FYI, this post is referring to doing a session from your own home studio via phone patch with a director at another location.
There are a lot of moments, particularly in the beginning of your voiceover career that will legitimately freak you out. Why? Simply because it’s new and you’ve never done certain things before. Let’s face it, voice over is generally a very independent endeavor. There aren’t other colleagues around to ask, especially if you are just starting out. Getting through your first live directed session, whether it be through a phone patch or otherwise is likely going to be one of those freak-you-out moments. There will be many questions that pop up in your mind when preparing to do a live session and you might just feel like avoiding it all together would be a much better option. But, don’t let your nerves get the best of you! If you are at a point where you’ve done the voice over training, set up a solid studio configuration with some decent equipment that you’re confident in using, then chances are you are more ready than you think! The only thing left is getting over the FEAR of actually doing a live session! How is the best way? By actually DOING IT!! Pretty obvious.
At the start of my VO career, when I was auditioning and trying to land jobs, I would avoid the auditions that required a phone patch or other scenarios where the director wanted to direct the session live. In the beginning, that is okay. You need to do enough auditions to be comfortable and efficient with the process as well as mastering your editing skills and equipment. Once you have done those things, think about seeking out an opportunity where you can go live with a director. Trust me when I tell you that the worst part of a live session is merely the anticipation of it. It’s actually fun and you will feel much more confident in your voiceover capability once you do it for the first time.
One of the most valuable tidbits of information you should know, is that you shouldn’t call the director from your cell phone to their cell phone, even if they make this request, that is not what they mean. It seems obvious to those who have been in the business for a while, but I’m speaking to beginners right now. If a Director wants you to call them on their phone, fine. You call them via your Skype to their phone. The reason is, it’s very possible to have a weak phone connection between two phone lines and that can be a nightmare if you are taking direction. Even with a good connection, it’s hard to hear. More importantly, you only want YOUR side of the conversation recorded, not both sides of the conversation. If you dial on your end from Skype, to their phone line, only your side of the conversation is recorded through your audio software. Can you imagine trying to edit out the director’s voice instructing and guiding you through the entire session? Not good.
In the name of being a professional, here are some additional tips. Call early. Just a few minutes early will be fine and allow you to get everything situated with the director and start the session on time. Treat their time as the valuable commodity it is. It may seem like an obvious thing but be polite and easy to work with! Be positive, no one wants to work with a pessimistic, entitled diva!
Prior to the beginning of your reads, ask them what bit and band width they prefer then make sure that is what you deliver. What type of file they would like sent and what is their preferred way of receiving it? Will you be sending them a raw file that they will edit on their end or will you be doing the editing? They may volunteer some of these things, but if you take the initiative they will get the message that they are working with a professional. The whole idea is to make the process of working with you as easy as possible, and trust me when I tell you that all the little things you do add up. If you are editing the files, ask them if they want markers in the file. If you are sending a raw file, ask them how they want you to separate takes. During the session, really listen to what they want, ask questions if you need clarification. Be flexible and have a good attitude. Most importantly, have a sense of humor and HAVE FUN with it! Just be pleasant people, it’s not rocket science!
Once the session is over, do not forget to thank them for the opportunity. Keep it short and sweet, they are busy and probably have another meeting after meeting with you. If you follow these simple tips, you should be able to leave a great first impression if your reads are solid. Good luck and don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone! It will only help you grow.