When I first started working full-time for Tam Communications and took on the task of arranging auditions and booking voice over talent for our digital media projects, I worked strictly through talent agencies like Stars and JE Talent. Between the two of them, they provided access to the amazing variety of talent in the San Francisco Bay Area. We’d send a script, they through it out to their clients who recorded a portion of our script and sent us an mp3. These were, for the most part, union talent. Between the talent’s hourly rate and union fees, agency fees, insurance, etc. (all of it well-earned), it was running close to $700 and up.
As we did more local and regional, non-union commercials and as budgets on many corporate projects were slashed, we needed to find a way to trim costs throughout the process without impacting the end product. Enter the Internet. Specifically as it pertains to cutting the cost of the voice over without compromising quality, we found our way to Voice123 and later Voices.com where voiceover talent can upload their demos and companies, like us, can post jobs that we need talent for and they’d can then record their custom demo to, hopefully, get picked.
All I have to do is fill out what I am looking for (age, accent, character, gender, type of read), the budget, the deadline for auditions, and then copy or attach a portion of the script. Within days, if the request is not too obscure, I can have hundreds of auditions (I can also limit the number). Everything is already online, I can listen to each read, rate the submissions, so I know which are my top choices and then download an mp3 file of my favorites to send to the client for their final decision.
Once we have our talent chosen, I can send the lucky voice actor an email and we’re off, scheduling a session and sending final script. Since the chosen talent might be from Toronto, Canada, it would make in-studio directing challenge. Fortunately, most narrators have home studios these days and the quality of the final product is fine. We can be “patched” in over the phone line and can then direct the voice over session. Clients can join us and make sure everything is properly pronounced or be on-hand for potential last minute script changes. Afterwards, the narrator sends us the raw files and we’re ready for the edit suite.
So, not only have we been able to reduce cost with Voice123.com and Voices.com but it has also streamlined our efforts, making it quicker and easier to find talent and record voice tracks. When our schedules are tight, which they are, giving the client the option to walk to a quiet conference room to “sit in” on the narration versus blowing a whole afternoon driving to a studio is just another added bonus. And I guess that makes it the green alternative as well.
We do miss working with so many of the great Bay Area narrators, casting agents, and sound engineers. And when we can, when it makes sense, we’ll look forward to reconnection.