On Recording Auditions

I occasionally do casting for indie games, and other online projects, and I've found that a lot of talented actors are tripping themselves at the starting gate by not sending appropriate audio. Here's a list of things that will pretty much kill your chances of getting cast.

1.) Background Noise

All that buzz, static, humming, and other fuzziness needs to go. Recordings should sound nice and clear. Most audio editing programs (including Audacity) have a noise reduction function of some sort. In addition, be aware of your surroundings. Try to find a quiet place to record that's well insulated from outside noises.

2.) Echo/Tin Noise

If you're recording in a wide open area or somewhere with a lot of hard surfaces, you're going to get an echo and sort of thin sound to your voice. Hard surfaces reflect sound, and open areas increase the echo effect. If you're in a small place, you can still get the echo effect if you're surrounded by hard surfaces. Accoustic foam is the ideal solution, but even draping blankets over everything will help reduce the effect.

3.) Muffled/Too Close

If you stand too close to the mic, you're going to sound muffled. Also note that you can hear the mic picking up breaths, which is pretty distracting.

4.) Plosives

There really isn't an excuse for sending in a sound file with mic puffs in it. There are several tutorials online for making a cheap pop screen, and you should listen to your sound files before sending them in. If you hear a puff, just re-record the line.

5.) Clipping

I get a lot of these for fighting games. Shouting can cause the mic to peak, and the sound file will "clip," causing that painful "too loud" effect. Just turn down the volume on your mic.

6.) Too Far

This one also shows up a lot in fighting games. A lot of people will step back from the mic to avoid clipping (thank you!), but that gives you a thin, distant sound (not unlike Issue #2). You don't actually want to move too far from the mic. Instead, just turn down the volume on your mic when you record.

7.) Low Energy

I'm not going to spend too much time on this, since I'm talking more about technical stuff than performance, but I hear this a lot for fighting game auditions (again). A lot of people try to lower their own voices to fix Issue #5/#6, but that leads to a lethargic performance.

8.) Not Following Directions

Every audition I post includes guidelines on how to name files and how to submit them. Follow them. I know it seems like a hassle, but there's a reason for the guidelines. Usually, it's to make it easier for the client to listen to your auditions. Additionally, if you don't follow the guidelines, you're basically telling the director that you can't (or won't) follow direction.