Edge Studio

Saturday May 30

ONE DAY SPECIAL

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Monthly Audition Contest!

Archived contests

Contest ending Friday, May 29

Contest Title:

Acadia National Park

Director's Notes:

This is a simulated audition for a local tourism board.  We're seeking a conversational read - it should sound like you are describing the night sky to a friend or family member.  We do NOT want an announcer.  Yet our goal is to increase the number tourists, thus your delivery needs to intrigue and convey someone to visit our website to learn more.

 

Script:

Here, among the many aspects of natural beauty in Acadia National Park, is the legendary view of the starry night sky, which provides stunning views of the Milky Way to thousands.  Visit Acadiamagic.com to learn more.

Remember to check Archived Contests at the beginning of each month to see the winners as well as feedback and tips from Edge Studio instructors.

To view all entries from
Contest ending Friday, May 29 click below

Contest ending Thursday, April 30

Contest Title:

International Reading Association

Director's Notes:

This is a simulated audition for a PSA: We are looking for a smooth, conversational, and confident read. Channel your favorite teacher or librarian who genuinely believes in the importance of early literacy and universal education rights for children. 

 

Script:

Children have a right to appropriate early reading instruction based on their individual needs. International Reading Association – making a difference means making it different.

Remember to check Archived Contests at the beginning of each month to see the winners as well as feedback and tips from Edge Studio instructors.

Results

Edge Studio Tips and Feedback:

Congratulations to our winners, Grainne, e.mariecox , and aoatley.  No read was perfect, but all our winners showed something special, yet different, so there's much to learn in this article on where, when and how to strengthen your reads.
 
 
EDGE STUDIO TIP #1:
 
Convey precisely the persona that the client requests. The Director's Notes said to sound "genuine." Generally this means speaking in your natural voice, at natural volume, in a natural way.  In contrast, many people missed some element of "naturalness."  Some were over-the-top dramatic, which in voice-over might mean they're simply trying too hard, but in the real world would sound very insincere, or sarcastic, or just odd.  Some people went to the other extreme and sounded so casual and carefree, it was as if they didn't care about the point they are making. Yet others spoke so slowly that they sounded condescending.  
 
To get a feeling for "real," try this: Just talk with a friend and (with their knowledge) record a bit of the conversation. Make it long enough that you both forget this is an experiment, and you have an actual conversation. Don't wear headphones, don't work the mic, none of that. The point is to talk as you normally do. Is that how your VO recording sounds? In this case, it should.
 
EDGE STUDIO TIP #2:
Think about how you feel. The Director's Notes said to "channel your favorite teacher or librarian," who is "smooth, conversational, and confident."  The word "channel" doesn't always mean to imitate or effect a voice that's not your own. There's no call for a "character voice" in that sense.  Here, your "character" is more of a mindset, the way you express emotions. After all, the way we convey emotions in everyday life helps defines our individual character. What is the mindset of a librarian or teacher, as opposed to your own at a microphone? How can you feel like them, and convey feelings as they would?

Some entrants worked hard at disguising their natural voice to sound like a stereotypical teacher or librarian. They sounded unnatural. And they acted themselves out of this audition.  
 
EDGE STUDIO TIP #3:
 
Analyze the script to determine the message(s) the client wants conveyed ... and ensure it is conveyed.  In this case, the tag line is your first clue: "Making a difference means making it different."  That's a nice play of words, comparing and contrasting "difference" and "different." But what does it mean?  Aha, earlier there is the phrase "based on their individual needs." That is the core of the message. Some people sped through one or both of these phrases as if they didn't know what they were saying.  Others didn't take care to be sure the listener would catch every word.  Either way, the message was not prominently conveyed to listeners. 
 
EDGE STUDIO TIP #4:
 
Do your best to sound – and be – professional.  We recognize that this contest is not a real audition situation, that some of our entrants are novices, and that this is also a coaching situation, so we listen to every entry.  In a real audition, where the casting pro could have hundreds of submissions to screen, each recording may get just a few seconds before deciding whether or not to move on. And, if at any point in the recording you sound like you'd be extra work for them, they're likely to click the "Next!" button.  So, these reminders:
  • Slate as instructed. If no slating instruction is given, a slate may not be necessary, or you might put it at the end. Keep it simple. In an online environment, your name will do.
  • Improve your audio.  It doesn't cost much these days to set yourself up with basic broadcast-quality equipment, and there are easy ways to improve the acoustics of any space.  To get up to speed on what you will need, consider taking our Home Studio 101 webinar. [https://www.edgestudio.com/voice-over-home-studio-101 ]  This page in our blog files will also be helpful: 10 Tips for a Successful Home Audition.  [ https://www.edgestudio.com/blogs/10-tips-for-successful-home-audition ]
  • Don't submit multiple takes that sound similar, and don't add music or special effects.  If you have equally impressive reads that are very different from each other, it may make sense to include both.  (Precede your first read with "Two takes," or the second take may never be noticed.) Don't describe them; they will speak for themselves. What wastes casting teams' time is hearing two very similar reads – it suggests that the voice actor doesn't have range, can't make a professional decision, or doesn't hear how alike they are. As for unrequested music and sound effects, they do not belong in an audition.

 

1st place winner: Grainne

339 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear Grainne's recording

A pleasant read.  In our American environment, her British accent may have a bit of "unfair advantage," in that many Americans subconsciously associate the accent with education. But much more important, she sounds very natural and genuine. At times she sounds a little stiff, but a teacher or librarian might sound like that. We especially like the way she spoke the tag line with clarity and understanding. But she rushed the first word of the client name ("International"). Client and product names are always super-important.  Recording quality is good.

Free One-Hour Audition-Workout with David Goldberg.

Book your Free One-Hour Audition Workout with David Goldberg valued at $240 now! Contact your Edge Studio Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

See prize details below.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the six months (6 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. You are still eligible for the Participation Prize.

This offer cannot be applied toward any services already purchased, nor to any service in which you are already enrolled.

Prize is to be used by you only, not transferable.

Claim your prize by calling your Education Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

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

2nd place winner: e.mariecox

291 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear e.mariecox's recording

She has a nice, bright happiness in her manner, with nice variety, too. She sounds like a librarian who is enthusiastic about this.  But she spoke too fast throughout, and especially in the last line, so that the words "difference" and "different" sounded … the same. On the technical side, her recording space has too much resonance. We hear some popping. And the audio signal isn't clean, which could be due to a low-end microphone, or maybe she was not positioned on-axis with the mic, or her post-processing settings were wrong. Three audio-quality technicalities would possibly lose her the job.

Free DAW webinar!

Appy your $50 credit towards the purchase of any Edge Studio product or service! Contact your Edge Studio Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343)

See prize details below.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the six months (6 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. You are still eligible for the Participation Prize.

This offer cannot be applied toward any services already purchased, nor to any service in which you are already enrolled.

Prize is to be used by you only, not transferable.

Claim your prize by calling your Education Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

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

3rd place winner: aoatley

284 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear aoatley's recording

He sounds like a librarian – not pushy or presumptuous, but rather quiet, almost as if he's talking next to the "Sh-h-h" sign.  But this causes him to lack the other requested quality – confidence. And it keeps him from sounding totally conversational. He read "International Reading Association" exactly as he had said the previous sentence, so it would not be apparent to a listener (who has no script) that this is the advertiser, not the start of another sentence. Just a bit more energy, more smile and hitting the word "Reading" instead of "International" would help fix that. (After all, this about "reading," no?) In contrast, he did a good job of clearly contrasting the words "difference" and "different." Otherwise, his pronunciations need attention, being a tad slurry at times.  Recording quality is good. 

