Audition Contest Archive

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Contest ending Friday, June 24

contest titles: David Lynch

Director's notes

This is a simulated audition for an upcoming documentary piece about the filmmaker David Lynch. Tone should feel warm and knowledgeable, and the actor should be able to communicate information clearly to the listener.


By incorporating this 16 millimeter film strip into his “motion painting” titled Six Men Getting Sick (Six Times), artist David Lynch discovered his love for film making. After three Academy Award Nominations, Lynch still considers his first full length feature, Eraserhead, to be his most “spiritual” film.


Edge Studio Tips and Feedback:

Congratulations to our winners, Debbie Randall, Shmuel Goldstein, and Ari Reardon. They showed the ability to help this hypothetical documentary paint a personal picture of artist David Lynch. Here are some tips on how you can make your own reads more real and personal, improving your shot at audition awards.

Edge Studio VO Tip #1
Take your read off autopilot. A lot of reads were very robotic. By that, we mean that they sounded memorized, or had a repetitive pattern of tempo, pitch, and other vocal characteristics. Or they lacked variation in those characteristics at all.
To get past this, don’t treat the script as a memorization process. (Even though – lucky us – as voice actors we have the script right there in front of us!) In fact, don’t even “read” it. Instead review the script just enough to familiarize yourself with it, then when you record, look up, as you would when speaking to a person who is actually there in front of you. Refer to the script out of the corner of your eye. Once you get the feel for this, you should be able to look more directly at the script, yet still have that natural demeanor. And, of course, however you choose to use a script, before you send off your take, always listen to it while reading along in the script, to be sure you caught every word and didn’t add or change anything.

Edge Studio VO Tip #2
Keep Calm and Carry On.  Or, to put it another way, be smooooth.  Whatzat mean?  Avoid glottal stops and unnecessary pauses. (A glottal stop is a momentary closing of the throat, usually before an initial vowel.) A character might have lots of pauses as a personal characteristic, but when you’re a narrator, that’s not the character you want to be – especially in an audition.
Why is it bad? Excessive pauses make you sound tense, which then creates tension in the ear or mind of your listener.  Some people paused so often, you’d think there was a comma between every word! If this is you, refer to Tip #1.  You probably don’t talk to a friend in such a halting manner. Smooth it out, be calm, and carry on.

Edge Studio VO Tip #3
But do pause at times. Of course, you’re allowed to breathe – even if you delete some or all of your breaths later, or minimize their volume. But when you’re narrating, there’s another reason for pausing. Occasional pauses, at logical places, give your listener a chance to absorb the visual and relate to what you say. Running-on can be really tiring, whether recorded or in conversation. In person, it’s also impolite.
So, how often should you pause, and how long? One way is to mark the script into logical thoughts. Another good learning exercise is to listen to narrations by well-known narrators. You can even record a bit of a narrated program, write out the script, and read along with the recording. In addition to giving you a sense of how often to pause, it will help ingrain a sense of narration tempo.

Edge Studio VO Tip #4
Watch your final submission’s volume. Clients of various types may specify the volume parameters for your recording, but unless otherwise instructed, in an audition, give yourself your best shot.  That means your loudest moments should peak at -3 dB. That will give your reads the most “psychological” energy (yes, audition screeners are human and respond to a healthy volume), while allowing a bit of “headroom” to be sure you don’t mistakenly go over 0 dB. (Going into positive numbers, also known as going “into the red,” creates distortion.) Some entries came in with volume averaging around -20 dB.  In comparison with a “normal” volume, -20 dB is so low that it requires the listener to adjust their volume control. It suggests you are not fully professional, and is annoying – especially if the listener forgets to reset their volume before the next clip.

1st place winner: Debbie Randall

Director's Notes

She nailed two out of three characteristics the client requested:  One, she sounds knowledgeable. Two, she speaks very clearly. But she’s missing #3: “warm.” This caused a slightly robotic, stilted sound. To avoid sounding like this, she should smile. Smiles can be heard, and since it’s usually a fairly easy fix, she topped our list. There are a few awkward moments, though. She left the T sound out of “painting.” And a bit of emphasis on “this” would be nice.  By the way, she smartly included a brief, confident-sounding slate at the end – just her name – which reinforces her brand and is a precaution in case the file name isn’t handy someday. Putting it at the end avoids distracting from her read, and doesn’t waste the audition screener’s time. Recording quality is very good.

