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(WIP) Voice Actors and You! Part 1 - Auditions and Scouting
02-21-2011, 01:30 PM (This post was last modified: 08-12-2011 05:05 PM by codeblackhayate.)
Post: #1
Information (WIP) Voice Actors and You! Part 1 - Auditions and Scouting
You have a super awesome idea for an abridged/parody series, but there is one thing you're missing: VOICES! So, how are you going to bring life to the characters in your masterpiece?
Well, you've got a few options:

1) Do it yourself!
2) Ask people you know!
3) Brave the scary Internets to find other people you don't know (yet) to do it for you!

If you used option 1 or 2, your problem is solved! Leave this thread and go work on your project! If you choose option 3, read on!

Now that you know you need recruit some help, there are two ways to go about doing this:

1) Auditions
2) Scouting

For either option, you'll need patience and a lot of people skills!
Before you set up an audition or start scouting, make sure you have your act together. It's a pain to work with someone who doesn't know what they want.

At a minimum, have these:
1) At least 1 script ready, or a very developed draft
2) A general idea for characterizations and direction of your show
3) A reliable means to create your work, be it animators, editors, etc.
4) Organization skills

  1. --> If you can't write, your show is dead in the water. You kind of need this to tell your story, know what your characters will be like, see how they interact, and know what needs to be recorded
    (A list of jokes is not a script)
  2. --> It's unfair to ask someone to commit to something without letting them know what they're in for! How would you like it if you put in time to audition for a character, only to have it change into something you don't like or be written out after you've scheduled time (or *GASP!* turned down other roles!) for the project? No one likes a bait and switch or wishy-washy role.
  3. --> The lack of an editor (or animator) is the part that causes most projects the fail. It's work intensive (i.e. "hard"), so there are a lot of people that will flake before putting in the work, even if they have the skills to get an episode out. It's frustrating to spend a few hours of life to record for a project that never gets finished.
    Finding someone super dedicated to the project (i.e. yourself) is your best bet.
  4. --> Have you ever herded cats? Sometimes, scouting or posting a call for auditions can be similar. You should be able to keep up with who sent what when dealing with auditions and redos, respond in a timely manner to questions, and have an appealing pitch to persuade people to join your project. If you can't be organized in the casting process, how can you be organized for the actual project?
    Also, try not to loose things or forget/purposely ignore people. They've taken their time to send you something, so please have enough respect to not take their effort for granted. You never know, you might have an opportunity to work with them in the future!

Part 1 - Auditions and Casting - You Are Here!
Part 2 - Communication, Directing, and (Re)recording
Part 3 - Dealing with Deadlines and Flakes Responsibly
Part 4 - MULLIGAN! How to stop being "That Guy" that no one will work with

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02-21-2011, 01:30 PM (This post was last modified: 08-12-2011 09:36 AM by codeblackhayate.)
Post: #2
Audition Hosting Basics
For simplicity sake, we'll be discussing open auditions for this section.

So, what are these audition things anyway? In a nut shell, it's telling people you want voices, having people send you voices, then picking the voices you want! The two most popular ways to do this are creating audition threads (i.e. a thread in the Visual Productions section of the VAA) or a casting video (i.e. a video on YT announcing the roles you want filled!) and fielding responses from the masses. It seems like a simple process, but a lot of people tend to get it wrong. If you aren't getting auditions, you probably have one or more of the following problems:

1) Communication failures!
2) Lack of Professionalism!
3) Horrible organization!
4) Non-existent Dedication!

Having any of these issues won't necessarily prevent people from auditioning, since there are always newbies trying to land a role (any role) that will submit auditions to anything. Sure, you may get a few good auditions, but anyone worth their salt will be able to see the tell-tale signs of a train-wreck project, and will most likely stay away.

Your audition thread/video is your first impression on a potential VA. The online voice acting and abridging communities are very tightly knit and social in nature, so first impressions are SUPER IMPORTANT.
It takes a few seconds for a voice actor can glance over a thread/video and decided if the project is worth the effort of sending an audition. Moreover, that person will REMEMBER a horrible (or the rare super awesome) impression and it can and will effect your future chances of working with that person (and possibly the people they know).

Amateur Voice Acting, (particularly in niches of fandubs, abridged series, flash animations, and the like) is a small, and super close knit community, where reputation and talent can make or break you. Keep this in mind before you make any social faux pas.

Let's tackle the first hurdle you have when doing a casting call:

1. Communication!
A potential VA should be able to glance at an audition thread/video and get all the information they need without having to decipher 3-1337 ch4t sp34k, ~*NEON SPECHULSNOWFLAKE*~ and hard to read text, or horrible grammar. Wall 'o Text posts, while (occasionally) informative, aren't salient. Neither are videos that blather on an on about something non-audition related! If it's not relevant to the potential VAs, leave it out. Also, group related information together. A VA shouldn't have to read a wall of text/ watch a YT video 10 times to figure out where to send lines, what format is needed, and the deadline.

Specifically for videos: Transcribe whatever is said/displayed in the video information and make use of annotations if you need to edit. If you're going to be talking, speak clearly and enunciate. Same rules about salience apply.

By all means make your casting call visually appealing, but remember, if it's not salient it's worth jack! Organization is key! Keep it short and sweet!

