one. Very nice technical recording quality, too.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 1/31/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/EDGE-NERDArt.mp3

    3rd place winner: Wendi Ney

    226 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Wendi Ney's recording

    She did most everything right, and slickness may be her only failing. She just sounds too much like a professional VO expert rather than a professional art expert. Maybe try a little less smile? Two small comments: The read was slightly fast, and she had a glottal stop before “ever.” Otherwise, nice!

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 4/18/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/WendiNey-NERDartTour.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, April 11 click below

    Contest ending Friday, April 4

    Contest Title:

    Alice’s Adventures

    Director's Notes:

    This simulated audition is for an audiobook recording of Alice in Wonderland. The chosen Narrator will read the entire book. (In other words, this is not like a radio play, with different actors for different roles.) Make each character sound suitably different, but still recognizable as being voiced by the narrator. Slate your name or username in the Narrator’s voice.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    Everybody looked at Alice.

    “I’m not a mile high,” said Alice.

    “You are,” said the King.

    “Nearly two miles high,” added the Queen.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    This week’s example, an excerpt from Alice In Wonderland, included several characters. In voicing characters, you have options. Even the narrator is a voicing option. The narrator might be a character (e.g., our recent “Call me Ishmael” contest), or might be just the author “omnisciently” setting the scenes. In all these cases, you (or the director) must choose whether to present the characters in the voice of the narrator, or instead, make each character sound almost like a different actor.

    The latter requires unusually chameleon-like vocal skill, and is not really necessary. Thus, the Director’s Notes said to make the characters sound as if they were being portrayed by the narrator. In other words, it’s like Grandpa reading a story to his grandchildren – he may make his voice go high and low, but he probably doesn’t try to emulate a radio play acted by different people, and he doesn’t have the ability of a skilled celebrity impersonator.

    And nobody expects him to.

    The more important thing is to convey the tale, in a way that is sustainable and enjoyable throughout the audiobook, start to finish.

    In some reads, the narrator gave one character a ton of personality, but didn’t give much personality at all to another character. In other words, one or more of the characters sounded too much like the narrator.

    Edge Studio VO Tip: In differentiating characters, don’t play favorites. For example, if you are a woman, maybe you’re more able add variety to female characters than to male characters, so you show off your vocal expertise with the women. Rather than give the men short shrift, keep all of them simple. It might be enough to add just one distinctive characteristic to each character, whether male or female. Make it distinctive, sustainable and consistent with their personality. For example, raise your pitch for one, lower for another. Or make one gruff. Or soft-spoken. And leave it at that.

    Despite the Director’s Notes instruction, some people went over the top. While in some cases it was a noble effort, some of the extreme characters would be frustrating to listen to through an entire book.

    Many of this week’s reads sounded very disjointed, not flowing together well at all. In a longer passage – let alone through the course of the book -- this would make it hard to follow the story. Some people just read everything too slowly (lethargically, even).

    Other people didn’t leave quite enough space between the lines. In addition to maintaining a pace that the listener can follow, the bit of space helps signal when one character ends and another begins.

    Edge Studio VO Tip: As in real life and in stage drama, the characters in books are moving about, doing things, as they speak. While obviously you shouldn’t wait for them to cross an entire room, it’s good to allow them a bit of time to move, think or do those things. And for the listener to imagine them as they do.

    Edge Studio VO Tip: Details are important, but so is the overall feeling. To use a metaphoric example: See each tree, but think “forest.” The reader knows this is a book, not a recording of real life. In the same way that moviegoers forget they are watching a flat screen, maybe even in black-and-white, audiobook listeners get absorbed in the story. They don’t focus on each individual line.

    At least one person (our Honorable Mention) misread the first word, saying “everyone” instead of “everybody.” We assume it was an oversight, but this sort of mix-up is just not acceptable. Assume that every word in a script has been carefully chosen, maybe even the result of collaboration and painful deliberation. In this case, it’s a famous work of literature. Not anything to be changed by a mere voice actor.

    Two people did not slate. Slating instructions were given and were very specific. The casting team wanted an extra opportunity to hear the Narrator’s voice. If a casting professional might disqualify someone for saying the wrong word, would they hire someone who didn’t slate as instructed?

    Edge Studio VO Tip: Oversights happen. So write your slate down, on the script, before recording. And, on any audition or job, before you send your recording, listen to it, following it in the script word for word.

    1st place winner: Chris Koprowski

    269 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Chris Koprowski's recording

    Very nice. He found the right combination of making distinct characters while still having them all sound like the same narrator. It’s a creative interpretation. We liked the King’s chuckle, and the Queen’s “tsk” before hitting the key word “two.” And, like our other winners this week, he paused just enough before returning to the Narrator’s voice in the “said...” part.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 4/11/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/AliceAdven2-ChrisKoprowski.mp3

    2nd place winner: aelvir

    186 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear aelvir's recording

    Good characters with a good flow. The breath between the slate and the audition should have been deleted. Technically some lines get too loud ... better mic technique and audio compression would help this.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 4/11/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Alice1.mp3

    3rd place winner: BJPetersen08

    253 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear BJPetersen08's recording

    In many ways, a terrific read! He, too, found the right combination of making distinct characters while still having them all sound like the narrator. There should be less space between "You are" and "said the King." It is good to leave a bit of space between the character’s line and the Narrator’s attribution of it (as all our winners did), but this was too much – he even took a small breath there. He should also be much more careful in editing overall: The nearly 3 seconds of blank space before his slate can lose him the job, because in an actual audition, the time-pressed reviewer has no idea when the recording will begin (if ever) and might click away to the next submission. There is a slight reverberation in his recording booth which intrudes a bit too much into our consciousness.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 4/11/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Alice's Adventures.mp3

    4th place winner: MikeZink

    158 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear MikeZink's recording

    Honorable Mention

    He gave a wonderful read, with terrific characters. Each was distinct from the others and had personality, yet each was clearly him, not too drastically different from the Narrator’s voice. His read was also well timed and engaging. In many ways, this was one of the best reads this week! So why didn’t he win First Place? Here's why: The script’s first word is “everybody” but he said "everyone." Also, the characters’ English accents may be too strong for an American market. The words “are" and "nearly" might not be immediately understood. Lastly, he rushed: the words are too quick, and he should put a bit more space between characters, to give the listener time to envision what is going on.

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/20140331_Audition_AlicesAdventures_Final.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, April 4 click below

    Contest ending Friday, March 28

    Contest Title:

    Irish Tutor

    Director's Notes:

    In this simulated audition, the Irish Promotion Board is casting an animated video aimed at grade-school children. A male or female is needed to be the voice of Head Leprechaun. Unlike some leprechauns, this mischievous character is basically good, and either male or female. The character should be interesting, appropriate and easily understood. An Irish accent is okay, but NOT essential. (No accent is preferable to a bad one.) Decision will be based on originality and the character’s personality, not the accent or its authenticity. Slate your name or username.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    If you can capture me, I’ll grant you the answers to three questions. But first you’ll have to find me! For a hint, click on the mushroom.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    This week’s script involved an Irish leprechaun. But was it about Ireland? No, as the Director’s Notes stated, it was about teaching grade school children. And since the Notes also said, “an Irish accent is ... NOT essential,” we may assume that it’s not aimed at Irish schoolkids. THIS DEDUCTION IS CRITICAL, and is where many voice actors fall short. By figuring out who your audience is, you can better tailor your delivery to match your client's needs. In this instance, it’s likely that American youngsters wouldn’t even understand a thick Irish accent, and some of the accents were ... well ... thick.

    It is more important that the kids understand every word. This is why the Notes said an Irish accent was not essential.

    Edge Studio VO Tip: Know your audience – their age, facility with language, listening environment, mindset and more -- and do your best to communicate effectively with them.

    Just as important, a script like this should be fun! Some people were not fun. They would not capture a child’s attention and hold interest. Some of these drab deliveries were very serious; others just didn’t have enough energy in the read.

    On the other hand, some people were clearly faking their enthusiasm. It was evident in their voice.

    Edge Studio VO Tip: When faced with a fun script, allow yourself to have fun! Beforehand, think seriously about your approach (all the usual VO things), but when it comes to the actual read, let yourself go! You’ll never know how far you might take something until you’ve tried going over the top. If it’s too much, you can always pick an earlier take or start dialing it back.

    But again, remember the audience. Exuberance can promote unwanted slurring or rushing. Many people read too quickly for a follow-along educational video aimed at grade-schoolers.

    Some of the reads were whiny, and annoying. These may have been attempt at creating a character. But this character should be appealing, as most should be.

    1st place winner: Kgu947

    261 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Kgu947's recording

    Very fun, creative, surprising, and vocally free. He sounds like a good leprechaun who is a bit mischievous. But there were some technical deficiencies. The recording level is low. The long gaps between sentences is good, as it gives the casting team time to envision their visuals. Edge Studio VO Tip: Ensure that pauses are not unnecessarily long, otherwise you'll waste the casting team's time.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 4/4/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Kevin Guzewich Edge Irish Tudor.mp3

    2nd place winner: nickpmathews

    258 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear nickpmathews's recording

    Also very fun, creative, surprising, and again with a relaxed, vocally free quality. But some of the words might not be understood by kids. For example, “Oy” and “foynd” instead of “I” and “find.” Also “tray” instead of “three” and “colick” instead of “click.” He slates out of character, which should be done only rarely. But in this case, it’s good, because it gives the screener a taste of what he actually sounds like, for future reference. It also suggests (since his accent is so heavy) there is probably lots of middle ground for a clearer approach.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 4/4/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/NickMathewsIrishTutor.mp3

    3rd place winner: allimcfad

    184 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear allimcfad's recording

    Her pixie voice is a good foundation to engage kids. She’s also very understandable, and a good example of why a heavy (even if authentic) Irish accent is not necessary to establish this animated character. But we encourage her to "open up" more, have more fun and totally "let go" when reading.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 4/4/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/AlliMcFad_Edge_Contest_032414.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, March 28 click below

    Contest ending Friday, March 21

    Contest Title:

    Selfies: A How-To Guide

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for a hip lifestyle website called CulturePop.com. They are producing a series of how-to videos based on current pop culture trends. The website’s creators are looking for upbeat, fresh male and female VO talent to provide the voice overs for these videos. Please slate “your name or user name for CulturePop.com.”

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    Hold the camera at 45 degrees and position yourself in the light. Find your good side. Remember, hair and lips are important. Use multiple apps to edit!

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    Nowadays, some cameras have a very smart shutter delay – they not only give you time to get in the picture, they’ll wait until you are smiling.

    If only there were a mic like that.

    This week’s script was about selfies, so smiling while you’re reading almost goes without saying. “Smile” is one of the most widely useful voice-over directorial tips, and yet, it’s frequently overlooked.

    That may explain why many of the reads were too stern or straight-laced. The Director’s Notes say that this audition is for a hip lifestyle website. That would call for a tone that’s at least a bit wry, if not outright happy, carefree and gregarious. And, as the Notes specifically stated, “upbeat.”

    Smiling has another benefit, besides being directly heard in the voice. It influences your manner. It helps you loosen up. In turn, that promotes “vocal freedom,” which is an unconstricted, relaxed, natural sound.

    Some people read the script in a bossy manner, as if they were commanding the listener. In particular, they read the sentence “find your good side” commandingly. And at perhaps the other extreme, some people read the sentence sort of jokingly, even sarcastically. It might not seem so funny to the listener. Remember the purpose of this hypothetical video – it’s to keep the viewer at CulturePop.com website, when they’re always only a click away from leaving. So be encouraging and enjoyable.

    Another word in the direction was “fresh.” Assuming it doesn’t just mean “new” (what else would an audition expect to find?), or “impudent” (that wouldn’t be very logical), the client may have meant that the talent should convey youthful energy, or be amazingly cool (as in “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”). Unfortunately, some people apparently took “fresh” to mean careless, as there was more than the usual percentage of sloppy, slurred reads. Particularly problematic words were: “side” (no D), “edit” (no T), “light” (ditto), “position” (slurred), and “important” (sounded like “impor’nt” or “impordn’t”). EDGE STUDIO VO TIP: Be careful with words like “important.” Some regions of the U.S. routinely pronounce them with a glottal stop or “D” sound in place of the first “t.” But neutral American English, especially in a narration situation such as this audition, calls for giving that first T some respect. You don’t have to give it a full-on Brit hit, but do give it at least a glancing blow.

    Many of the reads were very choppy, each sentence being read like a prompt by itself. Some started at too fast a clip, then slowed abruptly. Some other faults encountered were:

    * Lacking “life”

    * Low volume

    * “Lazy mouth” EDGE STUDIO VO TIP: “Lazy mouth” is a bad habit that should be recognized and avoided. It’s when you begin vocalizing before a hard consonant (especially J, D or B). For example, “nnn-Just a minute,” or “nnn-Daytona 500,” or “mmm-Bye!”

    And some people popped their plosives. That’s not the kind of CulturePop we hoped to hear.

    1st place winner: Steve Gibbons

    238 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Steve Gibbons's recording

    While his pace was a tad fast, he is loose, natural, vocally free ... and that wins him first place. He extended the slate by adding “Hi there, my name is....” While this addition didn’t add much time, and did exhibit his personality, we caution that if everyone does this sort of thing, it can become annoying to the person screening the auditions. When specific slating instructions are given, it’s safer to follow them exactly.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 3/28/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Steve Gibbons - CulturePop.mp3

    2nd place winner: hankradio

    202 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear hankradio's recording

    He, too, is loose, natural, and vocally free ... qualities that speak strongly for him. But he’s also pushing it, as a radio DJ would. This conveys enthusiasm, but it’s a false sort of energy. And the artificiality has other drawbacks, such as using too much breath (as in “ch-hold the camera”) and wet mouth (e.g., “posisson” instead of “position”). Keep the natural vocal looseness, but combine it with a more conversational approach. The audio sounded “live,” which is likely an issue with his recording area.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 3/28/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Script Contest CulturePop.mp3

    3rd place winner: jorgensenvocals

    171 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear jorgensenvocals's recording

    Another good read. There’s a very slight click between slate and the script, but that’s easily fixable. More important, he needs to relax and loosen up his delivery. Relaxing might also lower his pitch, which is a bit high. He makes good use of pitch range, but it would be nice if he could lower it overall -- in other words, bring the whole scale down, so that his highest pitch would be a tone lower, as would his lowest pitch. EDGE STUDIO VO TIP: Not everyone has the low tones of a James Earl Jones. But everyone should take advantage of their full pitch range. A bit of voice training may help you extend it, and daily voice-over practice will help you maintain it.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 3/28/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/CulturePop_Jorgensen.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, March 21 click below

    Contest ending Friday, March 14

    Contest Title:

    A Classic – Rebooted!

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for Audiobook Classics Company. The company is re-releasing classic novels, condensed for quicker listening. They are looking for natural “real people” voices. Without straying too far from the original book’s tone, the company seeks male and female talent, interesting interpretations and compelling reads. The company is using this one script to cast men and women for various novels. Please slate your name or user name.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    Call me Ishmael. Some years ago, having little or no money in my purse, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    Moby Dick’s “Call me Ishmael” sentence is one of literature’s most quoted opening passages. So, to pirate from another book, this week’s script was the best of auditions, and it was the worst of auditions. How on earth do you distinguish yourself and sound fresh, with a few lines that everyone’s heard a hundred times, in every conceivable way?

    People tried various tricks.

    Some read theatrically, very dramatically. Too dramatically to sustain (or listen to) comfortably for an entire novel. Many reads reminded us of a monologue or soliloquy in a play.

    Quite a few people, in trying to sound natural, read the script a bit too fast. It would be hard to listen at that speed for a long time, as it requires the listener to concentrate too much in order to follow along. Yet, reading too slowly would invite the listener’s mind to wander. Try for the “Goldilocks” zone, not too fast, not too slow.

    Some people read the opening line very matter-of-factly, declaratively, as if it were the title of the book. As a title, that’s fine. As a grabber, that’s somewhat dull.