Recording submitted by Debbie Randall on 15 Jun 2022 - 20:12

2nd place winner: Shmuel Goldstein

Director's Notes

Very good, exactly what was asked for: warm, knowledgeable, and clear. But there are two things we’d want to improve: 1) Emphasize the third word (“this”), because the viewer is likely seeing it at this moment in the video. And, 2) work on spacing. Usually, a period calls for a slightly longer pause than a comma does.  In this case, there’s barely any break after the period. Was it a choice, a reading error, or an editing error? No matter; the effect on the listener is the same: potential confusion. At the other extreme, some comma breaks were too long, the word “considers” sounds like “considihs,” and there are some vocal eccentricities (e.g., a very long “M” on “motion). The technical quality of the recording is good, with just a tiny bit of “room” hollowness in his voice. His space may need additional acoustic treatment (padding) in at least a couple areas.

Recording submitted by Shmuel Goldstein on 24 Jun 2022 - 15:43

3rd place winner: Ari Reardon

Director's Notes

Like our First Place winner, he hit the target on two of the three mandatories, but a different two. He sounds warm, and knowledgeable, but his speech lacks sufficient clarity. He slurs a few words, most notably “titled” (which sounds like “title-n”), “full length” (which sounds a bit like “folay”), “Eraserhead” (which sounds like “eraserheh”), and “award” (which sounds like “a war”). A bit of emphasis on “this” would also be nice. There’s a tiny bit of vocal shakiness on the first syllable of “millimeter.” And in “film making” there is a vocal click at the end. And finally, the last word of the audition doesn’t resolve. (It sounds like a question or the first part of a sentence). Recording quality is clean, but the volume is rather low.

Recording submitted by Ari Reardon on 23 Jun 2022 - 19:13

All Entries: Contest ending Friday, June 24

To Find A Specific Entry:

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Amy Joy Warner's recording

Recording submitted by Amy Joy Warner on 24 Jun 2022 - 16:56

Shmuel Goldstein's recording

Recording submitted by Shmuel Goldstein on 24 Jun 2022 - 15:43

Gene Manning's recording

Recording submitted by Gene Manning on 24 Jun 2022 - 13:23

Cindy Dang's recording

Recording submitted by Cindy Dang on 24 Jun 2022 - 04:27

April Scott's recording

Recording submitted by April Scott on 24 Jun 2022 - 02:08

Gideon Clark's recording

Recording submitted by Gideon Clark on 23 Jun 2022 - 22:14

Laurie Pastor's recording

Recording submitted by Laurie Pastor on 23 Jun 2022 - 21:36

Ari Reardon's recording

Recording submitted by Ari Reardon on 23 Jun 2022 - 19:13

Lydia Wamunyu's recording

Recording submitted by Lydia Wamunyu on 23 Jun 2022 - 17:58

Gee White's recording

Recording submitted by Gee White on 22 Jun 2022 - 22:01

Jake Hall's recording

Recording submitted by Jake Hall on 22 Jun 2022 - 21:17

Beckett Arnold's recording

Recording submitted by Beckett Arnold on 22 Jun 2022 - 19:07

Alex Safos's recording

Recording submitted by Alex Safos on 21 Jun 2022 - 15:47

DESTRY BOURKE's recording

Recording submitted by DESTRY BOURKE on 20 Jun 2022 - 22:02

Tony Beltran's recording

Recording submitted by Tony Beltran on 20 Jun 2022 - 21:02

Gillian Butler's recording

Recording submitted by Gillian Butler on 20 Jun 2022 - 16:47

Laura Recene's recording

Recording submitted by Laura Recene on 19 Jun 2022 - 14:58

Michael Heward's recording

Recording submitted by Michael Heward on 18 Jun 2022 - 21:29

Clarence Ng's recording

Recording submitted by Clarence Ng on 18 Jun 2022 - 18:27

Anthony Lee's recording

Recording submitted by Anthony Lee on 17 Jun 2022 - 23:58

Ian Grimley's recording

Recording submitted by Ian Grimley on 17 Jun 2022 - 00:09

Thomas Dunn's recording

Recording submitted by Thomas Dunn on 16 Jun 2022 - 17:32

Debbie Randall's recording

Recording submitted by Debbie Randall on 15 Jun 2022 - 20:12

Astrid Wong-Searby's recording

Recording submitted by Astrid Wong-Searby on 14 Jun 2022 - 04:23

Dave Cavallaro's recording

Recording submitted by Dave Cavallaro on 14 Jun 2022 - 00:44

Rusty Jones's recording

Recording submitted by Rusty Jones on 13 Jun 2022 - 20:16

Josef Dicken's recording

Recording submitted by Josef Dicken on 12 Jun 2022 - 19:07

fred Jenkins's recording

Recording submitted by fred Jenkins on 11 Jun 2022 - 15:30