Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

May 21, 2012

Why Can’t People “Hear” Themselves?

Today it is easier and easier to get feedback on what you are doing. Why don’t people listen? Or perhaps, why – when given good feedback – why don’t people take action to improve what they are doing? Do they simply not hear themselves?

So many people these days have been told by endless “voiceover” coaches that they can make it – all they need is determination – and their signature on the bottom of that check paying for more classes. They stop listening to themselves and never develop their self-evaluation skills.

Most of the forums for voiceover people include critique areas where people can post demos for comments. I’m referring to demos from newbies, not updated demos from people who are making actual money doing voiceovers. You can get honest, yet sometimes highly conflicting advice. And if you follow the subsequent comments to a thread, this advice is often rejected by the person seeking the advice.

For a fee of $7 per month, you can join VoiceRegistry and do their Weekend Workouts, where actual working top agents and casting people will listen to your submissions and provide individual feedback – which everyone who submits can see as well. Scary thought isn’t it!

But what a great way to develop, not only a thick skin, which you need in this business, but a keen ear on what works and what doesn’t. What the agents/casting people are liking at a certain moment in time. While some of the comments are probably kept pretty tepid (the agent really wants to scream because the submission was so far off the mark, but instead says something “kind”), there is enough information for you to read between the lines and sort the best from the worst. Your own ears should be able to pick this up without their comments, but sometimes you can hone in on why they think one read was superior. And this is valuable information.

The other weekly competition is over at Edge Studio. This one is free and probably because it is free and they are pretty high profile, their contest submissions run in the neighborhood of 200 per weekend. I have been listening to a few of the “winning” entries over the past few weeks and reading the commentary on why submissions didn’t win. Two weeks ago, they decided to record a teleconference discussing a dozen or so of the submissions and why NO ONE was selected to win that week’s competition.

That phone call was filled with people – a few of whom simply didn’t listen to instructions on how to mute their phones. That was distracting for everyone. And another example of people simply not hearing what has been said to them. The meat of the discussion showcased once again how this business is part subjective and part objective. People’s comments were wide ranging and often directly opposite thoughts. While I wouldn’t recommend that David do calls like this on a regular basis, it did inspire me to enter the contest the next week to see if I could make it to the Top Three.

I entered. Twice. With two different anonymous user names and two different styles of delivery. Then, when the competition closed and all bazillion entries were posted for review, I listened to them all. And most of the entries were really so bad it’s – sad? frightening? scary?

Obviously many of the people who entered are wannabe’s and some newbies, but what I want to know is if they thought that what they submitted was good!? While bad audio can be forgiven to a degree for an audition – there are no-cost ways to reduce background noise.  But to leave the TV playing in the background while you are recording something for a contest? Huh? Read the reasons why people didn’t get selected for the Contest ending Friday, May 18th.

Of the 200 or so submissions, I jotted down 14 names, including my two – for a total of 16 – that I thought were worthy of consideration. All of the top three were on my short-list. But listing only the top three may not be enough for people to understand BOTH the subjective nature of this business and get enough information to be able to apply it to their own submissions.

I fessed up to David Goldberg in an email that I had submitted not one, but two entries in the contest that week. We chatted a bit about the process. Apparently, his staff goes through all the submissions and creates a short list that he then listens to, jots down some notes and then picks first, second and third place.

I suggested that it might be even more educational to identify all of the top picks. From there, he could, for the purposes of handing out the weekly prizes assign the winners. But with auditions, it is usually the overall tone and pace and quality that the producer selects, knowing that in the session they can get a take that addresses those little nuances, like hitting a word just a tad stronger or warming up on a phrase. I live for my ISDN sessions (or actual in the studio with live human beings) where I get to actually interact with the director and make them happy!

So, hearing the whole range of what made it to the selects would be a great teaching tool – for those who will listen.

Enough suspense?

I made it to the Top Three with my BonnieK entry. And he told me that my other entry was in the top selects as well. I would have been very very surprised if it had not been. I was sort of expecting to pick up two prizes, but there you go! Another example of the subjective nature of the biz! If you want to hear the other, do a search on the page for KayT.

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3 Comments »

  1. Interesting insights, Connie. It’s great that David Goldberg was open to giving the behind-the-scenes process of how they evaluate the Edge Studio contests. I get a lot out of the Voice Registry submission because you can not only hear other pros in the business, but also see how the evaluator rated them.

    Comment by Laurel Thomas — May 22, 2012 @ 11:19 am

    • Yes, the VoiceRegistry workout is enlightening because of the number of working pros submitting and being “critiqued.” And hopefully, without a lot of work on David’s part, they can showcase the “best” of the bunch.

      Comment by connieterwilliger — May 22, 2012 @ 11:27 am

  2. Yes, Voiceregistry is really great. They have changed it recently. You can take Online classes from CASTING DIRECTORS, AGENTS, WORKING PROS, people who actually know what they are talking about and read for just as powerful people in the “weekend workout.” I finally feel like there is a place for actors, not taking advantage of them, and highly recommend this site. Also when you are on it, even if you don’t use any of the features, by just being on it you are searchable by all of the agents on voicebank…. which is all of the important ones. For $7, as a voice actor… I’m just saying….

    Comment by Ashley Ann — August 29, 2012 @ 9:10 am


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