So, you want to break through as a professional voiceover artist and attract a variety of exciting clients and projects?
Then first things first, you’ll need an impressive demo reel that showcases your acting talent and abilities.
But with almost every voice actor having a high-quality demo reel showing off their strengths, how can you ensure that your demo reel establishes your personal brand and catches the eyes (and ears) of casting directors?
In this blog, we will discuss the following:
- What demo reels are & why they are important
- The 3 demo reel must-haves
- Practical tips for creating demo reels
What is a Demo Reel?
A voiceover demo reel is a creative portfolio, an audition tape and a business card all in one.
It is a short and impactful audio or video clip that voice actors create to portray the range of their voice acting abilities and highlight their potential to casting directors that are on the hunt for voice talents.
As it is often the first and only introduction a voice actor will get to a prospective client, a demo reel needs to be of high quality, clean, clear and encompassing – you want to make a great first impression after all, quite literally!
So what exactly needs to be included in a demo reel?
3 Demo Reel Must-Haves:
Just like the three pillars of health, wealth or sustainability, there are three pillars to creating high-quality and professional demo reels. These are voice placement, attitude and age…
As the name quite clearly suggests, voice placement is where you place your voice in different parts of your upper body. In other words, it is the act of directing your sound into a specific part of your face, neck or chest to achieve different tones and ‘colours’.
When recording a demo reel, it is hugely important to demonstrate a spectrum of the different voice placements you can do. For example, after starting your demo reel with your natural voice, you may move onto the compressed gravelly voice of a monster, or a back-of-the-throat nasal voice.
Give It Some Attitude:
Attitude is the second most important ingredient to your demo reel – and the part that is going to give your performance the most flavour!
In your demo reel, you must be able to demonstrate that you can act out a variety of different attitudes and emotions and/or impersonate a variety of different characters, and be able to switch between them like a lightbulb. For example, you could express great anger and disapproval with your voice in one instance, and suddenly change to a really joyous and excited voice.
Think of yourself as Bugs Bunny, an iconic character whose attitude ranges from charismatic and funny to sarcastic, vengeful and cunning.
‘Act Your Age’:
If you have ever been told to ‘act your age’ before, now is the time to scrap that piece of advice and do the exact opposite!
When recording a demo reel, it is imperative that you act out an array of voices of different ages to demonstrate the range of characters you are able to do. If you are a female voice actor, you may choose to record the high-pitched voice of a male or female child or the breathy low-pitched voice of an elderly character. Following this, it is important to act out different attitudes whilst playing this younger or older character – this is what is going to really give your voice credibility and show off its potential.
Take note! There is a lot of demand for adult actors playing teenage characters in TV shows and films. As such, you should include the voice of a teenager in your demo reel, if that is a voice you have mastered.
How Many Voices Should You Act Out?
The sky is your limit!
You should act out as many voices as you feel is necessary to show off the range of your skills, while always putting your biggest foot first and starting with voices that may most impress a client. Typically, voice actors submit demo reels with…
- 3 different ages of voice
- Followed by 2-3 sentences in each of the age voices, with voice placement and attitude changes
- In an audio, mp3 file or a video clip format
While it can be tempting to show off very specific voices that suit the exact role a client is looking to cast, it is important to remember that your demo reel should target the entire market, not just a specific character or opportunity. After all, that is how you discover new and exciting roles, and grow as a voice actor!
As our Dean of Dubbing at the MediaNEXT Dubbing Academy, Jacques Barreau, puts it, ‘a demo reel is like putting a fishing net in the sea, without actually knowing what you are fishing for’.
To have any chance of making it in the world of dubbing, you need to create a high-quality demo reel that shows off your unique acting talents and impresses casting directors. Your demo reel should show the range of different voices you can achieve, paying particular attention to performing different voice placements, ages and attitudes.
Do this, and watch as your path to becoming a successful voice actor unfolds!