There is a lot of great information out there on how to audition from an acting perspective. Many of the resources I cited in my first Crash Course Online Voice Over article include audition tips and tricks that I still continue to utilize. But again, I really want to narrow down this series to focus on how online voice over differs from the others. If you were working through an agency in a traditional setting, they have a different method of submitting your auditions to clients, but as an online actor, you have to know how to fill that role for yourself. While acting tips and tricks can transcend any situation you find yourself in, there are some unique perspectives to keep in mind when working as a remote voice actor over the internet.
RIght away, if you're not familiar with what auditions look like, let's go ahead and take a look at an audition document for a pretend project I've named "The First Audition." I just created this as a fairly generic sample, but it is based on the format that most casting directors I've worked with tend to use. These audition forms will be broken down into the following elements:
- Instructions of how to format your audition file.
- How to send your audition to the casting director.
- A breakdown of each character along with some sample lines for you to record. This is commonly known as a audition side.
If you have a question for a casting director about their audition guidelines, most are very willing to clairfy your questions for you, though I recommend trying to figure out as much for yourself by doing some research before sending them an email. If you do have questions, be sure to thank the casting director for their time in responding and let them know you're planning to send them audition and want to make sure it meets their requirements. Try not to send more than one of these emails, or it can give the impression that you need a lot of handholding, which is something most casting directors don't have the time or ability to help you with, even if you're new.
To clear up some questions up front, let's break down the requirements on this project:
- Please record all auditions lines in one file for each character, multiple takes are encouraged: Notice that the Main Character in the sample side has three lines of dialogue that you are expected to record to show how you interpret the character.. The casting director doesn't want a separate audio file for each line, they just want it all together in a single audio track. Multiple takes mean that they also don't mind you sending along extra takes or interpretations of the character, which could be a similar performance but with a different energy level or even a different accent (since none was specified). Multiple takes can be a good way to show versatility in how you can interpret a character, but I don't recommend trying more than 2-3 per character in an audition setting.
- Please record in 48khz | mono | mp3: This refers to the quality of your final file export. Depending on what DAW you are working with, these settings will be located in different places, usually related to exporting or recording quality. There isn't a one size fits all guide for how to edit these in every DAW, so this is somewhere you may have to flex your google detective skills on. Don't be afraid to use forums and other resources for this if you don't find something right away!
- Save Lines as CharacterName_YourName: This is what you should name the mp3 file of the audition you recorded and edited in your DAW. For example, if I was auditioning for the main character of "The First Audition," mine would be TheMainCharacter_NatalieVanSistine.mp3.
- Please zip or rar all audition lines in one file: If you audition for more than one character, you are expected to compress all of the audition files into a single .zip or .rar file. Notice that you are even given instructions on what to name the compressed file on the line below.
- Title Your Email as ProjectName Audition - Your Name: This will be what we put in the title line of the email you'll send to the casting director. For example, mine would be TheFirstAudition Audition - Natalie Van Sistine. It may seem obvious, but this does tells us that this audition call is being held by email (and we can see the email address to send this audition to in the line below) - some casting directors may have other ways of asking for your auditions, so definitely don't assume email will always be their method of choice every time!
- Include a PDF Document with your contact information, website, and link if available: Some directors may want to see if you've done other voice over work to get an idea of how versatile and experienced you are. It's okay if all you have getting started is just your contact information - it won't stop you from getting cast, but if you can provide more, that's great too! Try to limit website and resume information strictly to what you've done in terms of voiceover and maybe theater. They really don't need your day job resume.
You should always include a standard cover letter with your auditions, regardless of how you're sending your audition to a casting director. A cover letter should be formal and quickly communicate your qualifications, your availability to perform the work required, and your flexibility to respond to a callback if the client wants to see you try something different with your audition - all within a few sentences. Fortunately, you can usually develop a template for this type of letter and edit it as necessary depending on the project you're auditioning for.
Here's a pretty standard example of an email I would send out, customized to meet the specifications of the project I put together as a sample for this article (and if we were to assume that I am male):
If this seems like a daunting amount of information to keep in mind auditioning, let me leave you with this: when auditioning for online voice over projects you're almost always going to be caught up in a cattle call of voice actors who come from wildly different backgrounds and professional standards. The internet is a great tool that can allow you to break into the industry no matter where you are and what your skill level is, but that also doesn't prevent other amatuers of various talent levels from doing the same. Online markets are flooded with a lot of amateurs who don't take the time to read or follow directions and who make the job of a casting director highly frustrating. One of the biggest advantages you can use to advance in the industry and set yourself apart is your ability to follow directions. Your acting ability is still vitally important to nurture, but your professionalism is ultimately what will carry you towards success.