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

Appy your $25 credit towards the purchase of any Edge Studio product or service! Contact your Edge Studio Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343)

See prize details below.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the six months (6 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. You are still eligible for the Participation Prize.

This offer cannot be applied toward any services already purchased, nor to any service in which you are already enrolled.

Prize is to be used by you only, not transferable.

Claim your prize by calling your Education Advisor 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Audition International reading assoc 2.mp3

To view all entries from
Contest ending Thursday, April 30 click below

Contest ending Tuesday, March 31

Contest Title:

Six Flags Great Adventure

Director's Notes:

This is a simulated TV commercial audition for Six Flags Great Adventure. Keep in mind this is a family adventure theme park, so the music will be thrilling and the visuals will be of exhilarating and exciting rides and more.  Slate name or username after the read. 

Script:

Kids hate the word NO. As in NO you can’t borrow the car. NO you can't stay up late. NO, NO, NO! Well isn’t it time for a YES?  We think so.  Six Flags Great Adventure. Yes! 

Remember to check Archived Contests at the beginning of each month to see the winners as well as feedback and tips from Edge Studio instructors.

Results

Edge Studio Tips and Feedback:

Congratulations to our winners, MikeinGA, jorgensenvocals , and leannedavisvoice.  To borrow a word from this months' script, "Yes!"  We had a lot of nice entries, but these especially stood out. THAT'S  A KEY ELEMENT IN MOST AUDITIONS: TO STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD. Here's what we mean by that, with some tips on how to properly differentiate yourself for a competitive advantage.


EDGE STUDIO TIP #1:

Stand out from the crowd. But how do you do this while providing the client what they requested?  Simple: avoid getting so caught up following the Director's Notes that you forget to demonstrate your natural voice and natural vocal personality -- because everyone is unique. Then, unless the Director specifically requests something specific, have fun, play it up, and avoid what you suspect everyone else will do.

The blunt truth: As an experiment, we randomly took 10 auditions this month, made a recording of them all playing simultaneously, and listened back. At times, the playback sounded like a chorus. What does this mean? It means that most voice actors did the same thing. Most people read much of the script almost exactly the same way, varying only in speed or length of pauses. Especially the "Yes, yes, yes" part.  

Bear in mind that in a real-world audition, a casting screener hears audition after audition, after audition, after ... often more than a hundred of them.  In this monthly contest (which is a simulated audition), we listen to all the entries entirely. But if this were one of Edge Studio's real auditions, we'd do as other professional casting screeners do; if our first impression is, "Eh, nothing special" ... we move on to the next recording.

So absolutely: Stand out -- from the outset of your audition. Think about that first impression.
 
EDGE STUDIO TIP #2:
Before recording, think about what you want to convey. What emotions can you express? What feeling do you want to elicit? Make it real, whether you are voicing a character, or are a spokesperson. That is, whether your voice and mannerisms are totally realistic, or exaggerated, make them credible. They should be founded in actual behavior and feelings – so that your listener believes them. There are many ways that actors go about this process. For some ideas you can use right away, and a starting point for exploring further, see our article, Method-to-Improv: What are the major acting techniques?  Ultimately, the best process is whatever works for you.

 
EDGE STUDIO TIP #3:
 
Work up your energy. Many of the reads, although vocally competent, sounded like the person was simply reading. They technically read well. But they still fell flat. The problem? No energy. No emotional foundation. Following Tip #2 will help fix that, but here's a simple trick that will also get you ramped up a bit: Jump up a few times (careful of the mic!). Shake yourself loose. Catch your breath, then launch into the character or persona you have in mind. The reason this works is more than physical. It gets your mind out of "I'm an announcer in a vocal booth" mode.
 
 
EDGE STUDIO TIP #4:
 
Don't add music or sound effects. Talent screeners want to hear you. As professionals, they can imagine how you will sound with music. In fact, sometimes they might play music while listening to you. 

1st place winner: MikeinGA

357 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear MikeinGA's recording

Great! Everything the Director wanted. He's loose, vocally free, fun, creative, and terrific.  Just a little too fast on "We think so."  The reason for this is that the producer will likely show a "beauty shot" of people enjoying themselves at the park. That shot probably wouldn't begin until the word "Yes," so there needs to be time to establish that scene. An extra second would be helpful.  Recording quality is very good   

Free One-Hour Audition-Workout with David Goldberg.

Book your Free One-Hour Audition Workout with David Goldberg valued at $275 now! Contact your Edge Studio Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

See prize details below.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the six months (6 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. You are still eligible for the Participation Prize.

This offer cannot be applied toward any services already purchased, nor to any service in which you are already enrolled.

Prize is to be used by you only, not transferable.

Claim your prize by calling your Education Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Mike Tarnow six flags great adventure.mp3

2nd place winner: jorgensenvocals

288 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear jorgensenvocals's recording

He has all the elements the Director requested, except he's too slow. If he let loose and trusted himself, and stopped trying to sound good, this audition would be a-maaay-ziiiing.  One other important thing: the "T" is too light on "Great." Once mixed with music and sound effects, the client name will sound like "Gray Adventure."  Recording quality is very good. 

Free DAW webinar!

Appy your $50 credit towards the purchase of any Edge Studio product or service! Contact your Edge Studio Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343)

See prize details below.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the six months (6 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. You are still eligible for the Participation Prize.

This offer cannot be applied toward any services already purchased, nor to any service in which you are already enrolled.

Prize is to be used by you only, not transferable.

Claim your prize by calling your Education Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

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

3rd place winner: leannedavisvoice

262 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear leannedavisvoice's recording

She has the foundation for a decent read: some variety, some playfulness, a nice range. But her audition often drags, because there are too many short hesitations between words, as well as long hesitations between phrases. These gaps make the flow unnatural, and prompt the listener to lose interest. Also the phrase "Well, isn't it time" is waaaay too fast and slurred; when mixed with music and sound effects (mentioned in the Director's Notes), these words will likely be indecipherable. The technical quality of her recording is generally okay, but very low in level and it has mouth clicks galore – which the audio engineer could remove, but probably would rather not have to. 

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

Appy your $25 credit towards the purchase of any Edge Studio product or service! Contact your Edge Studio Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343)

See prize details below.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the six months (6 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. You are still eligible for the Participation Prize.

This offer cannot be applied toward any services already purchased, nor to any service in which you are already enrolled.

Prize is to be used by you only, not transferable.

Claim your prize by calling your Education Advisor 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/EdgeStudio Mar 2020.mp3

To view all entries from
Contest ending Tuesday, March 31 click below

Contest ending Friday, February 28

Contest Title:

Crayola Wonder Marker

Director's Notes:

This is a simulated audition for a marker company: We are looking for a parent/caregiver figure; someone who is very patient and warm, and wants their children to feel like they can express themselves regardless of the mess. We want a natural sound, like you are giving advice to another parent/caregiver. 

Script:

Crayola Color Wonder Markers color only on special paper. So your kids can express their creativity more often...in more places...with less mess. Crayola Color Wonder. It starts with Crayola.

