VOICE OVER DEMOS
90% Of The Animation / Character Demos
Are Terrible. Here's Why, And What To Do
May 25, 2016
By Roger King
Voice Over Talent Agent
Performance Network (PN) Agency
Ninety percent of voice over animation/character demos are pretty much flat out terrible.
There, I said it. Letís take a minute to let that sink in.
Okay, I think my number one problem with a lot of character demos is that most of the characters are totally out of context, if you can even recognize them as characters at all.
A lot of these demos sound like someone just trying to make funny noises or voices in their bedroom.
WHAT'S THE LISTENER THINK?
I'm not referring to the quality of the audio recording as much as the difficulty for someone listening in terms of placing these "character voicesĒ in anything that would resemble broadcast material.
Itís like the demo clips are taken from some kind of animation workshop where participants were encouraged to explore potential voices/characters, but the listener wasnít present during those workshops, so is at a total loss to understand what the voice talent is even trying to do.
Another issue is the temptation to include impersonations of famous people or even well-known animation characters.
A little of this can work in a demo if the talent has already shown a nice range, but if you were hoping to land regular character/animation work by just impersonating people, itís likely not going to work.
If you listen to commercials or cartoons, the character voices you hear are still rooted in reality. They are more likely to sound like everyday people, just exaggerated a bit for comedic or dramatic effect.
For instance, I have probably heard 100 voice demos with Sean Connery impersonations, but have only received the request once in the 15 years of running my voice agency. Ditto for Simpsons or Family Guy characters.
HOW MANY PONIES?
Another problem with a lot of character demos is that the talents often just arenít very good at voicing unique characters.
There is a mistaken impression that in order to do character work, you must be a master of all trades: funny characters, accents, impressions, age ranges, etc.
But in fact, some of the most successful character voice actors are one- or two-trick ponies. As long as the trick is really good, you can find work.
The woman on my roster who sounds like a 12-year-old girl doesnít work every week, but whenever thatís the casting call, she has a good shot at landing it.
Same with the guy with the deep booming voice who is really good for villains or powerful leaders of fictitious planets. He couldnít do an accent or play a wacky, stoned out surfer dude if his life depended on it, nor does he attempt to do so.
WHAT DO YOU DO WELL?
The general rule for voice demos certainly applies to characters, too:
Do what you do well and donít bother with stuff that is not in your wheelhouse.A character demo is not like a commercial or narration demo. It is simply meant to show that you can do a few things and that there is some kind of actor there.
Almost all character-based voice projects will require auditions. It is rare that a character project is cast just off voice demos. So, there is no reason to stress about having 100 different voices on your demo or worrying because you canít do a character type.
The characters you choose to put on your demo should be easily identified in terms of type and/or situation. And remember that comedic commercials qualify as character reads!
There's no reason to put on some really wacky voice when you can just add a clip of a well-written commercial script that shows character.
Roger King is the president of Peformance Network (PN) Agency, which provides voice over talent to the radio, television, film, multi-media and animation industries. In 2004, he launched a sister agency, Ethnic Voice Talent (EVT), and now represents over 100 voice over talents and translators in more than 15 different languages. He also writes a lively and informative blog, Voice Over Canada.
PN Agency: www.pnagency.com
Ethnic Voice Talent: www.ethnicvoicetalent.com
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