Producing Your Demo
A voice demo is an edited montage of snippets containing samples of how you sound delivering commercial, narration, character or other genres of voiceover. It should showcase your ability to make other peoples words sound as they were coming from your own point of view. A well-produced demo will offer potential clients an immediate snapshot as to how you might sound on their project. To achieve any success in landing representation or interest from voice buyers, your demo has to shine.
Scott Burns began producing demos in 1982 by request from a Seattle area talent agency. His task was to edit the agencies roster of individual talents reels to 60 seconds each, offering a uniform “master reel” for marketing. The success of that endeavor soon launched Scott into becoming the go-to producer for local actors and media professionals.
As a working voice actor, Scott stays current with what’s trending in the advertising and the entertainment industry…helping him stay abreast with what directors and producers are hoping to hear in a demo. As a director and producer he understands the need for talent who not only fit the sound they’re seeking, but also a pro who’s fun to work with.
Widely recognized in the advertising and media community for his skills in producing innovative commercials, radio show elements and video content, Burns has written, voiced and created sound designs garnering multiple Puget Sound Broadcasters Association “Soundie” awards. He collaborated directing and producing voice-acting coach Deb Munro, which earned her the first 2014 SOVA Voice-Arts, “Outstanding Commercial Demo-Female Voice” award.
Other honors attributed to Burns’ work include first prize in the 2013 Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) competition for Misty Doty’s, “Best Character Demo” as well as accolades from clients who attribute landing agents and booking jobs off their reels.
The First Step: “Determine if you are demo-ready.”
Quite often the first impulse of anyone new to the business is to have a demo made right away. There are many things wrong with that idea…the first being it can KILL your career before you even get started. Your audience will comprise of creative directors, producers and agents…all professionals who pride themselves on working with others at the top of their game.
Present them with a sample of what you sound like without a proper skill set and THAT is what they’ll remember. It’s very difficult to un-ring that bell.
To assess where your voice and skill set aligns with what’s booking today, Scott will request samples of recent work you’ve performed, or schedule a free 15 minute evaluation session with you via phone or Skype. Three or four practice scripts will be emailed to you prior for familiarization with the copy, but not to over-rehearse.
If it’s revealed your skills are less than sufficient to deliver a believable read then great care will be taken to point you in the direction towards professional coaching, acting and other performing pursuits. You’ll be encouraged to stay in contact while you research the industry, enhance skills and develop a marketing plan.
If it’s revealed your skills are boom-chicka-pow pow, then proceed to…
Step Two: Copy
Incredibly the secret to a great demo has relatively little to do with the voice! It’s the WRITING that keeps the listener engaged and not wanting to click the “next” button. Scott partners with David Scully, an award winning copywriter and actor to create original commercial, narration and character scripts custom designed for your style and brand. Scully’s fees are additional on top of the cost of the demo and negotiated directly with him. His contact information will be made available should you decide to employ his services.
Other options for obtaining scripts exist of course and their effectiveness can be debated during an initial consultation.
Step: Three: Direction
After your scripts are completed a table read is scheduled to get a feel for how each piece could be approached. It’s a loose rehearsal with nothing set in stone, just an opportunity to take notes prior to scheduling the actual recording session.
During the session Scott will don his miners cap and excavate your vocal gold, bringing to the surface nuggets of nuance you may never even knew existed.
Step Four: Recording
Your performances will be captured in a professional recording studio, utilizing multiple high-end microphones to help differentiate each commercial, narration or character element. Wearing loose fitting clothing is advised to aid in comfort for gesturing while standing. Starched clothing is a definite no-no as sensitive microphones can pick up every movement. Sessions on average last around 90 minutes.
Step Five: Post Production
Once every nuanced conversational, “non-announcery” read or animated video game battle chatter is captured in it’s pristine digital wav form, the editing process begins. Mouth noises, clicks and assorted other displeasures are removed and “best-of” takes are assembled.
The sound design of each individual element comes next, with special care taken to assure effects and music are incorporated to connect with the tone of the piece and not overwhelm it. Scott utilizes only contemporary pre-cleared licensed music from over 2,7000 global digital libraries to assure your demo is current with todays industry standards.
