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Demo Submissions now Open for the Voice Acting Audition Derby

mCsuricsmCsurics Registered User regular
edited August 2013 in PAX West
Hi All,

I am super excited to be bringing the GVAC Voice Acting Audition Derby to Pax Prime this year! The derby demo format has been very successful presented by GANG for sound designers and composers at GDC for years and PAX just feels like a perfect fit for the voice version.

Attendees submit and play their 30 second video game voice demo reel for a detailed personal critique and feedback session from a team of leading game casting, directing, and voice professionals from GVAC (the GANG Voice Actor Coalition).

If you have been thinking about breaking in to voice acting, or have already picked up a couple gigs and want to level up your game, this is the perfect opportunity to get your voice in front of seasoned industry pros and get tips tailored specifically to your demo.

The submission window is now open. All demo reels must be submitted in advance as mp3 files, with a maximum length of 30 seconds. The cutoff date is August 26th, but the sooner the better to ensure a slot. Name your file “paxVoicePanel_YourName.mp3 and email it to [email protected]. We will make our selections and notify the selected participants the week before PAX.

We are scheduled for Monday at 11am in the Unicorn Theatre. It should go without saying, but you will need to be in attendance at the panel if you want your demo critiqued.

Thanks so much. I'm looking forward to hearing from you :)

Michael Csurics
Dialogue Services
mCsurics on


  • mCsuricsmCsurics Registered User regular
    Whoops. So sorry everyone. We realized today that the email link was down. The problem has been fixed. If you were attempted to submit before now please re-send. Sorry for the confusion. :p

    Michael Csurics
    Dialogue Services
  • neo_blade01neo_blade01 Registered User regular
    If only I had a Monday badge to get in this...

  • skarsolskarsol Registered User regular
    A little information about what's on a demo reel and that kinda stuff would be cool for those of us who don't know all about the industry already. :)

    why are you smelling it?
  • mCsuricsmCsurics Registered User regular
    Without going in to too deep, a demo reel's main objective is to showcase your voice; it's character and range. Focus on your strengths and avoid weaknesses.

    If you want to get a good sense of what working actors have on their reels you can usually find them on their websites. If you need a good place to start I'd recommend finding actors whose characters you think you can imitate well and check out their demo reels. You can look up casting info on IMDB and Mobygames and a quick google search will get you to the talent's personal page or their agency's page with demos.

    As far as securing material or scripts is concerned you can write your own, google around for scripts, or pull lines from existing media. IMO a demo reel is not a resume and the words don't matter nearly as much as the quality of the voice performing them.

    If you are just starting out and need some pointers on how to record yourself there is a ton of great information online that will get you going, but here are some quick tips:

    Whenever I am asked for recommendations on software/hardware for people just starting out on a budget my go to advice is a Blue Yeti USB Microphone. It's a great investment for the entry level voice artist that will keep you going until you are ready to plunk down a couple $K on higher end gear. Audacity is a great, free, bit of recording and editing software with a pretty shallow learning curve. I also know a lot of actors who use an ipad running garage band and an apogee mic. This can be a great solution as ipads have no self produced noise to mar up your recording. A quick and dirty vocal booth can be built using your bed comforter and a chair to make a sort of fort/booth to get some instant isolation/noise dampening.

    Remember, this panel is targeting people who want to break in to the industry and need some pointers. We are not expecting polished, professional reels. If everyone's reel was perfect, we wouldn't have much to talk about :)

    Michael Csurics
    Dialogue Services
  • mCsuricsmCsurics Registered User regular
    Just a quick reminder. There is one week left to get your demos in to participate in this panel. Please do not wait until the last minute as a last minute rush will slow down the review process :)

    Michael Csurics
    Dialogue Services
  • mCsuricsmCsurics Registered User regular
    Just a reminder that tomorrow (8/26) is the final day for demo submissions. We have received a ton of great demos so far. Please be sure to get yours in by the end of the day tomorrow.

