Friday, May 2, 2008

A Few Things...

John Florian, creator of Voice Over Extra, has posted the results of a survey he conducted regarding health insurance for freelance voice actors. It's an interesting read, thanks John!

After a whirlwind April, I welcomed a couple of days this week that were relatively slow. Anytime I get the sense that a day may be open, I always try to schedule in some rest and relaxation. Genetics gave me high blood pressure at an early age, and I have found that through diet, exercise, and self discipline- I can stay medicine free.

Yesterday I planned to take a day off, or so I thought! I scheduled a morning massage and planned an afternoon hike with the dog. Shortly after my massage, work came calling...which is never a bad thing! My afternoon was spent recording, including a fun ISDN session with a great client! (Don't ya just love the clients that are happy with everything you do?)

It was a reminder that as freelance talent, we are never really 'off' for a day. We always have to be willing to be available with little to no notice. This is one of the main reasons I became a freelance voice actor, I love not always knowing what exciting jobs may pop up at any given moment. It keeps life fun and spontaneous!

Now, back to that glorious massage...I've been seeing Vera for a little over a year now. My wonderful husband got me a membership to a nearby spa that specializes in all types of massages. I'm a believer in the overall health benefits, so I try to make it in at least once a month.

In each of the rooms of the spa, music plays over a loud speaker. It is always something calming: a tropical beach sound, an Asian garden, soft piano, etc. However, yesterday- right in the middle of my massage- a very strange song came over the speaker. I'm not sure of the name (I plan to look it up later), but it is the song often played during a formal wedding when the bridal party makes their entrance. It is also the theme song of a national jewelry commercial- though I can't think of which jeweler at the moment.

All I know, is the song is beautiful....and very, very formal sounding. In an instant- my mind went from lying on a sunny beach listening to the waves lap onto the sitting in a pew wondering if my shoes really match my dress. It completely took me away from my environment and transported me to a cousin's wedding I once attended!

It started me thinking (imagine that!) about the person that chooses the songs for the spa. Technically, it is a beautiful song with lovely piano and a rolling chorus. However, put in the context of a relaxing massage, it just didn't 'fit'.

Now, I always find a way to relate everything back to voice over, so here it goes...

Have you ever listened to a demo and there is one spot that doesn't seem to flow right with the rest of the spots? It really takes away from the overall effectiveness of the demo. Your mind gets 'stuck' thinking about the strangeness of the transition, while you miss the 3 spots that follow.

It is important when compiling a demo that you tell a story, that each spot flows easily to the next- taking your listener on a journey. While a particular commercial, narration, imaging bit, etc might sound great on its own, it doesn't mean it will sound good in the overall context of your demo. It is important to have objective ears listen to your demo before you post it for clients to hear, someone else may hear something odd that you hadn't noticed.

If your brand is that of "young, fun, and fresh", you don't want to have a demo that only showcases your 'mature' side. Sure, you can fit something in to show your range- just make sure it flows naturally and doesn't distract the listener from your overall message.

It is remarkable how music and sound can transport us, so make sure you transport your listener to the places that best represent who you are as a voice actor.


jsgilbert said...


I'm not sure if it's the doing of the talent or who they use to produce their demo, but so often you will hear a demo where the production is really off. MOre often than not, you'll hear someone do one or more spots on a demo that you absolutely know they would never get cast for in real life. OFten these or even good reads are mixed with music that just seems cheap or inappropriate or with sound effects that don't seem to belong. It takes an icredible amount of skill and understanding of the craft to put together a very well constructed spot and perhaps even more skill to translatethat to someone's voice demo.
I also seem to notice lately that I get demos from actors where the scripts are old or obivously practice scripts from classes or in a fe cases actors putting spots on their demos that I or someone I know were voice talent on the real thing.

I had an interesting exchange with a producer recently. I asked if he wanted me to send him one of my demos and he said to send him whatever I thought was the best commercial I had recently performed voiceover for. Just one piece!!!
I spent almost an entire day going through the last couple of years of my work and it really got me to thinking about how we are preceived.

As someone who hires talent, I had to also realize that there have been times when someone really sold me on a demo with a great read and then becuase they felt they needed to throw in a character or somehow show diversification, they wound up losing me with a couple of bad reads.

So here's what I would suggest to anyone making a demo:

Go to and listen to some ofthe demos from pros to get a sense of what they sound like and then think about your own demo and ask yourself, "If I could only send one piece from this demo to represent my best work, how many would I be able to narrow it down to?"

Kara Edwards said...


I truly appreciate your comments! Very, very well said, thank you!