Remember to check Archived Contests at the beginning of each month to see the winners as well as feedback and tips from Edge Studio instructors.

Results

Edge Studio Tips and Feedback:

Congratulations to our winners, Alenda, KristenPaige, and Cwenglowski.  They sounded like nice, friendly spokespeople for this children's play product.  Except there's a problem: The Director's Notes said to have "a natural sound, like you are giving advice to another parent/caregiver."  None of the entrants combined that quality with all the other qualities that casting professionals listen for, so if this were an actual audition, we'd probably post a new casting call. But our contest is also a learning and teaching experience, so let's look at ways to get closer to both marks.
 
EDGE STUDIO TIP #1:
 
For each part of the direction, ask yourself, "What might the client really be seeking?" For example, with this audition, what about the "like you are giving advice to another parent/caregiver" stipulation?  It suggests to pretend the other caregiver is with you, in a real life setting, and that you should just say the script like you're talking with them.  Yes the script has a some parts that aren't the way people actually talk. (For example, nobody says "Crayola Color Wonder Markers," or adds a brand-name tag.)  But it's important to stay in character.  So for example, when you get to the brand name, you might point and read it slowly, like you're showing and reading it off the box.   Most entrants in this contest, including our winners, didn't convincingly sound as if they were talking with someone.
 
EDGE STUDIO TIP #2:
 
Remember the VO basics.  First, there's the technical considerations: Having suggested that you speak like a real person, we should also note that although real people mumble, slur their speech, mispronounce words, sometimes speak too quickly, you should not do these things, unless truly appropriate. Many entrants slurred words, spoke too fast, mispronounced "often" (the dictionary's first option shows the T to be silent), and so on.  And there's the personality considerations: In genuine conversation, people are varied, spontaneous, and unpredictable. Many entrants sounded bored or subdued, paused unnaturally (too often, or after the first words), had the same manner and tone of voice regardless of what they were saying, and so on.  Consider this tip a variation on a classic definition of acting: "Seeming natural in an unnatural situation."  In VO, it's "Seeming natural as you take care to be heard and clearly understood."  
 
EDGE STUDIO TIP #3:
 
Follow the script, and – all our talk about natural delivery notwithstanding -- remember that this is a commercial. So consider what words should be hit and where you should and should not pause. Sometimes a copywriter will type a comma out of habit, or merely according to grammar.  They may use "…" and "—" and "" interchangeably. Or perhaps to each copywriter, they mean different things.  But you should assume the writer put conscious effort into the punctuation and expects you to heed it.  On the other hand, if no words are emphasized in the text, that's where you have choices to make.  For example, in the phrase "special paper," the word "special" is the distinctive point, so it's the word to hit, not "paper." The phrase "in more places" is set out by "…", so pause before and after.  And remember that if you add other pauses in too many places, the read will seem choppy and those specified pauses will lose their effect. 
 
EDGE STUDIO TIP #4:
 
Check your volume. In digital recording, you never want your volume to exceed zero dB (in other words, don't go into the red, above 100%), so people often err slightly on the low side. But if your audition's final volume is very low, it seems, well, less impressive than one that has full volume.  It may also make you seem less professional.  Learn how to adjust volume on your hardware and software, to find the settings that are typically right for you. And do this test: When you make your final file, play it back and – without changing any settings -- compare it to other files that you know were professionally produced. Are the volumes comparable? (While you're at it, is yours centered between both speakers or headphones?) If not, review your procedures. 

1st place winner: Alenda

418 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear Alenda's recording

A nice, friendly read, but not the friend-to-friend approach that the Director's Notes requested.  It sounds as if she's adding a smile to her voice. rather than being naturally happy and letting the smile occur naturally. She should trust that her vocal technique will be on-target, and then let loose, have fun, and enjoy the process.  The first word ("Crayola") is said slow and deliberately, which is generally good at the start of any read, because we need to capture the listener's attention and get their mind up to speed. But then she rushed "Color Wonder Markers" so that the overall effect is unnatural.  Loosening up will help with things like this, too.  The recording is noisy (do we hear the ticking of a mechanical stopwatch?), with mouth noise.

Free One-Hour Audition-Workout with David Goldberg.

Book your Free One-Hour Audition Workout with David Goldberg valued at $240 now! Contact your Edge Studio Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

See prize details below.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the six months (6 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. You are still eligible for the Participation Prize.

This offer cannot be applied toward any services already purchased, nor to any service in which you are already enrolled.

Prize is to be used by you only, not transferable.

Claim your prize by calling your Education Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Crayola Color Wonder 3.mp3

2nd place winner: KristenPaige

288 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear KristenPaige's recording

She, too, has a  "happy professional" sound, which doesn't meet the specified call for someone speaking naturally person-to-person, not announcer-to-audience.  To get rid of the rigid feel, she should have confidence in her vocal technique and let loose, having real fun.  When having fun, the smile occurs naturally.  Also, although many people (especially British) pronounce the T in "often," she should leave it silent. Even when the dictionary gives alternative pronunciations (as most do with "often"), the best practice is to use the first pronunciation given, unless there is a specific reason not to.  The recording quality is good, except for lots of popping.   

Free DAW webinar!

Appy your $50 credit towards the purchase of any Edge Studio product or service! Contact your Edge Studio Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343)

See prize details below.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the six months (6 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. You are still eligible for the Participation Prize.

This offer cannot be applied toward any services already purchased, nor to any service in which you are already enrolled.

Prize is to be used by you only, not transferable.

Claim your prize by calling your Education Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Kristen Paige - February Audition Contest.mp3

3rd place winner: cwenglowski@earthlink.net

272 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear cwenglowski@earthlink.net's recording

A pleasant sound, with a nice smile overall (including some reasonably genuine chuckles), and nice variety in the end. But it's not at all person-to-person.  Her opening and closing are both choppy, with the ending much too dramatic.  The Director's Notes didn't say whether or not to slate, so she's not wrong to have included one. When unspecified, slating at the end won't waste the screener's time. But we'll note that with many online audition systems, the talent's name appears on-screen, so a slate may not be needed.  From a technical angle, the recording is muffled.

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

Appy your $25 credit towards the purchase of any Edge Studio product or service! Contact your Edge Studio Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343)

See prize details below.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the six months (6 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. You are still eligible for the Participation Prize.

This offer cannot be applied toward any services already purchased, nor to any service in which you are already enrolled.

Prize is to be used by you only, not transferable.

Claim your prize by calling your Education Advisor 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Craylola Color Wonder Markers CWenglowski.mp3

To view all entries from
Contest ending Friday, February 28 click below

Contest ending Friday, January 31

Contest Title:

Ghirardelli Chocolate Square

Director's Notes:

This is a simulated audition for a chocolate company: We're searching for a voice-talent who is open to having fun, playing it up, being a ham. We'll cast someone who isn't afraid to be creative and take some liberty. Have fun with this one.

Slate name or username after the read.

Script:

Only a Ghirardelli Chocolate Square has the most intense chocolate experience. A heavenly aroma. A smooth texture. And rich flavor. Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares.

Remember to check Archived Contests at the beginning of each month to see the winners as well as feedback and tips from Edge Studio instructors.

