Voice over demo production with Guy Michaels
Every voice actor needs a set of tools for their business to function and grow. A professionally produced voiceover demo is one of these tools as it acts as an easily accessible audio showcase of your talent. A great voiceover demo can help you to secure a variety of well-paid voice over jobs. In this article, we will explore the process of voice over demo production with expert Guy Michaels.
Whether you’re interested in recording commercial demos, corporate or even a character demo for video game voice acting, Guy Michaels can help you create a high-quality demo that will make you stand out in the industry.
- What is a voiceover demo?
- What about a voicereel?
- Why they are not as important as they used to be
- How I work to create a professional voice over demo for you
- Voiceover Demo Scripts
- Recording and Production
- Ready to record your new voiceover demos?
I’ve been producing showreels for voice talent since 2006. I’ve worked in voiceover since 1999 and back in 2006 a friend asked me to produce their demo for them. I had the gear and the know-how and as a favour I helped them to create a basic commercial demo. Then I started thinking about my experience as a voice actor and as a producer on the receiving end of demos.
Initially I decided that I would offer the service to students who had attended my many live workshops I was running throughout London in studios and actor training establishments. But before I felt I could charge for this service I knew I had to go into deep and heavy research mode!
To summarize, what I found out at the time (and much of this is still true today) included:
The media folk, casting directors and agents could tell who had produced the demo. Really I thought? This was because not only were they hearing the same old and tired scripts being used over and over again but each producer had their own style and in many cases very limited production skills. It was simply a case of the voiceover going into a city-based studio, being handed some scripts, the ‘audio engineer’ hitting record and then after mixing together the tracks with some stock music; off the actor went ‘CD in hand’ with their new demo. A conveyor-belt experience that benefits no-one apart from demo producers working in this ‘cookie-cutter’ way.
The production was overblown. What this means and it is still very clear to me today is that the voicereel company, instead of working to highlight the talent of the voice actor, they simply used all the bells and whistles of pro-audio (music, processing and fx) to show their prowess as producers. This was further reinforced 12 years later by Mark Estdale’s 2018 survey specifically on voice acting demos for games:
“Sound effects and/or music are good, but can easily be overdone…The voice should never hide behind anything. Generally speaking, less is often more.”
Since then, for gaming demos I always supply the fully produced version and then a version with all of the production elements stripped away.
PRODUCED GAMING DEMO EXAMPLE
STRIPPED GAMING DEMO EXAMPLE
Many other things came up before I took the first booking. What I knew from the above was that:
A) the material needed to be personal; as bespoke as possible for each and every voice
B) I needed to always focus on ‘voice first’. Still to this day, any production elements are there to assist in the creation of atmosphere or mood but only carefully supporting the voice and not drowning out the performances.
Before I get into the specifics of what it is like working with me to create your demos, let’s cover the basics.
What is a voiceover demo?
A voiceover demo is a recorded sample of audio that demonstrates an actor’s voice acting abilities across different genres and styles or focusses just on one very specific style/genre. It serves as a showcase for casting directors, clients, media producers and other industry professionals to assess the actor’s vocal range and suitability for specific projects.
Here are three examples:
What about a voicereel?
Many of the terms used to describe the recorded showcase are interchangeable but for me a voicereel is a compilation of pieces with a particular purpose, market or target audience.
For example a commercial demo reel might include 3 or 4 adverts, a Public Service Announcement, a Charity Appeal and maybe a continuity piece for TV.
Commercial demos are selling something: a product, service or concept.
Although each of the individual tracks might be anywhere from 10 seconds to let’s say 45 seconds each, a voicereel is a cut-down version compiling the best of the best into a sub 90 second track featuring small snippets of each individual track.
Why they are not as important as they used to be
A voice over demo is definitely an important marketing tool for voice actors. It allows them to highlight their skills, versatility, and range in order to attract clients and secure voice over jobs. Casting directors often rely on voice over demos to assess an actor’s ability to perform various types of voice over work.
However, it is now common and often preferred that a voiceover artist record a custom demo of the client’s own scripts. This is to help the casting director or producing team decide on whether you are indeed the right voice for the project.
Therefore voicereels, when readily available on your website and social media etc, can work to illustrate your potential but hearing your performance of a client’s own scripts gives them a better understanding of your suitability.
Personally, I make it a rule that I won’t just take on a voiceover job without offering up a custom demo to the client first.
How I work to create a professional voice over demo for you
Creating a truly professional voice over demo involves several crucial steps. Sure, you can rock up to your local studio and they can just hit record (like the conveyor belt example above) but to capture your best performances that appeal to prospective clients takes some serious preparation!
As a highly experienced audio engineer in addition to having voiced and produced thousands of projects in a 25 year career, rest assured I know what I’m doing. Each demo produced by me benefits from the triple-whammy of:
Direction so useful it will feel like a coaching session. You get a perspective and techniques you can use in any future directed session.