    Some people were similarly too rigid, or thinking too much about their performance during their performance.

    Half a dozen entrants put a long pause before “Ishmael,” as if the narrator is thinking what he would like to be called. Ordinarily, we’d consider this overly dramatic. Most people know their own names. Pausing at odd moments is an acting trick, one that’s often too obvious -- like pausing after “To” in Hamlet’s Soliloquy just to be different.

    But, as thoughtful readers of the novel have noted, we’re never told that “Ishmael” is actually the narrator’s name. In fact, the novel never even reveals his last name. So, maybe it’s not his real name, and in fact, he might be thinking for a moment. After all, “Ishmael” has a biblical meaning (it means “God hears,” and Ishmael wandered in the wilderness) and Moby Dick is rife with religious symbolism. Or, the pause might serve as a kind of audible “wink,” a hint to the listener that the name isn’t quite on the up-and-up. (Listen to our First Place winner as an example.)

    Is this all too much thinking for just a few words in an entire novel? Perhaps. But usually the narrator in a novel is a character, not just an authoritative voice. And if you are to portray the Narrator character, it makes sense to understand who that character is. Short of going back to high school English class for a week, how to do that? Edge Studio VO Tip: If it’s a well-known work, or widely reviewed, you can do a quick online search and just a little bit of reading. The insights you might gain will help you get beyond acting tricks, and into a mindset that you can sustain for the entire novel.

    Here’s just one example of an insightful article that we found. Bear in mind that there is probably a wide range of views.

    We heard some sloppiness, and slurriness, and misreading of the script here and there. None of which is going to win a professional voice-over audition. And failure to slate as requested will not win over any screeners, either.

    Some people said “Ish-male” while others said “Ish-may-el.” Not having our resident Biblical pronunciation expert in the office at the moment, we’ll say that either is probably okay. At least one person said “Izh” (with a ZH sound, as in “beige”). We rarely if ever have heard this before, and it’s probably not the best choice for an audition.

    But then, again, we’ve never met anyone named Ishmael. Maybe tomorrow you will, perhaps in a bar. We can hear it now...

    “Call me, Ishmael.”

    1st place winner: JLipsey

    354 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear JLipsey's recording

    Very nice. No unnecessary tension in her voice. Interesting inflection, with a good, subtle use of her vocal range. As noted above, her pause before “Ishmael” was a nice touch, and not too long. She extended the slate with “This is.” While not requested in the Director’s Notes, it’s commonly done, and her addition was very brief, not cloying, and therefore not a big issue in this case. Her audio processing made her sound a bit sibilant.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 3/21/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/ClassicRebooted_J Lipsey.mp3

    2nd place winner: Bernrobbo50

    233 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Bernrobbo50's recording

    Another very good read, this one more of a character portrayal. The second “I” in the phrase “I thought I would” emerged more as an “uh” sound – more as in conversation, rather than as a formal narrator. Too much of this could be interpreted as sloppiness. He left a slight breath at the end of the slate. For better or worse, when combined with the long pause there, it suggests he recorded this all in one take, including the slate. But it could have been edited out and the pause tightened. There’s a minor mouth click after “Ishmael,” which could have been removed (more easily heard using headphones).

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 3/21/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/EdgeRobson0314.mp3

    3rd place winner: peterhassinger

    198 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear peterhassinger's recording

    Some parts of his inflection are quite nice, but all in all, a little inconsistent. At times he over-thinks, and the phrase “little or no money” is a bit rushed. There’s a hum throughout – sounds like the computer fan or ventilation – that is okay for an audition but not acceptable for finished work. (It’s way too loud to be considered a desirable audiobook “room tone.”)

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 3/21/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Ishmael_0.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, March 14 click below

    Contest ending Friday, March 7

    Contest Title:

    Olympic Park

    Director's Notes:

    The Sochi Olympic Committee is looking to enhance the tourists' experience of Olympic Park by incorporating piped-in voice overs in some of the most popular attractions. They are looking for a male or female voice talent with a neutral accent and a warm yet dynamic delivery. Please state your name or user name before the script.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    Welcome to the Bolshoi Ice Dome. The literal translation of its Russian name is "Large Icy Palace,” but would be more natural in English as "Great Ice Dome."

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    На этой неделе, упражнение в ясности и дружелюбия. Or, to say it in English…

    This week, an exercise in clarity and friendliness – as you would expect in any announcement at an international goodwill venue such as the Olympics.

    Presumably the announcement would be presented in a variety of languages, each sounding like a natural speaker of that language. In fact, this pretend audition might have been a tryout for such a job.

    Yet some people tried to deliver it with a Russian accent. (Which, from previous encounters, we know they do not naturally have.) Why? It’s not an audition for, say, a movie scene.

    On the other “other hand,” there is a Russian word in it (“Bolshoi”), and that can be pronounced with a Russian accent if you’re up to it. Otherwise, it should be pronounced the way English-speakers usually say it. A few people didn’t manage to achieve either version – saying something like “Buchy” or “Boch-chi-oy.” We’re not sure where these pronunciations came from. The American English pronunciation phonetically matches the spelling exactly: Bohl-shoy.

    But, especially in an audition script as short as this, it often pays to do a little research.

    So we searched for how to pronounce Bolshoi. The first three hits were clear enough. Howjsay.com has an audio example, which sounds like the English version, but with a slightly different mouth shape and tongue placement. Pronouncehow.com’s audio voice sounds virtually the same as the English. OxfordDictionaries.com (which has a British bent) gives it as “ˈbɒlʃɔɪ” (those phonetics symbols are explained here). If nothing else, now we know that the Bolshoi Ballet got its name from the “Grand Theater” where it is based. In 19th Century Russia, ballet was considered more important than drama, which had its own “smaller” theater.

    Okay, now our own extra research: If “Bolshoi” proved problematic, we wondered what contestants might have made of the name “Sochi,” which would probably appear somewhere in the full script. This word is a bit trickier. During the Olympics broadcast, announcers pronounced Sochi different ways – some with a hard “ch” (as in “much”) others softening it (“mush”). Google’s robot sounds more like “so-gee,” which may be more an example of its occasional technical deficiency.

    So we Googled how to pronounce Sochi and the first hit seems to confirm it’s a hard ch. But the O is at issue! Some sources say it should be not a long O, but more like “vodka,” and it says Americans and Brits are tending to split ways on this (Americans using a long O).

    Taking it further, Google asks if you want to use the Cyrillic version (Сочи), and if you click the audio for that, you get a different voice with more “Russian” (and apparently more correct) pronunciation.

    EDGE STUDIO TIP: The simple version of this advice – Go with the mainstream. Do a quick check, don’t get carried away with your research (unless for your own enjoyment), and don’t analyze pronunciation too finely – usually it takes just a minute or two to put yourself in the proper ball park.

    Back to the point: What of the other 27 words? Much easier, and more obvious than some people found it. As we began by saying, this read needs to be easily understood in a venue packed with people from many countries, and probably not the greatest acoustics. (Note that the Director’s Notes say this audio will be “piped in.” That is, it’s not a headset tour.) So enunciation and clarity are important. Also important is not reading too quickly. And sounding friendly and appealing would also seem an obvious objective.

    But some people read too quickly, or at a changing pace. The proper pace is just slow enough that every word will be heard and understood, but not so slow that it is unnatural or lethargic. Some people were too careful.

    Which brings up another point – energy. Some entrants had no enthusiasm in their voice, while others tried to give it an “announcer” twist. The latter is sometimes a legitimate approach in public address. EDGE STUDIO TIP: Often the key to this is simply to read with a smile, and imagine you're speaking, one-to-one, to a specific person you know. Don’t force the attempt, like some did. As in real life, “gladhanders” are seldom very appealing.

    And there were also cases of mouth noise, incorrect words, and (sigh) one person did not slate. Always listen to your work, double-checking it, after recording.

    До свидания!

    1st place winner: Ebony

    318 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Ebony's recording

    A wonderful read, with a terrific smile. But lack of enunciation (or dry, sticky lips), caused the words "but would be" to come out as "buh-wuhbe".

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 3/14/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/dome.mp3

    2nd place winner: peterduranplease

    241 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear peterduranplease's recording

    A very good feel for this. But a tad fast, especially on "the literal translation of its Russian name." There’s some room noise way, WAY in the background, as if something metal is resonating when he speaks. EDGE STUDIO TIP: Review your recordings with quality headphones so you can catch and correct many audio deficiencies. Listening with inexpensive headphones can cause you to miss them. During a recent meet-and-greet at Edge Studio’s NYC facilities, our Director of Technology George Whittam discussed what to look for in headphones for voice over use.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 3/14/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/olympic park (contest).mp3

    3rd place winner: allimcfad

    204 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear allimcfad's recording

    A great smile. Another good thing is the way she hit "great" in "Great Ice Dome." It makes it seem like the ice dome is “wonderful,” rather than "great" just being part of the name. As we found (above), the name was probably meant to mean “large” or “important,” but there’s no reason a thoughtful read can’t convey both size and wonder. She draws out words too much (as if it's an ESL recording), and there were some glottal stops (closed-throat initial vowels) in her voicing, which tend to make a read sound choppy or less relaxed.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 3/14/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/AlliMcFad_EdgeContest_Olympic.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, March 7 click below

    Contest ending Friday, February 28

    Contest Title:

    ESL

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for an ESL (English as a Second Language) script for an educational audio-textbook. We are looking for a male or female voice actor to record the VO for this project. Keep in mind that English is not the listener’s native tongue, so please be very exacting in your pronunciation and diction. It is also essential that the text be read verbatim, as the listener will be following along with a companion workbook. Please slate your name or user name and “Marianne” (if you are female) or “Marcel” (if you are male).

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    Hi. I am Marianne / Marcel. Let’s repeat some sentences:

    I live in a big city. I am married. I do not have any children. I work in an office.

    Good! Now, let’s repeat these sentences once again, but more quickly this time.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    There’s a show on the local PBS station, about life in a diner. If you just have the TV on in the background, don’t know about the show and are only half-listening, it sounds like it’s an innocuous light drama or comedy, the kind of thing that amounts to schedule-filler, or a vocabulary-builder for kids. Well, it turns out the program is aimed at people for whom English is their second language. And the instructive thing (for voice over talent, that is) is that the actors are talking as anyone might in real life. No baby-talk. Clear speech but no exaggerated enunciation. Just “real” people (with various accents, if we recall correctly), talking about real life.

    That’s what we were listening for here.

    But some reads sounded robotic, as if there were a period after every word. Some people sounded condescending, as if speaking to preschoolers. At the other extreme, some people were too bouncy with the words. That’s not “real life” either.

    Many people read too quickly. In some cases, it was a real-world speed, but maybe too fast for the student to recognize every word. EDGE STUDIO TIP: People in some regions of the US tend to speak more quickly than in other regions. (In fact, some people in the more relaxed territory might hear a “fast-talking New Yorker” speed as disrespectful.) If you have difficulty slowing your speech while still sounding natural, imagine you’re from a “slow-speaking” region. Just don’t take on that accent.

    Another reason some people read too quickly: Ordinarily their pace would be okay, but they failed to take into account that the script called for the phrases to be repeated at a faster pace. (The repetition was not part of the audition excerpt.) As a result, the repetition would have been too quick.

    At least half a dozen people misread the script in some way, or left a part of it out. One person repeated part of the script, which we presume was an editing error.

    Some people read slowly (but not too slow) and articulated the italicized sentences, but forgot to do the same with the sentence "Let's repeat some sentences." The same student is listening to that line, too, right?

    The script says that the student should repeat each italicized sentence after hearing it. Some people left time for the student to do that. Obviously the finished production will have that provision, but the Director’s Notes didn’t say to have long pauses in this audition. Should the auditioning talent include all that silence? Probably not, because would waste time for the reviewer. The thing to do is to leave just a second of space, a clean break. That will indicate that you understand the engineer’s need for easy editing. In an actual production (not the audition), learn the producer’s preference and go with that. It might be that you should allow appropriate silence, which would save time in production.

    Some said “Marianne” with an accent, apparently not one natural to them. The Director’s Notes didn’t refer to an accent at all, and it seems illogical to affect an accent when teaching English. If it was to establish some empathy with the student, bear in mind that the nationality of the student is unknown, and anyway, “Marianne” is not part of the script, so only the audition reviewer would hear it. Our guess: it’s a signal to the reviewer that the talent speaks another language themselves, in case that ability might be needed in other jobs. Okay, fair enough if true.

    At least 10 people did not slate correctly, and four didn’t slate at all. The biggest problem was that many forgot to say “Marianne” or “Marcel” after their username as instructed. In a real audition where the competition is close, this would be welcomed as a way make the client’s choice easier by eliminating these contenders from the running. Welcomed by the screener, that is.

    Some entries had technical problems, such as:

    * Mouth noise. This is caused or exaggerated by many factors, including mic placement, mic proximity, or an overly wet or dry mouth due to nerves, stress, fatigue, diet, etc. EDGE STUDIO TIP: Prevent clicks and smacks as much as possible. But some of those remaining may require editing in your recording software. To learn about that, watch Edge Studio's Whittam's World Episode 19, “Removing Mouth Noises.”

    * Slate and audition having different sound quality. In a real audition, although usually this would not in itself disqualify someone, it does open some issues. It’s distracting. It suggests the talent had to do a lot of takes before getting one right. And it says the talent may not have the professional “ear” to hear the difference.

    * Low volume level. Always listen back to your mp3 file before sending it and compare the volume of it to demos of leading voice actors, as well as music samples on iTunes, in which the volume is usually at an appropriate level.

    Errors in style and manner included:

    * Reading harshly (teachers should be friendly, yet not cloying)

    * Slurring words (in this script is an even bigger no-no than usual)

    * Failure to enunciate (for example, a common issue in this audition was failing to pronounce the T in “sentences”)

    * Lack of energy (too drab)

    * Not heeding punctuation (e.g., not pausing for a typical comma, or inserting the pause in a different place).

    EDGE STUDIO TIP: In scripts, punctuation exists for a reason, just as it does in printed text. How it should cause you to pause, inflect, emphasize, etc. is usually pretty obvious, but there are subtleties and exceptions. For insight on how punctuation affects your vocal delivery, see the Edge Studio article Handling Punctuation like a Voice Over Pro

    1st place winner: theheartofmel

    272 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear theheartofmel's recording

    A pleasant sound, and a good start. However, her recording sounds a bit unnatural, she's a little too careful with her words -- that is, she is being a bit too careful about enunciation. Her glottal stops (momentary pauses in breath, caused by closing the throat) contribute to this. Even her open mouth after “good” (it comes out, good-uh, as a Downton Abbey heroine might say it) sounds like a computer-voice artifact. She also skipped the comma after “now.”

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 3/7/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/MelanieMurphy-EDGE2-25-14.mp3

    2nd place winner: Moe Biscuits

    189 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Moe Biscuits's recording

    Exacting diction. That’s good. But it should probably be dialed back. The long A in the article “a” is artificial, and the separation of words is not necessary for clarity. He could stand to slow down on the phrase "once again."

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 3/7/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Script Contest - ESL.mp3

    3rd place winner: Melo78

    163 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Melo78's recording

    She’s possibly a tad too energetic and too high in pitch, but at the same time, it adds nice interest. She also enunciates well, although was not exacting enough in "Let's repeat some". She pronounces the "T" in the first "sentences" but not in the second. She pronounced "Marianne" with an accent, and overly enunciated it. As we’ve mentioned above, her reason for this is not clear.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 3/7/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/MelinehKurdian_EdgeContest_MarianneESL9174493240.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, February 28 click below

    Contest ending Friday, February 21

    Contest Title:

    FireHands Trade Show

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for a trade show video for FireHands, a product used by firefighters. This video will be played in a loop, viewable by anyone who stops by the booth. at a technical trade show held annually in San Diego. Please slate your name or user name after the read.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    FireHands introduces the most advanced extrication gloves on the market. Offering ultimate protection for fire, rescue and first-responder servicemen. Our gloves are built for the toughest rescue operations.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    Ever been to a trade show? If there’s a chance you’ll be asked to narrate a trade-show presentation, and especially if you plan to focus on corporate voice work, it’s important to know what a trade show is like. So see what shows are coming to your neck of the woods and get yourself a (hopefully free) exhibit pass to any show you might qualify for.

