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Backstage Experts

Why Slating Is The Right Thing To Do in Voiceover

Why Slating Is The Right Thing To Do in Voiceover
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There is no consensus as to whether you should or shouldn’t slate unless told specifically not to. However, in the ever-growing market of voiceover artists and voice hirers, being heard and standing out is ever-more important, and slating is just one of the things that will help you.

What is slating?
Voiceover slating is where you put an identity to who you are at the start of your demo reel, or your custom audition. Typically, the format is “First name, last name - demo type.” For me, it would be, “Hugh Edwards - Narrative Reel.”

Why should you slate?
There are three reasons you should slate, each one vitally important:

  1. Voiceover slating tells the casting director who you are. Voiceovers who do get their name lodged in my subconscious over time. I also get a feeling for who is working a lot and who isn't.
  2. Voiceover slating tells the casting director what the demo is intended for. If you send me a reel that tells me it’s a caricature reel but it should have been a straight-read, at least I know you weren’t over-acting.
  3. Voiceover slating provides immediate range. Probably the most important. You’re immediately showing two different performances: your natural voice and your second read.

But there's another question we need to ask ourselves, that's just as important: what's the purpose of a demo reel/audition? Most people would think that the purpose of a custom audition or a demo reel is to get you hired for a job. Although that makes sense, it’s not true!

The purpose of a demo reel/custom audition is to get the hirer to listen all the way to the end and then shortlist you. Once you have that truth in your head, your approach to the creation of your reel and your custom auditions changes.

So why do some people say no to voiceover slating?
There are a few reasons. In my opinion they’re misguided but for the sake of clarity, I feel I should put their point of view forward fairly:

  1. The P2P site conundrum: One or two of the main P2P sites don’t like you to slate on their auditions because they don’t want hirers to bypass their site/system and contact the voice artist directly. These are rules which are employed by the sites and must be obeyed if you want to work on their auditions. Unfortunately, this is a bit of a sycophantic approach, done not for the voice artist but to protect their business model. Even more unfortunately, this has propagated throughout the voiceover world as the way it should be done via the wonderful model of misinformation that exists in our industry.
  2. The casting director’s time conundrum: Casting directors want to be able to line up all the audition clips in a folder and click through them one-by-one.
  3. The non-casting director: These people are following the P2P site conundrum rules above, and are essentially being guided by the information given to them.

READ: 3 Things All Voiceover Actors Should Be Wary Of

Is this a geographical thing?
I recently attended the VO Atlanta conference in Atlanta, Georgia (an excellent trip if you can make it). During the conference, I was one of four members of a director's panel where I was the only Brit—the other three were Americans. When asked about slating, we all gave different answers which makes me think it’s more a personal preference than a geographical thing.

So who’s right? Do we slate or not? 
Slating is there for you, the voice actor, and for your benefit, not the casting director's. Once you get that through your head and remember the three benefits of slating I talked about above, it's easy to work out what to do.

You slate because human nature dictates that it’s in your interests to—your name lodges in their head, your range is increased, and they know what your intention was for this demo reel. There is one exception to this rule, which is to never slate if you’re asked not to. 

Casting directors are all individuals and have their own processes and methods; if you're asked not to slate, don't slate. There's no reason to annoy them if they have specifically asked you not to. The same goes for P2P sites—if the individual site you are working on tells you not to slate, don't do it.

Hugh Edwards is an active Voice Director and Casting Director with over 190 game, film, tv and cinema titles to his name, including Harry Potter for Kinect, Iron Man 2, Captain America, Beijing Olympic Games and many more. He is the CEO of Gravy For The Brain who specialize in Voiceover Education, Events and Mentoring

Hugh has won numerous awards for his work including Best Audio at the RDC, Best Post Production House at the TMT Awards and nominated for no less than 7 Best Audio Outsourcer awards at the Develop Awards. Follow Hugh on Twitter or Facebook

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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