1. Having a demo will only serve you well if you are ready as an actor. First impressions matter, so a bad demo can make a lasting bad impression and end up setting you back professionally. Never make a demo reel until you're ready. If you are not a strong actor, DO NOT make a demo yet. If you send out a bad demo, you could ruin your chances of ever working in the voice-over industry. Please do yourself a favor and WAIT until you are ready. If you are being coached by an industry professional, they will tell you when you are ready. If you are VERY new to this industry, it's okay to piece together examples of your work so that you can market yourself to indie clients, but DO NOT label it as your demo reel, and DO NOT send it out to any major companies or major directors/casting departments. It is better to have NO demo than to have a BAD demo. First impressions matter.
2. A demo reel should only be a minute long. If your demo exceeds 1 minute in length, there is the possibility of it being thrown out and not considered. It is possible to go 15 seconds over, but I recommend that you not risk it.
3. Before you get started, you should know that there are many different types of demo reels. Animation demo, commercial demo, promo demo, interactive (video game) demo, etc... (Never mix different demo types together. They need to be kept separate)
4. Start the demo with your natural voice, and THEN show off your vocal range throughout the reel. Directors will typically only listen to the first 15 seconds of the demo, so make sure it starts strong!!
5. For animation demo reels, don't add any voice impressions. Directors want to hear YOU and your acting ability above all else. They don't want to hear your impression of popular characters or celebrities. They already have someone for that job. Show the directors what makes you unique!
6. It is STRONGLY advised that your demo be professionally done!! DO NOT do it yourself if you are not a professional audio engineer and don't settle for just any cheap studio. Many professional directors end up tossing the demo if they can tell it is not professionally made. In the words of Tony Oliver "If they can't invest the money to make a professional demo reel, I toss the demo and do not even consider it." Director's can tell when a demo is not made by a professional. They can't take you seriously if you don't take YOURSELF seriously. You can't afford to "half-ass" it. You need a great quality demo or it could very well end up being your downfall. Please do not make the mistake of sending out a poorly produced demo reel. You don't want to risk getting blacklisted from studios... In addition to this, make sure that your demo producer knows how to make voice-over demos. They may be a professional engineer, but that doesn't mean they know how to make voice-over demos. Ask them what their experience is with making voice acting demos. Ask them for their voice actor client list. Listen to their demos and check out their work beforehand to make sure they know what they're doing!
7. Scripts are very important, so I recommend asking if the demo producer you have chosen has a team that can write the material for you, or hire a professional demo script writer. Your demo needs to be unique! Each character voice or commercial within your reel should have their own lines, music, and sound effects (if necessary).
8. Having music in your reel is a great way to separate one voice from another, but it's completely optional and not always necessary.
9. If you are seeking representation with a talent agency, then having a commercial demo is ideal.
10. Trends within the voice-over industry are constantly changing. Slates use to be required, but now they're a dead trend. If you want a professional demo reel, make sure you get yours produced by someone who knows the current industry. Do your own research before choosing a demo producer (don't just take the producer's word for it). They may call themself a "legend", but are they really?? Make sure you ask other working professionals before making a decision. You don't want to risk having an outdated demo. And keep in mind, one producer does not fit all. One person may excel in producing animation demos, but lacks when it comes to commercial demos. They may not know the commercial market enough to make a commercial demo in addition to animation demos. Not every producer is a "one-stop-shop", so be careful who you're spending your money on.
11. DO NOT ADD VOICE CHANGING EFFECTS. DO NOT ARTIFICIALLY ALTER THE PITCH OF YOUR VOICE... (Example: Robot effects, Monster vocal effects, warping, radio effect, etc...)
12. Only feature voices that you can sustain and easily replicate. DO NOT PERFORM ACCENTS / DIALECTS IN YOUR DEMO THAT YOU CANNOT ACCURATELY SUSTAIN OR PERFORM PROFICIENTLY. It is better to train with a professional dialect coach and get to the point where you can perform the dialect well enough to rival someone with that natural dialect.
13. If a VO class you are taking comes with a free demo at the end of the course, that is a major red flag. Those types of classes / workshops are typically scams. Don't waste your money on a class that offers a demo by the end of their course. Everyone's journey is different, and nobody is all going to be ready at the same pace. You won't be ready for a demo after just a few classes.
14. Avoid redundancy. Each segment should contrast significantly with the one before and after. There must be an abrupt tone shift with every segment. For character demos, we need to hear variety in vocal abilities, character archetypes, emotions, and intensity. Your character voices should vary in age, energy, and attitude. Show us your versatility.
video game & commercial demos
promo & narration
Location: Dallas, TX
!!! PLEASE READ !!!
If you see that a studio / demo producer you know of isn't on this list, it could be that I do not know of their services, I forgot to add them to this list, or there's a very good reason I have not added them... Either way, please feel free to contact me and ask for advice before you commit to a demo producer.
For more voice acting information, click HERE