Do you need a voice over demo?
What is a voice over demo? What do you need to know about creating a voice over demo? What role does voice over scripts play? In this piece, we'll guide you through how a voice over demo real has transformed into voice over samples and how you can make yours stand out from the crowd.
Is a voice over demo no longer important?
It’s both a yes and no. Attention spans are too short to sit through a single voice over demo showcasing your entire range in one file. But if it showcases small, individual samples of your voice and vocal range? That’s 100% still important.
Voice over demos have evolved into short voice over samples, contained in specific playlists and are necessary for both new and experienced voice actors to have. Click To Tweet
Think about this:
Do you ever buy a pair of shoes without trying them on?
Or a car without test driving it?
Perhaps a tech gadget without first watching the review?
Maybe you do and maybe it works, but most of the time, we need a ‘sample’ of something. And since voice overs are investments to clients, the odds of a client hiring you without first hearing a sample of your voice are slim to none.
In fact, when clients post projects for voice acting jobs online, it’s compulsory to choose between, ‘send me related samples,’ or ‘custom audition.’
Consequently, if you’ve invested in training, a home studio, equipment, software, and precious time, no one can afford the financial liability of “I’ll see if I need one.”
Voice over demo reel to voice over samples
A voice over demo reel is tradionally an all-in-one voice over demo. As the years have passed, it’s become more time efficent to rather focus on short, individual, high-quality recordings in a variety of categories.
These samples showcase your voice, vocal range, and versatility. It provides clients with a clear audio portrait of what your voice sounds like and whether it would fit their project.
These samples represent a growing trend in the use of short-form audio vs a traditional voice over demo. Think of a sample as a 30 second Youtube clip that grabs your attention. They are your audio representatives. They ‘speak’ to clients and say, ‘This is a sample of what I can do and what I sound like.’
What a voice over sample isn’t
Voice over samples are not long recordings of you reading voice over scripts that you found online. They’re not something you ‘have’ to do just to fill space on your online voice acting profile.
“I've seen people not get booked on stuff because their audio quality was bad, but they're great voice actors … don't try to be something that you're not." - Gavin Bentley
They’re not something you do when you’re tired or uninterested because clients can pick up on that. They’re especially no longer something that has to be professionally produced, or required to send to agents as you can now market yourself without a middleman. Voice over samples are not rushed, disorganized, unrehearsed, or long, nor are they the typical voice over demo reel.
Now, it seems logical for clients to only require custom auditions for voice over projects, but that’s not always the case. Final scripts aren’t always ready when casting directors and producers need to lock in a voice. And even when a final script is ready, it sometimes requires an NDA, which can lengthen the time frame for a casting.
At Voice123, this is usually when clients post projects that request related voice over samples, and when they use the search feature to go through voice actor profiles. In fact, since January 2021, Voice123 clients have performed an average of over 650,000 searches! And almost 60% of projects posted on Voice123 since January 2021 have requested related samples instead of custom auditions.
The bottom line is this: If you don’t have any voice over samples, you won’t be able to submit an audition for a project, and you also won’t have anything for clients to listen to when they visit your online voice acting profile.
How long should a voice demo be?
“If you upload a :60 second sample and there’s a great snippet :40 seconds in, nobody will ever hear it.”
The same applies here. Instead of a minute long voice over demo – it’s best practice to record 00:20 – 00:30 second voice over samples in each genre or category of your vocal range. The average client today can easily access these samples on online platforms, and they only want a taste. Focus on using the first five seconds of each sample to grab your listeners’ attention and hold it!
A word of caution though; short samples aren’t equal to rushed samples. Voice over samples that are rushed, will sound rush—even if the rush isn’t instantly audible. Imagine how you feel when you’re talking to someone and they keep checking their watch or phone because they’re in a hurry to leave. You never want clients to listen to voice over samples that give the impression that you were rushing or in a hurry to move onto the next recording.
How many voice over demos should I have?
As we mentioned earlier, instead of a one-minute-long voice over demo, aim for short samples in each voice over category that you specialize in.
So, how do you create short voice over samples?
Hire a professional
In principle, hiring a professional makes sense – but it can be very expensive.
“A way to find that kind of person could be by going to a conference, like VO Atlanta or One Voice Conference or Gravy For The Brain. They have a ton of people and resources.” - Yolanda Spearman
There’s lots of information available on how to make a voice over demo. So, if you decide to go down this road, take time to do extensive research, read reviews, and ask questions. From quick Google searches, you’ll find the likes of well-known programs such as Edge Studio’s Training Program. It’s even better if you know someone in the voice acting industry who can give you a reliable referral because like every industry, there are a lot of scammers out there.
Do it yourself
As the pandemic continues, you have to choose your investments wisely. With the advancements in software and editing tools, online resources, and modern methods to add online playlists and samples, there’s no reason why you can’t do it yourself.
Instead of spending time and money in a producer’s studio creating a voice over demo, you can use the time and funds to invest in your own home studio. If you take time to learn how to record, edit and create your own pristine quality audio recordings, then you’ll have more control when creating your voice over samples and auditions.
It’s advantageous if the samples you record in your studio are the ones that potential clients hear. This gives them a clear idea of not just your vocal range and suitability, but also the quality of your recordings that they can expect to receive.
But keep in mind that ‘doing it yourself’ is not simply a matter of finding voice over scripts, recording on your computer, doing a quick edit, and presto– it’s done! Making quality voice over samples will take time, research, practice, and patience.
What are the different types of voice acting samples?
Voice overs are commonly needed for audiobooks, movie trailers, phone messages, podcasts, animations, text-to-speech, and more. Some of the most popular categories are promos, commercials, e-learning, video games, and narratives.
Most voice actors are able to do voice over work in most of these categories. While it’s good to be versatile, be honest with yourself and your voice. Instead of looking up voice over scripts and trying to make voice over samples in every category, take time to perfect what you’re really good at and market those accordingly.
Take time to find the personality and style of your voice. Are you warm and conversational, or friendly and upbeat? Then, listen to voice overs in related categories along with samples from pros to see how they nail their performances. Then practice reading voice over scripts and compare your recordings. Use your life experiences and imagination to make them sound believable and always be sure to add ‘you’ to every script in order to bring it to life.
Check out our Help Center guide to learn more here: Can I add my voice over auditions as part of my samples?
Check out part two of our voice over demo series to learn from our Practice use guide to voice over samples.
6 steps to crafting successful voice over samples
1. Decide on the type of voice over samples that you want to record to showcase your voice – the ones that you specialize in.
2. Find suitable voice over scripts and practice until you’re comfortable.
3. Invest in a suitable home studio set-up with a microphone that complements your voice.
4. Record at a time when your voice is at its best, and ensure there’s no background noise.
5. Learn how to edit using professional software DAWs such as Pro Tools, Ableton Live, and Reaper.
6. Ask someone with a keen ear for honest feedback and ensure that they listen with headphones.
“Even though Garageband and Audacity are free and get the job done, I believe all professional voice actors should invest in their craft as they grow." - Jairo Pineda
Where can I find voice over scripts?
We’ve compiled a list of voice over scripts libraries on our voice over resources page.
We’ve also got tips from pros on how to learn your voice over scripts, along with these 5 tips on how to identify winning voice over scripts.
“Study the script. Practice it. The better you know it, the more believable you sound and the less edits you'll need. Know your scripts!” - Jordan Jones
In a project, you might see this setting: ‘Allow voice actors to add this audition to their public portfolio.’
This means that clients sometimes allow voice actors to read their voice over scripts per their projects for their auditions, which can then be used as voice over samples on their profiles.
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