Results

Edge Studio Tips and Feedback:

Congratulations to our winners – Bo, russdewolfe, Randy@randyprice.net, and Voice_Overs_by_VeeVee.   Some VO talent would consider this an ideal assignment, as the Director's Notes advised talent to "have fun, play it up, be a ham."  It's often an interesting challenge to take things to extremes,  without going to the same extreme as everyone else, or venturing much too far.  Thing is, this script was not itself very extreme at all.  It's essentially just a list of product attributes, with the claim that only this product has all these qualities.  Our winners did a pretty good job of making more of it.  Each took things to a reasonable extreme, but kept it listenable and flattering to the product.  Some others barely got off the starting line.  Here are some tips on how to take your read further without taking it way too far.  
 
 
EDGE STUDIO TIP #1:
 
It's all about energy.  Genuine "energy" is important in most VO genres and especially here. Some people sounded downright bored. You can't ramp up what you don't have to begin with.  So this would be a time to invent a character, to use varying emotions, and be creative. Just be sure that the various personalities sound like they're all coming from the same person. 
 
EDGE STUDIO TIP #2:
 
Be appealing.  Remember, this is a commercial – the point is to sell chocolate.  It's not essentially a weird product.  So if you just do a weird voice, it's probably not relevant.  The point is to make the product's attributes (heavenly aroma, smooth texture, rich flavor) seem distinctive AND appealing.  
 
EDGE STUDIO TIP #3:
 
Don't take liberties with the script copy. When you're all given liberty on your performance, it's easy to overlook or inadvertently change words, or even change the script intentionally.  But major clients put a lot of work into writing and vetting a script.  It's generally okay to add non-verbal ad-libs, such as a laugh, "mmmm" or a sigh.  In fact, if done well, non-verbal additions help you stand out in an audition. But anything more could lose you the opportunity.
 
EDGE STUDIO REMINDER #1:
 
If the script has a foreign word, or a word you have not often heard before, look it up.  Some voice actors didn't. In this case, "Ghirardelli" begins with a hard G (as in "headgear") rather than soft (as in "gee whiz").  Further many people messed up the rest of the word, saying (for examples), "Geeradeli" (missing the second R), or "Geerdeli" (missing the AR), or "Geerideli" (an "i" sound instead of AR), or something unintelligible.  To be sure, phone the company and if they don't say their name in the telephony greeting, ask the receptionist. Or check online. It took us just minutes to confirm the pronunciation, by searching for how to pronounce Ghirardelli.  One of the results:
"As it turns out, the San Francisco-based chocolatier has been educating the world on its name since 1852, even going so far as to buy ads to break it down. Let the record show—which has been confirmed by a Ghirardelli spokesperson—that it's geer-ar-delly. "
 
EDGE STUDIO REMINDER #2:
 
Unless multiple characters are requested, it's best to avoid using them. (If the client wanted them, they'd likely specify so.)  Some people, however, used them. And in some cases, they were not even particularly memorable or relevant to the product.

1st place winner: Bo

581 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear Bo's recording

This IS fun, because he's having fun.  He is very creative, and nobody sounds quite like him.  It's  exactly what the Director asked for. Plus, he adds vocalisms, and he changes up his delivery with personality changes, emotional changes, and technical variety. What's more, he does all these without sounding theatrical.  In addition, he is VERY loose (vocally-free), and it is this looseness that brings him to the level of awesomeness.  However, we have two small performance concerns:  (1) There's no "st" on "most."  And (2) there are numerous hesitations; the two biggest ones are before the words "intense" and "aroma."  But the engineer could easily delete these gaps.  Speaking of engineering, the recording quality is quite good.  But here, too, we have two concerns:  (1) The beginning of the sniff is cut off, causing it to begin abruptly.  And (2) the slate has a different sound quality to it. It isn't strong, which leaves the screener with a down impression. Worse, if he produces different sound qualities in his studio, we are concerned as to which one we'd get on the actual job.

Free One-Hour Audition-Workout with David Goldberg.

Book your Free One-Hour Audition Workout with David Goldberg valued at $240 now! Contact your Edge Studio Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

See prize details below.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the six months (6 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. You are still eligible for the Participation Prize.

This offer cannot be applied toward any services already purchased, nor to any service in which you are already enrolled.

Prize is to be used by you only, not transferable.

Claim your prize by calling your Education Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Ghirardelli Chocolate Square_0.mp3

2nd place winner: russdewolfe

218 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear russdewolfe's recording

Creative. fun.  But he said "Garadeli," not "Geeradeli."  There's just enough variety in the product attributes to provide a bit of fun, without resorting to different characters or exaggeration.   Technically, the recording is muffled, sounding as if he's off-axis in relation to the mic. Maybe he's doing this to avoid popping and/or sibilance? If so, it would be better to move a bit further away (assuming a properly conditioned space), and aim the mic toward his face.  If he must work close and is using a foam pop filter, switch to using a screen.  

Appy your $50 credit towards the purchase of any Edge Studio product or service! Contact your Edge Studio Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343)

See prize details below.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the six months (6 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. You are still eligible for the Participation Prize.

This offer cannot be applied toward any services already purchased, nor to any service in which you are already enrolled.

Prize is to be used by you only, not transferable.

Claim your prize by calling your Education Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Russ DeWolfe - Ghirardelli.mp3

3rd place winner: Randy@randyprice.net

318 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear Randy@randyprice.net's recording

He is very creative, but may be taking it a bit too far. It will be a toss-up as to whether the client likes the personality type that he's injected. And there's no natural rhythm or flow, which makes the personality a bit disjointed. Oh, and he mispronounced the product name. (See notes above.) His ad-lib (pre-voicing) is a nice touch. It's a common technique for getting up to speed, but usually it's deleted before submitting the take. (It's not optimal to change the first thing the casting team will hear.) On the other hand, it's fun and interesting, and the client will realize they can easily delete an isolated ad-lib from the start. Heck, if it weren't for the deity reference and time it takes, they might even keep it! From a technical angle, he's too close to the mic. This causes some proximity effect (exaggerated low frequencies), and a slightly muffled sound. This effect also makes him sound too much like a "radio" voice. It's not an artificial forced "DJ" voice, but does sound like radio technique. Further, his gating is too abrupt. For instance, the "D" in the word "G-d" in his opening is cut off. Then again, maybe he meant to delete this part of his audition.

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

Appy your $25 credit towards the purchase of any Edge Studio product or service! Contact your Edge Studio Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343)

See prize details below.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the six months (6 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. You are still eligible for the Participation Prize.

This offer cannot be applied toward any services already purchased, nor to any service in which you are already enrolled.

Prize is to be used by you only, not transferable.

Claim your prize by calling your Education Advisor 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Randy Price Chocolate Square 2.mp3

3rd place winner: Victoria Vahedy

255 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear Victoria Vahedy's recording

Hers is an interesting  delivery: She starts speaking in an ordinary manner – nothing "creative" about that, so in real-world casting, a screener might immediately move on. But then, gradually, she becomes, uh, "excited" about chocolate in a very unusual way.  She gets very theatrical, but if she were more realistic, it might be too risqué.  Would the client take a chance on this? Who knows.  They might at least remember her as inventive.  But she starts off with a mark against her: the Director's Notes said to slate at the end, and she slates at the start. The technical quality is much too resonant, and there is 1.5 seconds of silence before she begins.  

