How to make a voice over demo tape

Written by eric mains
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So how do you get into showbiz if you are camera shy? Simple, become a voice-over artist. All you need is a good, expressive reading voice. Once you break into this field, you can do movies, advertising, educational films and more. Of course, breaking into the field is the tricky part. One vital piece of job-seeking equipment you need is a voice-over demo tape. Making a voice-over demo tape also teaches you some of the basics of the craft.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Script
  • Recording equipment
  • Studio services

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  1. 1

    Develop a script. Part of a voice-over artist's job is the ability to read from a script, and a voice-over demo tape is a fine place to showcase your ability. You can write your own scripts or purchase scripts. If you are writing your own, use radio and television commercials and programs as inspiration for the phrasing of your voice-over scripts.

  2. 2

    Choose several scripts and determine their running order on your voice-over demo tape. Remember, your voice-over demo tape will be your resume and interview combined in many cases, so open with your best stuff to make the best impression.

  3. 3

    Practice the material. You want a smooth delivery that exhibits total control over the material. No sputtering, stammering, slurring or other screw-ups unless they are called for by the script. Also keep an eye on how much time you take reading the scripts. Commercial voice-overs require the ability to nail copy cleanly and clearly within tight time constraints.

  4. 4

    Organise recording equipment. You can do the recording yourself if you have a professional-quality microphone and a fairly good tape recorder, or a digital mini-studio. However, your voice-over demo tape is what you use to land jobs. Consider hiring professional studio services to record your demo tape.

  5. 5

    Do a dry run of the material in the recording environment. A dry run is a reading of the script with the headphones on, in front of the microphone.

  6. 6

    Begin recording and deliver the goods. You may need to make several takes before you have the clean delivery that a recording producer is looking for.

  7. 7

    Master the voice-over demo to a CD, as this format is becoming more popular for voice-over demos. Check with a specific market for voice-over demo tape submission guidelines.

Tips and warnings

  • Keep your demo short. More than 2 minutes of samples is probably too long. Unless a job specifically calls for a longer voice-over demo tape, make 2 minutes your standard.
  • Always research your target market. Find out if they have specific submission guidelines for voice-over demo tapes. Some places may not accept tapes from unagented talent, or only accept tapes for a specified portion of the year. Know your market and save yourself some time.
  • Voice-over demos and jobs are moving to the Internet. This market has a lot of potential and may be more receptive to newcomers.
  • Even the best voice-over demo tapes will get tossed 90 per cent of the time. Accept rejection with a professional attitude.

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