Ah the dreaded self tape. First off, Slate Casting has a great post on THEIR blog regarding self tapes for on camera projects:
Here are some of my additional thoughts on self submits.
I often WILL let someone send in a self tape, but if it looks and sounds terrible i can’t include it in my posting. So absolutely make sure you have a well lit area. Have the lights in front of you and on either side of the camera pointed at you, you should have a light on EACH side of the camera. And they should be slightly taller than you are and aimed slightly down towards you. If you light from underneath, your face is all shadowy.
If you are recording on a smartphone or tablet, you should always shoot in landscape (the long way) and NOT portrait (vertical). When you shoot in portrait, casting then has to take the time to reformat your video and sometimes i just do not have the time at the end of the day.
Have the camera appropriately zoomed in. If casting has asked for specific framing - do it. Zoom in to chest up if that’s what has been asked, we want to see your face and not a lot of dead empty space around you. Make sure the camera is steady. Tripods are not terribly expensive, are easily adjustable and keep the camera from moving. Make sure there are not other things in your shot, you don’t want me distracted by the print of your couch, or by something sitting on a side table next to you. The background should be a solid color (ideally something light and not too bright). Tack up a sheet if you need to, but make sure it’s stretched out and flat.
If you can have an external microphone, that is always the best way to manage the sound, but if not, make sure it is close enough to you that you can be heard clearly AND have the reader back away from the microphone so it picks YOU up louder than them. I hate when I can clearly hear the reader, but have to strain to hear YOU. I haven’t looked into it, but i would imagine there is some sort of Bluetooth lapel mic technology out there.
If your camera allows you to white balance, do it! It will help with your picture quality!
If you want to self record for voiceover auditions, I HIGHLY recommend you purchase yourself some kind of usb microphone that you can plug into your computer. When people record VOs on their iPhones etc, there’s ALWAYS white noise that i can’t remove, and using a real microphone will cut down on that immensely. A good mic will run you like $200, there’s no need to spend more than that. The mic i use in my studio for VO auditions is a USB mic that we bought a few years ago and cost like $150-$200. I use a freeware program called Audacity to do the physical recording and editing of mp3s.
CHECK YOUR LEVELS. You want to make sure you can be heard clearly and loudly, but you don’t want the input up so high that you’re spiking into the red. The visual representation of the recording should take up most of the space, but should never hit the high or the low mark. Be especially careful of letters like p or b that tend to pop. If you are someone who hits p’s hard, be aware and pull back slightly from the mic on those.
PICTURE PULLS/JPG submissions
Usually selfies and random candies are perfect for this. When i do jobs just from images, usually the clients want to see untouched up/unrefinished photos. So while your headshot is a good thing to include, make sure you are also sending in the selfie/candid that was asked for!
If you submit a photo with your sunglasses on, please ALSO include a photo minus the shades! Be aware of the TYPE of project when submitting photos. If it’s for a bank or for something kinda corporate, don’t submit “fashiony” photos with tons of make up on or a ton of skin showing or artistic shots. It will immediately put the clients off of you.
For picture submissions, it’s awesome when you crop your own photos and i don’t have to go through and crop out the other people in the shot. Or crop out all the extra space around you - the scenery is lovely, but it’s YOU we want to see. The hours it takes me to crop and edit photo submissions is literally unbelievable. If you HAVE to take a picture in a mirror (which I TOTALLY get), do your best to look up into the mirror when you press the button and not at your camera, we want to see those eyes!
If you have the ability to change your .png files to .jpg files before sending that is also insanely helpful. Most of the services out there only allow for jpg uploads, so when you send pngs someone has to take the time to reformat them as jpgs. Again, the hours i have spent doing this is absurd. That said, i am aware that sometimes for various reasons you may not be able to do so, BUT, if you can, it’s insanely helpful. It’s also incredibly helpful if you have the ability to rename the files with your first and last name before you send them. Computers these days understand spaces in files names so you can name them “Melissa Paradice.jpg” or “Melissa Paradice2.jpg”. If you have an agent, it’s also helpful if you put your agency in the file name too: “Melissa Paradice MAG.jpg” or “Melissa Paradice2 MC.jpg”.
These are the agency abbreviations (because we all know how much i love abbreviations) that i use: Maggie(MAG), Model Club (MC), Andrew Wilson (AWA), Webb Sweeney Murphy (WSM), New England Models Group (N or NEMG), Dynasty (D), Donahue (Don), Open Call Model & Talent (OC), Karon Shea Management (K). There ARE other agencies, but these are the ones i contact the most.
A NEW SERVICE
All of this brings me to my next piece of the puzzle: Paradice Casting is now offering a self taping service for talent. If you have an audition that you want to self submit for, but are not comfortable/equipped to do it yourself, you can set up an appointment and come to my studio in Quincy and we will spend as long as it takes getting the right takes. Sometimes we nail it in 10 minutes, sometimes it takes closer to an hour depending on the material/talent. I upload the videos to Casting Networks and give you a private link to download your auditions from so you can pass them along to whoever needs to see them. If you also need help with the actual sending of the audition, i’m happy to help with that as well, i’ll just need details from the people it’s going on where/how to send it. If it needs to be uploaded to a CastIT or Eco Cast site, i can do that for you if you’d like - but i’d need your login info.
If this is something of interest to you, email firstname.lastname@example.org for pricing or to set up an appointment!