    Michael Csurics
    Dialogue Services
  • mCsuricsmCsurics Registered User regular
    Also, two quick updates:

    1 - Tommy Tallarico (founder of GANG, Video Games Live, and Tommy Tallarico Studios) will be joining us on the panel

    2 - We have secured some SWEEEEEEET giveaways from our friends at iZotope. We have (1) Nectar license and (4) Nectar Elements licences to doll out at the panel. You should totally come ;)

    Michael Csurics
    Dialogue Services
  • mCsuricsmCsurics Registered User regular
    Oh man. I totally dropped the ball on that article. If anyone is still interested, here is an early draft. WARNING: this is not the final draft of the article and may contain grammatical and/or contextual errors. Also, I'm pretty sure that BB formatting is not the best display format for this ;)

    How to Make a Solid Voice Over Demo Reel for Video Games
    “What makes a great video game reel?” “How can I put together a reel to land more video game gigs?” “What do you look for in a voice over demo for games?” I get asked these questions often.
    There is a problem. I was looking for a resource to point to say “Here, do this.” And found the internet, as well as many “voice over coaches”, to be rife with either semi-related, but all too general “tips and tricks”, or utterly useless dreck where cutting a voice demo tailored for games is concerned. So I’m writing one to give people some insight in to what I look for when casting a video game. I am hoping that, as a result, I will eventually see better demos floating around.
    Here’s a perfectly good example at the issue as it stands. I was recently reviewing and giving feedback on a “video game” demo reel for a friend whose credit list is longer than my arm. My critique? “It’s a great reel, but I wouldn’t have been able to cast you based on it”. You see, every voice on her, extremely well produced and exceptionally well performed, reel was a heavily stylized character voice. I mostly work on story driven narratives requiring natural speaking voices. It struck me as odd because we’ve worked together on many projects in the past and I absolutely love, and cast her for, because of her clean, conversational speech. I wish that I could say that this anecdote is an anomaly.
    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to dig through an actor’s narration or audiobook reels to find a decent sample of their conversational delivery potential. In a pinch I’ve even had to cast off of the slate a few times.

