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PAST VOICE OVER SCRIPT READING CONTESTS
Scroll down to see all entries, winners, prizes, breakdown articles, and The Contest Selection Video with David Goldberg

For the current contest → click here

Select a past contest
Disney Cruise: July 1, 2022 - September 30, 2022
David Lynch: June 1, 2022 - June 30, 2022
LaCroix: May 1, 2022 - May 31, 2022

Disney Cruise

July 1, 2022 - September 30, 2022
Contest

Voice Direction:

This is a simulated audition for a commercial for the Disney Dreams Magic Cruise. The product being sold is family-friendly and should feel inviting for all ages. We are looking for a creative read; please feel free to make bold choices that still communicate the content well.

Script:

Do you have Disney wishes waiting to be granted? Wish upon a star no more and hop on board the Disney Dreams Magic Cruise. Sail the ocean blue and mingle with your favorite princesses, adventurers, and perhaps the one and only Mickey Mouse. Anything your heart desires will come to you.

Analysis: Why the Winners Won ... and Why Others Didn't.

Congratulations to our winners, Tristan Stone, Jennifer Imai, and Noah DeBiase. Walt Disney used to say it’s kind of fun to do the impossible. This assignment wasn’t exactly impossible, but it was a challenge, and auditioning for it should be fun! Here are some tips to help you be one of the people who make the impossible a reality.

Edge Studio VO Tip #1

Be natural, don’t force it. Some people sounded artificial, by effecting the stereotypical “announcer” sound. The VO industry has various names for this affectation, including the sterile description “hardsell,” and the evocative term “radio DJ puke sound” – none of them mean to be flattering. Yet while this commercial calls for happiness, commercials also typically require real credibility. How to be real, and convey happiness?  Smile.  A lot – while recording the script.  You will feel weird.  However your voice will sound terrific when mixed with music, sound effects, and the visuals.

 

Edge Studio VO Tip #2

Remember that happy energy does not require speed.  Lots of times, conveying smile causes the voice actor to speed up. Don’t do this! Most commercials require a mid-tempo pacing. Recordings narrated with fast tempos may sound good to you … but listeners may not decipher all the words when mixed with music and/or sound effects. Further, at the outset at least, people might not be listening intently. What’s more, in a commercial, your words will be mixed with visuals, which your listeners’ minds will need time to take in.

Here are some exercises to find a proper pace: (a) Record some mainstream commercials (in this case, Disney spots would be good), write out the scripts, and record yourself reading in synch. But this is important – you’re doing this mainly for tempo. Note the existing talent’s style, but ultimately you want the voice and style to be your own. For all you know, the client wants a change in their promotional personality. (b) Just consciously speak more slowly. It might feel unnatural at first, but the feeling of naturalness will come.  It might help to time your reads, and set a target that is, say, 10% longer.  Once you get the hang of it, finding a proper tempo will come naturally, so that you won’t be thinking about it – instead, you should be thinking the thoughts you are saying.

 

Edge Studio VO Tip #3

Be creative. What can you do that sets you apart from everyone else?  The Director’s Notes stipulate creativity, but it’s important in virtually any audition. We presume that’s why a lot of people “sang” the script, or portions of it. Sometimes that might be appropriate, but in this case, it was too inventive. In this hypothetical Disney audition, they’re looking for talent to be used on an ongoing basis. Can you imagine if every promo were sung? The audition reviewer wants to hear your read.  On the other hand, some people will recognize the last words as lyrics from the song “When You Wish Upon a Star.” Did anyone literally sing “Anything your heart desires will come to you”?  No.  Depending on your singing ability, that might be impressive, maybe not. But it would have been more appropriate to “reflect” the tune and the words’ rhythm in your spoken pitch and timing, but faster than the classic Jiminy Cricket (Cliff Edwards) recording. And if done well.

 

Edge Studio VO Tip #4

Do NOT add music.  An unusually large number of people did this. Some even did it fairly well. Regardless, it exposed them as novices. Unless specified in the audition instructions, always assume the client or casting agency wants to hear your voice, and only your voice.  Music can mask a ton of performance and recording sins. And anyway, it’s “cheating”; it’s not the kind of unfair advantage that casting pros accept. Adding a legitimate vocal effect is often admirable (such as a sigh, “harumph,” chuckle, or other sound that someone would make when speaking).