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

Appy your $25 credit towards the purchase of any Edge Studio product or service! Contact your Edge Studio Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343)

See prize details below.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the six months (6 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. You are still eligible for the Participation Prize.

This offer cannot be applied toward any services already purchased, nor to any service in which you are already enrolled.

Prize is to be used by you only, not transferable.

Claim your prize by calling your Education Advisor 888-321-EDGE (3343).

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

To view all entries from
Contest ending Friday, January 31 click below

Contest ending Friday, January 3

Contest Title:

Holiday Variety Special

Director's Notes:

This is a simulated audition for a special holiday variety program featuring surprise musical acts. Sound festive and bring excitement. The spot itself will be a full production, with music, glimpses of special performances, and holiday-time scenery. No slate.

Script:

NBC Saturday at 7pm Eastern. An all new Holiday Variety Special to thrill the entire family. Including exciting scenes from holidays past. NBC Saturday at 7pm.

Remember to check Archived Contests at the beginning of each month to see the winners as well as feedback and tips from Edge Studio instructors.

Results

Edge Studio Tips and Feedback:

Congratulations to our winners, Jabroni, Jaykacik, and Chris Koprowski. Their combination of energy, clarity and a personable tone promoted them to winner status. Although the Director's Notes didn't explicitly say this was a "promo" audition, the script made it obvious.  Like all VO genres, Promotion work has some special requirements of its own.  It is one of the few genres where a little extra "push" beyond naturalness may be warranted (depending on the personality of the channel and program).  In any case, it calls for infectious energy. After all, you have just a few seconds to be noticed, inspire your listener, and be sure they catch the place, day and time.  Here are some tips to help casting pros make note of you.
 
EDGE STUDIO TIP #1:
 
Before you record, think – how do you feel about this event? That will help gather up your energy.  Many people weren't energetic enough.  One way to amp it up is to sound "hype-y." But that runs the risk of sounding artificial, even offensive to the ear … not the best approach for Christmastime.  Furthermore, if you overdo the hype, you begin to sound like a radio DJ.  Casting people generally don't want that, and it's easily imitated.   Instead, generate personal excitement; imagine that you're personally recommending the program to a friend. You'll need to move it along quickly, hit the key words, and somehow make a rather stilted script sound like you're saying it off the top of your head, but with practice, that can be done. The special sauce that only you can add is your enthusiasm and even a bit of your personality.
 
EDGE STUDIO TIP #2:
 
Heed the mechanics of voice-over.  In particular, speak exceptionally clearly, and hit the right words. This will be mixed with music and possibly other sounds.  Your voice must be understood above them. So be careful not to drop consonants, and watch your vowels. (For example, many people said "fer" when they should have said "for," or "teh" instead of "to.") You might even want to exaggerate just a little, by slowing or isolating syllables that might otherwise get lost. (For example, for "entire," say "en-tie-yer" not "entahr.")  Now, as to what to hit.  Obviously, the day and time are important. But is "NBC"? Some people dragged it out as if the listener had never heard of the network before.  That's going too far. (On the other hand, see our Third Place comment.) Treat it as a single thought, not three letters. In fact, you might even include it with Saturday (that is, say "NBC Saturday", with no pause before "Saturday"), as a stylistic thing that you could use in all promos.  Again, even though this is basic VO mechanics, it also requires some forethought.
 
EDGE STUDIO TIP #3:
 
It's an audition – take advantage of your options.  Unlike a real promotion job, this script had no time limit!  Yet, many people rushed it.  Some took as little as 11 seconds.  Maybe they sped up to provide energy, maybe they assumed it was a 10- or 15-second spot, maybe they just did it … whatever the reason, they shortchanged themselves by not taking a bit more time.  Fifteen seconds is sensible, but if it comes to 16 or 17, and is a great read, this time that's okay. (If a length is stipulated, that's different!)  In an audition, you should give a professional quality read, but also give yourself a chance to shine.  Maybe slow just a bit. Or reading one phrase a bit slower, for a reason.  Or take the opportunity to s-t-r-e-t-c-h slightly on a special word.  What will be your "hook"?  

1st place winner: Jabroni

437 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear Jabroni's recording

He sounds festive with just the right measure of excitement. He also articulates well, with good word emphasis and clarity.  Very nice. Yet there are two areas for improvement:  First, the opening "NBC" is too fast. Being the first word the listener will hear, and considering that it will be mixed with exciting music and exciting visuals, the viewer's brain will not yet be up to speed.  Second, there's an unnecessary glottal stop before "all new". (A glottal stop is a momentary closing of the windpipe before an initial vowel.)  Ordinary people often do that to express excitement or emphasis, but in VO it also increases vocal tension and makes the read sound choppy.  Other than this hesitation, his performance is nice and smooth.  The recording itself is crisp and clear, except for slight popping (a minimal concern, because it can easily be equalized out), and his room has slap-back resonance. Technically, that's a much bigger problem.   

Free One-Hour Audition-Workout with David Goldberg.

Book your Free One-Hour Audition Workout with David Goldberg valued at $240 now! Contact your Edge Studio Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

See prize details below.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the six months (6 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. You are still eligible for the Participation Prize.

This offer cannot be applied toward any services already purchased, nor to any service in which you are already enrolled.

Prize is to be used by you only, not transferable.

Claim your prize by calling your Education Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/edgeStudio _NBC_december2019.mp3

2nd place winner: jaykacik

271 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear jaykacik's recording

Wonderful excitement and variety. Well done.  But some concerns.  His voice is slurry through much of it.  Also, the words "thrill" and "entire" could have had a bit more excitement.  And the last word of the script ends with an exhale  ("7pm-uh").  Technically, the recording is very good.   

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Appy your $50 credit towards the purchase of any Edge Studio product or service! Contact your Edge Studio Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343)

See prize details below.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the six months (6 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. You are still eligible for the Participation Prize.

This offer cannot be applied toward any services already purchased, nor to any service in which you are already enrolled.

Prize is to be used by you only, not transferable.

Claim your prize by calling your Education Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Jay Kacik-Holiday Variety Special-12-20-19.mp3

3rd place winner: Chris Koprowski

263 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear Chris Koprowski's recording

We like the clarity in his voice. To take full advantage of this,  he could use a bit more excitement -- especially on some of the descriptive words.  Another concern is that both instances of "NBC" are spoken too quickly.  As we say in the article above, it's possible to stretch it too much. But between too long and too short, there's a sweet spot he needs to hit.  It's essential to give listeners time to hear the key words, especially when it's the first word. Also needing tidying are two unnecessary pauses: after "Special" and after the second "Saturday."   Recording quality is very good.    

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

Appy your $25 credit towards the purchase of any Edge Studio product or service! Contact your Edge Studio Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343)

See prize details below.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the six months (6 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. You are still eligible for the Participation Prize.

This offer cannot be applied toward any services already purchased, nor to any service in which you are already enrolled.

Prize is to be used by you only, not transferable.

Claim your prize by calling your Education Advisor 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Holiday Variety Special-ChrisKoprowski.mp3

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

Contest ending Saturday, November 30

Contest Title:

Macy's Thanksgiving Sale

Director's Notes:

Pretend that a top agency requests that you audition for a national commercial. They email you: "Hi. This is Don Draper of Sterling Cooper Ad Agency and we’re casting several Macy's commercials to run on black Friday and throughout the rest of the holiday weekend. We’re looking for a delivery that is high energy but not overly announcer-ish, and will incentivize listeners to take advantage of the sale. Please record one take of the following script (voice only, no music) and begin your audition by slating your username, “Macy's Thanksgiving Sale” audition, and the date.