    Meanwhile, here’s the point: Trade shows are special.

    Shows vary widely in their size, venue, types of exhibitors and attendees, but most shows have certain things in common. One, they’re noisy. Two, some attendees are genuinely interested in what they’ll find there, and seek serious conversations with potential suppliers. Three, other attendees are mainly “kicking tires.” They’re not sure what they’re looking for, or aren’t finding it, but are open to anything that’s new, or free, or just interesting. There are probably products there that would benefit them, but so much is going on, with so much to see, that they very well might overlook it.

    Your job as a narrator is to attract these tire-kickers, capture their attention, rise above the hub-bub, and explain to them why they should stop and talk with the exhibitor. Or at least why they should pick up a brochure (or whatever) and check out the exhibitor’s product when they get back home.

    In other words, this is not a nature video, played in a quiet living room. It’s not a how-to that will be watched intently in an office cubicle. This has to be just as “real,” and should be read in a natural style (unless it’s a Billy Mays-type product and pitch), but it needs an extra measure of enthusiasm and excitement. EDGE STUDIO TIP: Always consider the environment in which listeners will hear your recording (as we just did). Doing so will make it easier to nail the delivery style the client wants.

    However this week, many of the reads lacked enough oomph. Some were even boring – stiff, no expression. There was nothing that would make the momentary listener stop at the booth and keep watching.

    It’s ironic, considering what this script is about: gloves that firefighters can actually hold in a fire. This isn’t to say that exaggerated emotion is called for. Firefighting is a business, so keep it real. But some reads sounded weak, mild, forgettable.

    And, remember “noisy”? Enunciation is important. Many entries were not clear – words were slurred so much that in a real audition, the screener would quickly move on to the next submission.

    There’s another reason to sound excited about the product: It’s new! But actually, any product promoted in a trade show loop video such as this should probably be thought of as “new.” The “new” mindset will help you find the appropriate enthusiasm, and it is “new” to prospective listeners who are not using the product already.

    What about tone of voice? As almost always, use your natural voice, but there are many variables within that specification. Soft spoken, or excited? Gruff attitude, or totally professional? Extremely precise enunciation, or more like we talk every day? Some of these choices should be tempered by the considerations covered above. Beyond that, it’s ultimately up to the director or client. For now, make an educated guess, fix it in your head, and go with it. You might “be” a non-nonsense firefighter who’s used these gloves on the job, or you might be the lab engineer who specified the materials and oversaw their testing. Or you might be a bean counter who is concerned about job-related injury claims. Or the Fire Chief, urging his firefighters to think safety and use this great new tool. (Actually, in this case, it’s more likely you’re talking to the Fire Chief.)

    Lots of options: that’s one of the fun things about Voice Over.

    But don’t let your choice of mindset hurt your delivery. Everything should be pronounced clearly and correctly (e.g., the word “extrication”). Don’t become a caricature. (Some reads sounded like a put-on, or were trying too hard.) And – especially in the trade show environment – don’t go too fast, and do avoid unnecessary pauses. (Choppiness signals the casual listener to move on.) Also use variety in your voice (e.g., appropriate inflections and changes of pace to emphasize key words).

    A lot of entries suffered from bad audio. We understand that this contest is a form of training, and many entrants may not have proper home studios yet. But this is the time to get started. At least read in a quiet room, one that isn’t too “live.”

    EDGE STUDIO TIP: If you’re recording in a lightly furnished room, with bare walls and no carpet, you’ll have a lot of reverberation. Get spare blankets out of the closet and hang them behind and around you. (Moving blankets are also good for this. And save that old bedspread!) This won’t keep outside noises from reaching the mic (that would be “soundproofing”), but it will control the echoes (this is “sound conditioning”).

    Another EDGE STUDIO TIP: Stand while you perform. That will help your voice and give you the ability to use body language. It will also prevent nervously shaking your leg. (Yes, we even heard that.)

    The Director’s Notes said to slate at the END of the script. Usually the slate comes before the script, but if the client says to slate afterwards, that’s what to do. It is not an option. Several people slated at the beginning of the read, a couple didn’t even slate at all, and a few added the script title (which was not requested). There’s nothing like starting your audition with what amounts to, “Hi, I’m [My Name] and I can’t follow instructions!”

    Note: There was only a first and second place winner this week. None of the reads were really a contender for third.

    1st place winner: jpconn

    331 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear jpconn's recording

    Great! Good variety, and he adds nice drama in his voice -- especially towards the end -- without sounding theatrical or contrived. He sounds like an ordinary person ... And that's good. Although it’s good that he didn’t stop after “FireHands”, it’s not so good that he sort of threw it away, reading it as if this were the middle of the script (with another sentence coming before it.) And we’d want a retake of the word “extrication”, with no glottal stop. (A “glottal stop” is closing the larynx before initial vowels.) Good, natural slate of his name, confidently read.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 2/28/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Firehands Trade Show Comp.mp3

    2nd place winner: Debby Barnes

    269 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Debby Barnes's recording

    This is on the right track. But she pauses after "FireHands" (the first word). EDGE STUDIO TIP: Although many people (even some celebrities) pause between the client/product name and whatever comes next, it sounds choppy. Worse, it breaks up the all-important introductory thought. (It delays your statement of what the client/product name does.) Don’t sound like an amateur – check to see if you’ve done this, and if so, delete the pause (if it can be edited to sound natural), or record it again.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 2/28/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/DebbyBarnes_FireHandsTradeShow_ESDemo.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, February 21 click below

    Contest ending Friday, February 14

    Contest Title:

    Smear Campaign

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for a political campaign advertisement. This ad is meant to portray the opposing candidate in an unflattering light. We are looking for a male or female talent to provide the voice over for the ad. While this commercial could be viewed as “negative,” please refrain from a dark, overly dramatic read. We want this to be as natural and conversational as possible. Please slate your name (or username) before reading the script.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    Jobs are leaving the state in record numbers while John Jacobson continues to be an outspoken advocate for outsourcing. Keep jobs where they belong – in-state. Vote Nadine Ronald for a better economic future! Paid for by Nadine Ronald for Governor.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    Heated conversation. That’s what we had in this week’s script. The Director’s Notes said to be “natural and conversational.” No dark, melodramatic reads, please.

    It seems many people interpreted “conversational” to mean polite and without emotion. In other words, drab. Because that’s how a lot of reads came over.

    In fact, the Director’s advice that “this commercial could be viewed as ‘negative’” is key in realizing that the appropriate delivery should have some emotion in it. It IS a negative commercial, as far as John Jacobson (the opponent) is concerned! And it’s the point of the first sentence to paint Jacobson in a negative light.

    The Director wants Nadine Ronald (the client) to come off as a “natural and conversational” person, and therefore so should her spokesperson.

    So what’s called for here is some emotional progression. The first sentence is two distinct thoughts. How does the speaker feel about what’s said in the first half of the first sentence? Angry. Chagrined. Annoyed. Fed up. Maybe confused. Definitely upset. Choose any one of those emotions, or another. We’ve all had moments when we felt that way, and managed to express our thoughts in natural conversation without getting “dramatic.” That’s what to do here.

    But many people just read the whole opening as a single declarative sentence, with barely any emotion at all, or just one emotion all the way through ... let alone a change of emotion when it gets to “while.”

    Some made it a rapid run-on sentence, pretty much in a monotone. (That’s boring -- no wonder they wanted to get through it quickly!) In fact, some people who read in this fashion sounded exactly like others who read this way (except for their vocal qualities) – same rushed speed, same monotone, same small emphases. EDGE STUDIO TIP: This is a ‘this/that” situation. To help yourself express its two components with discernable emotional contrast or (in this case) development, try gesturing. Hold the first thought in your left hand, and gesture as you say it. Then gesture with your right hand while saying “John Jacobson continues to…”.

    That will help you express the first thought with suitable consternation (or whatever), and then switch emotion in the second thought. (A hopeful note: the one emotion conveyed by most people was suitable for the sentence’s second half.)

    Then again, some people sounded even quite happy, others as if they couldn’t care less. Whether or not you vote in elections yourself (and we hope you do), when reading a political spot, you need to feel like a voter who is strongly committed to your candidate. (Unless, of course, the script or director says you’re not.)

    Just no tar and pitchforks in this one, please. Some people sounded way too intense, not like natural conversation at all.

    As always, don’t let the big picture distract you from the details. Especially since this commercial is likely to have a small media budget (relatively few airings), and will run for a limited time. Be sure listeners will catch and understand all the words on the first hearing. And keep in mind that the political constituency may have a lot of people for whom English wasn’t their first language. Be conversational, but enunciate.

    Many people rushed through the script, and slurred a lot of words. Others virtually halted in many places, causing a choppiness that causes listeners to lose interest.

    The line “keep jobs where they belong – in state” was rushed in quite a few reads. That’s the crux of the whole spot, so it should be read with some special focus, and hope, even optimism, or determination. Not just skimmed over as if it wasn’t all that important. Many people said “in-state” so quickly that it almost got lost.

    The sentence that starts “Vote Nadine…” should be read even more positively. Some people didn’t take the emotion up a notch here. If not careful, the casual listener (and to tell the truth, in advertising is there any other kind?) might not catch which candidate the commercial is for, if it weren’t for the tag.

    And then there was the slating, or rather the lack of it. Most people did slate as instructed. But some forgot it, or added the script title. Clients appreciate attention to detail. This is a most important detail. Read the instructions, slate as instructed, and do not add more than instructed. There might be an occasional exception – see our Third Place winner.

    1st place winner: Marianna

    368 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Marianna's recording

    She was terrific: clear, natural, appropriately emotional. From a technical standpoint, the volume of her recording is a bit low. Her S sounds are slushy, especially on “numbers.” Sometimes this is a technical issue, sometimes a mouth/teeth issue. Something she should figure out.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1,

    a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*,

    a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197

    credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible

    to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time.

    But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already

    purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner

    only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 2/21/2014 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Smear Campaign Mary Ann Jacobs.mp3

    2nd place winner: sabrinasvoice

    290 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear sabrinasvoice's recording

    Terrific in parts. There’s a distracting click at the end of her slate. But more importantly, and typical of the problem discussed above, her first clause doesn't sound unflattering enough. Rather, it has the same emotion that she uses on the second part of the sentence (which even has a bit of inappropriate "thank goodness" in it). But after that, terrific!

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1,

    a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*,

    a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114

    credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible

    to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time.

    But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already

    purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner

    only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 2/21/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Smear Campaign_4.mp3

    3rd place winner: SMS7

    228 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear SMS7's recording

    Good job. He sounds committed. And this entry is a case where there may be some value in adding a greeting to the slate. (“Hi, this is ...” instead of just his name.) It’s because his delivery is a little on the strong side. He does deliver the script in a conversational voice, but it’s a loud voice. (People sometimes talk loudly in conversation. For example, we might imagine he’s talking to someone in the front row of a political meeting. He’s P.O’ed, with a message to deliver.) Yet, he is not using histrionics, and doesn’t seem to be affecting his voice. The clincher is the slate. Its more “normal” conversational tone suggests that he can pull back if the director thinks he’s come on too strong.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1,

    a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*,

    a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57

    credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible

    to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time.

    But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already

    purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner

    only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 2/21/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Smear Campaign-Steve Singer.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, February 14 click below

    Contest ending Friday, February 7

    Contest Title:

    Le Chat Gourmet

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for Le Chat Gourmet (le shah gore-may), a high-end cat food company. They are looking for a male or female voice talent with a highly affected manner of speaking. The copy need not be read in any particular accent, but it should reflect a very formal delivery. Please slate your name or user name and the company before your read.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    I have a taste for the finer things in life – champagne, caviar, pâté… So, when it comes to my cat Leopold, generic cat food simply won’t do. Le Chat Gourmet – for your cat’s sophisticated palate.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    This week, we’ll start by noting why nobody wins every audition (real auditions, that is). Even the most talented VO talent can’t second-guess everything that’s in the prospective client’s mind.

    Take this commercial, for example. Is it a radio commercial, or a TV sound track, or something else? The Director’s Notes say it should be delivered “with a highly affected manner of speaking.” So far, so good, but then the direction says, “need not be read in any particular accent.” Does that mean it should be read in an accent, just not any particular one? Does it rule out an odd “accent” such as the wonderful character actor Hans Conreid had? (Sounding Continental, he was the very definition of “affected,” having been born and raised on the U.S. east coast.) Or does it mean that it can be read in, say, standard American English, simply with an air of formality? (Somewhere between those is another option that many people took – a blue-blood American accent, a la Katherine Hepburn or Gov. Tom Kean/FDR.)

    So, as we’ve noted on a few previous occasions, sometimes the instructions are open to multiple interpretations.

    EDGE STUDIO TIP: Drawing on the word “formal,” other inspirations could include – someone speaking in hushed tones at a wedding? A diplomat? A judge? NASA mission control? It would be too much to expect the listener to know your character is in any such situation. But your own head could be.)

    In marketing (need we remind anyone that the ultimate goal of this hypothetical project is to sell tons of cat food?), a yet bigger factor is that advertising can’t necessarily be reverse-engineered. There is no way to tell, from this script alone, all the thinking that went into it. With a product such as cat food, a LOT of research, and market analysis and other thought gets done before scriptwriting begins. Sometimes even the client isn’t completely sure what kind of advertising is needed – so how can a mere auditioning voice actor know? (If you live with a cat, you or your cat may think you DO know better than some cat food makers, but that’s another issue.)

    Consider the call for a “formal, affected accent.” Why do they want that? Is there a segment of cat owners who consider themselves more sophisticated than average? Or is it that their CATS seem to be sophisticated (one of the many feline stereotypes)? Maybe. But it might be that research shows that many cat owners have a sense of humor. (With some cats, you almost have to!) In that case, an ordinary, formal air of sophistication isn’t what the client wants; they want funny.

    Or, it could be a sophisticated combination of both. After all, the Notes say it is a high-end cat food, so humor alone might not cut it. We’re reminded of a classic print campaign for Teacher’s Scotch, humorously written in the voices of various famous comic actors and comics. (E.g., Zero Mostel with a glass on his head: “You can tell a lot about a man by how he holds his liquor.”) It was both funny and a sophisticated improvement on the conventional testimonial- and lifestyle-based liquor advertising of the time.

    So, maybe this is like that. But, without being privy to the client’s reams of research and years of experience selling cat food into an evolving market, there is no way you can be 100% sure which side of the fence your audition should land on. Often, the best you can do is read and consider the direction well, make an educated choice, and do be sure you land on your feet.

    That’s the situation we found ourselves in when judging the contest this week. It’s a hypothetical client, so we can’t call them up. And we can hardly judge based on pretend market data that doesn’t even exist (and which anyway would be irrelevant to the contest). So we went with three people who seem directable, and who sounded versatile enough to go either way, or (more likely) somewhere in between.

    Among the other entrants, many ruled themselves out by failing to read in any affected manner at all.

    Some read in a way that, technically, followed the direction, but they sounded so “above it all” that their manner was also boring (or they sounded bored) – not good for a commercial. A lot of people chose to convey the same predictable character as other people chose – a blasé upper-crust elitist, an American or Britisher, with an appropriately stuffy accent. That’s dangerous in an audition, even when done well. Because EVERYONE ELSE is also doing it!

    A few sounded “formal,” but at times were perky. That’s hard to reject, because, hey, cat owners can have fun and be perky, and smiling makes you sound both interested and interesting. And hoity-toity people have fun like the rest of us. (Well, they have fun.)

    But is that “formal”? Unfortunately, if too perky, no.