Individual mixes are then assembled and edited into an ear-gasmic montage of your best YOU.
Step Six: What’s Next?
Your demo will be presented for review by you, your agent and/or other trusted industry professional who is in the know of what constitutes a professional demo. (In other words, not your favorite aunt who just thinks you’re the BEST! While you may BE, the judgment call for what’s going to effectively represent your marketability should be determined by those in the know. If that happens to be your aunt, well…you’re ahead of the game!)
Adjustment to order of spots, production elements used, etc…can be discussed and applied if necessary.
Please note you’ll have seven days to acknowledge and approve any changes in which the demo will be considered complete. After those seven day’s you’ll be submitted an invoice for final payment regardless of whether you have responded or not.
Throughout the demo production process you’ll receive updates as to when near completion is due. Additionally you’ll receive all the produced work-parts that went into the production of your demo (wav and mp3). This is for ease of repurposing your reel should you wish to update it with work you’ve booked or changing the order of things for a refresh.
Step Seven: Marketing
You will be invoiced for the remaining balance due when your demo is sent to you for review. At that time you’ll be given seven days to respond to any changes…if none are provided then the demo will be considered complete.
Once final payment has been received and revisions have been made Scott will email you the PDF copy of his book, “Voiceover Basics for Bookings.” This manual contains helpful information regarding marketing, agents, pay-to-play sites, home studios, gear and so much more!
Scott Burns demo genre expertise includes Commercial, Narration, Character, Animation for Video Games and Audiobooks.
Here are just a few samples of demos produced for both seasoned and others relatively new to voiceover. Clients receive full :90 and :60 second version of their demo as well as slated/no-slate options.
Client Demo Samples
For Commercial, Narration, Character (Animation/Games) $1500.00 each
All demos require an initial half payment fee prior to recording with the remaining balance to be provided upon completion of the project.
Visuals make the Brand! Whether you’re an on-camera talent, business professional or corporation looking to creatively kick your marketing message to the top of their brains…allow Scott Burns to cross your fades and due diligence to the dissolves.
Scott’s specialty is humor, delighting in providing parody pieces for company meetings and holiday videos. He’s also able to apply his sense of timing and storytelling for more austere approaches.
His first commissioned work in the genre was to create a promotional reel for “Boston” Rob Mariano, from the hit CBS show, Survivor.
Seattle’s Q13 Fox News anchor and features reporter Kaci Aitchison’s enlisted Burns to produce a highlight reel showcasing her improvisation and interview skills.
Scott also crafted an acting reel for Dennis Bateman, featuring his guest-starring role on TNT’s “Leverage.”
Editing rates for Actor Reels.
An effective actor demo should showcase your “type” and give agents, producers and directors a clear representation of your cast-ability. The goal is to put your best work at the beginning, and aim for a 2 to 5 minute compilation of scenes focused on you.
$175 for three clips.
$35.00 for each additional clip.
$25.00 – Upload to Vimeo, YouTube, Actor Websites.
Editing Includes upload of existing footage from DVD, hard drive and Internet links, titles, your headshot if desired and formatted to HD or SD video files.
VOICEOVER WORKSHOPS AND CLASSES
Voice actors may face struggles in their endeavor to establish their careers. Some are just beginning to traverse the industry terrain. Others face challenges breaking free of old habits and staying fresh. Many just need a hug…
Scott offers individual sessions structured to accommodate your particular desires. Enhanced auditioning, performance techniques and marketing tips top the list of services provided.
Schedules are determined on availability and conducted via Skype, Phone or by special appointment in-studio if you reside in the Seattle area. Sessions are recorded with instructor’s comments for private review and delivered in mp3 format to your email via a file transfer service.
Payment due prior to session.
Skype User Name: scott.burnsonskype
Payable by PayPal. User Name: firstname.lastname@example.org
or by check. (Payable to Scott Burns)
PO Box 60201
Seattle, WA 98160
Rate for a single hour: $125.00
$125.00 payment due prior to session. If, for any reason (illness included) you need to change or cancel an appointment time that has been confirmed, notice must be given via phone, text or email 12 business hours prior to that next appointment.
In circumstances where 12 business hours notice is not given, the client will incur a 50% cancellation charge of the cost of that missed session.