Dee Bradley Baker's "All to Know About Going Pro in V.O."

Death by Home Studio

You can kill your career if you start auditioning from home before you’re ready:

Switching from auditioning at your agency to auditioning at home could be the worst thing to happen to your career! True, it can free up a lot of time spent driving to and from your agent. But it can kill your ability to produce a good audition.

Many voice actors aren’t yet ready to take the reins as their own director and sound engineer.

Switching to home auditioning can lose you valuable input from your agent’s booth operator. Reading solo at home means you must now “diagnose” your audition copy, self-direct, record and edit yourself without feedback. That’s a lot of specialized hats to wear!

The ability to do all this well is something that few newbies yet possess (though they may not realize it). This often results in a significant (even catastrophic) drop off in audition quality and bookings.

Be very careful about making this transition! Seek a lot of feedback from your agent to make sure your performance is as good as it needs to be. I still do!

Home auditioning is a terrific convenience and freedom for those ready for it, just don’t let it kill your career!

An exception here might be if you have an ISDN set up in your home studio, and your agent (if they are up for it) could dial in and direct you and even record you at their end.  This option isn’t cheap. You pay for line usage with an ISDN and the hardware is a sizeable front end expense. But this option can offer you the direction and feedback you may still need while giving you the freedom to audition (and possibly even work) from home.

Thanks to voice-director Donna Grillo for suggesting the “perils of home auditioning” theme!

8 Responses »

  1. Hi Dee!!

    First of all I want to say thank you for this website. It has been so helpful to me and helped me a lot in my voice over career. I’m 15 years old, and my goal is to one day be a successful voice over like you in LA. In September, I signed with a really good agent in toronto, where I live, and I’ve had about 4 auditions so far. However, I have a problem. All my auditions I’ve had so far have been at home, and as you’ve said here can happen, I really don’t think I’m ready for home auditions alone yet. I do very well with taking direction and being put under pressure, and I feel I’m not giving good enough takes at home criticizing myself. I’m really scared I will only have at home recorded auditions, and never get to book anything. If I had in studio auditions with casting directors then at least I could hear their feedback, take their direction and then have a much better chance at booking a part. My agent does give me some feedback but I can still never really tell if I’m doing anything right. All I want is to be a successful voice actress, and I would really appreciate any advice you could give me. You have helped me so much so far.
    Thank you so much!!!

    • OK- read THIS and THIS. If your agent is or has a good booth director and and ISDN, then perhaps investing in an ISDN will help (though it sure ain’t cheap). You could also enlist online coaching on auditions which can be done via Skype- but it must be by someone who knows what they are doing. I believe Rob Paulsen and Bob Bergan may do that kind of thing- could check with them or others. A number of “heavy hitters” will coach auditions. I’ll leave the research to you.

  2. Mr. Baker,

    I am very new to the VO game. I have 3 years under my belt, and one more Union job to book to join the Union. I do most of my auditioning from home, and I wonder if it’s causing me to lose out on bookings due to the above mentioned home studio pitfalls.

    I am based in Chicago, and I am poised to make the leap to LA in 6 months time.

    Should I be focusing on auditioning with extra ears to listen and give critique more often?

    • Yes, I’d love for other ears to hear your auditioning and performing ability. Self directing is very rough. Perhaps you can find this in a good class when you move to L.A? Or fly out and take a weekend intensive with a good instructor?

  3. i find my voice cracking often as I am 15 years old and going through some changes (you know, puberty)
    what do you do about that? maybe there’s a tea i could drink?

    • All you can do is weather the change and not be embarrassed or shy about it. It’ll pass. Just don’t let it freak you out into not trying something that interests you. Warm tea can be great for your health, but I don’t have any secret weapon drink or lozenge to help with a rough voice. Singing/voice training have been the best help for me along those lines.

  4. What methods and techniques do you use when directing yourself? What do you focus on to ensure you’re getting your own best performance of that script?

    • I cover self-directing in the pages nested under “In Studio Basics” on my site. Ultimately, I see a voice actor as self-directing whether they are recording solo at home or in a studio setting.

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