    There were also some British, French and other accents. Some worked. Some were obviously fake. But fake just sounds, well, fake. Because this is a pricey food product, its customer probably doesn’t identify with someone who intentionally sounds like a pretender. So if it wasn’t a real accent, we at least wanted it to sound like a real accent from a country that’s just unidentifiable.

    A few people apparently misread the slating instruction – they didn’t include the company name (Le Chat Gourmet). Or they thought they were supposed to include the name of their own company (which would be a much less likely instruction).

    (While we’re dealing with technicalities, some recordings were made in rooms that are okay for an audition but too reverberant or noisy for actual production. Also, some people worked too close to the mic, maybe to make their voice sound different. Unfortunately, close-mic’ing also has potential detrimental effects.)

    Some people chose good words to hit, others emphasized virtually no words, or hit words that have less value. For example, while the word “you” is often very important, hitting it in “your cat’s” is a secondary concern. The whole point of this commercial, and the character in it, is the word that comes next: “sophisticated.”

    Some people mispronounced the product name (Le Chat Gourmet). The Director’s Notes guide to pronouncing it may not give you a perfect French accent, but it’s in the ballpark. The only deviation we tolerated was an even more accurate French accent, or an easily correctable mistake. However, a 100% authentic foreign pronunciation is sometimes dangerous. Some companies purposely Americanize their pronunciation or spelling, so as not to confuse or intimidate the average American. Among countless examples are Hector Boiardi’s Chef Boyardee brand and Hyundai (which rhymes with “Monday” in the U.S., but not in Korea).

    As for the easily correctable mistake, we overlooked that only when there was an overwhelming compensating factor.

    And some people simply lost out to winners who had better (comedy) timing, or an accent or manner that was either easier to understand (that darn commercial thing, again), or that was so delightfully goofy we just had to listen again.

    1st place winner: cobryon1

    340 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear cobryon1's recording

    Very nice. His two takes were not radically different from each other, but were varied enough to suggest that there could be yet more in him. Both are good characters, consistent conveyed. We’re not sure if the first one is French or Italian or what, but it’s consistently odd and sounds plausible, so that’s okay. He hit the right words (including “sophisticated” in the first take) and could probably be directed to do whatever the client wants. We also like that he didn’t rush. He mispronounced “Chat” in the first take, but properly omitted its “T” sound in the second. On the tag, he slips a bit into “announcer mode” but is still in character, so we’ll accept that for now. From a technical aspect, the popping plosives are not acceptable. EDGE STUDIO TIP: To avoid popping, use a pop screen, but don’t rely on it to do the whole job. Work a correct distance from the mic. ANOTHER EDGE STUDIO TIP: When including a second take, add the words “two takes” in your slate.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 2/14/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/CrisOBryon_LeChatGourmet.mp3

    2nd place winner: DRKsound

    281 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear DRKsound's recording

    Wowie, crazy French. He’s fun and funny. Yes, the performance is way too far all over the place, but he shows thought, originality, genuine humor, and it’s a good bet that he can pull it back where required. The first-time cold listener (without benefit of script) will have no idea what he is saying at the word “generic.” (In fact, those who do speak French might think he is saying starting to say “je n’ai”-something.) And the product name gets mangled, which isn’t good. (If this turns out to be a TV commercial, it would be helped by appearing on-screen, but VO talent should not expect the advertiser to rely on that.) Anyway, we’d give him a shot, because he seems versatile enough to be directable, We love the “kiss” that he added (and the creativity it shows), but he could have done without a kiss in the already elaborate slate. (Or, make the quick slate kiss it slightly more obvious – at first we thought it was an errant click.) At the end, he hits “sophisticated” well.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 2/14/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Le Chat Gourmet-DRKsound.mp3

    3rd place winner: dstromberg

    212 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear dstromberg's recording

    A good character. We imagine she is more a Hollywood star, rather than Old Money, but it’s suitably serious and snobby. She loses the character a tiny bit in 1 or 2 places. We would like to have heard more emotional involvement (yet still “serious”), because she doesn’t sound as "into" the part as some other entrants. There’s a tiny bit of reverberance in her recording room. EDGE STUDIO TIP: Slating in character will help assure the audition listener knows exactly what sort of character you mean to portray. Nail it from the outset, so when you start into the script, the audition screener will already be up-to-speed with you.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 2/14/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Deb Stromberg-Le Chat Gourmet-020414.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, February 7 click below

    Contest ending Friday, January 31

    Contest Title:

    Imaginative Imaging

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for Radio NY, an umbrella company that owns several New York-based radio stations. Radio NY is looking for imaging voice over for three of its most popular stations. They would like to hire one male or female vo talent to be the “voice” of all three stations. Each is for a drastically different station, so please make sure your read for each reflects the genre of music being played. Please slate, “[your name or username] three reads” before your audition.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    Q104 – Your one stop shop for all things pop!

    WBGP – We are Jazz FM.

    WKCR – The Peak: New York’s classic rock superstation.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    This week we dealt with “Imaging.” Imaging promotes a station or channel’s image, what advertising people might call its “brand” or “position” in the marketplace (or to be even more sophisticated about this, its position in the mind of the listener). In other words, imaging defines the station as a product, so that the listener (the consumer) knows what he or she will get when tuning in. It’s a cross between Commercials and Promo, in that it’s usually carefully planned and approved (like a Commercial), but done in a certain style consistent with the station or channel’s format (like a Promo). Imaging is a specific, well recognized genre, and success in it requires some specific understanding and practice. Various entrants this week appear to have had some experience with it. Others did okay, but would benefit from Imaging training.

    Some of the required skills can be brought over from other VO genres. For example, the ability to read a script in differing ways. Some of this week’s entrants didn’t vary their reads enough to match the three different types of stations. Many just changed the volume of their reads. EDGE STUDIO TIP: Don’t just read in a stereotypical fashion. Think of this as “acting,” because the three stations really do have three different personalities.

    Most entrants didn’t have very much energy. That’s where the “promo” angle comes in. Most promos need energy. Some people’s energy was inconsistent.

    Some entries didn’t have enough space between the three scripts – they sounded like one long sentence. When the three reads were too similar, this tight spacing made their similarity all the more obvious. EDGE STUDIO TIP: Before submitting any recording, always listen to it, with a dispassionate ear. Imagine you are the recipient. What will they hear (or not)?

    We hasten to add another EDGE STUDIO TIP: Always re-read the instructions, too, before submitting. This week’s Director’s Notes said to slate ““[your name or username] three reads” before the audition. Many forgot to say “three reads.”

    The biggest failing, perhaps, was in people not being themselves. Some apparently tried to sound like someone else, because they were obviously not using their natural voice. Sorry, we can’t all be James Earle Jones or Sally Kellerman. Thank goodness! How boring that would get!! EDGE STUDIO TIP: Know and understand your natural voice, its range and capabilities. Use what characteristics you do well. If you can’t go as low as you’d like, then don't force it. If you can expand your natural range through training and practice, do so. But be wary of venturing into “fake” territory. It won’t have the “free, loose” quality that knowledgeable clients listen for, and, well, the word “fake” says it.

    Some people were not loose enough, even so. They sounded stilted, or forced, or held back by thought, etc. And some people just couldn’t let go of the classic stereotypical “DJ” sound (also euphemistically called the “epiglottal push”), whatever they did.

    There were also some technical problems ... things like the slate being too low in volume, or mouth noise here and there.

    Failure to enunciate was a common error. As we’ve mentioned, in this genre the voice is often mixed with music and/or sound effects. As in any mix, important vocal sounds can get lost in the process. Some people missed the R in “your” or the second P in “pop” (once mixed with music, it would sound like "pah"). R’s were sometime weak in “York” and “superstation.” In at least one case, though, that gave a real New York City feel, and lucky or not, these scripts were hypothetically for NYC stations.

    1st place winner: amyjoywarner

    260 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear amyjoywarner's recording

    Nice read. It sounds like she has not had specific training in Imaging, yet she pulled off three pretty good reads. Each was an appropriate match for the type of station. However, at times she is a bit hesitant, not loose enough.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 2/7/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/EDGE-RadioNY.mp3

    2nd place winner: RSAnderson

    174 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear RSAnderson's recording

    His is one of the more vocally free (tension-free) deliveries. But even he over-thought his delivery at times. While we don't necessarily love each voice he chose for the varied stations, each was a natural voice. (The third one is DJ-stylized, which could be acceptable for a rock station, but it’s in his range.) In any case, he shows enough variety and creativity that we feel we could hire him and direct him to where he should be.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 2/7/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Rex Anderson -Radio NY Three Reads.mp3

    3rd place winner: Chris Koprowski

    170 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Chris Koprowski's recording

    Another performance that’s in the ballpark. But not loose enough. Whatever the voice and style, they sound like him reading, not him talking.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 2/7/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/3-reads(take3).mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, January 31 click below

    Contest ending Friday, January 24

    Contest Title:

    Void Where Prohibited

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for the disclaimer at the end of a 60-second national commercial. We are looking for a male or female voice actor to conclude the spot with all the necessary conditions and exclusions associated with the promotion. The following copy must be read very quickly but every word must be comprehensible. As this is a time sensitive read, please do not slate your name or username.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    This is a limited time offer. No purchase necessary. Some restrictions apply. Valid only in participating locations. Please see store for details. One coupon per person per visit. Price does not include taxes or shipping and handling. Void where prohibited.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    We’ve all heard them, the disclaimers at the end of various types of commercials. Some of the commercials are unsophisticated, some are for major national advertisers. Sometimes these verbal “footnotes” or fine print are no more than to satisfy legal requirements (e.g., “some restrictions apply”), sometimes they contain something of practical value to the listener (e.g.: “One coupon per visit.”) But they should always be intelligible, not the audio equivalent of unreadable small legal text briefly flashed on the screen.

    So, the producer just cranks up the time compressor, right? Actually, no, but some entrants actually did that. No, no no! Let the engineers do that. What is the point of an audition if you’ve used it??

    At Edge Studio, we often use time-compression software to speed up copy for a client. But to do that, we look for voices that are clear; otherwise the sped up version can sound horrible. A good, clear – and real -- human is the thing to start with.

    The director's notes didn’t specify exactly how fast to read (no “keep the time to X seconds”), so we didn’t consider this to be a race. Some people read as quickly as they possibly could, while others gave it more breathing room.

    Where we drew the line was if someone read so fast that they could not keep up the pace and/or sounded sloppy. Slurring was a major problem in many of the recordings. In particular the word “restrictions” was problematic. It often sounded like "ree-shtick-tions." “Participate” was another one, sounding like "puh-tic-a-pate." EDGE STUDIO VO TIP: Don't go so fast that you slur, because that defeats the purpose.

    Some edited down their copy and made it way too choppy. That also makes no sense in an audition. Let the client edit if they want. In a tag such as this, editing the client’s copy is especially ill-advised, considering that the wording is legal content.

    Some changed speed in the middle of the read. They started out fast and ended slower, or vice versa. Consistency wins this race.

    Some made the multiple sentences sound like one long sentence. Although this might seem to be “disposable” copy, the client includes it in the spot for a reason. Either it’s legally required, or the client wants people to understand it, or (one hopes) both. Running it all together in a monotone makes the thoughts hard for listeners to follow. (Imagine this script without periods between sentences. It would confuse even you. Well, if you read it that way, it confuses the listener.)

    Also, some left no space between some sentences but lots of space between others. This combines the above two no-no’s. The right approach is to leave space between each sentence -- even if only a little bit -- so the engineer can edit them more closely together, or even totally together (known as "butt splicing"). EDGE STUDIO VO TIP: Give each sentence a bit of variety so that if the engineer edits the sentences together, it will not sound like one long sentence to the listener. EDGE STUDIO VO TIP: Before submitting your audition, butt-splice the sentences together, and ensure that they sound good that way.

    A few people had loud gasps of breath. Some voice actors may be able to read this in a single breath, and that would be good for anyone to practice. But in an actual recording, it would be acceptable to take normal breaths. Then, in the final recording, use your editing software to greatly reduce their volume or silence them, and reduce the resulting gap a bit (but not entirely.)

    In a few cases, we heard the edits, and in at least one case the talent was too close to the mic.

    And, what about emotion? Emotion wasn’t explicitly requested. But remember that this is an audition situation. If you can make even this dry copy sound personal, what a great reflection on your VO ability! Don’t overdo the empathy, don’t descend into pathos, but do think about what you’re saying.

    1st place winner: Scott Martin

    296 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Scott Martin's recording

    Good! He went pretty quick, yet was very clear. Unfortunately, his studio setup results in a shushy "sh" sound, which distorts words a little bit. But each sentence is clearly separated, and he maintains a consistent emotion and tempo throughout.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 1/31/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Void where prohibited 3.mp3

    2nd place winner: jewelraquel

    118 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear jewelraquel's recording

    Terrific smile! Also quick and clear. Well, mostly clear. She slurs in a few places such as "This is a" and "does.”

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 1/31/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/JewelRaquel_Void Where Prohibited.mp3

    3rd place winner: jorgensenvocals

    195 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear jorgensenvocals's recording

    Another winner who was quick and clear. All the sentences butted up against one another, but consistently. The drawback was that it made it a tad robotic sounding, considering the absence of much emotion.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 1/31/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Void Where Prohibited 1-18-14 Jorgensen.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, January 24 click below

    Contest ending Friday, January 17

    Contest Title:

    Pump U Up

    Director's Notes:

    Pump U Up Gym is gearing up for their January marketing campaign targeting all those with New Year’s resolutions to get back in shape. We are looking for a male or female voice talent with a friendly and motivational delivery -- like a friend who is also a terrific personal trainer! Please slate, “[Your name or username] for Pump U Up Gym” before the copy.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    Does your downward dog yoga pose lie down and can’t get up? Has your horizontal leg press become more of a horizontal nap position? Getting in 40 winks more often than 40 reps? Well, bounce off the couch! Sign up for a Pump U Up Gym membership today, and get January free!

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    With a new prospective VO client, it’s almost impossible for talent to know what goes on behind the scenes after you submit your audition.

    That’s because there is a whole range of possible scenarios. Decisions might be made by one person, or a chain of people, or a committee. And, like the game of Telephone, sometimes what the creative team prescribes is not exactly what the casting person (or you) will understand.

    This week we have a case that could be like that. The Director’s Notes stated: “a friendly and motivational delivery -- like a friend who is also a terrific personal trainer.”

    Creatively, what does that mean? Does it mean to sound like a Motivational Speaker? A friend who is conducting an Intervention (somewhat firm and forceful)? And what does the “terrific personal trainer” have to do with it? Does that differ from, say, “a knowledgeable friend.” If not, why are the instructions so specific?

    Our choices of winners were influenced by best-guess answers to these questions.

    Ultimately, it came down to finding someone who speaks “friend-to-friend,” with the conviction and persuasive capability of someone who knows what they’re talking about. In other words, describing the character as a “terrific personal trainer” is meant to indicate their level of knowledge and confidence, not that they should sound like an excessively emotional or boorish “motivational speaker.” The image of a personal trainer may be more of a mental image to help talent envision themselves in that person’s skin, no more than that. In fact, we’d rather the talent not even sound like an announcer or commercial spokesperson. Just like a friend.

    So with that in mind, we gravitated to people who had a very natural sound. So natural, in fact, that they sounded like someone off the street, not a golden throat, no excessive emotion.

    On the other hand, this is a commercial. It’s selling services, and it is a spokesperson situation (as opposed to a dramatic scene where two friends are actually talking to each other). One way or the other, the performance must be appealing and needs to motivate.

    Unfortunately, some people meeting the “naturalness” criteria fell short in these or other areas we also considered essential. We erred on the side of the more professional performance.

    What were those “other areas”?

    Too salesy. Yes, it’s a commercial. All commercials must be effective. But sometimes overt salesmanship isn’t the preferred way to do it.

