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Sounding Off About Audition Tapes – Some Simple Rules

Audition tapes need not be perfect, but the basics definitely must be in place. There are some simple rules to follow, including guidelines regarding lighting and sound. No matter what quality your equipment, it’s possible to create good clean lighting that won’t distract from your audition and will give your audition tape a professional look. And of course, having high quality sound is essential.

Think of your lighting plan as a triangle, with three sources of light. One placed to the right and slightly in front of where you will sit. The second will be slightly out front and to the left. The third should be focused somewhere behind you to fill in the area behind you. The next step is the WHITE BALANCE feature. All cameras should have this. The color temperature of lighting is different indoors and outdoors. Indoor lighting tends to be very yellow, or green if the room lighting is fluorescent. Outdoor light is very blue. The white balance feature corrects for this temperature difference and the way it affects the color of the shot. Just take a white sheet of paper, or point the camera at something as pure white as you can find and hit that white balance button. Of course, this setting should be adjusted while the “set” is lit.

Sound is another important aspect of the audition tape, since voice and inflection is such a big part of presenting a character. Some cameras have built-in microphones, which might be okay depending on the quality of the camera. However, the goal is to get the microphone as close to the talent as possible, which is difficult to do with a camera mounted mic. Even better, try to rent or borrow a high quality Lavalier microphone. That way you can be sure that bad sound won’t keep someone from watching your tape past the slate.

AAlberto Bonilla is an acting coach in nyc at the Maggie Flanigan studio in New York City where he teaches audition techniques. For more information visit the studio website.

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