How to Make a Video Tape for a Music Audition
Much like the paper used for a hardcopy resume, a good quality video production of your audition gives the producer/ director/ casting director an overall idea of who you are. How you represent yourself really does show how much you care about not only yourself, but being in their production. Something sloppy may look not only unprofessional but may be mistaken as a lack of interest. You want to make a great first impression and give them the best of what you’ve got–and, at the same time, stay within your budget! You may still do this by following some simple techniques.
Before anything else, choose to audition to a song that you (the one auditioning) is familiar with and matches his/her voice type. Practice before auditioning. If it helps, practice in front of a camera, or if possible, in front of the actual camera that will be used for shooting the audition video.
Production of Audition
Even though, above all else, the casting director(s) is searching for talent, recording a quality video of your audition will aide in your overall appearance and professionalism, and especially help with sound quality. Because this is a music audition and your voice (or instrument) will ultimately be considered above all else, it’s best to use a good external microphone, although some cameras do already feature good quality microphones.
Consider the placement of the microphone. If you’re using a boom microphone (aka shotgun mic), have someone hold it just out of frame, either above or below the talent.
Or, if using a unidirectional cardioid, you may decide on even placing the microphone in the shot and have the talent sing directly into the microphone.
Do a couple of test runs until the levels sound right. If there’s a good bit of raspy-sounding pops, consider using a wind screen or ‘spit screen’ (pantyhose stretched over the microphone does help with eliminating popping sounds and does make the human voice sound smoother.)
Or, in post production, use a sound filter to eliminate the popping (most non-linear editing systems have audio filters). If at all possible, it’s better to fix a problem when shooting.
Choose a background that’s not too distracting. Keep it simple. This is a music audition, therefore it’s the talent being considered, not the production design. Do you really think the casting director will care about the placement and color coordination of furniture in the background? No! Therefore, there’s no reason to spend money on a set! Use what you already have. However…
The lighting does need be considered. For instance, if the talent is seated in front of a bright sunlit window, use lights so that the talent won’t look like a shadow. If you have the time and resources, use gels to set the color temperature with the daylight outside (or, color correct in post production). To see basics about lighting, read here.
Post Production of Audition
Once you’ve shot everything, you’ll need to digitize the footage by capturing it into your non-linear editing system. You won’t necessarily need to edit, unless you want to use different shots from various takes and cut them into one seamless shot. However, you’re going to wind up giving yourself more work than necessary and will then have to deal with syncing audio. You’ll need to include a title slate with the auditioner’s name, song, email, phone, etc. of the audition at the beginning and end. Again, this doesn’t need to fancy; keep it simple and easy to read. In addition, you may want to include a lower-third matte with titles somewhere in the middle of the audition. Add a fade in/ fade out transition to the beginning and to the end of the audition. You’re done! Compress the video in the best quality possible. (Since this is assumingly a one-song audition you should have lots of space on the DVD and therefore will be able to use the best possible quality.)
You’re finished…well almost!
DVD Mastering & Packaging
DVD creation is simple and most non-linear editing system suites have an application especially used for mastering DVDs (e.g. Final Cut Pro and DVD Studio Pro). If you create a menu, the DVD menu should have an easy-to-read title and if you want, import a picture of some sort to serve as a background: an instrument, microphone, close-up of a stereo speaker, Photoshoped image, etc. The title(s) need to be easy to read and contrast with the background image. (e.g. if it’s a dark background, choose a lighter colored text.) Choose or create a button that will highlight as the user navigates/ clicks ‘play’. Be sure the button links to the audition clip! Also, be sure to set the menu button option on the actual video so it will automatically navigate back to the menu once the video is over. Test the DVD in simulation mode before burning.
The actual DVD should look clean and professional. Again, just as the video quality, this is no different than the choice of resume paper, even though above else it will be the actual talent recorded that will ultimately be considered.
Label the DVD. If you have a DVD labeling software program, this will help you out tremendously. Keep it simple though! This is an audition, so there’s no point in making a colorful and fancy label that will cost you tons of ink. Besides, if you need multiple copies, you’ll soon realize how fast ink disappears and may simply stick to the basic black title(s). If you choose to use a label, use a basic and easy-to-read font, such as Ariel, and label the DVD with: the name (of the person auditioning), and the production he/she is auditioning for. You may want to include contact information and the date as well.
However, if the producer requires specific guidelines on labeling audition reels, follow their directions.
Use a simple DVD sleeve or plastic disk holder.
If you’re mailing the audition use a type of protective bubble wrap or box for shipping. Have it stamped with “FRAGILE” on both sides.