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contest titles: Amelia Earhart

Director's notes

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.

Script:

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.

Results

Edge Studio Tips and Feedback:

Congratulations to our winners, Fred Jenkins, Melanie D Young, and Mark Jenkins.
In a world where most submissions sounded pretty much the same, these three dared to explore a bit further … which made them stand out from the crowd.  Here are some tips on finding yourself, to make your auditions more notable and sound professional in every way.
Edge Studio VO Tip #1

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.)

Edge Studio VO Tip #3Consider what emotion to use on each phrase.  Most everyone conveyed the same emotion from beginning to end.  Instead think about your thoughts … what ARE those thoughts?  What is each part of the script saying? What emotion might be conveyed by each sentence? What adjective would you attach to your tone of voice?  For example:

Amazed or impressed: Amelia Earhart dared ….
Adoring or friendly: The public adored …
Knowledgeable: And news reels …
Personal or confidential: Yet the private side …
There are many possible interpretations. Deciding on yours before you record will help make the interpretation yours.

Edge Studio VO Tip #4
 
Pay as much attention to technical quality as you do to your performance.  Both require training and practice. And both become easier over time. So the time to learn the technical stuff in voice recording is now, at the same time as you learn voice acting.  This simulated audition is a learning experience, and we don’t expect that everyone yet has a full-time professionally treated space. But in a real audition, the client does expect it. If your technical quality doesn’t cut it, you won’t make the cut, either.
Issues that can be addressed by even the freshest beginner are:
  • 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
    https://edgestudio.com/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.
Want to know more? Consider Home Studio 101.
https://edgestudio.com/product/home-studio-101/
Edge Studio VO Tip #5
 
Is it history? Or technical?  Research your subject.  The name “Amelia Earhart” gave some people trouble. Many said “Am-al-ia ear-har” instead of “Am-EEL-ya AIR-heart.”  If she were an obscure historical figure, the audition reviewer might figure that can be fixed with a word to you later. But what if the actual job will be loaded with names or terminology? Pronunciations are easily looked up online.  The nod may go to the talent who did so.

1st place winner: fred Jenkins

Director's Notes

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.

Recording submitted by fred Jenkins on 30 Apr 2021 - 02:11

2nd place winner: Melanie Young

Director's Notes

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.

Recording submitted by Melanie Young on 25 Apr 2021 - 20:24

3rd place winner: Mark Jenkins

Director's Notes

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.

Recording submitted by Mark Jenkins on 22 Apr 2021 - 16:49

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