    This guide is aimed, largely, at those newer to our industry. You long-tooth industry pros can skip to the “pro” version of this post, but I would advise giving this a quick read as well. It is never a bad thing to brush up on the basics. Then again, as the writer, I am a tad biased.
    1. Play video games. Do it. Don’t even think about making a video game specific demo reel or auditioning for roles on video games without playing games. It is of the utmost importance that you put a controller (or mouse/keyboard) in your hands and understand what happens on the screen when you push the buttons. You must understand how voice works within this medium.
    Familiarize yourself with the different genres of video games. Listen to how they differ or overlap with regards to vocal performances. Hunt down games that have won awards, or been reviewed well for great dialogue and compare them to games that have put through the ringer for poor (or poorly perceived) voice acting.
    Be able to understand and converse intelligently about the work we are creating together. As a director I don’t mind telling you – this gives you a lot of mileage when I consider my casting options on future projects.
    2. Make a list of well-reviewed games that represent a wide swath of genres, settings, and vocal requirements. Listen to them and transcribe anything that stands out to you. Build a small library of quips, one liners, and self-contained short scenes.
    Get as much variety and content here as possible. It is always better to have more and cut later. Be sure you’ve got some natural/conversational dialogue, character/stylized dialogue, combat barks, and onomatopoetic non-verbal reactions.
    Remember also to cover a wide range of base emotions; happy, sad, angry, frightened, etc… as well as some variance in projection levels; intimate, far away, over gunfire.
    If (and only if) you have followed step 1, and are secure in the underlying mechanics of multiple genres of gameplay, you may crawl through youtube, gametrailers, or any of the myriad other game video sites as well.
    3. Record every line. Read every single line you transcribed. When you find that you don’t have enough, go back and get more. Play with the deliveries. Don’t be afraid to really go for it. Conversely, don’t be afraid to ease off the gas as well. The booth is never a place to be shy and clam up. They are small enough without filling them with inhibition.
    If you find yourself becoming frustrated with a particular line or you are reaching for a character/performance that is out of your range, dump it, take a breather, and move on to the next line. If I’m on the other end of the casting desk I want to hear only your best, not your practice takes.
    If you find it difficult to do this on your own, then I’d strongly suggest hiring an experienced director. Contrary to popular belief we do exist and we do provide services in exchange for money just like everyone else in the entertainment industry, yourselves included. It is not unreasonable to write and request to hire any of us to work with you privately so long as you understand that our schedules may or may not allow.
    4. Take a break. Don’t listen to anything you’ve recorded for at least three days. You need to give yourself some separation between each stage in the process. If you are still in the creation mindset you will undoubtedly mar your editorial decisions. This same principal applies to practically everything you produce. Don’t worry, audio files need time to ferment on the hard drive anyway.
    5. Sort your files. If it were me, Captain O.C. Dee-more, I would create top level file folders by category; “natural”, “character”, “combat”, and “nonverbal”, and maybe “creature” if that’s in your wheelhouse. Within each of these folders I would create hierarchical subfolders labelled: 01_delete, 02_consider, 03_include and 04_amazeballs. I would go through and sort my recorded audio files by category and then I would go through each category’s folder and give a critical listen to every file. If it didn’t cut the mustard it goes in 01_delete. If I think it’s good enough or am on the fence it would go in 02_consider. If it was a quality recording it would go in 03_include. Folder 04_amazeballs would be reserved for anything that I felt might singlehandedly generate and win its own category at the BAFTA awards.
    If you really want to make sure your demo only has your best work, this is best and most cost effective point at which to hire a professional to put their ears on it.
    6. Fire up Pro Tools, Vegas, Sound Forge, or whatever your audio editing software of choice may be. Grab every file from a category folder’s 04_amazeballs subfolder and put it on your timeline. Identify the strongest performance and put it first on the timeline. Put the second strongest performance next, and so on and so on. Pay zero attention to the contextual relevance or artistic juxtaposition of these deliveries. All that matters is that the best content is the first thing that I, or any other casting entity, hears. Period.
    7. When you run out of content in the 04_amazeballs folder give your new conglomerate file a listen. How deep do the emotional dynamics stretch? Did you wind up with any variance in the projection levels? Are there multiple deliveries conveying the same qualities? If you’ve got more than one line covering the same needs as another, make the call and toss all but the top choice (which should be the leftmost on your timeline).
    If you find a hole in your dynamic range, then you need more content. Head back to the well and pull from 03_include. Repeat the same selective cutting process you went just went through, keeping all the content from 04_amazeballs at the front of the timeline. If you still need more content you can dip back in to the 02_consider file and do the same. If it were my reel though, I’d dump and rerecord everything in that folder and loop back to step 4.
    8. Repeat this for each of the categories. Remember to be super critical. Also, remember that this won’t take you a day or two, but more like a week or two at first and a lifetime if you’re fortunate.
    9. Listen to your demo reel and think about the sort order for the categorically divided content. This is an important decision and should be guided by the sort of games you want to make. Lead off with the categories that will steer you towards the jobs that you want. Do you have an intense longing to impale your throat on a microphone for four hours? Lead off with combat barks. Fancy yourself a lead? Put that natural dialogue up front. Worship Mel Blanc or Billy West? Characters first. Psychopath? Non-verbal reactive content up front will scare the bejessus out of a casting director (in a bad way). Put it last.
    10. Save your file before the elder-god spawned techno-gremlins consume it. Name it something useful like “”
    11. Go away. You know the drill. Separate yourself from the demo for at least three days. This is the perfect time to squeeze in “having a life”.
    12. This is it! Grab yourself a bottle of bubbly and pour yourself a glass. Toast and congratulate yourself: I hope you do yoga so you can pat your own back because your demo is done. All you need to do now is give it a listen.
    Oh, wait. No! This is terrible! Something needs tweaking. You’ve come to learn the cold hard universally constant truth concerning the intrinsic nature of demo reels. Your demo is NEVER done and you will be fiddling with it until you are old and then dead, and then maybe some more afterwards.
    Do not despair.
    Be honest with yourself. What stands out as bad? If something is a real stinker just pull it out. If there is a whole section of content you just cannot hit, pull it out and practice until you get good awesome. You can always add it back in if and when you’ve nailed it.
    What you are left with now is a solid demo reel that is an excellent representation of your current vocal skillset tailored specifically for video games. This is exactly what we, the people who make casting decisions, want in a reel. You should be proud of what you’ve put together and never, ever, ever, ever, ever apologize or explain away any performances on your reel. Ever.
    13. Now is an excellent time to pass your demo around to your acting group, your forum buddies, or whomever you feel will give useful feedback. Be prepared, you will most likely either be told it’s great, or the worst thing ever. Take it all with a grain of salt and an open mind.
    If you are considering asking a professional for a critique DO NOT SEND YOUR DEMO WITHOUT FIRST ASKING PERMISSION. Do expect to wait an eternity for a reply if you get one at all. Do not let your ego get in the way of accepting and absorbing any feedback you do get. Do not assume for a second that sending your demo to a casting professional in this manner should or will lead to gigs. Do let them know you value their time with more than just a quick “thanks” in an email. The polite thing to do is to offer to give them something in return for extending you a favor and sharing their thoughts; like lunch, drinks, or comp’d tickets.
    14. Iterate

    Michael Csurics
    Dialogue Services
  • mCsuricsmCsurics Registered User regular
    I just wanted to give a huge thanks to everyone who sent in a demo. We received 65 demo reels! It's going to be very hard to pick 12 :)

    Michael Csurics
    Dialogue Services
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