Script:

It’s Macy’s Thanksgiving sale. Storewide savings for the whole family. All women’s coats and jackets...30-50 percent off. All men’s outerwear...25-50 percent off. And all kids’ jackets, hats, and gloves...up to 60 percent off. Macy’s Thanksgiving Sale. All you need for the holidays.

Remember to check Archived Contests at the beginning of each month to see the winners as well as feedback and tips from Edge Studio instructors.

Results

Edge Studio Tips and Feedback:

Congratulations to our winners, Jenniferpricevoice, Snarlow, Slaughtf, and AudioNathan. Their reads made the sale. Some people might think that a retail sale commercial like this is relatively unchallenging, but this one called for a certain type of approach. Ordinarily, retail commercials are among the few genres where a client might want an "announcer" read. In fact, we know of an advertising agency creative director who won't let his print writers use exclamation points … but in retail ads, he makes an exception. It's kind of like that with a "big sale" commercial. The client might want to hear that "exclamation" effect in your voice. After all, this ad – like the sale -- will run for only a short time, and it's important to get attention and convey the excitement. But in this case, the Director's Notes specifically called for "high energy but not overly announcer-ish." Our winners managed to thread that needle. Here are some tips so that next time you can, too.

Slate in the style of your read. Almost nobody did. There are valid arguments for and against "slating in character," but this time we'd suggest doing it, because the specified slate is very long and the request for a "high energy" delivery is very specific. Casting professionals know not to judge until they hear the actual performance, but they are only human. So, when slating:

  • Above all, slate as directed.
  • Secondly, sound confident and slate clearly.
  • Don't waste the screener's time; no ad-libbing or "happy talk"
  • Beyond that, it's up to you.
Your slate represents you. Be professional, but not boring.

Convey real enthusiasm, by having real enthusiasm. Until you get the hang of it, this is easier said than done. But that's what the direction for "high energy but not overly announcerish" is really saying. To sound real, begin with the traditional advice: be talking to one individual you know. Imagine that you were conveying this news in your own words, friend-to-friend.

Try this:

  • Rewrite or ad-lib the script in your own words.
  • Choose an emotion and aim for that. (one emotion. For example "proud," "self-important," "surprised," etc.).
  • Record that. How do you feel and sound?
  • Keeping that feeling but using the script (exactly … don't ad-lib), record an actual take. And make that emotion real, even though the words you are saying are not.

When you've found that sweet spot, trust yourself and go for it. Our Third Place winners wound up third largely because they seemed to lack that confidence. Case in point: AudioNathan. In our winner comments, we cite several examples. Another is when he used higher pitch to hit the numbers. Change of pitch is fine. But when his voice goes up, he sounds like he's restraining himself, maybe having a very professional concern about being too loud for the mic. The result doesn't sound genuine. Like many of our other entrants, he might benefit by trying the tip above. And if the volume meter shows you're too loud for the mic, don't suppress your feelings. Instead, stand a bit farther away, or lean back a bit during that passage.

This Edge Studio blog article will also provide some inspiration: https://www.edgestudio.com/blogs/voice-over-success-know-and-trust-yourself

1st place winner: jenniferpricevoice

352 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear jenniferpricevoice's recording

This is a wonderful take. She has high energy without being announcerish -- exactly what was requested. And she has a lovely smile throughout. We also like the way she built the percentages. Where many people hit "25" or even "5", she gave "50" equal or stronger emphasis in both places, setting up the series that leads to the script's eventual "60". One note: in the slate, she doesn’t finish a word properly. Is it “18” or "18th"? The recording's technical quality is generally good, except for a teeny bit of woofiness at times. (Woofiness occurs when you're too close to the mic. The effect is easier to hear on headphones behind her voice when she says “Macy’s Thanksgiving Sale” in the slate.)

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the six months (6 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. You are still eligible for the Participation Prize.

This offer cannot be applied toward any services already purchased, nor to any service in which you are already enrolled.

Prize is to be used by you only, not transferable.

Claim your prize by calling your Education Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

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

2nd place winner: Snarlow

255 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear Snarlow's recording

He starts with a weak impression, because, except for his name, his slate is too fast and slurry. But he catches his listener right after that, with an ad-libbed “Yes!” that we love. (Ad libbing is generally not proper in a carefully vetted, timed commercial script, but this is at the start, so would be easy to cut out. Pre-voicing like this is often done by experienced talent, who then delete it from their recording before submitting.) We also love his enthusiasm throughout. If it weren’t for his reading too quickly and slurring some words, he might have taken First Place. The recording quality is mostly good, except it sounds overly compressed, which also makes some faint mouth noise more noticeable.

Free DAW webinar!

Appy your $50 credit towards the purchase of any Edge Studio product or service! Contact your Edge Studio Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343)

See prize details below.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the six months (6 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. You are still eligible for the Participation Prize.

This offer cannot be applied toward any services already purchased, nor to any service in which you are already enrolled.

Prize is to be used by you only, not transferable.

Claim your prize by calling your Education Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Snarlow Macys Thanksgiving sale.mp3

3rd place winner: slaughtf

211 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear slaughtf's recording

His is a great voice type for this script, and he has great energy. He also sustains the listener's interest by giving it variety. But he is too hesitant at times. Like his fellow Third-Place winner, he should have more confidence in the choices he has made, which will help him speak more naturally. A serious technical flaw is that the recording volume is too low. The level might be high enough to be raised and broadcast, but it does him a real disservice in evaluating his audition. Not only does it annoy an audition screener to have to adjust the volume, the low level robs his recording of the energy we like.

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

Appy your $25 credit towards the purchase of any Edge Studio product or service! Contact your Edge Studio Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343)

See prize details below.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the six months (6 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. You are still eligible for the Participation Prize.

This offer cannot be applied toward any services already purchased, nor to any service in which you are already enrolled.

Prize is to be used by you only, not transferable.

Claim your prize by calling your Education Advisor 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Tom Slaughter Macys Sale.mp3

3rd place winner: AudioNathan

180 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear AudioNathan's recording

His read has the bones of a terrific performance. That is, he has great variety and conveys the high-energy tone requested, without going over the top. Also, he nicely hits some terrific words through use of pitch. On the downside, he added “Hi” in the slate. Extra words in a slate are usually not advisable, and it's especially awkward when the slating direction is ultra-clear. Worse yet, he slurs the word “two-thousand” in the slate, and – since it is a very long slate – he might have said simply "twenty nineteen" or, like some people did, omit the year altogether. But this advice all pales compared to his being waaaaaay too tentative. His hesitancy is heard in unnatural pauses, hesitations, and a few elongated consonants. Much of this could be corrected by a good audio editor, especially if using time-compression software, resulting in a really good product. But as we always say, talent should make the engineer's job easy. Otherwise in technical terms, it's generally good, just a bit too low in level.

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

Appy your $25 credit towards the purchase of any Edge Studio product or service! Contact your Edge Studio Advisor at 888-321-EDGE (3343)

See prize details below.

