Starkist Wants Tunas That Sound Good

Posted on June 30, 2011 by

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In most cases, when one hires talent from an online casting service, the talent will be recording the actual work in their home studio. Having waded through hundreds of auditions, I can tell you that the overall sound quality can run from pristine broadcast quality all the way down to Mr. Microphone, and everything in between. Since talent demos are almost always comprised of work done in professional studios, and often lathered with music and sound effects, it’s impossible to tell from a demo whether the particular voice actor can crank out a recording that simply sounds good. You really need to hear a custom audition, to both determine how well the actor can act and how good their audio soundsThe latter goes beyond any questions to artistry or interpretation, but simply asks you to listen to determine whether the audio has hiss, noise, clicks, pops, etc. Does it sound good? Some talent will spend thousands of dollars to put up the perfect blend of acoustical treatment, buy expensive microphones, etc. Other talent will buy sound baffles, sound proof booths and so on to provide you with an excellent listening experience. But this also doesn’t deny that there are plenty of actors who can make a quality recording by climbing into their coat closets, recording in their cars, or otherwise being creative. How much one invests isn’t always an indicator of their ability to do a good job. Buying a Ferrari or Porsche doesn’t automatically turn one into a Mario Andretti.

Unfortunately, there is still a bunch of “talent”, and I use the term loosely, who simply refuse to face facts that what they are recording sounds lousy. In some cases, they simply may not have a clue. What makes matters more difficult is that some of these people will employ things like noise gates, noise reduction, compression, or may even go so far as to put music behind their auditions in order to try and trick you into thinking their recordings sound better than they really do.

Now, this may not really be an issue to you. You may simply be looking for a bargain or figure that “good enough is good enough”. But if you do care, there are some things you can do.
Insist within the body of your offer that voice talents not use any processing on their auditions. Wording such as “We will only consider raw voice recordings that are free from compression, noise gates and any other processing, and that do not contain any music or sound effects”. You could go further and request that recordings do not peak beyond -3 or -6db, or even provide a sample recording that you would ask the talent to match in terms of volume. It’s fairly important that when you listen to auditions, that as much as possible, you are comparing apples to apples. So having each audition at roughly the same volume and without any fudging, not only can help with listening for a clean recording, but also help in determining who are giving the reads that might put them in consideration for doing the actual job. Imagine if one audition is super loud and another super soft, you wind up having the volume perhaps become a major factor in whom you might hire.
Personally, I think that if the talent is going to have a home recording studio, he or she should make an investment that is large enough to provide good quality audio, as well as an investment in an education that teaches them how to use their equipment properly.
Specifying raw recordings should get you a few less auditions, but should provide you with a higher percentage of qualified candidates to choose from.

About the Author

J.S. Gilbert was a true early adopter of Internet casting and has been with Voice 123 since its earliest days. J.S. uses Voice 123 as both an actor and as a copywriter/ producer/ director for casting projects for his clients, which include ad agencies, web developers, gaming, e-learning, etc. J.s. is also known for sound alike and impression work. He is the licensed voice for Hermey “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and a licensed voice for Papa Smurf, as well as being a spokesperson for Clorox, Philips 66 and Chevy. His site features many of the projects he has performed voice for, as well as projects he has written and/or produced. He is also an avid blogger. His site is at http://jsgilbert.com

J.S. Gilbert J.S is a guest blogger and a talent of Voice123

Photo by Jason Rogers

Posted in: Cast Smart