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Narration Demo
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craigsvoicetalent
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Joined: 04 Oct 2016
Posts: 105
Location: Houston baby!

PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2016 9:33 am    Post subject: Narration Demo Reply with quote

I have been spending a lot of time reading through the posts on this Forum and it seems to be by far the most honest and constructive community out there.
I have attached my Narration demo. Please critique if you have time.
https://soundcloud.com/user-113018621/craig-williams-naration-demo
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Philip Banks
Je Ne Sais Quoi


Joined: 20 Jun 2005
Posts: 10078
Location: UK Portgordon, Scotland

PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2016 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are on your way but need to have a long conversation with someone who is REALLY doing what you would like to do. It won't hurt at all but it will help you focus on the details.

The demo? No. Simply that, no. Pull it, as it does you no favours at all. Learn to nit-pick before someone else does it. I suspect that there are things you are not hearing that others, people with money to spend on Voice Overs, will hear.

Don't panic!

You'll be fine. this job is a marathon not a sprint.
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craigsvoicetalent
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Joined: 04 Oct 2016
Posts: 105
Location: Houston baby!

PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2016 1:33 pm    Post subject: Refreshing! Reply with quote

Wow. This place is so f*@#ing refreshing! I have been searching for honest constructive criticism. Everyone seems to be patronizing oor in it for the money when it comes to coaching or feedback. I don't want to be told I am wonderful. I want to be told how I can improve, what to strive for and how to get there but most of all - where I am going wrong.
Thanks for the comments Phillip. If you have time could you be a little more specific about what to listen for in the demo? Is it the delivery, the copy, the mix, the sound or all of the above. I am sure it takes time to fine tune a critical ear like yours and any help would be appreciated.
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Bob Bergen
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Joined: 22 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2016 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Again, listen to your Uncle Philip!

Now, I cannot comment on the British vo market. But I do know vo here in the states. First of all, your demo sounds home made. I advise all have a professional demo made by a professional demo producer. They know what the agents and buyers are looking for today in talent. Styles and trends are constantly changing. You want your demo to be relevant.

I think it's probably easier to explain what your demo needs by comparing it to working vo actors and a professional demo producer. I recently got two demos done by Chuck Duran: http://www.demosthatrock.com/portfolio.html Really happy with the finished product and the whole experience. My agents were thrilled as well. And Chuck was vert open and available to the few tweaks requested by my agent.

Also, surf the narration demos from some of the top narration talent at some of the top vo agencies:
http://www.voicebank.net/cabinet/agencyfolder.do?path=%2f3705%2fcabinet%2fpublicaudio%2fNarration+

http://www.voicebank.net/cabinet/agencyfolder.do?path=%2f1589%2fcabinet%2fpublicaudio%2fNarration%2fActors

http://www.voicebank.net/cabinet/agencyfolder.do?path=%2f1588%2fcabinet%2fpublicaudio%2fNarration%2fMen

http://www.voicebank.net/cabinet/agencyfolder.do?path=%2f1592%2fcabinet%2fpublicaudio%2fNarration%2fMen

And remember, you make a demo when you know you are as good or better than those you hear from these agencies. No one needs another voice. They need YOU! Your style, personality, cadence, etc. That is what will separate you from everyone else. You are the only you out there competing in vo.

And know where in the narration world you want to work. Out here, the money in narration is in reality competition/documentary television. Make sure what you are putting out there is specific for the market of narration you want to work.

Lastly, the demo is THE last step after proper study. You don't need a first demo, you need a brilliant one! Which is why I believe Philip suggested taking it down. You post a demo it's there for millions to hear. Its hard to impossible to get second chances. Only post to the masses brilliance!

Hope this helps!!
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ConnieTerwilliger
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Joined: 07 Dec 2004
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2016 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Listen, listen, listen to demos of working male UK talent. I did a quick search for UK voicetalent agencies and found this one.

http://www.sohovoices.co.uk/categories/uk-male/

The first guys I listened to were Nicholas Farrell and Martin Delaney.

Both demos had depth and believability, in addition to great quality. To my American English ears anyway.

Philip's point about nit-picking is dead on. You have to hear the little tiny things that make your demo just not as "good" as the people who are working all the time.

That means truly knowing when something is good, great, fantabulous (which is highly subjective at times) or simply not quite ready for prime time.

Technically, you are too close to the mic (at least it sounds like that to me). And there is no depth to the production.

