18 Steps to Improve your Audition Batting Average
May 29 2014
Voice over auditions are like professional baseball. Even the best hitter won’t get a hit every time. And most people, if allowed to play, would never get on base. But a pro knows how to get hits, and some pros get more hits than others.
Whether you’re a working VO pro or an experienced student, here’s how to improve your audition batting average, whether it’s an on-site audition, emailed recording, or tele-session:
1. Remember that nobody bats a thousand. Keeping this in mind will help preserve your morale, motivation, perspective, and sanity.
2. Pick your pitches. No one person is right for every role. By auditioning for only those jobs that are in your wheelhouse, your power zone, you’ll save time and be better able to focus.
3. Eventually, you’ll probably have auditioned for some prospects more than once. By sticking to your specialty, you’ll show professional judgment and self-awareness. Don’t get a reputation for trying too hard to be a jack of all trades, annoying people who see you as master of none.
4. On the other hand, if you can do a really stellar performance, but you suspect it’s way too offbeat for the job, you might decide to submit it anyway. They might agree, it’s wrong for the job. But maybe right for a later one. It depends on what you might know about the client, their future needs and your future access to them.
5. Respond quickly. In baseball, sometimes it pays to swing at the first pitch. In auditions, it suggests to the reviewer that you probably won’t wait till the last minute to deliver the job.
6. Don’t go down in called strikes. Auditions are often screened in the order received, and the audition team might decide as soon as they hear someone who meets their expectations. Last minute entries might never even get a chance to swing.
7. Think about the script. What is it saying? Who is saying it (who are you)? Are there any words you should look up? What is the KEY point? What alternative interpretations and/or word hits are possible. What will most other people do? Your audition should show thought, flexibility, and “something extra.” Most submissions won’t.
8. Deliver at the correct audio volume. At every stage of your recording system, be sure you’re not overmodulating (that is, don’t go over 0 dB). When a digital recording distorts, it’s even more painful than in the old days of tape, and can’t be “fixed.” (Your mic interface software might have a setting that prevents your mic input from getting too “hot.”) On the other hand, don’t deliver at too quiet a level, either, which will annoy the listener and makes you seem less professional. Learn about the VU meter, average and peak readings, compression, normalizing, etc., and read your manuals.
9. Make your studio sound as technically good as you can. “Audition quality” needn’t be quite “recording quality,” but the closer you sound to the latter, the better the impression you’ll make. And if the job must be produced at home, audition quality might keep you out of the running.
10. Decide judiciously how much to process the recording. Should you remove and tighten breaths, just reduce their volume, or leave them alone? EQ? Compress? Edit together the best parts from more than one take? What to do, and how much, depends on your prospective client’s probable needs and expectations, as well as your voice, facilities and technical capabilities. It might also depend on the client’s experience at listening to auditions and understanding how a final recording will be technically improved. And it depends partly on your time. Whatever you do, don’t do it badly. Restraint is generally best.
11. Don’t submit something you can’t replicate if you get the job.
12. Listen to your final file, checking it against the script. Yes, some errors and oversights actually get that far.
13. Slate your name, wait a beat, then read the script. Slating in character is usually best, but if the character is extremely unlike you, slating in your normal voice might show them your range. If there are specific slating instructions, heed them precisely. Sometimes auditions say not to slate. Some screeners won’t mind the occasional added “Hi, this is…” but after hearing it from a hundred people, with differing degrees of apparent sincerity, a simple confidently stated name can be refreshing.
14. Show them your range, early on. You need to demonstrate that you’ll bring freshness, versatility, emotional range, variety and all your other great qualities to the performance. But remember, it’s not the final performance. The audition screener might listen only far enough to decide if you’re worth hearing further. So if your carefully calculated, heartfelt quaver or quirky slide from falsetto to bass comes in the last sentence, but your opening is so-so, they might already have clicked “Thank you, next!” Find ways to demonstrate range, freshness and variety (logically) throughout the script, without overdoing it. (We never said this was easy.)
15. If it’s a live, on-site audition, show up about 10-15 minutes early (not much earlier, or you could be in the way), and ask for the script. NEVER sign in until you are ready. Signing in means you are set to go, and they typically take people in order of sign-in. If you’ve signed in and then say you’re not ready, you’ll look unprofessional. Take some time to read over the copy, maybe even take it to the restroom. Then sign in. Hopefully you’ll place yourself a few lines from the top. (Do not skip blank lines in order to put yourself lower on the list.) Then crawl off within earshot, think (see our ending tip), and rehearse a bit more. Be efficient, and polite to everyone.
16. While humility is oft an admirable trait, if you make an ordinary mistake in the audition booth, do not apologize. Occasional flubs happen and pros know that. Newbies tend to overdo the “I’m sorry’s. It gets tiring, is another few seconds lost, and messes with focus. Just correct your error.
17. Elongate the first word the slightest bit. Not only will this help you stand out (many people rush it and lack energy), it will help grab the attention of the busy (and possibly bored or distracted) audition screener.
18. Further distinguish yourself from the competition. From experience and observation, you’ve learned what people typically do in typical situations, right? Do something better, or at least something different that’s equally appropriate. Maybe it’s putting a necessary breath in a different logical place. Maybe it’s an unexpected attitude or characterization. If you have to sound like a burbling fish, most people will use their glottis, but maybe you wiggle your finger against your lips. Most people bark by exhaling; maybe you inhale. If most people would do a wolf with a low voice, maybe you be an eccentric tenor. If most women would skew s**y, maybe you be an adorable frump. Remember, the client can find any number of very good voices and good but predictable actors from a variety of posted sources. They’re running an audition to find someone special, or an enhancing quality they hadn’t thought of.
Distinguishing yourself is several articles in itself. (You’ll find some at EdgeStudio.com) So we’ll end now. The key thing is that in every audition, you should present yourself at your best, showing range, originality, thought and professional standards. That way, although they won’t choose you every time, you will always be favorably remembered.
To learn more about Audition Techniques, call our studio at 888-321-3343 or email [email protected].