If you have won any place (1st place, 2nd place...) in the six months (6 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. You are still eligible for the Participation Prize.

This offer cannot be applied toward any services already purchased, nor to any service in which you are already enrolled.

Prize is to be used by you only, not transferable.

Claim your prize by calling your Education Advisor 888-321-EDGE (3343).

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/NathanAgin-MacysThanksgivingSale-Nov.21.2019.mp3

To view all entries from
Contest ending Saturday, November 30 click below

Contest ending Thursday, October 31

Contest Title:

Harpers' Hats

Director's Notes:

Good at tongue twisters? Then this audition is for you! We want to hear a read infused with energy and personality. Play with the words to create something memorable and fun.

Script:

Hey Hal, how's your head?... Happy? Nice. Well, Harpers' has hats for him and her for half-off! But hurry, 'cause Harpers' hats half-off sale has huge heads humming! Harpers' hats... for him, for her, for happy heads!

Remember to check Archived Contests at the beginning of each month to see the winners as well as feedback and tips from Edge Studio instructors.

Results

Edge Studio Tips and Feedback:

Congratulations to our winners, biggjoej2003, MichaelJonesVO, EricAnderson, and JennaMacVO.  Confronted with our tongue-twister challenge, they did more than "get through it." They also made it interesting.  Managing to deliver a tongue-twister is an important skill.  As we all know from various famous blooper reels, sometimes almost any copy can turn into a tongue-twister -- the harder you try, the more impossible it seems.  Here are some tips to keep this from happening to you. 
 
Don't just read the words. Say the thoughts. Whether you're reading the copy cold or have virtually committed it to memory, this will get you past the visual hurdles.  To get a handle on the thoughts, analyze the text as you would any copy, and do some of the usual acting "drills." Who are you? Where are you? Who are you speaking to? By saying the thoughts, your mind won't be focused on the words, even if the text is filled with "H"s as this script is. And by focusing on the thoughts, you'll convey the words more realistically. Much more realistically than merely over-enunciating or reading too slowly, which is what some entrants did.
 
Be sure to "sell" the client or product name with emphasis. Even our winners didn't do this well enough. In a commercial, if you don't say it strongly, memorably and clearly enough, the advertiser might not survive!  Now, not every advertising client may be insistent on this, but in an audition, you can't know their thinking.  As a VO professional, your task is to somehow hit the product's name AND make it seem natural to do so. 
 

1st place winner: biggjoej2003

285 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear biggjoej2003's recording

This was a very fun, memorable read, exactly as the Director's Notes requested. The brand name ("Harpers") should be a bit more emphasized. His slate at the end was a nice contrast with his character voice, which suggests there may be yet other voices in him. Recording quality is good. There is a smidge of resonance in it, but any music mixed in would likely cover it.

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/HAPPY HATS OCT 2019.mp3

2nd place winner: MichaelJonesVO

210 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear MichaelJonesVO's recording

This, too, was a fun, memorable read, with a slight Irish lilt. The only concern is that it's a bit slurred in the beginning. When mixed with music, it would likely be difficult for a listener to decipher all the words without seeing the script. From an engineering standpoint, there are some things that would have been easy to fix, and should have been: It's a bit too low in level, some breaths should have been lowered in volume, and some other breaths should have been deleted. There is also some resonance, which is not so easily fixed.

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Michael Jones - Harpers Hats.mp3

3rd place winner: JennaMacVO

239 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear JennaMacVO's recording

Very creative, memorable, and fun. We love the Minnie Pearl-like "Hoowee!" that she added So we almost placed her higher. But there are too many concerns. She rushes the advertiser's name ("Harper"). In fact, she rushed it twice. In a small town where everybody knows the Harper's Hats store, maybe this would be okay. But not if listeners are unfamiliar with the retailer. And this being an audition for a commercial, that's a real no-no. Also, the first time she says the word "head," she dropped the word ending, so it sounds like "heh." These concerns are not helped by the recording's technical quality. The signal is low in volume level, and there are pops, and she recorded on only one channel. Submitting avoidable errors like this can make an audition screener wonder if an otherwise promising talent is ready for prime time.

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Harpers' Hats-01.mp3

3rd place winner: EricAnderson

215 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear EricAnderson's recording

Like our other winners, this was fun and memorable. But the opening sounds like "Hayhal, how's your heh?" To which we answered, "Huh?" Then he rushes the client's name. But the recording quality is good.

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/harpers hats audition.mp3

To view all entries from
Contest ending Thursday, October 31 click below

Contest ending Monday, September 30

Contest Title:

New York Life

Director's Notes:

We want the kind of delivery you would expect from a trusted friend. Low dynamic range, easy, relaxed tone. We want to give a feeling of safety and comfort with this read.

Script:

Peace of mind is waiting to meet you all across the country. In towns big and small, there's a New York Life agent who can help you to secure your future and protect your family. New York Life--The Company You Keep.

Remember to check Archived Contests at the beginning of each month to see the winners as well as feedback and tips from Edge Studio instructors.

Results

Edge Studio Tips and Feedback:

Congratulations to our winners -- rich summers, stanleyj, and chrisb.  They hit the sweet spot that the Director's Notes requested; they read smoothly and confidently, conveying the confidence that you would want in advice from a trusted friend, yet in a relaxed manner.  Here are some tips on how to approach that target next time you're asked to give a feeling of safety and comfort.  
 
Don't read. Instead talk. And in your head, talk to a friend.   Talking to your entire audience ("all of you out there") tends to sound unrealistic.  Why? Because in real life, we never do that, unless making a speech, which is a very unreal situation.  At most, we converse with a handful of people – for example around a table or a conversation pit or in a quiet bar (do those still exist?).  And even then, you're probably responding to one of those people at a time. For many budding actors, though, this is more easily said than done. The solution is to choose one real person, someone you know well. Next time you're talking with them, observe your manner. And when you practice, practice that, and listen back. Do you hear the difference vs. your earlier recordings?
 
Read smoothly.  Why?  Many beginners pause much more often than necessary, or even logical.  Those extra pauses sound unnatural, and what's worse, they can be distracting.  In a commercial, they invite the listener's mind a moment for their mind to wander … or if they're following your thoughts closely, they might ask themselves, "Why did (s)he pause there?"  That's distracting. 
 
Avoid the two BIG pauses that almost everybody adds:  The first of these is after the first word or two of a narration.  For example, many people will say "New York City (pause) is a very big town."  Instead, say the complete first thought, then pause. "New York City is a very big town."  The second "everybody pauses" situation is in a tag line.  In this script, almost everybody said, "The Company (pause) You Keep"?  Wow.  They had already paused at the dash before that ("New York Life –").  Why break it up?  The words "The company" are not in themselves valuable. The valuable thought is "you keep."  Furthermore, some copywriter years ago was probably very proud to have come up with that double entendre.  As in "She is very educated, judging by the company she keeps." When you pause in the middle of those last four words, that extra meaning is lost. 

1st place winner: Rich Summers

356 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear Rich Summers's recording

Very good, although he rushes through the opening words. In addition to slurring them, this doesn't allow an instant to catch the listener's attention and let them get mentally up to speed. Once he gets into the read, he slows down and better clarifies his words. Notice how the last phrase, compared to the opening, is very slow.

