Your voice over showreel is one of your most important marketing tools, it’s a part of the display in your shop window. Your showreel highlights many of your vocal talents, people you have worked with and what market your voice suits best. It’s not a once in a lifetime piece of work either.
As your vocal talents grow stronger and the list of clients you work with grows too, your showreel is an organic portfolio and should be updated regularly. Your voice and body are your instrument, as is the microphone, and this is projected onto your showreel.
If you are creating your showreel from scratch it’s really important you take time to think about what kind of work you would like to do? Where you think your voice sits in the market and who would benefit from a voice like yours? I would suggest trying to gain a some experience in the industry beforehand or spending some time with a coach to see if you even like the work!
The production of a showreel is a creative process, it takes a little time and shouldn’t be something you just smash out! Look around for a producer that suits your needs and the type of showreel you want to make. There are some producers who specialise in say commercial or corporate showreels, as this is their area of expertise and won’t touch a gaming reel, and rightly so! Shop around, look at reviews and take time to decide.
As a producer listening to showreels I want to hear a range of techniques and styles to help me decide if you are right for the job. If I can hear that you are capable of voicing in a range of styles from serious, smooth or sexy to a character selling farming equipment (don’t know where that came from!) it gives me confidence that you are open to direction and can be moulded to suit the script. Your reel needs to entertain and inform.
When I’m producing showreels, I look to my DJing skills to help create the reel. As a DJ my mixes firstly need to capture the attention of the listener and take them on a small journey showcasing the talents of the artist as well as mine as an audio mixer/engineer. This is how I approach my showreel production too, but always keeping in mind what market the voice suits best and what may increase their chances of gaining work.
It’s my responsibility to provide you with support, scripts that suit your needs, a nice recording environment and to make you feel welcome and relaxed. As a voice director I must bring the best out of you for each script and this is where you put yourself in the hands of the producer. If I can’t feel the words you are speaking, then how is anybody in the real world going to. I often compare the very first read to the ultimate read to show the difference between no direction and direction. This also highlights the importance of not producing your own showreels.
Shall I put my imaging work with my commercial work or shall I put on-hold work with my corporate work?— A question I hear often.
I would suggest keeping everything separate regardless of how much work you have done in each area, you can always create a compilation of you work too. If a client is looking for an on-hold voice and they search for on-hold and your work is hidden in your corporate reel then they’re not going to hear it.
Another question is “should I use brand names if I’ve not actually voiced for them and it’s not real work?” Personally, I create scripts without brands and if the voice over suggests a branded name then I’m open to discussion on it. I don’t see anything entirely wrong, but it’s always better if you have voiced for that brand or you ensure people know it’s for practice/showreel purposes.
Regarding how long the reel is we can safely say no longer than 90 seconds, but this can decrease dramatically. If you have three corporate reads that showcase everything you can do as a corporate voice over then just use them at say 15 seconds per edit. Don’t try to cram everything into one showreel, think about who you want to target and make this the backbone of the reel.
Each producer will have their own approach and techniques, as I do. Like I said, to me it’s a creative process that starts with a consultation through to me guiding and directing you and eventually handing over your showreel. In my experience it creates quite a special bond between artist and producer, especially when you are both working in the same recording environment.
So, to recap, think about where your voice suits best and who or what you would like to target. Shop around for a producer who suits your needs, don’t get to hung up on budget as the market is fairly even in the US. Try not to produce your own showreels, the benefits you will gain from being directed are priceless. Be open to direction and allow the producer to guide you, that’s what we’re here for. Update your showreels regularly because as your confidence grows and your techniques improve the sound/feel of your recordings will change. Remember, your voice and body are your instrument as is the microphone, and how you use them all together, is what we hear and feel as listeners.
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Rich runs a showreel production business, ioaudio.co, based in the UK and has worked in the radio production business for the last 15 years. His services also include voice directing sessions, audio editing of small or large audio projects, 1-2-1 studio/audio consultations and 1-2-1 recording/production coaching. His services are used by The Voice Over Network and RichCraft as their go-to sound engineer/producer – he also presents and writes articles based on the industry. Rich also produces audio for businesses i.e. On Hold, web content, podcasts and records local artist/musicians.
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