Should You Slate Voice Over Auditions Online?
Have you joined the great slate debate?
Of the top 5 debates within the voice acting industry, whether or not actors should have headshots ranks as the fiercest… but that being said, the relevancy of slating is a very close contender.
In order to understand why slating has the community so divided, let’s start by discussing what slating is.
Slating: What is it?
Slating is simply saying your name at the beginning of a recorded audio file or audition. Over the years, slating has served the following purposes:
- Establishing whose voice is on the audio file
- Branding for the talent
- Meeting an industry best practice
There are many different ways you can slate from who slates, what they sound like and how the slate is done. Once recorded, the slate is prominently placed at the beginning of the audio file you are using it on. In less common situations, talent may choose to have the slate at the end of the audio file, or a tail slate. The slate is saved as a separate file that can be drawn upon whenever needed.
A couple slating methods include:
- Talent slating their own name
- A fellow talent slating their colleague’s name
Slating on Auditions
When submitting an audition, voice talent generally slate their own names. Some talent may opt to do a friendly, clear, confident slate while others may decide to slate in character if auditioning for a video game, app, cartoon or animated film.
What does it mean to slate your name?
Simply put, it’s reading your name aloud prior to performing the audition copy so that the casting director, or decision maker, knows who they are listening to. A slate can also foreshadow what the listener will hear as well as potentially surprise the listener depending on how the slate is executed.
Fringe Benefits of Slating
One side benefit of slating your name is that people in the press or podcasters will instantly know how to say your name. Having a slate could help to prevent gaffes (mistakes) and embarrassing moments for people trying to contact you, promote you, hire you over the phone or reference you on a program.
As someone who works in public relations, I appreciate hearing slates for names I haven’t encountered before, especially if the pronunciation isn’t typical or if the name is of foreign origin. I’ve had my last name mispronounced, misspelled and confused so many times it isn’t funny, so when I tell you to slate, it’s definitely in your best interest.
People, whether in the media or otherwise, mean well and they want to say your name right the first time.
Slating at Live Auditions
When you are auditioning in person it’s safe to say that you yourself will provide the slating.
The slate can be as brief as stating your name, or, your slate could also include the name of the character you are auditioning for if there are multiple roles on the table.
Slating for Online Auditions
Now, when you are auditioning online using digital audio recording technology, you have a couple of options:
Slating Options for Online Auditions
1. You can slate your own name
2. Enlist a colleague slate your name
Many voice actors who incorporate slating into their promotional and auditioning techniques choose the second option and have one of their VO pals, usually of the opposite gender, record their name in an MP3 file that they then use to introduce their demos and auditions.
In the majority of instances, the slate works in your favor… however, sometimes the talent who slates your name ends up getting the job!
This is why it is wise to work with a voice actor of the opposite sex.
I’ve heard of people opting to have their name slated by a voice actor who has a different accent altogether from their own. For instance, if you are in the US, consider a talent from the UK of the opposite gender to slate your name. Above all, the slate is supposed to prepare the audience and enhance your performance, not take away from it.
Slating for Generic Demos
So far as generic demos for promotional purposes, talent may ask a colleague to slate their name for them. To give an example, a male voice actor might ask a female voice actor with a complementary voice to slate their name. Likewise, a female voice artist may wish to be introduced by a male voice artist. This provides contrast and clarity on the identify of the voice artist the client needs to focus on.
Drilling down a bit deeper, a North American male voice talent might opt to have a British female voice talent slate on their demos. The goal is to get the listener interested in what is coming up next.
What Makes for a Good Slate?
There are a couple schools of thought where slating is concerned, for example, do you slate in character? as yourself? etc.
Voice over expert Pat Fraley has some excellent ideas on this topic. Pat is one to take his own medicine and has an awesome slate preceding his voice over demos.
The Purpose of Slating
Slating, as you can see, serves purposes from the practicality of knowing who you are listening on one end of the spectrum to a branding exercise and slight ego boost on the other. As a general rule, voice talent avoid having someone of the same gender slate on their demo because they risk the client liking the artist who slated better.
Slating originated when auditions were performed remotely, done in a separate recording studio and all the recordings were put onto a cassette tape or burned on a CD and delivered to the casting director or advertising agency who was making the casting decision. Now that the industry has moved online, slating has lost much of its relevance. You’ll learn why in a moment.
As we’ve discussed, a slate lets the director or client know who they are listening to. A slate also serves as branding for the performer. It is still customary in certain environments to introduce yourself and state the role that you are auditioning for.
Do Not Slate for Online Auditions
Depending on how you’re auditioning, slating may be absolutely critical or a non-issue. In some circles, slating is expected whereas in others, a simple slate may actually detract from your performance or lose the ears of your listener. But, if you’re submitting an audition online, then do not slate. Here’s why.
Why Shouldn’t I Slate for Online Auditions
Take auditioning for a voice acting job via an online casting site like Voices, for instance. When you submit an audition, the people who posted the job can see your name and may even be able to click into your profile to learn more about you. They don’t need to hear a slate because:
- It’s redundant (clients can see your name beside the audio player).
- The slate stands in the way of hearing your interpretation right away (time crunched clients don’t want preamble – they just want to hear your read!)
- A slate, if jarring or contrary to the read you’re submitting, might lose you the job. Not everyone will listen longer than need be if they think you aren’t the right fit upon first hearing your voice.
- Not everyone comes from the traditional casting world and slates aren’t expected.
In fact, by slating your name at the beginning of an online audition, you’re wasting precious time. Research shows that clients and casting directors only listen to the first 5 to 10 seconds of an audition if they don’t like what they hear. Why waste time informing the client of who you are the role you’ll be performing. They already know this information because they see all the details in front on them on the web page.
Our official position regarding slating at Voices is NOT to slate.
In rare instances, like if the client requests that you slate, then do it. Otherwise do no slate as it wastes time and delays having your audition being heard – which is ultimately what you want.
Is Slating Still Relevant?
Although some situations still call for slating, recognize that slating for the most part is unnecessary and discouraged when auditioning online for voice over work.
What has your experience been with slating over the years? Do you slate selectively, or have you dropped slating completely?
Looking forward to your reply,