You master the delivery and let an audio expert master the master.
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craigsvoicetalent
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Joined: 04 Oct 2016
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Location: Houston baby!

PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2016 8:35 pm    Post subject: Trying to do it right Reply with quote

Thanks again for all of the great advice. The demo was made by my voice over coach. He is an award winning copy writer for radio ads, a producer of ads and a voice over talent himself. I started my journey seriously back in April where I have attended an 8 week workshop and 5+ one on one sessions.
I did not pressure him into saying I was ready and I was always looking for honest feedback and guidance. In short, I trusted him and had no reason not to at the time. I am now starting to think that although he is a great guy he may have not been the honest critic that I was expecting or needed. Maybe he just isn't wired like that.
He is also a little older and his experience in radio may not be what is needed for Demo production in this day and age. I can't answer these questions.
I do have 3 further questions at this time:
1. What percentage of the demo is bad due to audio quality, copy selection, my voice and my delivery and any other factors.
2. If I choose to go to a high end producer such as Chuck Duran and get a Demo made, will he tell me that I need more practice or will they just take my money anyway?
3. How do I chose my next coach? I prefer face to face but not living in LA or New York makes that difficult. Is the 1 on 1 Skype coaching that Edge studios provide of good quality? I want to make sure it is someone who can take me to the next level

Thanks everyone for the time you spend on new people like myself.
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ConnieTerwilliger
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2016 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Before you make another demo, you need to do the listening that I mentioned before. You must know what is good and what is not as good and then be able to compare that to what you are doing. That has to be done first before you get another demo done.
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Philip Banks
Je Ne Sais Quoi


Joined: 20 Jun 2005
Posts: 10078
Location: UK Portgordon, Scotland

PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2016 11:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1 - 100%
2 - Ask again in March 2017
3 - One hour Skype session with me (no charge) then Nancy Wolfson

Your demo will lose potential clients in a few seconds. Don't look back, look forward. Bob and Connie, who between them have over 372 years experience, have pointed you like two blue pointing things in the right direction. Reed what they has writ and do the things they said you should do first.

There now follows a not so serious example of nit picking but hopefully it will make a point about look and look again. Look at my reply above. Look at the response from Bob and then look at your response. You have a few examples of my name. In my signature, your reply and Bob's post.

Proper lesson for today. You are an agent and NatGeo (short for Nathan George) has approached you because they need a narrator for a documentary. Pick the 3 best voices from your team of talent. Put your own choice 1st, Craig 2nd and your choice 3rd. Edit clips together into a 1 minute demo. Listen. Do not listen once or twice, listen 10 times to the entire demo. Here endeth the lesson.
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melissa eX
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Joined: 20 Oct 2007
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Location: Lower Manhattan, New Amsterdam, the original NYC

PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2016 12:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What Connie said. It takes a while and a lot of listening before you can objectively hear the difference between great, good and ok.

The demo has no presence. If you listen to the examples Connie pointed out you can hear how the sound design in those demos supports the narration giving the narrator presence.

The music is mediocre.

Don't have a radio guy do your voiceover demo. Writing and producing radio ads - award winning or not - is completely different from narrating - well... pretty much anything. If you want TV narration, work with a coach who specializes in TV narration. Not all coaches are versed in all areas.

For someone who's this new to the business you're far better than most people would be after an 8 week workshop and a few one-on-ones. But you're working too hard on the pieces that would work for you, and some of the material just isn't right for you. Bob is right when he says make sure you know where in narration you want to work and what you're right for. Don't know what you're right for? That's where the work comes in. What do you think you're right for - and why?

Listen to TV, figure out not only where you want to be - what you want to be doing - but transcribe some of that narration and record it yourself. Your goal isn't to imitate or sound like the narrator. It's to sound as engaged and as believable as the narrator is but in your own very different way. (And just because someone's narrating a TV show doesn't necessarily mean they're great - some narrators are mediocre - but you'll learn to hear that too)

And don't mix audiobook narration into a narration demo. An audiobook demo is different.

Don't worry about your voice. Your voice is fine and it's the least important factor.

If you can't hear any of the things mentioned above, don't worry. It takes time and a lot of listening. Listen to your demo again. Make note of anything that you may have a question about. If something makes you want to ask someone "hmmm - does this sound ok?," then you've heard where you have work to do. Then listen to some of the demos posted. And listen to your demo again.

We've all been through this. You get your first demo and you're uneasy with some of it but everyone says it sounds great and after all a producer made sure you did a great job, right? They know better than you, right? No, not right. That unease is you beginning to have a discerning ear and it's your instinct that if it doesn't sound of the caliber of what you're hearing on TV then it / you need work.

