VAM 028 | Top 3 Demo Mistakes to Avoid

VAM 028 | Top 3 Demo Mistakes to Avoid

Welcome to episode 28 of the Voice Acting Mastery podcast with yours truly, Crispin Freeman!

As always, you can listen to the podcast using the player above, or download the mp3 using the link at the bottom of this blog post. The podcast is also available via the iTunes Store online. Just follow this link to view the podcast in iTunes:

In this episode, I want to talk about voice over demos. Demos are one of the most important and at the same time most misunderstood components of a voice acting career. Your demo is important because it represents you as a voice actor. It’s your calling card in the same way that an on camera actor uses a headshot to represent him or herself. However, many people, especially those just starting out voice acting, misunderstand what it takes to make a good demo and end up falling into at least one of the following 3 major demo mistakes. Let me help you avoid those pitfalls.

Here are the Top 3 Demo Mistakes:

  1. Making Your Demo Too Soon
  2. Submitting Unprofessional Demos to Agents
  3. Not Leading with Your Strong Suit in Your Demo

I expand in detail on each of these three subjects in the podcast episode. You may find the information surprising!

I hope you enjoy the episode!

One other thing. I’d like to make this podcast more interactive, and I’d like to hear from you, my listeners. So I’ve decided to give you a chance to get heard on the Voice Acting Mastery Podcast! I’ve created a phone number where you can call in and ask any questions you might have, or leave any thoughts or thank you messages you feel inspired to record for me. Just leave me a voice mail with your first name, what city in the world you’re calling from, and your question or message about the podcast. I’ll do my best to pick the most relevant questions or comments, play them on the podcast and respond to them.

The number where you can call in and ask your question is:

Please don’t forget to include your first name and what city in the world you’re calling from. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Download Voice Acting Mastery Episode #28 Here (MP3)


37 Responses to “VAM 028 | Top 3 Demo Mistakes to Avoid”

  1. Mattias says:

    A great podcast like always, Crispin! =)

    Demos is something I want to hear more about! I’m a pretty active amateur voice actor and have often thought of making a demo reel that I can use for non-profitable projects.

    This phone number sounds like a good idea, but I must ask if it works globally. Can you call in from any country in the world for the same price? And also, what IS the price of a call to this number?

    • Pat says:

      I just called in using Gmail from Australia, and it worked fine. There didn’t appear to be an additional price on top of international fees for using the number.

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      I honestly don’t know how the phone number works globally and I’m not sure how to find out. Sorry about that. It is a google voice number so maybe that might help you in some way find a free way to call it.

  2. Kalyn McCabe says:

    This was incredibly helpful! Thanks so much!

    Though creating a demo too soon is destructive, I believe it serves as a sort of benchmark for how far along you are in your vocal abilities. I keep my previous demos on my computer, and I have to say it is pretty astonishing to see how far I’ve come in my voice acting. And humbling too, seeing how terrible you were when you thought whatever you recorded was the best thing in the world. Ahaha!

    It’s super cool to see we can call a number and ask questions. I have a few I would like to submit. This’ll be fun.

    Again, thanks for the tips. I’ll definitely use them.

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      You are right that creating a demo can serve as a useful benchmark. That’s why I emphasized in the podcast that there’s nothing wrong with making practice demos per se, just don’t submit your demo to an agent until it’s competitive.

      Glad you’re enjoying the podcast!

  3. Eric Rivera says:

    The Final for my Speech for Stage and Screen class was to make an amateur demo CD. While the professor said we could get a job with this, I thought…no. Instead I just kept it and decide it to put it away for later.

    Since my Acting class doesn’t start until August, I’m going to practice my diction and clarity until then.

  4. Caitlin says:

    Really liked the podcast. I tried to explain to my family this exact thing, they want to be supportive and they say ‘well all you have to do is make a demo, right?’ I say no, because there is more to just making a demo when I don’t have enough experience yet. Hopefully I can get them to understand when I explain what you did through your podcast. Besides that, I am not in a location that will grant me access to using a demo on prelay or dubbing, etc.
    Thanks for all the time you put into this podcast! And the phone call setup sounds cool too!