    Sounding like reading. Which, of course, everyone is, but it shouldn’t be so obvious. One symptom was that people went way too fast. Another was that the opening questions sounded like a run-on sentence, not like a list.

    No emotion. Pulling back on the “selling” does not mean that there should be no emotion at all. Who would express emotion more clearly than a sympathetic, empathetic friend?

    Artificial emotion. The laughably overwrought school of motivational speaking is clearly not called for. But neither is hitting the words “free” or “today” too hard. They are still important thoughts, and must not be lost among the other words. They key is to say them naturally, believably, as you would emphasize them in conversation.

    Abrupt change of pace or character when the “sales pitch” begins. Many people shifted gears way, way, way too abruptly in the second part of the script. In fact, the Director’s Notes didn’t ask for a change at all. However it is natural to change tone a bit between the set-up questions (a skeptical, ironic or plaintive tone) and the “solution” (optimistic, with supportive energy). In natural speech, people DO change their emotion at least a bit from phrase to phrase (as we’ve discussed in other contests). But it’s usually an almost subconscious transition. In this case, stay in character, and simply add a smile, or think “c’mon, you can do it!”

    Inconsistent delivery or personality. Some parts of the script were read well, others not. EDGE STUDIO TIP: Find the sweet spot in your approach. Record the entire script, then listen back and see what “worked.” Using that approach, record the entire script (or first paragraph) again “for real.” When finished with that first take, immediately deliver a second take (the real “real” one). This way, you get into the character during Take 1, and you nail Take 2.

    Too serious, not fun. This was sometimes a problem overall, but it’s an issue particularly in the opening three questions. A lot of people had no sense of irony in their voice. The writer went to a lot of trouble to make these questions humorous, and crafted each so that all three have the same construction. The questions relate to each other, yet each should be read its own way. (Maybe a bit more frustrated with each? But there can be other approaches.) Many people just stormed through them, or drew them out artificially, or simply contrasted a high pitch (“Has your ...”) with a low pitch (“become more of a ...?”). We heard no twinkle in their eye.

    Unnatural pronunciations – too precise. For example, pronouncing the article “a” (in “a Pump U Up Gym membership”) with a long A. This, too, makes it sound like you’re reading. Sometimes you’ll hear an otherwise natural-sounding reader do this, but it’s generally when they want to indicate that they are reading a passage (e.g., a recipe, a quotation, a law), or (if it’s a live speech) maybe they just slipped up. Maybe some of our entrants did this for emphasis, but in any case, it was not effective as such, because it wasn’t the sort of emphasis you’d hear between friends.

    Unnatural pronunciations – sloppy. For example, missing the “P” sound in “Up.” Rushing the words “yoga pose” so they sound like “yogapoze.” Pronouncing “get” as “git” (however natural that might be). And while we’re at it: pronouncing the T in “often.” Many people do that in everyday speech. But in voice over, the preferred pronunciation (by far) is “offen.” If you’ve pronounced the T all your life and losing it sounds unnatural to you, consider: Do you say “sofTen”?

    Choppiness. In real life, we pause for thought, for emphasis, because of a distraction, any number of reasons. In TV commercials and videos, the voice over might pause to match up with the picture. We’re not told if this job is for radio or video, but in any case, many people paused unnaturally. It sounded very much like they were reading one sentence, phrase or even one word at a time. For example: unnecessary or excessive (or even distracted) pauses after “dog”, “pose”, “more of a” and “winks”.

    Poor comedy timing. By “comedy” we simply mean whatever humor is in those questions, and the rest of the script, for that matter. We wish we could define comedy timing in a simple sentence, but it’s not so simple. At least, like some other art, you know it when you hear it. Some of our entrants need to hone their timing, as in some cases it was missing, and in other cases pauses were overdone. (VO artists rarely have the luxury of milking anticipation as Jack Benny did.) EDGE STUDIO TIP: If tempted to give timing a hand, resist the urge to laugh too much or artificially. People rarely like the guy who laughs at his own jokes.

    Technical issues. If a prospective client has leeway, they might cut you some slack to see how you’ll do with the actual job. But not if they don’t have confidence in your studio or technical skills. Many of the entries this week didn’t meet that standard. We heard excessive room tone, overprocessing, even stereo room presence. (Your voice should be delivered on both channels, but the same signal on each.) Particularly distracting were recordings with a badly set Noise Gate. The abrupt silence between phrases did not sound natural, did sound like it might be a bad edit, and was so distracting that any “comedy timing” effect (see above) was totally destroyed. EDGE STUDIO TIP: In most cases, and unless the client asks not to do this, it is best to silence or minimize breaths. But do it imperceptibly.

    Whew! That’s a lot of analysis for a simple gym commercial. But getting it right when auditioning for a national commercial can be very much worth the effort. In fact, for any client, you won’t get the job if you don’t nail the audition.

    How will the client evaluate your audition? All you can do is make an educated guess and take your best shot. Nobody wins all of them. But observant pros do learn from the patterns they see.

    1st place winner: rosec

    272 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear rosec's recording

    Although she sounds like a “professional spokesperson,” her delivery is great and her manner is fairly friendly. She sounds anxious to tell you about her gym. It’s just too theatrical, so we’d want the director to help dial her "theater" way back.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 1/24/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/RoseC.Pump_.Jan13.mp3

    2nd place winner: cindiH

    214 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear cindiH's recording

    She also has a “professional” sound, and she, too, sounds friendly. But she needs more space between phrases and sentences, and she is too fast and salesy – so we’d want the director to help reduce her "announcer" style a lot. Technically, her recording tends to vary at points – as if she was slightly changing position at the mic. This can be heard more clearly on headphones. You'll hear a slight flanging sound, as if the EQ (equalizer) is brighter at times.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 1/24/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Pump u up.mp3

    3rd place winner: Keith Harris

    192 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Keith Harris's recording

    His read was a bit over the top: too playful, too peppy. As a result, he doesn’t sound like natural urging from a friend. Otherwise, he is close. He over-articulates a bit now and then, and his recording quality is not stellar. But in time, he could be very good. We hear him actually playing with the words and thoughts. Each of the three set-up questions is nuanced differently, in legitimate ways. His breathy voice is interesting. And in the second part, he’s got genuine enthusiasm, even if it is too salesy.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by1/24/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/HarrisPumpUup.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, January 17 click below

    Contest ending Friday, January 10

    Contest Title:

    New Years Eve

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for a voice over to accompany the live broadcast of the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square. We are looking for a clear, upbeat sound from either a male or female talent. Please slate your name or username before the read.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    Coming up next! At 11:59, Justice Sonia Sotomayor will lead the countdown to the New Year, pushing the button that will start the New Year’s Eve Ball’s descent from atop Times Square!

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    This being a simulated audition, who cares if it seems to be for the New Year’s Eve that we just passed? In real life, maybe it would be a casting call for next year’s production, or would result in work for some other event.

    Did you wish you had recorded the final hours of 2013’s broadcast? So do we. But the point here isn’t to imitate what the network’s announcer actually did. It’s to demonstrate what you can do with the script.

    Some people didn’t try to do much. Their reads weren’t upbeat enough, no excitement. This is NEW YEAR’S EVE!!!

    At the other extreme, many entrants sounded very DJ-like, or radio announcer-ish. EDGE STUDIO TIP: If a casting person is looking for a DJ-like or radio-announcer, they usually specify so, or it is very clear from other clues. In this case, neither were the case. Rather this casting people wanted something more natural, more you, yet with energy and an appropriate sense of style.

    Many people said “button” with a very distinct T sound. In standard U.S. English, we say it more like “Bu(t)’n (where the “T” is not actually a T sound but a stopping of breath), unlike the British who are well known to give T’s full respect.

    The pronunciation of Sonia Sotomayor’s name was a pithier challenge. Obviously a lot of people just winged it. We heard all of these and more:

    SOH'-tuh-my-er

    soh-toh-my-YOR

    soh-toh-may-yer

    sota-my-your

    As with any name, it should be said as she says it.

    So, how does she pronounce it? The answer is easily found in a Web search. We tried How does Justice Sotomayor pronounce her name?

    A page at Huffington Post is first among many helpful results. It says: “She pronounces her own name like this: soh-toh-my-YOR' -- accent on the final syllable. . . . She was born in the Bronx, but she pronounces her name with Spanish-language intonation, with a half-trill on the "r" at the end of her last name.”

    In some cases, it was difficult to tell if the talent pronounced her name correctly, because many people said her name too fast, or slurred it.

    Also, some people sounded robotic when they said it, as if they had the phonetic spelling in front of them. EDGE STUDIO TIP: Practice saying the name or foreign phrase in context, so it will sound natural. Listening back to your practice will also help you judge.

    This challenge is good to practice, because if you aren’t fluent in whatever language is salted into a script, the tendency is to pause before and/or after the unfamiliar name, word or phrase. Listen to professional speakers (such as reporters) who are fluent in both languages, and you’ll note that they are able to slip into the non-English accent and then right back into their English accent without pausing. Whether or not you actually speak the language, it will impress casting personnel if you are able to pronounce the non-English phrase correctly and without unwarranted pausing.

    Incidentally, note that popular pronunciation of someone’s name might change over time. For example, Dick Cheney’s family (we understand) has always pronounced their name “Chee-nee,” but during Cheney’s term as Vice President almost all press people said “Chay-nee.” Now it may be that some reporters are saying his name with more care. Another example: When Louis Armstrong was alive, he was often (maybe most often) called “Louie.” But since his passing, almost everyone pronounces it “Lewis,” which we have heard was his preference. Whether this is a result of greater respect or just our era of political correctness, is itself hard to say. In any case, pronouncing a name as the person himself or herself does is always the preferable approach. As we recently noted in comments on another contest, the late Yankees field announcer Bob Sheppard used to check on the pronunciation of every new player’s name beforehand.

    Some otherwise pretty good reads were choppy. Some were too timid, while some others were too forceful.

    The last half of the script sounded awkward in many reads -- as if the person wasn’t sure how to read this run-on sentence, or couldn’t wait to get to the end of it, or feared running out of breath. In a well written script, every word is there for a reason, or else it wouldn’t be there. So plan your read, including where you will breath, and give each phrase appropriate care.

    The phrase “the New Year’s Eve Ball’s descent” was admittedly awkward, with its double possessives. That is probably why quite a few people paused between “Eve” and “Ball’s.” It may have been intentional (to make “New Year’s Eve” a distinct thought), or inadvertent, but in any case it’s not logical or helpful to the listener. (EDGE STUDIO TIP: Note that “Ball’s” is capitalized, and is therefore logically part of the four-word thought. Also note that pausing before “descent” would confuse the listener’s ear even more. The logical place to pause is after “descent.”) EDGE STUDIO TIP: Sometimes when confronted with an awkward phrase or tongue-twister, it helps to think in terms of what the words represent, rather than just saying the “words.” That is, as you say this phrase, say it as written but envision the descent of the New Year’s Eve ball. It will come out more naturally.

    1st place winner: hankradio

    252 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear hankradio's recording

    A good read. However, he slurs the end of "eleven," missing the "n" sound. In his pronunciation of the Justice’s name, his “T” and “O”s sound well formed for Spanish, but the last syllable is not quite correct.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 1/17/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Script Contest NYE Countdown.mp3

    2nd place winner: aelvir

    177 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear aelvir's recording

    A wonderful read, with very nice smile, except that it was choppy, including an unnecessary pause after “Sotomayor.” And the audio came out of only one speaker. EDGE STUDIO TIP: Even though you are recording monaurally, listen to your recording using a stereo setup (whether using speakers or headphones), or at least look at stereo meters, to be sure that both channels are equally represented. If not, check your software’s instructions to learn how to properly save your monaural file.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 1/17/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/nye4.mp3

    3rd place winner: rlunel

    176 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear rlunel's recording

    A good, consistent, solid read, although a bit fast on key words. A few syllables are slightly lost, such as the beginning of "coming." Also, we hear mouth clicks. (See notes on last week’s contest for tips on avoiding these.) EDGE STUDIO TIP: In auditions, be careful to fully pronounce the first word (yet not exaggerating it), and maintain energy on the script’s last word (don’t trail off on the last syllable).

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by1/17/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/New Year.Roy Lunel.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, January 10 click below

    Contest ending Friday, January 3

    Contest Title:

    Jewish Podcast

    Director's Notes:

    NOTE: Due to the Christmas holiday, this contest will be extended for one week. Entries are due by Tuesday, December 31 at 11:59 PM and the winners will be picked on Friday, January 3.

    This is a simulated audition for a podcast highlighting stories of Jewish life, on the age-old Chanukah theme of tenacity and persistence against the odds. We are looking for male or female VO talent to read these stories. Although the tone of some of these stories is somber, please refrain from an overly sentimental or heavy read. Slate your name (or username) before reading the script.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    Leon Silver keeps the lights burning at one of the last synagogues in London's East End: Nelson Street. It's a remnant of a Jewish way of life that has all but vanished. Most Jews left the East End generations ago. So why did Leon stay?

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    This week was a bit of classic narration, as if for a podcast, but very similar to audio we’d hear on a PBS documentary, or an organization’s video presentation.

    Unfortunately, quite a few people sounded as if they were doing the opening on a TV criminal show. Or do we mean “criminal TV show”? Well, in any case, that would be very different from this.

    Some entrants even had a bit of a smile to their voice, which did not fit with the subject matter. The story of Leon Silver isn’t a sad one, but it is somewhat more proud and wistful than happy.

    This may have been why some people worked very close to the mic. That’s okay, but invites some problematic effects, particularly mouth noise. EDGE STUDIO TIPS: To reduce noises caused by a dry mouth, bite on a bit of green apple before performing, or sip warm water with a squeeze of lemon, or rinse with a mouthwash (Scope tends to sting less than Listerine), or take a sip of water, swish it around your mouth, and run your tongue all the way around the front of your upper and lower teeth, and then the back of your upper and lower teeth.

    We also heard some environmental noises in the background (e.g., birds, kids, a television). And some obvious edits, and hiss. That may be okay for an audition, but won’t win the client’s confidence in your ability to record finished product at home ... which, like the incorrect slates we also heard, could cost you the gig.

    Many people paused after the opening words (“Leon Silver”). An opening line should capture listener attention, and Leon Silver’s name in itself doesn’t do that. Open with a complete, intriguing, thought: “Leon Silver keeps the lights burning....”.

    Reads were choppy in other ways, too. Most people said the word "one" too quickly. This probably results from mentally approaching the phrase “one of the last” as if it were a number. (Not that anyone consciously made such a decision.) But the phrase isn’t a mere numerical stand-in, it’s a key point to make in the presentation. So how to approach this phrase? Typically in a case like this, slow down the first word ("one") and the following noun ("last”), which is of course still the most important of the bunch -- even if it’s not the one-and-only synagogue left, we want to elicit the same emotion as if it were. EDGE STUDIO TIP: Slowing the tempo on a word is one of several ways to “hit” it.

    People sometimes emphasized other words strangely, sporadically or even randomly. This sometimes added unfortunate coloration to the meaning. And in the last sentence, some hit “Leon” while others hit “stay.” We’d argue that the latter is preferable. His staying is the key point of the entire paragraph. And hitting “Leon” makes it sound as if the text is comparing Leon’s reasons for staying vs. other people’s reasons for staying, which is probably not where the copy is headed.

    Many people didn’t pause enough between sentences. EDGE STUDIO TIP: Give it breathing room. The listener (for the moment, that means the casting person) needs time to envision their visuals and musical changes, and to evaluate your performance. Remember that the casting person, while listening to your read, has more going on in their head.

    Understanding what’s in the minds of your prospective clients is a major key to winning auditions.

    1st place winner: onephiliphoffman

    256 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear onephiliphoffman's recording

    Pretty good, a respectful yet interesting tone in approaching the story of Mr. Silver. He pauses after "Silver", which tends to diminish one’s professional status, for reasons described above. We like that he hit “stay” in the last sentence (instead of “Leon”, as our runners-up did).

