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How To Take Advantage of Technology as an Actor & Voiceover

How To Take Advantage of Technology as an Actor & Voiceover
By Kate McClanaghan

 

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Seems all small-business owners, regardless of their field, harbor a deep desire to get their business to run on automatic. It’s understandable—they’ve worked hard, and now they’d prefer simply to set it and forget it.  But frankly, if we’ve learned anything over the years, nothing works left to its own devices. 

Every opportunity that allows you to discover How To Take Advantage of Technology as an Actor & Voiceover, can only help you promote yourself and secure work.

This is your business, you have to run it if you expect it to get anywhere. Most successful, seasoned business owners will tell you that it generally takes three to five years to establish any small business. Marketing alone requires no less than eight repeated impressions before the recipient is likely to remember you or act on your promotion.

What does this tell us? Tenacity and consistent promotion is vitally necessary if you expect to expand any business, but especially in the entertainment field.  And everything in this world is either expanding or contracting. It’s either improving, albeit slightly and steadily, or it’s not.

Voice-over is no different.  This is a remarkably dynamic industry, which is vitally dependent on multiple media, promotions, communications, and the technologies that drive them.

That’s never going to change.  That much you can always count on.

The Technical Tools Every Talent Must Have

In order for art to meet commerce, the following technical tools are required if you intend to establish and further your career as a professional talent. Determining How to Take Advantage of Technology as an Actor & Voiceoveris nothing new. These are essential items because they offer opportunities to promote your self with the tools used most in the talent industry. In most cases, these items will audition for you when you cannot be physically present. They will define you as a professional to agents, producers and casting professionals.  They offer access to you and, if done properly, will make the very best impression to those most likely to hire you.

Voice-over Demos and Web Pages

Today, the primary format for your demos is MP3, rather than compact disc (CD), and if you’re not online—you simply don’t exist.  MP3 files of your demos should be available on your single-page Web site, a site devoted strictly to voice-over. 

Of course, you may feel it necessary to establish an on-camera site as well if you’re pursuing on-camera work.  The truth is an on-camera site is optional.  At SOUND ADVICE, we feel it’s more important and money better spent to include your headshots, demos, resume and on-camera reel (if you have one) on ActorsAccess.com, CastingNetworks.com, for instances, to be considered for various on-camera jobs. 

 Your voice over only Web site should display your name as a branded logo, your demos in MP3 format, and your contact information.  That’s it.

MP3s have all but replaced having a CD of your voice-over demos, except to promote your self to a small handful of talent agents, considering fewer and fewer talent agents require a disc.

The Standard Audio File Format: MP3

The MP3 file is the standard file format used to distribute audio on the Internet and used by voice talent to e-mail auditions to their agents. While MP3 is not the latest and greatest compressed audio format, it is the tried-and-true standard for compressed audio files. MP3 is nonproprietary and will play on a variety of players on any computer. It is a compressed audio file format, popular because it retains most of the quality of a CD at about a tenth of the file size.

Uncompressed formats, like AIFF and WAV files, are the same quality as a professionally reproduced CD or even better. (Remember CDs?) However, they are also big honking files that weigh down busy e-mail in-boxes, if they even show up in an e-mail at all. These are a big fat no-no and should be avoided. As for RealAudio, Windows Media, and other brand-name formats, a listener would have to download and install a proprietary player to hear your material, and the audio quality is inconsistent. This is why MP3 remains the standard.

All of the auditions you record at home and e-mail in to your agent will be in MP3 form, as opposed to AIFF or WAV files.

With MP3s, the higher the bit rate, the higher quality the MP3 and the larger the file size. 

Bit rate could be considered the sound equivalent to depth of field in a photo, or focus for clarity.  Since the lowest bit rate would sound awful, and the highest bit rate would defeat the purpose of using a compressed format at all, it’s best to use a bit rate between 128 kbps and 192 kbps, as these are generally considered the accepted standards.

Sending an MP3 of your demos is perfectly acceptable today. E-mailing a direct link to your Web site where your demos can be easily accessed is also an effective way to promote yourself to a talent agent or a potential employer, just not the ONLY way to promote yourself. 

QR CODES

QR Code stands for Quick Response Code. These are typically black and white, square two-dimensional, matrix bar codes used as mobile tagging devices.  They can be scanned with a simple app from any smartphone or iPadtablet.

QR Codes can (and should) be designed to lead directly to your Web site, for more effective interactive marketing and promotion.  These links to your site are then “bookmarked” on the mobile device of the individual who scanned your QR Code from your promotional postcard or résumé. 

The idea is to drive substantially more traffic to your voice-over Web site, where your demos can be heard, from your targeted audience (producers) on the very thing they rely on most: their mobile devices (iPhones, Blackberries, and iPads).

The fact is producers count on their mobile devices more than standard laptops.

QR Codes cost nothing to create (provided you know what you’re doing), and the app to scan QR Codes is free as well.

Provided your Web site wasn’t designed primarily in Flash, and can easily be seen on mobile devices, utilizing QR Codes on your promo converts a simple postcard into an interactive device.

Considering e-mailing a direct link to your Web site is typically met with a big, fat DELETE, and we’ve seen better than an 80 percent increase in traffic to sites utilizing QR Codes on their promotions and a 10 times return rate within the first month of scanning the QR Code in the first month. This could be the greatest advance in promo since the invention of the postcard!

(Details about promotional logos and graphics, as well as what makes the most effective Web Sites order a copy of The SOUND ADVICE Encyclopedia of Voice-Over & the Business of Being a Working Talent.) 

 

Copyright © 2014 by Kate McClanaghan. All Rights Reserved.