  5. Angelican Marcos says:

    Thank you for another great podcast Mr. Freeman at least i know what to do when I’m making a professional demo to submit when i become a voice actor/actress. But i rather do my inquiries by text I’m sorry Mr. Freeman but i hope this is alright with you? I’m just not used to talking to people i don’t know so much my deepest apologies Mr. Freeman. 🙂 🙁

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the podcast.

      I’m sorry, but I don’t quite understand your request. If you’d like to ask me a question about voice acting, leaving a comment here on the blog is the best way to do it. Texting me via cell phone is not an option. Thanks for your understanding.

      • Angelican Marcos says:

        That’s probably what i mean Mr. Freeman but alright thanks for the help i guess… plus i know i can’t text you by cell phone what i did mean to say was that i can only comment on this website by doing a question on your podcast i just don’t want to question about the podcast by that phone number that you just put here in this website and that’s why i said i was sorry about that. Even though what I’m replying here in this website would be confusioning to you as always but it’s not your fault. 🙂

        • Crispin Freeman says:

          I think I understand now. You certainly do not have to call in to my google voice number in order to ask me a question. Posting a question here on the blog is just fine.

          • Angelican Marcos says:

            Thank you Mr. Freeman to tell you the truth my grammar might be a little bit difficult to understand sometimes but thanks. 🙂

  6. Jon Adams III says:

    I was wondering lets say your going into 3D animation and you\’d like to voice characters and create them is that possible in this field of entertainment business and i find creating new voices very fun but i dont want to do it as a career but more as a hobby can i do that as well or is voice acting too competitive for that

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      I don’t quite understand your question. What do you mean by “your (sic) going into 3D animation”? Does that mean that you’re currently studying to be a 3D animator? If you are doing your own independent animation, you’re free to voice all the characters yourself if you’d like. If you’re working for a 3D animation studio like Pixar, they’re going to hire the voice actors they think are right for the parts. Most of the time that means professional actors, but sometimes animators end up voicing characters (like Heimlich from Bug’s Life).

      You are also welcome to voice act as a hobby. There are plenty of amateur voice acting communities and projects online. But if you’re interested in working on professional level projects, you need to be a committed professional. No agent is interested in representing a voice actor who only voice acts as a “hobby”. Professionals want to work with professionals. There’s too much money and time at stake to play around with hobbyists.

  7. Lydia Gray says:

    Your so cool Crispin! I love all of your podcast episodes! 🙂

  8. Angelican Marcos says:

    Hello Mr. Freeman sorry to bother you again but i want to ask can you a venn diagram on performance capture and voice acting will you? Oh and thanks for these wonderful podcasts they’re coming out great. 🙂

    • Pat says:

      I’d have to imagine performance capture jobs are dwarfed by regular voice work. That stuff’s probably really expensive.

      • Crispin Freeman says:

        It is true, there are far more traditional voice over jobs than there are performance capture jobs. That doesn’t mean that you can’t make a good living doing performance capture, it’s just a smaller niche than voice over in general. Doing trailers is also a smaller niche than voice over in general and Don LaFontaine made quite a bit of money doing those.

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      I don’t understand your question. What would a venn diagram explain about performance capture and voice acting?

      • Angelican Marcos says:

        By telling the differences from the both and then compare them though that might be the most dumbest question i might have ask correct? There’s no way you could tell the difference and compare them. Nevermind… dumb question actually i didn’t even know why i ask that maybe just to know i guess… or do a podcast on performance capture i guess… 🙁

  9. Pat says:

    Optional and largely irrelevant bonus question time!