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 1/10/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Jewish Podcast-Philip Hoffman.mp3

    2nd place winner: Lenox Powell

    188 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Lenox Powell's recording

    It sounds just fine, but she overthinks a bit at times. This shows in a few slight hesitations, and in over-articulation of a few words.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 1/10/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/JewishPodcast-LenoxPowell-Dec232013.mp3

    3rd place winner: ejmays

    182 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear ejmays's recording

    Very good. This was a tough call, because of our winners he has perhaps the most interesting read. Some inflections brought it out of the ordinary “narration mode” into the realm of more personal communication. Yet, he didn’t overdo the emphases. But, for this subject matter, he has a bit too much smile throughout. And again, no reason to pause after the opening name.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by1/10/14 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Jewish Podcast_3.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, January 3 click below

    Contest ending Friday, December 20

    Contest Title:

    Fowler Auto Telephony

    Director's Notes:

    Fowler Family Ford Dealership and Showroom is looking for a voice over actor or actress to record their holiday away message. Delivery should be clear, friendly, and professional. Please slate your name or username before the read.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    You have reached the Fowler Family Ford Dealership and Showroom. We will be closed for the Holidays from December 23rd through December 27th. We will resume our normally scheduled hours on December 28th at 8 AM. Thank you for calling and happy holidays.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    When considering a voice over career, what genre do more people hope to pursue? We find that most initially want to aim at commercials, or animation, or wildlife film documentary, maybe even something they’re specially qualified for, like medical narration. Probably not telephone messages. But many pros get good, steady work in the Telephony genre, because they’ve mastered the particular set of skills the field requires. And because of the nature of the genre, they tend to develop an ongoing relationship with their clients, which can make the work personally interesting and ongoing.

    This week’s contest appears to have been many entrants’ first step into Telephony. Most have a ways to go, but we’re so pleased they entered. It’s really an interesting challenge once you try it. As telephone technology and messaging practices continue to grow, so does the genre. Some scripts are more and more like commercials ("Thank you for holding, we'll be right with you. While you're on hold, did you know we offer XYZ? Ask your representative for details when they return on the line."). Other scripts are like thousands of similar mini-scripts ("Press 1 for sales. Press 2 for..."). And(although you may find this surprising), it includes the expressing of emotion, along with other important VO skills. This week’s contest script is a case in point.

    The script being about a holiday schedule, the involvement of emotion is apparent. The Director’s Notes say it should be “clear, friendly, and professional.” It should also be personal and upbeat, consistent with an automobile dealership and the holiday season. Many missed that mark, as their reads sounded stiff, robotic and not very friendly. There was no warmth in their reads.

    Some went too far (or maybe it would be more accurate to say they went down another road), into “DJ” territory. That’s to be expected. But the stereotypical DJ sound is also a weakness heard on actual radio – too many mediocre, sound-alike DJs. In other words, the typical approach is not always the best approach to the job. In fact, in an audition, it usually is not at all the best idea. The reviewer needs to hear “why you.”

    In Telephony, there’s another reason people tend to sound stiff and robotic – in the early days of telephone messaging, the systems themselves were indeed recorded in a more robotic-tone. In fact, it might even be that in the early days, callers grudgingly appreciated a certain artificiality, because it clued them not to speak back.

    But as you’ve probably noticed, that’s changed. Even when announcements are concatenated in what’s called a Unit Selection system (interchangeable words and phrases, or even just phonemes, combined by computer), the artificial nature of the announcement is sometimes barely discernible. So when you’re recording a telephone message, don’t try to sound like you think a phone recording should sound. Firstly, it’s not how they sound. More importantly, it’s not why they’re hiring a human to read a script.

    The choppiness we heard on many reads is probably not the result of such subconscious mentoring by robots. In almost every contest, it’s a weakness we hear in many entries, because choppiness is a natural tendency when reading. Experienced voice artists learn to overcome it. EDGE STUDIO TIP: Read at a pace that’s just slow enough for the listener to follow with strong comprehension, appropriate to the subject and the medium, but don’t pause unnecessarily. Heed punctuation, but not overly so. Avoid glottal stops (closing the throat before voicing an initial vowel). And make the words flow. Or, better said, make the thoughts flow. Speak in complete thoughts, pausing only between them.

    On the other hand, don’t blend your sounds together through lack of attention. Slurred words and skipped syllables are usually a no-no when dealing with telephone sound fidelity.

    Speaking of thoughts, our hypothetical client has an unusually long name that includes two of them. The first part, “Fowler Family Ford,” can be an awkward mouthful. We’re pleased to say that most people did not get tongue-tied, and handled it well. Some paused between the words, or over-enunciated, which should not be necessary. A few broke it up differently, as “Fowler Family / Ford Dealership and Showroom.” Although the second part is a complete logical group, the first part isn’t. EDGE STUDIO TIP: When dealing with awkward pronunciations or even a tongue-twister, open your lips to form your sounds naturally yet precisely (in other words, don’t barely move your lips and mumble). This will be clear and just imperceptibly slower enough to get you through it without having to pause or over-enunciate.

    The other thought in the name (and apparently it is part of the name, because it’s capitalized) is “Dealership and Showroom.” (Let’s ignore the apparent redundancy that may date back to when they drew up their corporate papers – to the consumer, “dealership” and “showroom” may seem redundant.) Think of this as a separate phrase, rather than running all six words together. That may help you put an imperceptible, yet effective, mental break between them, so that the listener doesn’t hear “Fowler Family for dealership and showroom.” (This would be more of an issue in, say, a radio commercial. Presumably callers to this number are already expecting to hear the word “Ford.” But a lot of performances did sound like that.)

    In a Telephony audition, the recording quality is more important than it sometimes might be in other auditions. This is because Telephony work is very commonly to be done from your home studio. No matter how good your performance, it won’t get the job if you can’t deliver suitable audio quality. This week we heard some otherwise good performances that had buzzes, or reverb (room echo), pops, mouth clicks, and discernable edits.

    EDGE STUDIO TIP: If you are unable to deliver quality audio from home, consider establishing a relationship with a studio near you. If you have such a relationship already in place when submitting your audition, in your cover quote, you can say that if (better yet, when) you get the assignment, you’ll record in facilities that you have at the ready. (But you’ll also need to include the cost of that in your price, so hopefully your technical limitations will be temporary. By the way, don’t say this part in your quote!)

    Almost everyone slated, as requested. This is always important, but again, in Telephony it’s especially important to show that you can follow directions. If you’ll be producing unsupervised, with scripts where every phrase and digit is critical, don’t raise any doubt about your attention to detail.

    1st place winner: cgvo

    264 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear cgvo's recording

    A generally solid, personal read, that sounds like it might be the friendly voice from within a family business. The first few seconds, however, is her least best: The first few words are slurred. (“You have” sounds more like "You-uv" or even “You have.”) EDGE STUDIO TIP: Edit out mouth clicks ... engineers and producers will like you better, because you’ll save them time. And the client name is a tad fast. Just a tad. Otherwise a very good take. She left her breaths in, which is fine, as an edited take was not requested. That said, spending three minutes to delete breaths would make this read even stronger -- increasing the chance that the client selects her audition.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by December 27, 2013 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/CatherineGaffney - FowlerAutoTelephony.mp3

    2nd place winner: DonnMan

    189 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear DonnMan's recording

    Good voice, and a good, upbeat delivery overall. However, he did not slate. (why, Why, WHY?!!!! Every week we discuss people who don't follow the slating instructions!!!) He has a slight hesitation before "dealership," and it sounds like there’s an edit in the first "holidays." Considering that the most important thing is that callers catch the dealership’s holiday schedule, the spacing between each phrase is a little too short. In fact, he could stand to add about a half second between most phrases in this script. The music’s volume could get in the way over a phone connection. Especially after the word "dealership," when the level of his voice drops a bit. We're not sure why this happened, but it's not optimal.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by December 27, 2013 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/FowlerFamily17Dec15.mp3

    3rd place winner: bquesada

    163 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear bquesada's recording

    Her read is fine; she delivers what the Director requested. Her diction is generally good (although the first two words sound more like "Hyou-uhv"), and the pauses are just enough for the caller to note what she’s said. If she had more fun while reading, if she "let loose," if she had a few drinks before reading (just kidding) ... this take would be stellar. Rather, it is instead fine. There's nothing wrong with fine. It’s just that nothing in her reading sparkles -- there’s no “OMG moment.” Her first phrase is choppy, and she hesitated unnecessarily before "dealership." Technically, there's a little bit of noise in her recording chain.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by December 27, 2013 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/BarbaraQuesada_ScriptContest_20131214.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, December 20 click below

    Contest ending Friday, December 13

    Contest Title:

    SaveAll Christmas

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for a national radio spot for SaveAll Department Stores. The ad is to air throughout December until Christmas. They are looking for a man or a woman to deliver a quirky, somewhat frazzled performance that is also clear and intelligible. Please bear in mind that this is still a realistic delivery, so you should not be too over-the-top. Please slate “your name for SaveAll.”

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    Argh! Christmas is just around the corner, and I still have so much shopping to do! Timmy wants the latest gizmos and gadgets and Samantha simply can’t live without those new boots. Thank goodness there’s a SaveAll right around the corner! When you’re playing everyone’s Santa, save on it all – at SaveAll.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    Rats! Oh! *Sigh* Good Grief! Aaugh! Argh!

    Followers of the Peanuts comic strip will recognize these as exclamations favored by Charles Schultz’s gang. But what about that last one, which appears in our script? What does it mean, and just as important to this week’s audition, how do you pronounce it?

    We did a little research (about 15 minutes), and it turns out that in Peanuts cartoons the word “Argh” is not as common as the other expressions. It is, however, very commonly used in other “literature.” Its meaning, spelling and pronunciation are often debated, but without much effort we were able to confirm this:

    “Argh” is an expression of frustration, pain or anguish. It is NOT the same as the “arrrr” heard in “pirate talk.” (That is a Cornish variation of “aye,” meaning “yes,” and is typically used to express agreement, thus is also a greeting.) “Argh” is akin to “aaugh,” but they are not quite the same, and it is the latter that Charlie Brown yells when Lucy pulls away the football.

    As for pronouncing it, a principle issue is whether or not to pronounce the “gh” – as a hard G, as a breathy G, or not at all? We don’t want to re-enact Monty Python’s Great Debate at the Caves of Caerbannog, so we’ll simply state that it is pronounced “ARG,” with a little big of guttural breath as part of the G. In other words, the G sound is a “voiced velar fricative,” made by constricting the airway towards the rear of the mouth. Or clenching your teeth might work. Ugh, what a pronunciation! Incidentally, “ugh” is pronounced the same way.

    If we recall correctly, the child actors in Peanuts cartoons pronounce exclamations simply as written (e.g., “Arg!”). That would also be appropriate in this situation, but sounding like it’s a real exclamation of anguish would be preferable.

    Maybe that’s why very, VERY few people actually said "Argh." After all, how often do you hear it in actual conversation?

    However, we were disappointed that so many (75%, in fact) took the opening word to be simply a starting point for whatever exclamation they felt appropriate. Instead of "Argh," they said "Ugh" or "Jeeeeze" or some other interjection. As the client in this audition might think, were they unable to voice the statement as written? Saying it in a realistic way may call for some variation, but the “argh” roots should be discernible. Another option, is to say it VERY literally, “Arg!” – the way a real person would say it if they were intentionally quoting Charlie Brown, rather than expressing their own frustration. In producing the actual commercial, that would work. However, in an audition, it may be more impressive if you can convey it more skillfully.

    EDGE STUDIO TIP: Whether clients and their writers write skillfully or not, they do deliberate carefully over what they give you. Ultimately, a client can’t fault you for reading what’s written. They can fault you for not heeding it. That could cost you the job. If there are options as to which course to take, and quick research gives no indication, and you have the opportunity to ask the client, go ahead and ask.

    But there were some other issues, too.

    Quite a few did not sound realistic overall – many were too overboard or theatrical. Despite the opening expression being typical of cartoons and such, the rest of this commercial is supposedly a real person speaking.

    Yet, the Director’s Notes asked for some quirkiness in the character. Some submissions were real, but not quirky. Others were quirky but not real. EDGE STUDIO TIP: As you go through life, keep your ears alert. You’ll hear plenty of quirky real-world voices to practice, develop and use sooner or later.

    That’s the thing about many commercials – they ask you to sound real, yet the words are not what real people say in real situations. But finding a way to make it work is part of the art in this genre.

    Failure to achieve that mix is not the only way people didn’t treat this as a commercial. Another thing about commercials (even more than in some genres) is that every word needs to be understood – there’s no opportunity for a listener to go back, and no time to catch up with the thought later in the script. Therefore, slurred words are definitely a no-no. So is reading too quickly to be followed.

    Salesmanship is another essential. The last two sentences of this script should convey a feeling of relief. The SaveAll store is the solution to all our character’s problems. Yet some people read the last lines in the same frazzled tone as the beginning. In the same vein, the overall tone should be positive or hopeful. Some characters sounded mad at their kids. Hey, this is about Christmastime! Be overwhelmed, but not angry.

    To illustrate further, we’ll diverge from our usual practice and highlight some Honorable Mentions. Please note that our purpose is to point out what they did right, not to focus on the reasons they didn’t win.

    Carolsplace - We're almost not sure if we are hearing the real Carolsplace, or her as a character. The character is fitting in that she is quirky and frazzled. But she is very much a character (the other direction given). EDGE STUDIO TIP: The client asked for “quirky,” not a full-blown character. If a client wants a character, they'll ask for one. And in this case the client did request "clear and intelligible," which this character is not (with the dialect and street feel). Otherwise, she was on-target. ... except for saying "Uuughhh" not "Argh."

    cgaffney – After the exclamation, her opening line was wonderful -- unique, fun, interesting, quirky and frazzled as requested. However, she goes in and out of that wonderful emotion. We wish she'd stayed in character. And she opened with "Okay" rather than "Argh."

    RexAnderson – A great character, but in the beginning he is more annoyed than frazzled. He, too, took liberty with the opening, saying "Uuughhh" rather than "Argh."

    1st place winner: SteveA

    259 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear SteveA's recording

    Overall, a wonderful performance. He's frazzled, he's clear, he's interesting to listen to. But his first word was "Uh" rather than "Argh." He over-enunciates the word "latest" (causing a slight stutter sound between "latest" and "qizmos"). Then, from "right around the corner..." to the end, he loses the quirkiness and adopts a more retail delivery. Certainly the frazzled quality should go away, but the delivery should still be quirky.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by December, 20 2013 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/SteveDArnold-Dec10-2013-B.mp3

    2nd place winner: meSEARSvoices

    181 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear meSEARSvoices's recording

    A solid, quirky delivery from start to finish. Nice! His first word was "Ahhh" rather than "Argh". There's a fair amount of mouth noise. EDGE STUDIO TIP: To get rid of mouth noise, either use a gate processor (carefully), or software such as Izotope, or edit the noises manually, or prevent them by reading this.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by December 20, 2013 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/MES_SaveAll 131208.mp3

    3rd place winner: Shelley

    153 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Shelley's recording

    We didn't think it was possible for a British female to sound quirky. Well, she shows it can be done. Quirky, frazzled, yet clear and intelligible. Just what the casting director ordered. Except, once again, her first word was "Uuughhh" rather than "Argh." Aarrrrgh!

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by December 20, 2013 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/ ShelleyAvellino - SaveAll.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, December 13 click below

    Contest ending Friday, December 6

    Contest Title:

    Roth IRA

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for Fidelity Investments. The company is producing a series of educational videos highlighting some of their more popular financial services. They are looking for a male or female voice over artist with an easy-going delivery. This read is not about a hard sell, but rather should convey the warm tone of a loved one or trusted friend.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    With a Roth IRA, you contribute money you've already paid taxes on. Your money then potentially grows tax-free, with tax-free withdrawals in retirement, if certain conditions are met.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    Many investors don’t know much about investing. A lot of people don’t pay enough attention to their investments. Some people take their investments too seriously, reacting to every little tick in the stock price, even when it will probably even out over time.

