3 Easy Self-Taping Steps for Child Actors! Do you panic when you receive an audition that calls for a self-taped submission? If so, you have two choices: You can make an appointment with your favorite taping service, or you can tackle it yourself.
Finding a great taping service in your area may take a bit of research. As the popularity of self-taping increases, taping services are popping up around the country, and you may need to try several services before you find a great fit. If you decide to try taping the audition on your own, here are some suggestions on submitting a great tape.
1 – HIGH QUALITY AUDITION – BACKGROUND, LIGHTING, AND SOUND
You don’t want a poor quality audition tape to distract from the acting; therefore, the background, proper lighting, and great sound are imperative. To achieve the best background, find a wall that can be painted or a place to hang a solid colored material behind the actor. Other than the painted wall or backdrop, there should be nothing in the background of the audition. You don’t want artwork, family photos, or home décor to pull the focus away from the performance.
There are many options for studio lighting. You can do an Internet search for two point and three point lighting set up options, and you will discover numerous links, videos, and listings for lighting options at very reasonable prices.
An external microphone is not a complete necessity, but it does increase the overall sound quality. If you choose to forego the external microphone, it’s important that the reader, the person reading the lines with the actor, be very conscious of their volume. The reader’s volume should never overpower the actor’s audition.
Overall Quality Tips
Always use a tripod so that the video is steady.
The type of camera you choice is not as important as the sharpness of the video that it records. Most smart phones shoot in high definition, so as long as everything is in focus, you will likely get a great quality from a smart phone. If you choose to use a smart phone, make sure to shoot the video horizontally and NEVER vertically. *Editors note: The Ganey’s use the Canon EOS Rebel T3i.
2 – FOLLOW DIRECTIONS
Casting directors receive hundreds of tapes and they give specific directions to make their process more efficient. Some casting directors are very specific about where to put the slate, how to frame the audition, etc. Even if you tape for the same casting director frequently, make sure to read your email in its entirety to make sure there are no changes to the way they usually accept audition tapes. For example, they may ask the actor to hold up a sign during the slate. You don’t want your tape rejected without being viewed because of something as simple as the file name, formatting, size, etc.
Framing – Make sure you follow directions for how to frame the video. During the audition, an acceptable, standard framing is from about the shoulders to the top of the head with very little space above the actor’s head. Often, a casting director may ask the camera operator to include a full body shot of the actor during the slate. To achieve this, you will need to zoom out for a full body shot and zoom back in on the actor’s face.
Slate – Typically, the slate will include the actor’s name, height, and role. Minors are usually asked to include their age. Casting directors may also want to see a full body shot of the actor, or they may need to know the actor’s location, availability during the shoot window, or if they are willing to cut their hair. Remember to look in the email for any specific slating directions and to make sure to include them with the audition. Finally, look for directions about how to send the slate. Does the casting director want the slate at the beginning, end, or in a separate file?
3 – SENDING THE FILE
Always refer back to the original email for directions on the specific file type and size. Standard email can send up to 25 megabytes. If your audition tape is larger, you will need to use a service like hightail, we transfer or dropbox. As a general rule of thumb, keep the file under 100 megabytes so the file is easily downloaded by the receiver.
Things to keep in mind: Self taping may eliminate the initial cost of traveling for an audition, but not all costs, since travel is rarely covered for callbacks. Be ready to pay for travel and even lodging if you are invited to a callback or hired as a local hire.
There may be times when you prefer to use a professional taping service. Current prices for a typical 30-minute professional taping session are: $15 – $35 in Atlanta, $25 in Orlando, and $35+ in Los Angeles.