Contest ending Friday, April 30
This is a simulated audition for a biopic Amelia Earhart. We are looking for a classic narrator; smooth, easy, and relaxed. Be careful not to go over the top. No slate.
Amelia Earhart dared to go where no one had gone before. The public adored the pioneering pilot. And news reels of the day captured her every move. Yet the private side of Amelia would always remain an enigma.
Edge Studio Tips and Feedback:
Think before you speak. That’s good advice in life generally, and it’s extremely important in voice over. Most people read something the ‘safe’ way, without venturing out, without ‘letting go,’ without adding personality. That’s easy. Might even sound okay. But in this audition, it made most of our 100+ auditioners all sound the same. The candidates who typically stand out are those who give it a different spin, or employ variety, while still sounding like a total pro.
Edge Studio VO Tip #2
Connect the words within a thought. In this case, almost everyone paused in all the same places, like this: “Amelia Earhart (PAUSE) dared to go (PAUSE) where no one had gone before. The public adored the pioneering pilot. (HUGE PAUSE) And news reels of the day captured (PAUSE) her every move. Yet (PAUSE) the private side of Amelia would always remain (PAUSE) an enigma.” That’s SIX pauses in less than 15 seconds – a pause every 2.3 seconds! Think smooth. The sentences are all short enough to breathe at the periods. Where you feel the need for emphasis, use pitch or tempo. (A dramatic pause is usually too “dramatic.”) Even at the end (“an enigma”) – where a dramatic pause is arguably valid – why not just stretch or change pitch on the words leading to it? (Listen to our First Place winner.)
- Poor acoustic treatment. You may have to wait till the leaf blower next door stops blowing, but meanwhile you can surround yourself with blankets, pillows, cushy furniture, and what-have-you. That cuts down on room reverberations.
- Low volume levels. A recording that’s too quiet, or so loud it’s distorted, will not get listened to. Not just because it annoys the audition screener. It shows you’re not ready for prime time. This article will help: How To Set Proper Levels for Voice Over
- Vocal behavior. In VO recording, volume should be reasonably consistent. To hit words and phrases, use pitch, tempo, and tone of voice, not a change in volume.
- Mic technique. Maintain a proper and consistent distance from the mic. This correct distance varies, depending on your voice, the genre you’re recording, microphone type, and room acoustics. In general, however, if you get too close to the mic, you might pick up more mouth noise and pops. If you get too far, you’ll likely pick up more room resonance.
- Use a pop screen. The line “public adored the pioneering pilot” produced a mess of pops. A low-cost mesh pop screen will help. If you don’t have one, stretch a layer of nylon stocking over an embroidery hoop or a loop of coat hanger. Speaking at a slight angle to the mic can also cut down on plosives and mouth noise.
1st place winner: fred Jenkins
He has great natural variety. And his read is very smooth – smoothest of the bunch, in fact. We like how he changed emotion in the last sentence … the note of irony is clear. But overall, he was a bit too quick, which not only might leave the listener behind, it contributed to slurring some words, such as “news reels” – when music is added, this word might not be understood. Recording quality is good, except for a few mouth clicks.
2nd place winner: Melanie Young
A generally good read, with nice natural variety. She, too, was as the Director asked: “smooth, easy and relaxed.” But a bit too relaxed in the first half of the script, especially on the early word “dared.” In that first sentence, syllables are rapidly paired (togo, gonebefore) so that no word in particular gets emphasis. In an audition, the first impression is especially important. Her second half shows more enthusiasm, but it would have helped to display that enthusiasm from the outset. Moving on … her read was too breathy at times – with noticeable outflowing breath in many places. But inhalation was also too much — she begins her recording with a big inhale that she should have deleted before sending the file. Speaking of smoothing it out, she should try to avoid the glottal stop on words such as “Earhart” and “every.” Recording quality is good, but could use a bit more brightness and gain.
3rd place winner: Mark Jenkins
He has a generally good delivery, with natural variety … combining a calm demeanor with enough enthusiasm to maintain listenership over the longer haul. But that deliberate pace sounds much too practiced. To get past that stilted sound, he should loosen up and have more fun when reading. Also, various aspects of his VO technique need attention. He has “lazy mouth” before “dared” (he said, “n’dared”). At the end, he sped through the words “side of Amelia would,” so that they ran together, possibly confusing the ear of the listener. He didn’t pronounce the T sound on “pilot.” Instead, he ended the word with a glottal stop (rapidly closing off the breath). He also has glottal stops before “every” and “always.” In this case, it could arguably be called a “dramatic pause.” But the Director’s Notes called for a “smooth” delivery. Glottal stops work against that goal. The recording’s technical quality is good, but could use a bit more brightness and gain.