    But one thing everybody has in common is that they expect their investing providers to be attentive and mistake-free. A typo in an ad suggests carelessness. An unreturned phone call can show lack of attention. And all it takes to seem that the client’s money isn’t very important to an advisor, is for the advisor to act too casually.

    This week, many people sounded too casual. Let's explain this:

    True, the Director’s Notes said, “easy-going delivery ... not a hard sell ... warm tone of a loved one or trusted friend.” But this doesn't mean to sound like you're "shooting the breeze" while walking to work, shuffling about, hands in your pockets, being peppy.

    No, “easy going” in this case just means “little or no tension.” It may simply be meant to contrast the desired tone with the undesired “hard sell.” There is no call for artificial ups and downs, no call for “trying too hard” to sound super carefree, no call to sound joyous or peppy.

    Remember that a good advisor, friend or family member would care deeply and seriously about your investing wisely. For that matter, the script is hardly real-world “conversational,” with its lawyerly words “potentially” and “if certain conditions are met.” So even a professional tone may be helpful.

    As usual, there is also the other extreme, also to be avoided. It’s the deadly serious approach. Rather, think “thoughtful,” “helpful,” and “friendly.” Just keep in mind that “thoughtful” doesn’t mean adding a lot of pauses. “Helpful” means keeping the pace slow enough to be well understood. And “friendly” is not always bubbly. Some people missed the marks on some or all of those, especially with a lot of too-fast reads.

    And speaking of fast, the last phrase (“if certain conditions are met”) was often read very rapidly. Just because it resembles a legal disclaimer, that’s no reason to rush it – because it’s NOT a disclaimer. It’s just another piece of information that you can deliver in an equally friendly manner. Don’t emphasize it, just continue in the same tone as the rest of the copy. EDGE STUDIO TIP: Artificially rushing the last line destroys the illusion of sincerity that is so important in the words before it.

    The pronunciation of “IRA” is an issue. Historically, it’s been pronounced two ways: spelled out (“I, R, A”), or pronounced like the name Ira. These days, although both may still be acceptable, spelling it seems to have won out, and most people did that. Ultimately the decision should be made by the client. EDGE STUDIO TIP: To get a pronunciation correct from the start, listen to the client’s existing commercials, or a competitor’s, or call their PR department.

    As sometimes happens with “legalistic” copy, this script had a lot of commas. Sometimes an abundance of commas means the copywriter “hears” a lot of pauses, maybe using them for creative reasons, or to match up with images. (Remember that this script is for a video.) But sometimes it just means the creative team (and in the case of investing copy, their legal team) is in the habit of punctuating correctly and very, very traditionally. They don’t think to change their writing style just because this is an audio script. So, which case is this? Since there appears to be no “creative” reason for a lot of pauses, it’s probably the latter. There’s no reason to pause dramatically at every comma, let alone to take a breath at each of them. Many people did, making the read choppy and hard to follow. Instead, just provide some clean breaks, so the engineer can insert a pause if necessary to suit the video.

    Oh, and one other tip that can make financial subjects sound more palatable and friendly: Smile.

    1st place winner: soundinsight

    261 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear soundinsight's recording

    He’s warm, natural, real. It sounds like he's just talking. In other words, exactly what the Director’s Notes said. Other than the mouth noise, this is a very good take. Although there was no requirement that people slate, it would be better if he had, for the convenience of the reviewer and to make his name more memorable.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by December 13, 2013 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Curt Mathies - Fidelity Investments - Roth IRA.mp3

    2nd place winner: VoiceOfReason

    158 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear VoiceOfReason's recording

    Nice smooth, friendly, easy-going tone. He's just a tad too stiff with his delivery, but otherwise just what the Director ordered.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by December 13, 2013 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/JoelRichards-RothIRA.mp3

    3rd place winner: amytaylor-fernandez

    146 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear amytaylor-fernandez's recording

    A bit too bubbly. Otherwise very nice and natural.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by December 13, 2013 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/AmyTaylor_FidelityAudition.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, December 6 click below

    Contest ending Monday, December 2

    Contest Title:

    The First Thanksgiving

    Director's Notes:

    NOTE: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, this contest's schedule is different. Entries are due by Tuesday, November 26 at 11:59 PM and the winners will be picked on Monday, December 2.

    This is a simulated audition for the History Channel’s featured documentary, “The First Thanksgiving.” The show’s producers are seeking male or female voice over talent to provide the narration for the hour-long piece. Though it is a traditional documentary, it is extremely important that this read not be dull or dry. Please refrain from slating.

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    Script:

    In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as the first Thanksgiving celebration. In 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    We tip our collective hat to you if you’re one of the bilingual types who can slip in and out of a non-English pronunciation without missing a beat – as many New York City broadcast reporters do when they say a Spanish word or name in their English-language report. The reason we mention this is:

    In this script, it’s important to say the Native American name “Wampanoag” with the same facility. Part of the trick to it is confidence. The other part is in knowing how to pronounce it and getting yourself used to saying it in a natural manner. And it helps to have looked it up. Dictionary.com has both phonetic and audio pronunciation guides.

    To our knowledge, most people pronounced it correctly and fluidly. However some said “Wampanaug” or “Wampanog.” Others paused before the word, probably to brace themselves for the challenge. (You could probably tighten up a pause in post-production. But it’s better to practice this sort of thing, so you can save engineers that trouble. And it will also help avoid sounding like you edited your performance, or assembled it from many takes – which can cost you the job.)

    Another word that some people struggled with was “colonists.” They said “coh-law-nists” rather than “cah-la-nists.” The difference was sometimes slight, but it can be disconcerting. Also, some people rushed it, sloppily turning it into a two-syllable word, “col-nists.”

    Many reads were choppy and disjointed.

    For one thing, many people paused too long after “1621.” True, there is a comma there, but the copywriter (unless skilled in thoughtfully writing for audio) may have used it just as a matter of convention. It is the only comma in a long sentence, and more than the slightest pause there can diminish listener attention – which you’ve just that moment gained! TIP: Plan beforehand where you will breath, and mark the script. People paused as many as four times in this sentence (and not all were breaths), but to read the first sentence comfortably, only one breath is necessary. The most logical place to take it is after the first complete thought – after “feast.” Make it a short one, just enough to finish the sentence. Then you can take one a bit longer. Do NOT breath after “1621.” In fact, don’t even pause – you might simply hang on the “n” sound of “1” the slightest bit.

    A slight pause after “1863” might be more warranted, so that the listener can catch up to the new thought – that the year scene is changing.

    Or pause a bit more between the sentences – that’s another way to signal that something new is about to happen. Leaving space gives serves two functions: (a) It clues the reviewer that you understand this type of delivery (documentaries typically have long space between phrases, for visuals to be seen) and (b), it gives the production team a moment to do the same – they need a chance to envision your voice with the visuals, music, and sound effects they have planned.

    Does this advice to use pauses contradict what we’ve just said about having too many pauses? Not really. Consider that “1621” is unlikely to be a distinct visual, and is not much of a “thought” in itself. A pause after “Indians” isn’t necessary, but might be a change of visual (from establishing long shot to a shot of the table?). So a break there might be advisable. But thus far in the sentence it’s still not a complete thought. TIP: The important thing at that point would be to have a clean break between “Indians” and “shared.” You wouldn’t put it there in an audiobook, nor in a radio commercial (normally the S sound would blend into the SH sound), but a teensy break there would enable the engineer to widen the space if necessary. Just don’t inflect it as if it were the end of the sentence, and don’t take a breath.

    Some reads were dull, maybe trying to sound “scholarly.” Quite a few people read too quickly, which can also be boring. And some people tried so hard not to be dull or dry, that they went way into “bubbly.” TIP: In finding the happy medium, remember to make use of timing and inflection. And don’t approach it mechanically. That’s for practice. For a good take, let yourself be at ease, care about the words, and “tell the story.”

    Congratulations to all for heeding the instruction not to slate! Considering our contest’s history of irregular slating performances over the years, this may be a first. (Be sure to note whatever slating instructions might be in next week’s contest – and if there are none, then simply slate with your name, before your read, as a default.)

    1st place winner: JCDunnVOX

    267 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear JCDunnVOX's recording

    Nice job. His was one of the smoothest (least choppy) reads, which is what won him First Place. It was also one of the more "at ease" reads, no tension in his voice. Be careful not to let looseness affect pronunciation. “1621” had a “twenny” quality to it. That’s conversational, but not consistent with the care taken in the rest of his read. Could use more space between the sentences. “In 1863” has some mouth clicks around it - and that could preclude him from getting the job. TIP: A dry mouth is a major cause of mouth clicks – chomp into a slice of green apple to alleviate that. Mic positioning can also affect mouth noise. He said “Wampanaug” (three syllables rather than four), but not being scholars on this, we’ll let that go for now. The important point is that the client may not be well informed on the pronunciation either, so it is important that talent be correct.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 12/6/2013 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/The First Thanksgiving_4.mp3

    2nd place winner: John Wolfsberger

    181 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear John Wolfsberger's recording

    Almost a tie for first place, especially because there is less mouth noise. But performance is our key objective, and his is choppy, too many pauses. The deliberative tone is good, but also becomes choppy. There are some glottal-stops (momentary pauses caused by closing the throat) he might have avoided. For example, before “is” and “as” in “that is acknowledged today as the first.” Interestingly, he says “wam-PAHN-o-og” (stress on the second syllable rather than the third). This is not the accenting indicated at Dictionary.com, but does sound very natural, in fact maybe more pleasant to English-speaking ears. Again, we’re not the authority, but it is a good demonstration of how sometimes a word might be pronounced in a way you hadn’t thought of. (And we’re not talking about a word like Worcestershire.)

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 12/6/2013 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/john-thanksgiving.mp3

    3rd place winner: amiebreedlove

    144 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear amiebreedlove's recording

    There’s a very nice "at ease" feel to her delivery. But it’s a bit robotic and choppy at times, with way too many pauses, yet not quite enough space between sentences.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by 12/6/2013 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/The First Thanksgiving_Amie Breedlove.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Monday, December 2 click below

    Contest ending Friday, November 15

    Contest Title:

    Blinky’s Flying Flower

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for Anime-ation Studio’s cartoon series Blinky’s Adventures, which follows a teddy bear who is trying to get home to his magical world. The target audience is ages 1 through 8. Please state your name and “Blinky Audition” in the voice of the character.

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    Script:

    Blinky: Come on! I just need three more magic petals and then the flying flower will be whole again! Then I can go back home! Oh you can’t give up now – you’re the first human who has helped me!

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    Tragedy is easy. Comedy is hard. So is animation, in a case like this. The wide age range of the audience (1 through 8 years) makes it very hard to speak appropriately to everyone. Toddlers at the low end typically enjoy cute, softer-spoken cartoons. Whereas 6-year-old boys are better entertained by anime with flying destroyers, explosions and all. And 6-year-old girls, .... well, you get the point.

    We had reads that were very appropriate for 1-year-olds, and others that were right for 8-year-olds. But very few people found a voice that would work for the entire age range.

    And there are the parents to think of, who might be within earshot (or if this were a product, they are the purchasers). A whiny voice might be okay with kids, but most parents would hate it.

    Some of the voices were really whiny. And many of the reads were screechy, possibly from trying to hit a higher pitch than was comfortable for the talent. Screechiness has kind of the same problem as whiny. (TIP: Know your natural vocal range and work within it.)

    So what kind of voice appeals to all ages 1 through 8? Generally one that is not so extreme, but is not an “ordinary” voice, either. (Although many cartoon characters have ordinary “real people” voices, and that’s fine, that’s not what the Director’s Notes seemed to specify.)

    As is often the case with character-voice novices, many entrants effected voices that sounded like they had a horrible cold. It’s so typical that it’s usually not impressive. True, changing the placement of your voice is a valid technique. And moving it up into your nose is certainly different from “normal.” But doing that alone is not very different from everyone else.

    Think about the many classic cartoon character voices. Some appealed to all ages. So it is an answerable challenge. Go for a voice that is unusual, maybe a little quirky, but easily intelligible and not too extreme. Our First Place winner is a good example.

    The important thing is to add to the voice. Especially in an audition. Add an understanding of kids’ ability (and inability) to comprehend. In other words, don’t talk down to them (especially the older ones), but don’t go too fast (lest you lose the younger ones).

    And, as in any animation audition, convey emotion. In fact, display multiple emotions. If you can incorporate several emotions in a 15-second clip, that’s good. It suggests you can maintain a child’s interest over a full cartoon. Conversely, no matter how great your voice, if there’s NO variety for 15 seconds, how is a caster to know that you can do anything else over several minutes? Bor-r-r-ing!

    TIP: Real people in conversation constantly (if unconsciously) adjust their emotion from phrase to phrase. Imagine how boring, annoying and non-communicative it would be if we all said every thought exactly the same way? So, in almost any genre, voice actors should add emotional change, pitch change, tempo change. Think about it: You have only 15 seconds in front of a casting director. If you can show multiple abilities in that time (and in an appropriate way), that’s VERY impressive.

    Some people, in order to give it different twists, gave more than one take. A second take is usually acceptable (unless expressly forbidden) if done right, and if the takes are truly different from each other. If the takes aren’t significantly different, it shows that the talent doesn’t have a good ear and/or good judgment, and also, it wastes the reviewer’s time. Unfortunately, that was sometimes the case this week. We would hear a reasonably good performance, followed by another reasonably good performance that was pretty much like the first one.

    All that said, it’s also important to make it look effortless. As we’ve noted in reviewing previous contests, choppiness should be avoided. Practice making these transitions fluidly, so they sound natural. If you must edit them together, the result must represent what you can easily repeat in one take later. And for that matter, the edits should match – some of the match-ups didn’t ... uh, match up.

    1st place winner: TimE13

    269 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear TimE13's recording

    Interesting: he slated his name in his real voice, then said "Blinky audition" in the voice of the character. This choice immediately showed more of his range. And technically, it didn’t violate the instructions. After all, they didn’t say "state BOTH your name and ‘Blinky Audition’ in the voice of the character." As for that character, it was a good compromise that could work for the entire age range. However, he went way too fast -- sometimes even slurring words and cutting off letters such as the "T" in the first "first." Also, he gave two takes. Because both were so similar, one take would have been sufficient.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by November 22, 2013 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Blinky Audtion.mp3

    2nd place winner: Tonia

    269 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Tonia's recording

    Nice emotional changes kept it interesting, and she had a good, consistent character. This voice, too, could work for 1 through 8 year olds. We had some reads that were more appropriate for toddlers, and others that were better than this for the tooth-fairy crowd. But very few people found a voice that would work for the entire audience.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by November 22, 2013 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Edge contest Blinky(2).mp3

    3rd place winner: Mia Bankston

    192 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Mia Bankston's recording

    Too bad she didn't follow the slating directions (she incorrectly slated at the end), because this is a good read and would have placed her in Second or even First place had she slated correctly. But she still had a winning smile, and we love the chuckle. Nice emotional changes. And note how her voice, while a good character, seems pretty close to natural. Animation doesn’t necessarily mean weird.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by November 22, 2013 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Blinkys Flying Flower VO - Mia Bankston.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, November 15 click below

    Contest ending Friday, November 8

    Contest Title:

    WanderLust.com Banner Ad

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for an Internet banner ad for an online travel booking company. The banner will be displayed on partnering websites and will feature audio when the cursor hovers over it. We are looking for a male or female to provide the voice over for these ads. The read should be enthusiastic but not too over-the-top. Please slate your name or username.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    Get the top 20 travel deals on the web! WanderLust.com has specials handpicked every week from over 200 sites. Click here to save hundreds on your next trip.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    On the Internet nobody knows if you’re a dog. They also don’t know where you are. And if you’re a banner (or other shape) ad on a web page, users may not even know who’s talking to them from their computer. Luckily, as the Director’s Notes stated, this time the audio doesn’t begin until the user hovers over the ad – so the user is likely to realize the connection.

