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What Happens at a Voice over Audition?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated Jan 31, 2024
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At a voice over audition, a casting director will listen to voice over artists or actors read the same script to choose the best person for the part in a commercial, animated production, video game or other project. Unlike other acting auditions, no notice is given to an actor's look, style, gestures or facial expressions, but rather it is only about his or her voice talent. Typically, a casting director in a voice over audition will choose the artist or actor who is the most talented and flexible and creates the character the best.

Rather than a head shot photo, a voice over actor will bring a voice demo tape to the audition. If he or she ends up on a short list of talent the casting director likes, the tape will probably be reviewed to hear the artist's range of voices and tones. Originality and distinct voices are important to casting directors. In each voice over audition they hold, they're looking for voices that fit the characters they have in their scripts, but that also stand out. People who have common sounding voices or who lack inflection and changing tones when they speak aren't as likely to do as well as those with originality plus the ability to create characters.

Being able to create characters is important, as it basically means the voice over actor or artist is capable of different voices. This may include different accents as well as more unusual cartoon-like voices, yet originality rather than just weird sounds is essential. A casting director in a voice over audition doesn't want to hear voices that seem stereotypical or have been done before. It's important to be new and different, yet also suitable for brand messaging for commercial products.

In a voice over audition in which actors and artists are given a line or more to say that they haven't seen before, it's likely that there will first be a lot of candidates trying to get a good take on who the speaking character is or should be. Then, there may be a noisy din as the candidates practice the lines out loud while waiting for their turns to audition for the casting director. In a studio voice over audition, each candidate is likely to be tested in a booth with a microphone.

The casting director usually gives the actors or artists some direction and part of the audition test is to see how well people can take directions. Time is money when commercials or other projects are being recorded and filmed, so casting directors look for talented, flexible voice over artists or actors who can learn and work quickly. After creating a short list and perhaps listening to their demo voice tapes, the casting director will usually decide which actors or artists will be hired for a project.

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Discussion Comments
By Cageybird — On Feb 24, 2014

@AnswerMan, I once tried out for a series of books on tape myself. In my case, I had to work with some other actors on a scene from a murder mystery. The producer called each one of us aside and told us something about our character that the others weren't supposed to know. I was asked to be a little slow in the head, for example. The female character was supposed to be the real killer, but she had to pretend to be innocent. We all played the scene in a tiny little room with microphones everywhere.

A friend of mine actually got the part I auditioned for, but he had some training at a voice talent school and they liked how he sounded over the microphone. I did get some work doing local radio and cable TV commercial spots, however.

By AnswerMan — On Feb 23, 2014

When I auditioned for a cartoon series, the producers called all of us into a conference room and gave us a very general idea of what they were looking for. The main character was a talking alligator from Louisiana. Ideally, he would have a pleasant Cajun accent and sound about 30 years old. An assistant passed out scripts, and we all went out to the lobby to practice our accents and learn the lines.

I was called back into a small soundproof booth and the director spoke to me over a set of headphones. He asked me to read through the lines once, and I did my best Cajun accent. He came back and said the accent was good, but I needed to sound happier. I said the lines again, and the director asked if I could sound a little younger. I read the lines one more time in a brighter tone and then he motioned for me to leave the booth. I didn't get the part, but they did keep the audition tapes on file and said I could come back if other parts became available.

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