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Rich Summers-New York Life.mp3

2nd place winner: StanleyJ

361 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear StanleyJ's recording

Very good, a comfortable read. Just what the Director ordered. But some spots need improvement. (1) Like many people, he said the phrase “to meet you” as “to mee-chew.” About this habit: There are many words where average Americans pronounce a T as if it were a CH. (For example., "mature." In some regions, it's typical in everyday speech. But it's also a pet peeve among some professionals. (2) In the phrase "secure your future and protect your family," the word “and” goes too high in pitch. And (3), the last word “keep” sounds like “key.” Take more care in finishing words, especially the final word. Don't lose energy, and don't just stop the flow of air. Recording technical quality is good, except that it's a smidge low in level, with a hollow sound. In professional shorthand, it's not "direct" enough.

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/New York Life_1.mp3

3rd place winner: ChrisB

34 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear ChrisB's recording

Very good. But again we have three warnings. (1) The opening phrase (“Piece of mind”) should be declarative, ending confidently with a downward pitch, not up-speak. (2) and (3) Same concerns as with our Second Place winner regarding “to meet you” the phrase “future and protect.” Ironically, at the same time, he seems unnaturally extra-careful stepping through the potential tongue-twister "to secure your." Recording technical quality is pretty good, except for a slight "flangy," hollow quality that isn’t optimal.

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/September 2019 Edge Studio Audition Contest.mp3

To view all entries from
Contest ending Monday, September 30 click below

Contest ending Friday, August 30

Contest Title:

No Garbage

Director's Notes:

This is a simulated audition for a TV commercial voice-over about a kitchen composter. The visual will show all the types of things that go into it – for example: peelings, apple core, bones, plate scrapings, etc. Sound proud, happy, even a little amazed. Why doesn’t everybody do this? Oh, and please don’t sound like one of those late-night commercials. Slate name or username after the read.

Script:

Stop taking out the garbage! Thanks to Crud Converter! The quick, easy, odorless kitchen composting machine. You have a sink, dishwasher, washer, and dryer. You need this, too.

Remember to check Archived Contests at the beginning of each month to see the winners as well as feedback and tips from Edge Studio instructors.

Results

Edge Studio Tips and Feedback:

Congratulations to our winners -- Cecily, riffin1, and Melissaharlowvo. They avoided giving a stereotypical read and added some interesting twists of their own. When a script reads like a late-night high-pressure commercial, it can seem hard NOT to read it like a late-night high-pressure commercial ... really, really difficult to get the vocal stereotype out of your head.  But that decision is up to the client and director.  Your task is to provide strong alternatives. Because those work, too … often even better.  Here are some tips on how to clear your head and explore your options.  


EDGE STUDIO TIP #1:

Hit words so that they sound natural, rather than over-emphasize. It's virtually a given that you should emphasize the client's name and brand name.  But to make it sound natural, be careful not to pause before it.  Beyond the name, what else should you hit?  One rule of thumb is to ask yourself, "Where's the news"?  For example, if you've been talking about machinery, it probably isn't necessary to hit "machine" yet again.  But you can also offer the client options. For example, one entrant (jodithors) made an interesting choice. She did hit machine.  At first that struck us as illogical.  After all, isn't "composting" the news in this script? But then we thought, people know about passive composting bins. Is the news here that this is a machine?  Only the client can answer that, and we don't know if all audition screeners would have such a second thought. But it does perhaps show thought on the talent's part, and it makes the audition stand out.

EDGE STUDIO TIP #2:

Sound real.  We say that often, but what does it mean?  It means finding the sweet spot between fake enthusiasm and sounding bored. That's where normal conversational enthusiasm takes place.  Yes, you may push the "enthusiasm" if you're making a motivational speech, or emphasizing a point to a child, or having to make your point for the third time.  But usually, the person you're talking to would find that odd, even offensive. There's the clue.  Speak to someone you know (as if they're actually facing you), speak freely (as if you're just talking, not reading, relaxed, and without unnatural pauses), and smile. 

EDGE STUDIO TIP #3:

Check your enunciation and pronunciation by listening carefully (thoughtfully and dispassionately) to your final recording.  Is each word clear, not slurred or with unnaturally missing sounds?  Play it for a friend without letting them see the script.  Do they immediately get every word that you've said? If not, it's not your final recording.  If you have another take that you pronounced well, it's okay to edit them together, if you can do so imperceptibly.  But it might be easier to just re-record it.  Usually, if you cannot replicate your favorite take, it's not a representative audition anyway.

1st place winner: Cecily White

232 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear Cecily White's recording

We like the negative emotion in the opening setup line: she sounds grossed out in a friendly way! And then she switches to a nice, logical smile with "hey, here's a solution." Her last line has great confidence, in two senses: a) she sounds confident, and b) she sounds like she's saying it somewhat confidentially. However all this said, she's too dramatic, she's trying a bit too hard. Instead she should trust her voice and not try so hard. She added the word "the" in sentence two. There's a bit too much pause before "odorless." The technical quality of her recording is good.

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/No Garbage_Cecily White.mp3

2nd place winner: riffin1

238 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear riffin1's recording

Generally, we like his tone, but there's room for improvement. He's too dramatic on the client name. He changed the words to "you've got a sink." In the list of appliances, the pauses between words are not necessary. In fact, they detract - these other appliances are not each important to the point. The point is that the listener has a bunch of other standard appliances. Highlighting each of them is distracting, and by dragging it out, makes the quick conclusion seem like an afterthought. Technical aspects could also be improved. The volume of the original recording, and/or at some stage in processing, was too high (hot). This causes distortion. Also, we could hear mouth clicks and a bit of background noise.

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Edge Studios - Crud Converter.mp3

3rd place winner: Melissaharlowvo

259 people have played this

Recording:

Click to hear Melissaharlowvo's recording

She has a nice, friendly tone. It was a great idea to have a grunt in the beginning. But she rushes the grunt, so that the unexpecting listener might think it’s a random noise (especially once covered with music), or not associate it at all with what follows. Milking it could be artful and intriguing, or it could be obnoxious, so be careful. But that's where experience comes in, and is what can impress an audition screener. A bigger issue is that she also rushes "stop taking out the garbage" to the point of slurring it. (And "taking" sounds like "taken"). This is an important set-up line; if it's not clear, everything else might be lost on the listener. (Remember: it's a commercial, and the listener doesn't always pay attention!) On the other hand, there are too many gaps in "quick, easy, odorless." (An important side note: pausing between three adjectives makes sense if they are accompanied by changing visuals. But in that case, each adjective should be read declaratively … rather than upspeaking -– an upward inflection). But that's not the case in this script. She then pauses after "odorless." There'd never be a reason for that. Just as having unnecessary commas looks choppy to a reader, having too many pauses sounds choppy to a listener. Moreover, the pauses are accentuated by her many glottal stops (temporary closing of the airway), which increases a sense of tension. And finally, she added the word "one" to "You need this, too." The good news is that all of these issues can be improved through awareness and practice. The recording quality was good, except it was low in level. However, being slightly low is better than being too hot. Low level can be fixed; distortion cannot. In an audition, the bigger failing of low volume is that having to adjust volume annoy the listener, and if they don't raise their volume, you sound less dynamic.

/sites/default/files/script-recordings/user-[uid]/Melissa Harlow Crud Converter.mp3

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

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