Marc Cashman on Auditions, ISDN and VO Demos

Here’s the man, the myth, the legend! Thanks to our readers for submitting your questions to “ASK THE VOICECAT.” If you have any specific VO questions and wish to be advised by the ever knowledgeable Mr. Cashman, you can email him at [email protected]!

More good questions came in this month from Now Casting/Actors Ink readers asking about the voiceover industry. This month’s article contains answers to queries about auditions, ISDN and VO demos.

Q:   I’m recording in my home studio and doing the editing myself.  In that situation does it make sense that the recording should be a bit over the actual time of the script?  I’m still quite new to all this, so I appreciate all the input I can get.  Thanks very much.  –Deb C., W. Hollywood, CA
A:  You should try to aim for as close as you can time-wise to what they specify in the specs, Deb.  If it says :30, :60, or anywhere in between, chances are that the copywriters have timed it out and know exactly how long the piece should be.  That said, there are times when the copy comes out way longer or shorter than what they’ve asked for.  In those cases, unless you’re reading really fast or too slow, the writers haven’t timed their script before they sent it out.  In that case, give them a read that doesn’t sound too rushed or drawn out—something that sounds good.

Q:  I recently signed up for a pay-to-play site.  I really like it…even though I haven’t gotten any work from it yet.  But it’s fun to try and I’m going to keep at it. Anyway, this morning I was looking at a job posting.  Here is a line from the description:   “Fee must include high quality ISDN source studio”.  Does this mean they want to do a phone patch from a professional studio?  Later on in the description, it says they will do the recording at a specific date and time, so I’m assuming that is the approach they are going to take.  If that is the case, how do you figure that into the rate?  The description also says that they will pay $250 per actor.  My “professional studio” consists of a microphone and audacity on my computer.  Since I haven’t gotten a call back yet from any of these employers, I’m wondering how many of them are going to want to do a studio session versus just having me send them an MP3 file. Any thoughts?  –Rick L, Los Angeles, CA
A:   They want ISDN service but don’t want to pay for it.  And some studios don’t have ISDN–just analog phone-patch capabilities. So if you don’t have the specs they’re looking for, but they like your audition, you’ll have to pony up the $$ to cover those additional costs, which can range from as low as $75/hr up to $350/hr., depending on the studio you choose.

Q:  In listening to the many VOV (VoiceOver Virtual—the first virtual voiceover convention) presenters I have come away with the following approach – find a coach, practice, create a demo, brand, create website, market and (hopefully) get work.  My dilemma is as I do not feel that commercials are my strength, rather narration and e-learning, Should I work towards and  have a commercial demo?  Is it better to target my perceived strengths or is a commercial demo a “required” calling card?
 A:  A commercial demo IS a required “calling card” in order to garner an agent (or multiple agents) and to show prospective clients that you’re adept at commercial copy.  I liken your commercial demo to an undergraduate degree in commercial copy.  It showcases your signature voice and shows your versatility.  If, however, you don’t feel that that’s your strong suit, you can produce a Narration and e-Learning demo and not concern yourself about representation, as agents primarily concentrate on the areas of commercials, promos and trailers.
Secondly, do you feel that the style, friend/slice of life, of commercial reads are changing?
VO delivery style is always evolving, and I see the trend as getting more and more real person/believable.  In the age of YouTube, authenticity is key, and therefore reads have got to sound completely natural, not read and low key, not announcer-y.
Thirdly, when you coach do you focus on other genres other than commercial?
Any and all other genres you’re interested in: narration, e-Learning, promos, trailers, audiobooks and more.
Lastly, I have been contemplating on where to record in my home and have discerned that the quietest place is my basement – possibly creating a booth under the stairs.  In my research I came across The Voice Over Audio blog that mentioned that you have had that arrangement prior to your current studio.   Any info that proved successful that you may provide would be greatly appreciated (what was on the walls, floor, ceiling?  Did you face the tall wall when recording (stairs behind you)?  Was the space adequate acoustically?  I have “read” that too small of a space leads to problems – even small whisper rooms do not sound well (?).  –Roxana C., Los Angeles, CA
If you check out the November column of “Ask The VoiceCat,” you’ll find all the answers this question.

I’ll have more questions for you next month.

Marc Cashman © 2014 

MARC CASHMAN, President and Creative Director of Cashman Commercials/L.A., creates and produces copy and music advertising for radio and television. Winner of over 150 advertising awards, he’s a guest speaker at Ad Clubs and Broadcasters Associations throughout the U.S. and has been interviewed in trade magazines, newspapers and on radio and television programs. As a voice actor, Marc was named one of the “Best Voices of the Year”—three times—by AudioFile Magazine. He also teaches voiceover at California Institute of the Arts, through seminars at NowCasting’s iActing Studios and instructs all levels of voice acting through his classes, The Cashman Cache of Voice-Acting Techniques in Los Angeles, CA, as well as world-wide tele-coaching. Marc has been the Keynote Speaker and Master Class instructor at VOICE 2008, 2010 and 2012, the only international convention for voice actors. He’ll be presenting again at VOICE 2014 in August. He can be contacted at 661-222-9300, [email protected] or through his website,

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