Here is what your thread/video should let potential actors know:
  • Project Background - what the project is about, what to expect from the production, timelines for the project, etc.
  • Characters Info - available characters, wanted voice type wanted, voice samples to give the VA and idea of what you're looking for, a general idea of line numbers, and any triggers or items that might make the role undesirable. (Playing a obscenity spewing, racist, hentai tentacle monster that alternates screaming and singing pages of tongue twisters in a high-pitched and raspy voice isn't everyone's bag...)
  • Deadline and Submission Information - the last day to send auditions, file formats, take formats, where to send lines
  • Updates to Casting/Role Availability - If a role is not available, either remove the role information or make it SUPER clear that the role is no longer available (i.e. marking it closed, striking through, removing audition information, etc. A VA shouldn't be able to mistake an open role from a closed one). If you add roles, let people know! Previous auditioners, or VAs who previously saw your casting call may be interested, but won't necessarily notice a small change to a thread/video.
  • Project Announcements - if you happen to cancel, or have finished casting, let people know. In case of a email/skype/im SNAFU you have another way of letting people know if they got the role. Also, people who didn't make cast know that they can free up their time for other projects and not worry about scheduling conflicts.
  • Deadline Changes - Recording time isn't exactly easy to fit into a schedule. Realize that changes to a deadline can effect those who have planned on having a certain time to record.
  • Contact Information! - Very important if the thread/video poster isn't the end all authority or the only one in charge. How are people to keep in touch with the project? Do you/the project point-of-contact go by different screen names or prefer to use certain services as contact? Remember, not everyone has or frequently uses SKYPE/AIM/Oovoowachamahoosa

*Hint: If you're doing a fandom based project, you will might attract VAs who have never even heard of your fandom. Don't expect a potential VA to know every detail of the characters you want voiced! Include things like reference clips (for voice/emotion matching) and voice type descriptions go a long way. (What Mika-chan did to Nanari one time in a non-cannon light novel isn't helpful. Listing His/Her age and gender, along with voice range and mannerisms are better!)

  • Walls of text - Too much information is just as bad as no information. When a reader sees a wall of text, that's just what they see. A wall. The key is to make everything salient! Remember the beauty of white space! You can split things across multiple thread posts, use things called "paragraphs" and "hard returns," as well as "punctuation."
  • Format Nightmares - Oddly formatted text (i.e. random left justification) is a bit disorienting to the audience. Nonstandard formatting can be done, but usually isn't done well. Most people read left to right, from the top of the page downward. Avoid it if you don't want a hot mess of a thread. Just Say'n.
  • TMI - If it's more fit for a diary, keep it out. If it has nothing to do with the project, nix it. There are other outlets besides the audition setting.

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02-21-2011, 01:30 PM (This post was last modified: 08-12-2011 10:31 AM by codeblackhayate.)
Post: #3
Auditions Continued

So what about the other three? We'll tackle them all together, since they're closely related.
2. Lack of Professionalism!
It's pretty sad that this section exists, but lack of decorum is systemic in the abridging community. Yes, this is the internet. Yes, abridged series are fan projects. That doesn't mean they can't be run with a pinch of professionalism.

A little respect can go a long way. Respect for everyone, not only for the time and energy of your teammates, but also fans, other teams, and any other entities you interact with. That means handling conflicts with grace, and not instigating or exacerbating heated situations.
  • Self-Centered La La Land - Realize that life will always over prioritize a hobby. That means sickness, family issues, work, etc. should be taken into consideration. Have open lines of communication with your team members to facilitate resolutions to any issues that arise. There is always recasting, so chill out.

    If someone has had a death in the family, is unable to speak due to sickness, or is otherwise occupied, a million messages asking for lines/scouts/roles is both rude an insensitive. Moreover, doing lines while ill can PERMANENTLY damage the vocal chords. You'll be sending the message: "I don't care about your life, my project is more important than your well being." Don't try to get around it by tacking on some faux "condolence" message. "I'm sorry about your grandpa, but will you do this for me?" is still a backhanded, self-centered jerk move.
  • Disregard for others - Do not treat your teammates like means to an end. They are human beings and deserve respect for the effort they invest to a project. They do not exist solely to create content for your project.

    Badmouthing your team is a no-no. If your project fails, don't play the blame game and try to pin it on your team mates. If you don't like the voice work/editing/animation why did you accept it and why did you publish it?

    Don't have a case of Wandering Ears
    "OMG, ur so gud. Our VA sux. Plz replace him." or "Oh hai. I found a moar kawaii Riga-chan. Im firing her for u." Rude. More so if you do it without informing the original VA. The original VA has dedicated time and gone through an audition process just for your projected. The only reason you should be looking for replacement VAs after confirming the role are if they cannot live up to predefined expectations. (i.e. line deadlines, line quality bait and switch, unable to preform script). Confirming/Casting a role is hiring a VA to do voice work. If you didn't get what you wanted during the audition phase, you should have kept looking. There are valid reasons to change a VA (like changes in character direction -->Riga-chan is now Arnold Schwarzenegger!) But you have to be open when discussing any casting issues with whomever it effects.
  • Unpleasant Attitudes -
  • Flakiness -
  • Drama - The community is small. It's only natural that people make friends and enemies.

3. Horrible organization!

4. Non-existent Dedication!

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02-21-2011, 01:30 PM (This post was last modified: 08-12-2011 09:35 AM by codeblackhayate.)
Post: #4
RE: (WIP) Voice Actors and You! Part 1 - Auditions and Scouting
The Audition Process
Make it as easy as possible to audition!
.getting started.
Here's the breakdown:
You (the producer/director) want people

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02-21-2011, 01:30 PM (This post was last modified: 08-12-2011 09:33 AM by codeblackhayate.)
Post: #5
Scouting for Roles

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02-21-2011, 01:31 PM (This post was last modified: 08-12-2011 09:30 AM by codeblackhayate.)
Post: #6
Getting Talent
Where to Find Talent

There are three major places to post cattle call auditions for fanworks: The Voice Acting Alliance (VAA), Youtube (YT), and The Voice Acting Club (VAC). Each has it's pros and cons.

When all else fails, remember, people like to audition for their favorite characters. Maybe you're production just isn't en vogue. In that case, you may have to resort to SCOUTING!

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