    But in case the user does not catch on (maybe they quickly ran the mouse over the ad by mistake?), it’s very important to pronounce the product name (WanderLust.com) correctly and clearly. Many of this week’s performers didn’t pay it enough heed. Sometimes “Wanderlust” sounded like “Wander Lost.” Or "Wanderlus.” Even “Wander Less” (Yipes, not that!)

    The importance of the client’s name goes without saying – it’s always especially important. But this time there are yet more reasons. Some people may be unfamiliar with the name (even as a word). And because common mispronunciations sound like something else (e.g., "Less"), the listener might not realize he or she has mis-heard it; it needs to be unmistakable.

    While we’re at it, let us remind everyone that clients in the travel business are selling enjoyment. Some people failed to smile when they said “WanderLust.com.”

    Internet anonymity works in the other direction, too. The advertiser has no idea who is listening, or where. They might be fluent English-speakers, maybe not. Considering that the client is a travel company promoting their ad on the Internet, probably many are not, even among targeted users.

    So enunciation is a key factor throughout this script (again, it’s important in almost any script). Many people were lazy and didn't complete or properly form their words. Here’s a quiz:

    What words were these? Dills, tah, hahn pih'd, weh, ehvee, trih, fum

    Answers: Deals, to, handpicked, web, every, trip, fun.

    And if there’s music mixed with it, that’s yet more reason for everything to be clear, so the words stand out.

    But be careful. Articulate too much, and it becomes slow and/or choppy. There’s a natural tendency to hesitate after the client name. That also contributes to choppiness and is not necessary. Over-enunciation can also sound contrived, trying too hard to be perfect.

    The Director’s Notes said not to sound “over-the-top,” but some people went over the line anyway. They were way too enthusiastic, sounding fake, almost like a parody. Some were just too fast for good comprehension.

    At the other extreme, many otherwise strong contenders were too low-key. Some people thought too much about their delivery (as they delivered it), and as a result sounded stilted. And some people sounded like a person who is clearly not having a good time but trying to fake energy.

    Which is a good tip to end with: Voice over work is fun. It should feel comfortable and you should sound comfortable. When reading about a fun subject like travel, be comfortable and permit yourself to have that fun.

    1st place winner: Debby Barnes

    307 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Debby Barnes's recording

    Like many others, she had some weak pronunciation moments ("wanderlust" and "hand" are missing their ending consonants), but her slate and the beginning of the audition are wonderful. She uses a genuine, smiley, upbeat delivery. She is vocally-free, which is why she sounds so natural. She's not overthinking her every move. Well, at least during the first half. Somewhere along the way, she began overthinking and, as a result, the latter half is less free. It even sounds a little bit stilted. A note regarding her speeding through the phrase "from over” – The key benefit is “200 sites” (which she hits well) but “over” is also important, so it should not have been so rushed.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by November 15, 2013 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/DebbyBarnes_WanderLustBannerAd_ESContest.mp3

    2nd place winner: jack parnell

    208 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear jack parnell's recording

    He would have won First Place, but because he slated at the end (see the Directors Notes), he's been dropped to Second!! Here, too, "Wanderlust" sounds like "Wanderluss," but otherwise it’s a great read. He's one of the few who sound "comfortable" during the entire read.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by November 15, 2013 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Wanderlust.com-JackParnell.mp3

    3rd place winner: Scott Martin

    209 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Scott Martin's recording

    He begins a bit too fast, but after the first phrase, the pacing is good. "Every" sounds like "ehvee." He trails off at the ends of sentences; “sites" and "trip" both lose a little bit of energy. TIP: Stay in character through the last word!

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by November 15, 2013 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Scott Martin_WanderLust1.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, November 8 click below

    Contest ending Friday, November 1

    Contest Title:

    Subway Announcement

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for New York City’s MTA subway system announcements. They are looking for a man or woman to become the new “voice” of the MTA. The voice actor will record all of the stop announcements as well as any “special” announcements and service changes. It is imperative that all copy be read precisely and clearly, since the audience will include both native English speakers and non-native English speakers. Please slate your name after the read.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    Your attention please: If your destination is John F. Kennedy Airport, you MUST transfer from this train to a Far Rockaway-bound “A” train, to Howard Beach-JFK Airport.

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    As we write this, today is All Saints’ Day. How appropriate that we recognize the tireless contributions of New York City’s subway workers. In particular, those equally tireless recorded announcements.

    A fair number of entries sounded like actual well-recorded subway announcements (as opposed to live announcements by dispatchers, conductors or whomever) typically sound. That was both a good and a bad thing.

    Many subway announcements are concatenated (combined from various interchangeable words, phrases, and phonemes recorded by a human.) For example “This is the train to // John F. Kennedy Airport.”

    That might be why many people sounded robotic, really choppy. Quite a few sounded like an imitation of Siri.

    True, when recording individual phrases or words, it is important to have a clean break before and after. Or rather, it has been. In fact, nowadays most new concatenated systems do not sound all that fragmented. They're engineered much better (thanks to better voice actors, engineers, editing, software, etc.). But that sound is stuck in the heads of the public, including the heads of many novices who audition for this genre.

    Regardless, nothing in the Director’s Notes said this was such a concatenation script.

    Because, in fact, it wasn’t. As some may have noticed, this particular script is a special-purpose situation.

    The announcement is important because there is more than one “A train.” A bit of background, gleaned from reading the NYC subway map (which is available at the MTA’s website, so anyone can become so savvy): Northbound, you can take any A train if you want to get to Inwood (or for that matter, Sugar Hill in Harlem). But southbound, if you go to the end of the line, you’ll wind up in either Ozone Park or in Far Rockaway, depending on which A train you board. Until the very end of the line, they both run on the same track; the respective destination is shown on the side of the train. And since the stop for JFK airport is on only the Far Rockaway route, it’s important that riders on the other route know they need to change trains. That is probably the purpose of this announcement.

    How does knowing this affect the read? It means that the words “Far Rockway” are more important than the words “A-train” – because listeners are already on an A train. (Because the E, D C, and B trains share tracks with the A train along parts of their routes, it is possible this announcement would also be run on those trains. But that’s less likely. This is where being an actual rider or asking the client might help.)

    TIP: To be understood as well as possible, it is important to understand, yourself, exactly what the script means to say. When faced with a subject you know little about, or an unusual situation in a subject you DO know something about, look it up. Familiarize yourself with the subject and situation. If still necessary to ask a question of your director or client, you’ll be able to do so more knowledgeably. You don’t need to become an expert in the subject. Just don’t sound naïve to the experts in your audience.

    Many people did not emphasize “MUST.” This word was capitalized, which clearly means it should be emphasized (“hit”). Writers rarely capitalize a word like that without some special reason. Why should it be emphasized? This should have been a clue to investigate for yourself.

    Naturally, it was also important to read well in all other respects, too. A director might help with understanding the script (as we have above), but it’s up to the talent not to slur, to read at an understandable pace (particularly since the audience includes non-native English speakers), and so on.

    There was a lot of slurring. For example, the "t" in the middle of "must transfer" sounded like either "must-ah-transfer" or "mus transfer" or had a big space in it. In other words, either too much attention to enunciation, or too little. Folks, just be natural. If the client wants a pause between those words, they'll write it in. Otherwise just speak it as we do in general conversation: "mustransfe". Other examples of sloppiness were: "airport" missing the final "T"; saying “tah” instead of “to”; and avoidable technical errors, such as recording way off-mic at an extremely low level.

    Some people read too quickly.

    A few were funny but didn’t sound like they were taking the audition seriously.

    Many, even among our top ten picks, did not slate as directed. Either they didn’t slate at all, or slated at the beginning (the usual place, unless specified otherwise), or just slated the title, not their name.

    We hope those people are better at following instructions when headed for JFK.

    1st place winner: Chris Koprowski

    325 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear Chris Koprowski's recording

    Very good overall. He's one of the few who were smooth. For example, he didn’t pause between "Kennedy" and "Airport" as most people did. The "Y" in the second "your" is missing, even though in the first word of the audition the “Y” is very clear. He didn’t hit “MUST,” so although first, his read is not perfect. But it is consistent, and he sounds like he would be able to adjust when the director explains the point of this script, as noted above.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by November 8, 2013 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Edge2-Subway Announcement-ChrisK.mp3

    2nd place winner: aelvir

    196 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear aelvir's recording

    When she's in the zone, she has the right voice and delivery. But she veers away. As a result, her tempo varies oddly and had unnecessary pauses. Her recording was audible on only the left channel.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by November 8, 2013 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/mta.mp3

    3rd place winner: kelleymesa

    189 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear kelleymesa's recording

    Another okay read, but it sounds like she’s trying to emulate other transit announcements, rather than just be herself. Her read is a little drawn out at times. There’s too much space before her slate, and the slate has zero energy. To the reviewer, this suggests a lacking confidence (whether that’s the case or not). The recording technical quality is hollow.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by November 8, 2013 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/nyc-mta-27oct13.mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, November 1 click below

    Contest ending Friday, October 25

    Contest Title:

    Tear-jerker

    Director's Notes:

    This is a simulated audition for the dramatic audiobook “The Last Au Revoir.” In this scene, the two main characters are bidding each other a tearful goodbye in a quiet café. Voice actors who work in the audiobook genre are often required to read scenes that are charged with emotion. The emotional state of the character must be conveyed by the actor (be it joy, love, fear, anger, angst, etc.) in order to bring life to the book, but this must be accomplished without sacrificing clarity or technique.

    Get Pro Feedback for $20! Scroll down, below the prizes, to "AND JUST FOR SUBMITTING AN ENTRY!"

    Script:

    “I – I just want you to be happy. That’s all I ever wanted. You may not know what I mean by that just yet, but in time you will understand. You were the best thing in my life. Know that and hold on to that.”

    Results

    Why Some Voice-Talent Didn't Win:

    Audiobooks styles differ from many other voice-over genres in various ways. Some ways are subtle. Some are obvious.

    For example, subtle: While in many genres the object is to work in a totally silent, non-reverberant room, and it’s helpful to process out breaths and any ambient sound that’s audible, in audiobooks a slight natural room tone is actually desirable. This is because, over the long haul of an audio book, the continual disappearance of that almost subconscious background “presence” would seem unnatural and even a little spooky.

    There are also differences within the audiobook genre. One of them is in the amount of dramatic license allowed the narrator. Many fiction audiobooks are, in fact, “narrated,” rather than “acted.” In other words, the narrator will change his or her voice and delivery to indicate the various characters, but doesn’t actually “become” them, the way, say, an animation talent would.

    There are exceptions, and this may have been one of them, clued by the Director’s description of it as a “dramatic audiobook.”

    But there is another good reason why these are not universal. An audiobook is already a long form. If, as in the case of some reads this week, there’s too much weeping and crying and theatrical carrying-on, a simple 20-second passage like this can seem to take forever. Over the course of an entire book, it would add up, listeners are likely to lose interest, and the recording would become even longer.

    Not to mention that this scene might be taking place in a quiet coffee shop, where going over-the-top emotionally would be, well, over the top.

    Having mentioned that after all, let’s move on...

    In any genre, the ability to convey emotion – overtly or subtly – is important. Obviously it’s a key consideration in many audiobooks. But the emotion must also be on-target. Some people seemed to miss the emotion they were probably aiming for, sounding more like they were auditioning for a cold & flu commercial. Maybe the character was worried sick?

    Some even sounded like they were physical pain – as if they were about to die and were trying to get out their final words. That’s also a bit too much.

    Incidentally, this passage was not from an actual book, so there’s no way any entrant could research it. Ordinarily that’s a good thing to try. Sometimes you can determine whether “tearful” (as mentioned in the Director’s Notes) means the character has tears in his eyes, or is full-out sobbing. There was a wide range of composure in the reads. Some people had absolutely no emotion, and others needed to calm down. We accepted anything within reason as valid.

    Other concerns were:

    • Unnatural reading, contrivance, rather than “speaking” as one would normally. For example, a glottal stop before “all” in “That’s all” screams that the talent is reading a script.
    • Excessive pausing. With no visual, the use of too many long dramatic pauses becomes overly theatrical and disengages the listener. It can make the difference between a read that sounds great vs. a read that makes the talent sound naïve.
    • Other forms of excessive theatricality. For example, odd laughter. At some point, it is no longer ironic, but instead sounds angry or even crazy.

    We’ll give an honorable mention to username: Mannix3453. Overall, he was very good and exhibited a terrific and appropriate range of emotions. He clearly wanted the character to move from emotion to emotion, as people do in real life. (In fact, assigning a flow of emotions to any VO narration is a technique we’ve advised in other VO contexts – the premise is that each thought in a person’s conversation is a further development of what came before, and is thus it carries at least a slightly different emotion. And in uncomfortable social situations such as this scene, a person naturally has conflicting and evolving thoughts.)

    However our Honorable Mentionee transitioned between emotions too obviously, as if it were a calculated change, maybe even written down on the script. Most obvious is abruptly jumping from the end of the laugh into another emotion.

    But apart from this dramatic lurching, wow! He is vocally free (that’s good), unafraid of the microphone, and can act in a natural-sounding way. Nice job.

    1st place winner: cobryon1

    7 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear cobryon1's recording

    Lucky, lucky he, that we were not in quite the hurry that some casting people are. As we were listening, we were thinking, “Too theatrical, sappy, too much drama.” Towards the end, we were distracted for a few seconds, causing us to delay hitting Stop and moving on to the next entrant. Then, several seconds after the script’s last line, we realized that a second take was beginning. And Take #2 is terrific. It sounds real. His emotion changes organically throughout the read, which adds a wonderful realistic quality. This is a winning read. TIP: Anytime you have more than one take, indicate so at the top of the audition by saying, "Two takes follow." Better, if there's time, say, "Two takes follow. Take one is theatrical. Take two is natural." Otherwise casting professionals likely won't even hear the second take. And leave a bit less of a gap between takes, in case the listener forgets. Of course, if the instructions say “one take only,” submit only your best shot.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $250 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $197 credit for Phase-3, or a $197 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by November 1, 2013 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Edge_CrisOBryon_TheLastAuRevoir_ScriptContest.mp3

    2nd place winner: helga362

    214 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear helga362's recording

    Good emotions, and they change nicely. Sounds like a real person talking in real life. That’s the goal. Her changing dynamic range and emotion maintain the listener's engagement. However, there are some things to work on: Watch out for the NY accent (most noticeable in "understand." (She says, "undah-stand.") Also the word "may" in the phrase "You may not know..." is swallowed. Technically, her recording level is way, WAY too low. Must work on that.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $150 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $114 credit for Phase-3, or a $114 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by November 1, 2013 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/tear-jerker_0.mp3

    3rd place winner: D Voice

    178 people have played this

    Recording:

    Click to hear D Voice's recording

    His emotion is good. Not overdone, as most recordings were. However he takes too long to get through the material ... that causes the listener to become unengaged. TIP: Many people listen to audiobooks while driving their car. We don't want them having to focus too much just to keep track, and definitely don’t want them falling asleep at the wheel! Picking up the pace and eliminating some of the pauses would make this a wonderful read.

    Pick a prize based on your current skill level and needs!

    Select either a $99 credit for Phase-1, a $100 credit for Phase-2 ABC Program*, a $57 credit for Phase-3, or a $57 credit for Phase-4.

    If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the past two months, you are not eligible to win any place in this week’s contest. Why? To reward other entrants who have improved in that time. But we encourage you to enter nevertheless, for practice and to demonstrate your capability.

    No prize may be combined with another prize and/or coupon, nor applied to services already purchased, nor to any service in which the winner is already enrolled. Prize is to be used by the winner only, not transferable. *You must be assessed prior to signing-up for the Phase 2 ABC Program.

    Claim your prize by November 1, 2013 by calling our team at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

    /sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/DV- Tear-Jerker (Edge).mp3

    To view all entries from
    Contest ending Friday, October 25 click below