But don't panic - you WILL be fine. But before you think of doing another demo listen to the ones posted. On voicebank you'll find not all demos are up to par. And you'll learn to hear that too.

As Philip says, this is a marathon. It takes time to hone the skills - as much as many want you to believe it's quick and easy work. It's not, so don't get discouraged.
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Bish
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Joined: 22 Nov 2009
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Location: Lost in the cultural wasteland of Long Island

PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2016 6:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm finding it difficult to add anything to this conversation as my esteemed colleagues have collectively hit the nail on the head multiple times. One of the big mistakes I made when I started was that I was trying to sound like the successful voices I admired. That was a big mistake because I was always trying to be something I wasn't... and that was a barrier to the performance. Once I accepted that I had my own signature sound/cadence and that I should embrace it as my "unique selling point" or "market differentiator" things fell into place. Studying and learning from others can (and will) give you the valuable tools and knowledge needed to compete.

... and here's the part where I get burned at the stake for making a sweeping statement. Do not listen to celebrity narrators! Most voices you hear that are instantly recognizable as household names or on-screen actors are being hired simply because of that. I'm not saying they are not good narrators... but they are being hired primarily because of who they are. I've heard Morgan Freeman phone it in and do a perfunctory job. Everyone wanted him... well, wanted his name. I mean, it's fine... they paid for MF and they got MF... everyone is happy and the project is associated with an A-list narrator. Just be careful.
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craigsvoicetalent
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Joined: 04 Oct 2016
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Location: Houston baby!

PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2016 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK. I just woke up after crying myself to to sleep last night! Wink

I now have new energy to learn, learn and learn some more. I am invigorated! Thank you all!
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melissa eX
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Joined: 20 Oct 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2016 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One more thing. Did you understand what Philip was saying here?
Quote:
There now follows a not so serious example of nit picking but hopefully it will make a point about look and look again. Look at my reply above. Look at the response from Bob and then look at your response. You have a few examples of my name. In my signature, your reply and Bob's post.

Do you SEE it?

Was it a no-brainer once you saw it? Did you wonder how you could have missed it? Or did you have to work to figure it out?

You may have lightbulb moments when someone points out to you something you hadn't heard or learned to hear. Or you may still not hear it. But if you keep at it and work at it you will. And take Philip up on his offer. Seriously. Do that.
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craigsvoicetalent
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2016 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Philip. All I can do is apologize! Yours truly Crag.
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Bob Bergen
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Joined: 22 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2016 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Craig, one of the things I love about this forum is it comes with it so many really great, talented folks, who care. Much of what we preach is due to the fact we all made mistakes and try to steer folks in the other direction so they don't make the same mistakes.

I urge you to keep reading Philip's responses to you. Don't look for the demo at the end of the tunnel right now. With time, training, and experience, it will be crystal clear not only when you are demo ready, but you will know exactly what you want out of your demo and your vo career.

I made my first demo at 16 after two years of study. I didn't think I was ready, but my teacher did. Who was I to argue with the expert? The demo sucked, and I spent the next two years in both vo and acting/improv classes, all while traveling all over town retrieving the 30 or so reel to reel demos I had mailed out as I wanted no evidence this ever existed. I now play this demo to my LA students to show them that even a successful vo actor sucked at one time and made career mistakes. Misery loves company!!

But today with just one online posting of a bad demo, you invite millions to hear and judge your work. Even if taken down, you have no way of knowing who heard it or who kept it.

I'm glad Connie pointed you in the direction of narration actors in your market. That should be an eye opener. Also, just listen to Philip's brilliant work. I know he hates it when I call him an actor, but he is one of the best vo actors working today.

As for other demo producers, the good ones will turn down those who aren't ready as their reputation is at stake with a bad demo. But a great demo producer can make Marlee Maitlin sound great. Just takes creative producing and directing. You, the actor, need to know you are great before seeking out the demo producer. It cannot come from a teacher. It has to be the purest knowledge and confidence you have in your talents and skills.

The industry will always be here. And they hold auditions every day because they are always seeking the next best thing in vo.
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Bruce
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Joined: 06 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2016 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, wow, and wow. Craig, these people have certainly heard something in your reads that bespeaks great potential in this business. I know I heard it, too.

Several of the best people in the business have now shown you the path, grasshopper. Give it your best and you will have a rewarding journey.


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