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Slate Your Online Auditions?
It Might Hurt Your Chances ... 
 
By Steven Lowell
Voice Actor & Public Relations Manager, Voice123
 
There are varying opinions as to why or why not someone should slate in an online audition.
 
The truth is, as in any creative field, you never have a definitive 'right way' - but there is always a definite 'wrong way.' 
 
So let's examine slating - which is voicing your name and the project title on a recorded audition - and why or why it is not done.
 
WAS COMMON PRACTICE
 
It was a common practice, when working offline in studios, to slate names before one began an audition.
 
The way auditions were collected called for it to happen this way.
 
But today, online, it is done less frequently. Why?
 
Working with a website involves a new way of collecting auditions. Your name is right there on the interface.
 
THEY DECIDE FAST
 
Here's a marketing tip: when working online, if you can offer a solution to a problem in one mouse-click, and less time, the buyer feels like a genius for finding you. Attention spans run shorter online.
 
In general, it takes between 5 to 20 seconds before they conclude that the mouse-click was a failure, and that it is best to stop listening.
 
So, should the first 10 seconds of your audition be a slate, or are you spending time telling them something they already know or will find out?
 
WHAT TO DO?
 
There are always those who can say, "I slate, and I get work often online." And there are those who do not slate, and also get work.
 
So what do you? Think a moment ... 
 
Slates that offer personal commentary, or a long explanation into what the person is about to hear, usually leave a voice seeker bored before they hear the audition.
 
YOUR VOICE FIRST
 
Also, feedback received from voice talent on Voice123 who have posted work as voice seekers, have expressed that "techno slates" damage chances with the client because the first voice the client should hear is the talent's voice.
 
Many who audition believe that they are auditioning for the person doing the hiring. But in fact, most voice seekers are posting the voice-over work as a third party to present to a client.
 
This means that the auditions being presented to the client represent the job poster's ability to find voice talent. 
 
Thus, any slate that prompts the question, "When will the audition start?" may do more harm than good.
 
MIND YOUR INTENTIONS
 
A final note.
 
A creative talent always has to face the question, "Is what I am intending to do being received like I had intended?"
 
It is a tough question because creativity comes from the mind and heart, and the anonymous atmosphere online allows people to be more opinionated than they would be face-to-face.
 
IT'S NOT PERSONAL
 
It's also important to never take someone's business decision personally.
 
In a do-it-yourself voice talent environment, each voice talent has to offer a bit of online customer service by knowing whether or how much to slate.
 
Previous experience is a guide here: were you successful when providing a slate?
 
ABOUT STEVEN ...
 
Steven Lowell is a voice actor based in New York City, and public relations manager for Voice123, the online voice-over marketplace that provides online auditions and work for its members.
 
 
 
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Comments (5)
Jim Conlan
5/19/2011 at 10:42 AM
I agree with Steven. Don't waste valuable seconds slating the audition. A simple solution: backslate. If they listen that far, it's a nice, personal conclusion to the audition. If they don't, at least you didn't waste their time.
Amy Snively
6/27/2010 at 11:24 PM
Great advice. I agree 100%. I never slate at Voice123, and I don't like it when my agents want me to slate for their auditions, especially VoiceBank ones. I want the first thing they hear to be me performing the role.
Cliff Zellman
6/23/2010 at 1:14 PM
Great Topic! I say a slate is MANDATORY for all audio submissions. There are many important aspects that the author is overlooking.

Being a director, casting agent & audio engineer for over 35 years, I receive dozens of auditions a week. When I present auditions to a client, I put them in ONE audio stripe and deliver ONE MP3 or similar format via email or FTP. Without a slate, the client would have to refer to sequence number, which is often incorrect, and I would have to send an accompanying list of names, as well.

Sending an audition without a slate is like turning in your homework without putting your name on it. You'll get little or no credit.

A slate should be simply: "John Smith... Campbell's Soup" ... allow 1 second of time and begin the audition.

I also believe a file name SHOULD include the Voice Artist's name and a simple abbreviation of the product or client name. Do not call your file "demo.mp3". In the real-world, audio auditions are passed from person to person, more often through email, but CD as well. Don't be left out because you didn't "tag" yourself.

If the Author is ONLY referring to Voice123.com, or similar on-line casting sites, I still believe that the audio must have a slate, because (hopefully) it will be downloaded and used in the near future. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Visit: Meetup.com/voiceover for more hands-on, real world experience.
Brian Taylor
6/23/2010 at 11:07 AM
I saw this article before on voice123.com and I totally disagree. I have talked to casting directors and agents about slates. It is actually a 3 second way to stand out from the crowd, have them hear you embody the text outside the copy of the spot. I use it as a secret method to booking a gig ... that and maybe making the copy my own on one take ... toss in a little improv or something, and it tends to always be the trick to booking. The trick is it should not always be just a monotone slate ... I say "hi, hello, what's up, hey..." depending on the nature of the spot. That's my take on it. Good luck.
Bettye Zoller
6/23/2010 at 12:57 AM
Very interesting! I am going to share this with my students and in my workshops. Your points are valid, Steven. And if anyone slates with MORE than only their name, that is, for sure, misguided.

Yes, time is money, and voice seekers (online and off) and agents and anyone listening to voice talents make judgments quickly. So the audition should start in right away. Good point. And hey everyone, Steven is very experienced and knows whereof he speaks so listen up.

Thanks Steven. I think you've given us the definitive word on whether to slate or not ... at least to my mind you have.
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