What to put in a Voice Reel?

Voice acting is a competitive yet rewarding market! If your voice acting skills are desirable and you are ready to pursue an ever-changing and creative career, you need a voice reel that wins hearts and minds.

Let’s take a closer look at how a reel should be structured and what to leave out so that you know exactly what works.

What is a Voice Reel?

Models use headshots. Actors create showreels. Talent working as voice actors or narrators needs voice or demo reels. Note: voice and demo reels are just synonyms for the same thing. 

A voice reel is a short audio clip demonstrating a series of related voice acting or narration performances. The main purpose is to show off a performer’s best vocal abilities and range to casting agents. A voice reel is typically made in one of four primary styles, including commercial, characters, narration and business. Each reel style will include a series of scripts allowing the artist to flex their vocal muscles. Usually, a voice reel is recorded in an acoustically treated environment using professional apps such as Adobe Audition and ProTools, which then save and output the file digitally as an MP3, M4A, or WAV. Then the voice track is mixed with music and sound effects to create a finished demo.

Most professional voice actors have various samples and reels to ensure they are considered for various roles. 

How Should a Voice Reel Be Structured?

A quality voice reel should be between 90 and 120 seconds long, ideally. That timeline is broken up into ‘spots’, and whilst there is no strict rule regarding the duration each spot should run for, it’s vital to give each read enough time to breathe. The listener should always have the time to comprehend and enjoy the performance thoroughly.

Keep Your Listener’s Attention

With any voice reel or sample, it’s best to assume two things:

  1. the casting agent has a short attention span, and
  2. they also have limited time to devote to listening to reels.

Because the market for voice-over is so competitive, you’ll want to ensure yours presents your talent right off the bat.

Whilst not a fixed rule, we recommend leaving a few seconds pause or transition between each spot so that the listener has time to register what each spot presents about your skills. This also means they can more easily communicate with others about your reel, e.g. “I really liked spot four starting at 47 seconds!“.

Know your Listener

If you’re hoping to land a specific job, such as voice acting in animations, be sure to include relevant spots in your reel! Including the right content is essential. For example, a character reel is a perfect place for more exaggerated performances.

Another crucial part of knowing your listener is sending them appropriate demos. For example, only include your narration spots if the job description is for an audiobook. They won’t care about the other material you include; this keeps the client focused on the skills they want to hire. Irrelevant clips or mixed reels disappoint customers because they don’t match their expectations. 

What Kinds of Styles Can Your Voice Reel Show Off?

Voice-over demo reel services are needed for all voice acting and voice-over roles. You should have voice reels and individual samples for the four main reel types:

  1. Business
  2. Characters
  3. Commercial
  4. Narration

Let’s look deeper into each of these styles to learn how they might fit into your portfolio.

Business

All kinds of businesses need voice-over services across their departments, whether it is the range of business-related content for internal eLearning systems or training videos for new hires. Telephone messages for IVR systems or announcements for events, or authoritative voices for B2B promos and corporate videos. Business demos should focus on clarity and professionalism. Subtle music is often best. It could even be worth dividing business reels into sub-categories like explainers, IVR or presentations.

Business voice reels that master a balance of passion and energy with a rich eloquence are sought-after industry-wide.

Characters

Predominantly character reels focus on scripts from roles in animations or video games. However, they may also include audiobooks, dramas, or TV series clips. A well-crafted character reel is an influential and memorable way to make your mark in the entertainment industry. However, it is one of the most competitive genres, and to stand out, you’ll need to up the ante and get the best reel you can afford.

Consider including several different audio spots covering a wide range of emotions, tones and demographics. If you can play everything from a young boy with a regional accent to an aged and educated grandfather or a cackling evil scientist to a smouldering hero – prove it in your reel! Our producers will help you if you’re unsure of your strengths.

Character reels and demos demonstrate nuanced and emotional performances, and the over-the-top, fun performances are ideal for demonstrating versatility. However, it may be worth splitting your character reels into specific mediums, such as video games or animations, or even so, you can market them to the right buyers even more efficiently. 

Commercial

There are all kinds of commercials, from automotive or beverages to dental care or holidays. The advertising industry is always searching for fresh talent and unique voices. After all, brands want to be personable and recognisable. Voice-over offers a proven way to give promos a sense of humanity and increase engagement.

Putting together a varied and exciting collection of reads is essential, starting with picking out the best voice reel scripts. Our audio producers can help give you the right balance of spots, from inspiring TV advertisements to sobering social promos.

Narration

Everyone loves stories; nothing is more enjoyable than listening to a masterful storyteller. Narration reels are highly sought-after by casting agents as they shine a light on the distinct qualities of your natural delivery style. A quality narration reel is essential for getting work in audiobooks, documentaries, and films.

Narration reels should focus on your natural voice-over, taking listeners from factual news or documentary to evocative fantasy. The narration reel can be the longest of all four primary reel styles. It isn’t uncommon to have 3-5 minute narration reels with scripts lasting 45-60 seconds. 

What You Should Keep Out of Your Voice Reel

Just as important as structure and talent, make sure you don’t have anything in your voice reel that could get you in trouble with copyright laws or that could cause busy clients to move on to the next applicant.

Don’t Include Long Audio Clips

Remember, time is money, especially in the competitive voice acting industry! Clients will not only value a potential hire who respects their time but one who can evaluate your skill based on small samples. The only exception to this is for narration reels. It isn’t uncommon to hear complete chapters in some audiobook demos, for example (choosing the right chapter is still vital).

Don’t Include Copyrighted Material

Copyright infringement laws are strict and can lead to serious consequences. Although the lines between impressions and infringement can sometimes be blurred, it is best to stay on the safe side.

Don’t include fictional places, names, or any other reference of intellectual property in the audio clips your voice reel uses. Trust your own talent to be interesting enough to your client without having to drop the names of your favourite superheroes!

Rest assured, all Voicereels scripts are copyright free.

Don’t Mix Genres

Keep your voice reel to the point. If you’re trying to get a job narrating a science fiction audiobook, don’t include your non-fiction biography samples. For this reason, many professional audiobook narrators break their reels down by genre so they can provide two or more submissions when they audition for new work. 

Don’t Include The Voice Talent of Others

It may be tempting to showcase your ability by acting or riffing off another person’s talent, especially if you’re lobbying for a top character role. However, you don’t want to risk losing your client’s attention in your voice reel. Keep them focused on your voice and talent, and let your abilities and hard work speak for themselves!

Summary

A voice reel is your audio resume. Make sure it gets the point across – fast! Although, it can be challenging to decide what to put in your voice reel without expert assistance. Guessing what will be perfect for your reel is always tricky, but when you work with experts in casting (like the Voicereels team), you are guaranteed superior results. Connect with Voicereels.com now to craft the ideal demo reel to land the exact kind of work you are looking for. You only make a first impression once.

 

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Al Black

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