Image: Artist James Daniel Wilson in studio.
The voice reel: a tool which every voice over artist needs, but not all keep in check. Just why is it so integral to the business? And how does a voice artist go about ensuring it’s the best way they can sell themselves?
It’s a strangely complicated item in the voice artist’s toolbox, but we’re here to shed some light on just how to hit the mark with your voice over reel, so that clients will keep coming back for more.
Why Is A Voice Reel So Important?
Sell, sell, sell! That’s the nature of the voice over business. Before a client books you to promote or explain their product, they’re going to need an example of just what you can do. This allows them the assurance that your voice fits their image. Similarly, an agent requires your voice reel to hear the unique qualities and tones in your voice. If they’ll be representing you, they’ll need to know they can sell you to their client-base or to make sure they don’t have too many similarly sounding voices in their books. Every voice is unique and they’ll want to hear the spark that they can promote.
But… What Exactly Sells?
Trends change over time, and with that so should your voice reel. In an ideal world you could make one reel and be done with it, but unfortunately technology and fads do change. In one year, out the next. Not only that but as with everything else in the human body, over time your voice changes. What was once a youthful chirpy tone in your early 20s may become a voice with rich gravitas in your late forties, and it’s important to ensure your demo reflects those new sounds.
Trends, fads, and keeping track of your unique sound can be difficult but it’s also necessary research when you’re a voice actor. We recommend keeping your ears open when listening to the radio, TV or any other location a voice over may pop up, to keep track of the industry around you. Not only that but play back your own recordings. Not only will this enable you to grow as a performer, but it will also help you hear the transformation in your voice over time.
What's the Right Length For a Voice Reel?
It’s important to get the length of your voice reel right, otherwise it won’t have the effect you’re after. Too little and there’s not enough for the agent to go by. Generally it’s recommended to have reels around 60-90 seconds long, whether that is the standard mix of content or a straight reel.
The sequencing is of utmost importance. Agents may not have the time to listen to an entire reel, so put your best foot forward! Pick the piece that showcases your voice the best. Current trend recommends you open your supermix reel with a commercial before delving into any animation, games, narrative or corporate pieces. It’s what grabs the audience’s attention first.
Choose Your Studio Wisely
When it comes to voice reel studio packages, there are many options out there. Much like the voice over industry, what you pay for is what you get. While it may not be cheap, you should consider your demo as important as your headshot.
That being said, there are a few studios in London which do fantastic deals, where you won’t have to compromise the quality, but can get a good bang for your buck.
What Studios Can Provide
We asked Honey@factory just what goes into their process of recording a reel for an artist, and here’s what they had to say:
As casting directors, we have an idea of trends in the industry and thus what needs to be included on a voice reel. We offer a thorough process of consultation, research and personal development before choosing which styles of reads we should include on a reel and the type of package that is most suitable. Depending on the package we agree on, we personalise and tailor each script to you and what we are trying to achieve. We have an in-house copywriter who also writes scripts that are suitable to the needs of the reel. As producers, we take the final creative process very seriously and use sound design and music based on the creative of the script.
We couldn’t agree more. Your reel is what will sell you in the industry – what you can showcase which no other voice can. It’s crucial to know what your strengths are! Working with professionals on your voice reel allows you to create a tailored and distinctive piece, unique to you, and gives you an important industry perspective while you do it.
Keep all these factors in mind while producing your next voice reel and you’ll be on the path to knocking the cans off your future client.