    How much of your early dubbing work would you say was of an… explicit nature? Is it a low-talent sub-field in the dubbing industry, with people deliberately moving on to do more publicly accessible parts? Is it full of awkward recording sessions and credited pseudonyms? I am sure a worldly scholar such as yourself will understand my curiosity in these regards.

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      I only did two shows that were of an “explicit” nature meaning that they actually had what I would call nudity and heavy sexual themes. One was meant to be taken seriously and the other was a comedy. I did them because I thought they might be fun to work on. On the comedic one, I had a blast. On the more serious one, the director was disagreeable and so I decided not to work with him again. It wasn’t about moving on to do more publicly accessible parts. I had already done many publicly accessible shows before I worked on the explicit shows. It was about seeing what it would be like to work on those kinds of shows. It is possible to do explicit shows that are not trashy. I’d be happy to do an explicit show that I thought was interesting and well made. It just doesn’t seem like there are many of those around. Although many would argue that a show like Hellsing is rather “explicit”.

      • Angelican Marcos says:

        Well the Original Hellsing was more explicit then the Ultimate version especially in the “Bonnie and Clyde” and the “Valentine Brothers” espisode. I wasn’t a true fan of the Original since then because of the episodes. But i am more of a Hellsing Ultimate fan then the Original. In which by the way you did a wonderful voice acting performance on Alucard and if it isn’t because of you i wouldn’t know anything about Vlad Dracula III or Count Dracula and so i thank you for that. I too have a vampire fetish i mean who couldn’t resist not knowing about these creatures i rather not call them monsters considering that some of them low-class unlike the powerful tyrant vampire known as Alucard and i have seen his work and it isn’t to kind. 🙂 🙁

  10. Ezra says:

    I’m glad I listened to this podcast as recommended by Crispin in an earlier post a few weeks ago. My wife needs to listen to this as well, because she keeps saying, ‘create your own demo and it should suffice’! This business requires much more practice, training, and guidance in order to be competitive and in order to produce the demos.

    I will stick with my voice and improv training for now until my voice acting skills become highly proficient.

  11. Alison says:

    Hi there, I just discovered your podcast and it’s very helpful. I just started doing ADR dubbing for an anime and I want to use some of the work for my demo, how would I go about asking for that? Is it faux pas to just email and ask them to send me an mp3 of it?

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      Glad you’re enjoying the podcast Alison.

      I think it’s safe to use short samples of your work from professional ADR gigs in your demo. I certainly did for mine. I didn’t ask permission from the studios I worked with since the clips were short and I didn’t think the studios would mind. Unless the work was for Disney, you’re probably fine using short audio clips for your demo.

      If you don’t have a copy of your work, then I guess you’ll have to contact them to see if you can get a copy. Ideally you should get something higher quality than an mp3, preferably an uncompressed WAV file at 16bith/44.1kHz so you can edit if you need to. But if you can only get an mp3, try to get one as high bit rate as possible, 256kbps or higher. Hope that helps.

  12. Christi Collins (van amburg) says:

    Dear Crispin,
    I am so thrilled to have found your podcast and am in the middle of listening to every episode. I find your teaching professional, informative and thrilling, to be honest.

    I was a well trained and working actor in Los Angeles for nine years until 2005 when I moved to the North West to raise my family. My plan had been to do some voice over work while my children were young, but my first child was quite sick. Happily, he has been fully recovered for a whole year and I am now re-entering the acting world.

    I am wondering if you may have a suggestion as to where to go in Los Angeles to get my voice demo produced. I have a few spots that I did for a non profit and I will have copy, be fully rehearsed. and would like a commercial and a character demo. I am looking for studio time with a good supportive director and quality editing. I would like the demo to be competitive in Los Angeles and help me to become a ‘big fish’ in my local market of Spokane, WA.

    I am so pleased with how the voice over industry has changed dramatically, allowing me the option to be a real player even in my ‘banjo’ town! I have missed acting so much and am pleased to be immersing myself once again.

    Thank you, Thank you for your podcast, you will never know the joy your teaching has brought back to my world!


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