My experience, understanding of what casting directors want to hear and awareness of industry trends keeps you and your demo relevant and employable.
Audio production that will mean your demos give the best first impression and sound 100% professional – something you can be proud of as you move to the next level in voice overs!
A truly custom service that you deserve
I limit to working with just two voiceover artists each week on producing voiceover demos.
Remote voiceover demos
Although prior to COVID the majority of my sessions were recorded in my studio in North London, for some years I had offered a remote service for those voice actors who had a decent home recording facility.
As the pandemic hit, the movement towards home-studios accelerated for voiceover production worldwide. These days 100% of the demos I produce are done so entirely remotely. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, as long as you have a recording set-up that meets the requirements, I can produce your demo reels.
Although recorded reasonably well, you should be able to hear the difference that professional clean-up and processing makes to the finished product.
What type of demo do you want to record?
Here are the current prices (in GBP) How Much Is A Voice Reel? | Demo Producer Guy Michaels (voice-reel.com)
I offer 4 services:
THE DOUBLE – Commercial and Corporate
I no longer produce audiobook narration or audio drama demos.
Submit a test recording
If you want to work with me, the first thing I ask is that you submit a short test recording so I can hear the quality of your set-up and environment. This must be the same environment (home or professional studio) that you intend to record in if we book a session.
You can submit a test recording here
If the audio meets the standard I’d need to work with then the next stage is to have a short Zoom consultation at no charge and no obligation.
I’ll talk you through the everything and answer any questions you may have.
The process varies from demo to demo but ultimately the focus is on getting the scripts right for your voice in the preparation stage.
If you are unsure about your voiceover skills or new to the industry then before booking a demo session, it’s worth setting up a full 60 minute voiceover coaching Zoom in which we can cover anything from your vocal skills, style and suitability, career opportunities and the technical aspects of refining a recording studio for voiceover.
After the free consultation, if you choose to proceed we shall set a date and then you can pay the deposit to secure your session.
Voiceover Demo Scripts
Selecting scripts for your voiceover demo
Remember what I said above about just how important it is to have the right scripts to record? Well recently (and I can’t believe this still happens) but a voicereel client came to me after a very poor initial experience with a Soho based demo producer.
They quite literally handed her a 146 page document of voiceover scripts and suggested that she just chose the ones she liked and then came in to record them. LUDICROUS! This voiceover artist was relatively new to the industry and the voicereel company gave zero support or guidance on what is a serious financial and career investment!
In our consultation I will guide you through the everything you need to know in detail. For commercial and corporate demos it is very much a collaboration and for gaming demos I create all of the custom material for you. The aim is to produce something really special that will serve you for years to come.
Practise voiceover scripts
If you are looking for inspiration or just some voiceover scripts to practise with then you can access my voiceover script library for free. I would advise against using these scripts for your demos as they’ve all been used before.
Recording and Production
The recording session
For the actual recording session we set up a simple Zoom call. You’ll be recording the audio your end, and as your personal demo producer I’ll be guiding you and directing your performances throughout the calm and unrushed recording session.
Afterwards, you just need to send the files over to me using WeTransfer, Google Drive or DropBox.
The production of your voiceover demo
This takes many hours and is a very intricate process. I purposefully don’t guarantee any quick turnaround as I will not rush the production. As your most important marketing tool, it’s worth me spending as much time as is needed to make your voicereel and all the individual tracks shine with the highest production quality.
The final stage is mastering. This is the extra polish that will optimise your demo reels for maximum effect.
Then when the produced demos are ready I’ll send them over and you can go full throttle to get them heard by potential clients, talent agents and plaster them all over your social media and your voiceover website!
It’s worth noting here, that I don’t have a production team. It’s just me from start to finish. As a demo producer I work just with you – we are the team that creates your amazing voice over demos! From the consultation, through script preparation, recording session, direction, production and audio engineering through to mastering it’s just me. It is a very personal demo reel service and has resulted in hundreds of very happy voices:
Ready to record your new voiceover demos?
If you think I might be the demo producer to work with then please do get in touch. As mentioned, once you know what type of demo reel you need, the first thing to do is to submit an example of your studio recording quality. You can do this here: DEMO BOOKING
As you can tell from this, I work in a different way to most demo producers. My method and approach is not suitable for everyone. If you simply want to turn up to a studio to record your vo demos and be handed some generic scripts to make it easy then my service is not for you. If, however you are committed to excellence and know that your vo demos can be a powerful calling card, opening up new opportunities for voiceover work, then let’s chat!
If you are a professional voice actor with decent recording quality, then I’d be delighted to work with you. Whether you want to record a character demo reel, commercial or corporate then I can guide you successfully from start to finish.
You can book a professional voiceover coaching session in which I can help you with pretty much any aspect of your career, voiceover skills or improving your home studio!