voice casting or root canal, you decide

If only jobs were as easy or exciting as they initially sounded.

The idea of being a chocolate taster seems like a good idea but if you think about it, maybe not. After a while, you are likely going to be pretty sick of chocolate.

It’s kind of the same thing when casting a voice for a production. There are lots of talented men and women out there who serve as professional announcers or voice over talent and can easily a voiceover your commercial, imaging project, on-hold message or video narration.

And I mean lots.

That’s where the challenge comes in.

Describing the type of voiceover you want

As the potential voice over employer (client), having to describe a voice you want for your project for a production house or on-line audition service will almost require a PhD in similes. If it makes you feel any better, voice talents are just as bad as describing their sound for clients (the over used description “voice of God has always struck me as a rather unqualifiable reference that always makes me chuckle).

But these totally subjective descriptions from clients and voice over talents are a large part of what makes voice casting an incredibly inexact science that rarely proves accurate. It’s not because the employer or announcer wants to mislead, but more because the spectrum of sound quality is so skewed to each listener’s taste.

Sifting through voice over talent auditions

If one voice over talent audition is heard, a hundred are heard. Old voices, young voices, sleek, rough, country-bumpkin and city slicker. The even worse news is that on some auditions all the aforementioned voices may be on just one audition.

Set some uninterrupted time aside and plow through them… it’s going to take awhile.

The weird science of voice auditioning

From the office secretary of a small business to the Chief Creative Officer at a worldwide advertising agency (and that IS how broad the range is of people selecting a voice talent nowadays), what you think you want at the beginning of the process is rarely what you end up with at the end of the voice over auditioning process. Of course, there are exceptions but usually the process of voice talent auditioning creates some sort of epiphany for the client at some point in the production process.

Whether it’s the special sound of a female talent’s low vocal register or the dead-on impersonation offered a male talent, a voice talent can cement an ad campaign’s direction or so amazingly enhance a marketing concept that a new campaign idea is born. It happens all the time.

Ultimately, the best suggestion for a client is to keep an open mind, even when you “know what you want”.

Going through the process

Here are some simple tips to get you through the voice audition process:

• Decide whether you want to request general audition recordings (which mean listing to generic voiceover demos) or if you want the talents to record a customized demo for the audition. While customized auditions are usually free (especially for non-union voice over talent) voices usually want to know a budget range to see if the project is ultimately going to be worth their time to audition for so…

• Establish a reasonable budget for the voice talent’s services and let the talent know what the “range” of that budget is

• Be sure to indicate the type of production it’s going to be: commercial, video narration, voice imaging…and be as specific about details as possible. This will ensure the voice talent can send you the demo that most suits your needs

• Be sure to indicate what format you want the audition to arrive as: MP3, WAV file or mailed on a CD. Voice talents are usually glad to give prospective clients want you want in whatever format you want it

• If you’re going to initially ask for generic demos, make two piles, keepers and tossers:
– The keepers you may ask to audition again with a more specific piece of copy or you may want to interview them, your choice
– With the tossers, while it would be more professional if you created a generic but personally addressed letter politely saying “thanks but no thanks” most voice over talents subscribe to the notion that they didn’t get the job they just auditioned for; which make the “you got the job” call THAT much sweeter.

• If you want a custom audition, make sure you provide pronunciation keys in the script. A mispronunciation is upsetting for the talent and frustrating for the listener

• On customized demos, be ready to hear the same script over and over….focus on listening for script intrepretation, tone and inflection. Don’t focus on the words or you’ll zone out (see the earlier chocolate taster reference).

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2 Responses to “voice casting or root canal, you decide”

  1. First off, thank you for your comments on my blog- I will most certainly check out those books! I can see it has worked for you, this site is amazing! I haven’t read all of the blogs, but plan to- you obviously know your stuff and I look forward to reading more! I didn’t want to send you an e-mail in your client section, but I did want to thank you. If you ever need another female talent, I would love to work with you! Regards- Kara

  2. Kara:

    Always glad to help out and thanks very much for stopping by. Come back any time and as the old gun and knives show commercial line goes: “tell a buddy, bring a friend!”

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