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Read Out Loud EVERY DAY
To Be And Stay Competitive

By Juan Carlos Bagnell
Audio Engineer
aka "Some Audio Guy"

I've noticed a bad habit developing in the world of voice over auditioning.

See, what I do is kind of old school. The company I work with still does in-house auditions where the talent drives to us to be recorded and directed.

The biggest advantage to this approach is that we give our clients a really hands-on and carefully considered and selected group of talent to cast their projects from.

But over the last several years, I've noticed a decline in reading comprehension and the ability to "pick up" from the newer talent I've auditioned.
I've been encountering more and more talent:
  • walking into my booth with some pretty bad reading habits,
  • leaving out or inserting words,
  • walking in cold trying to "wing it," and
  • picking up and retaking every other line of their copy.
When people like me give advice to new talent, often one of the main pointers we'll give is "Read out loud EVERY day."
It's funny how often I meet resistance to this idea.
I'm not trying to give you homework or make your life more difficult. I've genuinely found that the better you can read, the better you are at auditioning.
One of the reasons this advice might be challenged is that invariably a new talent will ask an established talent if they read out loud every day, to which the established talent will probably say "no."
"See! They book jobs and don't read out loud everyday!"
Except for the fact that they do.
The established working/booking talent is always in shape, tackling auditions and jobs every day.
If you're only exercising your VO muscles once or twice a week, then the established talent will eat you for lunch nine times out of ten.
A practical example of reading comprehension you ask? Certainly!
While working for a TV client producing nature narration, the producer originally worked with a seasoned voice talent.
This gentleman was a machine. His pick up/retake ratio was literally in the ballpark of one pick up every 30 minutes with maybe two re-directs from the client per hour long episode of TV.
He was a natural, engaging storyteller, and he was an absolute dream to work with.
We finished an entire season of TV a day early due to his efficiency, taking a five-day job down to four, a 20 percent reduction in studio costs.
For the second season of this show, one of the producers wanted to go with a younger sound on the narration.
We held a casting, they picked a voice they liked and we jumped into the project.
The new talent required many more retakes and redirects.
There wasn't anything necessarily wrong with the sessions, but there was a constantly feeling of "flow interrupted," and it's never a good feeling knowing you'll have more editing to do at the end of a session.
Plus, not only was the new talent not able to get the job done as quickly, but needed an additional day to get some elements cleaned up.
The producers are gearing up for season three. Which talent do you think will be narrating it?
So voice actors, I'm really not trying to be a jerk, or give you homework, or make you work harder than you think you should.
But if you want to be competitive - really competitive - please read out loud every day. Please practice your reading.
I promise it will make you a better auditioner, and a better auditioner is usually a better booker.


Juan Carlos Bagnell, aka "Some Audio Guy," is a veteran audio engineer who writes a highly entertaining and informative blog: Ramblings of Some Audio Guy.  


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Comments (4)
1/24/2012 at 12:52 PM
You are 100% dead-on CORRECT! I'm a veteran of 35 years in the biz and I still read newspaper articles aloud to my wife every day. She says she understands the story BETTER if I read it to her! My very first serious narration job paid by the hour. So the more efficient I was, the less I made! When I called that to their attention, the engineers...bless 'em...began padding my time card! Read OUT LOUD; it's GOOD for you!
Marie Kopan
1/24/2012 at 8:32 AM
Practice Practice Practice! Loved the article, and also read it out loud!
Jane Ingalls
1/24/2012 at 8:07 AM
Hi Juan Carlos, great article-it was the first thing I read this morning...out loud!
Dan Deslaurier
1/24/2012 at 6:38 AM
Great insights and practical advice--well done John & Juan!
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