Winners

1st place winner: Tristan Stone

Judge's Comments

He has good variety, in the sense that his read doesn’t sound robotic, pretty much the same throughout. His emotion changes, and his pitch and cadence change to fit the sense. He very much rushed the opening words (it sounds like “Do youv”).  General practice is to launch into the opening words of any script (and sometimes of each sentence) a bit slower, so that listeners have time to adjust and get used to your voice.
But why the music? As we’ve discussed above, it’s not standard audition practice, and it makes it difficult for us to hear his voice clearly. Did he drop the “ed” on  “granted”? Did he say “cruise” or “fruise”?  We even wonder how much of that variety was caused by matching the music, as opposed to his own innate sense of pace. Also, his voice goes into a slightly forced delivery at times … like a sort of cool-guy sound, a bit affected (a bit of the ‘puke’ sound mentioned above).  This mannerism, rather than being relatable, is a hard-sell approach. The Director’s Notes requested a family, inviting approach. He should replace the “puke” with a smile. Combined with his tempo, pitch, and variety, the result would be great. He even caught the timing of the song’s final. It might have been even better if he’d suggested their pitch.  From this audition, would we hire him to record on his own? Probably not. But if the job involved a directed session (that is, one of our Edge Studio Vocal Directors would direct the recording), he’d be considered.
As for the recording’s technical quality, his vocal quality is mostly clear, but could use more clarity. It would benefit from proper equalization and a lot of compression. (The lack of appropriate compression causes certain syllables to be totally lost – among other examples, the “ed” at the end of “granted,” as noted above.   We hear these missing sounds because we see the script and our brain fills in the near-non-existent letters. But a casting pro will notice that it’s not really audible.  A few breaths were left intact, but are easy enough for an engineer to remove.
Recording submitted by Tristan Stone on 29 Jul 2022 - 16:06

2nd place winner: Jennifer Imai

Judge's Comments

Her good variety earned her a place on the podium. But the first impression is not good. Her opening lacks a Disney smile.  Also, she has the slightly hard-sell/pukey sound that we’ve discussed above. It’s subtle, and we suppose it might be thought of “cool gal,” but that’s a stereotype. And it’s not in accordance with the Director’s Notes, which call for “family-friendly and inviting for all ages.” Instead, add a smile. Reduce the number of glottal stops or eliminate them altogether. (A glottal stop is momentary closing of the throat, usually before an initial vowel. She does avoid some by using a breathy, hushed approach to some words.) Also, as noted in our article above, observe the particular characteristics of the Promo genre. Enunciation is highly important. An example of where she failed at clarity would be the word “favorite.”  Many people said “favrit,” which we might accept, given the call for “family, fun, smile, lighthearted delivery.” But, her pronunciation – once covered with music and sound effects – will sound a bit like “fave-it.”  As with our First Place winner, we’d consider her for a directed session, but from this read, she should work on her self-direction.
The technical quality is good. But lowering her breaths would have been a nice touch.
Recording submitted by Jennifer Imai on 11 Sep 2022 - 18:59

3rd place winner: Noah DeBiase

Judge's Comments

His voice is relatively high-pitched. For some clients, this may or may not be desired. For Disney, it could be just the thing.  But he needs more of the personal touch. Like so many others, he, too, has the slight hard-sell/puke quality. See above for discussion.  Replacing it with a genuine smile would have yielded an optimal performance. That, and he could have been even more lighthearted, fun, with a bit more variety. (Here’s a Bonus Tip: Everything in a script of this sort adds a thought to what came before, just as in a natural conversation. Thus, each statement conveys a slight change of emotion. Your choice of emotions in this progression will contribute to the variety that casting pros listen for.)
Technically, the recording was mostly good. If he de-essed it and lowered a few breaths, it would be even better!
Recording submitted by Noah DeBiase on 19 Aug 2022 - 18:46
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Daisy Barajas's recording

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Glen Ross's recording

Recording submitted by Glen Ross on 12 Sep 2022 - 19:16

Jennifer Imai's recording

Recording submitted by Jennifer Imai on 11 Sep 2022 - 18:59

Carolyn Leigh's recording

Recording submitted by Carolyn Leigh on 10 Sep 2022 - 16:01

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kimberly anderson's recording

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Tristan Stone's recording

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