Alright everyone! Sorry for everything being posted so late, but I've got everything set up now!
First thing's first... as is tradition since I took the lead on these competitions, I like to post some general notes that I found to be common recurrences as well as some random thoughts about the contest.
- Many entries had a tendency to under act. I know personally that sometimes you feel pretty self conscious when you're screaming, making weird noises and essentially talking to yourself. But as voice actors, you need to try to let go of your inhibitions. Overact! Go crazy if you half to! Get the shyness out of your system. It's always easier to tone it down then to dial it up. Often times if you feel like you're over acting, you're probably actually hitting the mark.
- SFX and music volume was an issue. Make sure it's not too loud and/or distracting. Sometimes you don't even need it. It's a good tool to add feel to a skit or just to cover some room ambiance, but we need to be able to concentrate on your voice acting. Don't use it as a tool to cover up your voice for any reason. That is what this contest is about after all.
- Diction! This is especially an issue with those of you who don't speak English as a first language. The judges understand that you may or may not be 100% fluent and that you're probably going to have an accent, but that can't be used as an excuse to slur and mumble your lines. As for fluent English speakers, this really shouldn't be an issue. If you have a regional accent, do your best to practice something non-regional. Also, tongue twisters are a great way to practice diction as well as the "pencil" exercise.
- Some skits seemed like everything was done in one or two takes. Take pride in your work and put more effort into our skits. Especially for those of you who are dreaming of becoming a pro someday. I can guarantee you will not make it anywhere without being willing to put in the hours. If you need to do 100 takes to get it right, then do it.
- I noticed during some of the discussion that there are several stage actors who participated. While any kind of acting is invaluable practice and experience, those of you who are used to the stage need to be careful not to act TO an audience. In voice overs, you're acting FOR an audience much like movie and TV actors.
- There is a ton of talent and potential here. However, a lot of these skits didn't show off a broad emotional range of acting and energy. Even if the skit in itself is great, in context of the competition it may not give us a lot to go off of.
- Improv can be difficult to make sound good so be careful. I would suggest to almost everyone to use it sparingly. Too often, it sounds unorganized and confusing. Nervous stuttering kind of goes hand in hand with this. Even if it is scripted, be careful not to overdo it. It's rare that it sounds natural for a character to stumble over their words for a full 5 to 10 seconds.
- Many of you lost some originality points simply because many of the entries were about the same things. Therapists and cleaning shit in some form seemed to be the biggest "Horrible Job".
- Many of you had narration in your skit which is fine. The issue I had was that it often gets drawn out. Most of the time, listeners don't listen just to hear someone TELL the story, they want to actually hear the story itself.
- Almost all of the entries had some issues with dead air and puffs/pops. Invest in pop filters and try to get skilled with noise cancellation. (Warning: Audacity's noise cancellation is hard to make sound good. It tends to distort the audio).
- Those of you who are trying to act with an accent that's not natural to you, sometimes sounded forced. Also, be careful not to make ALL of your voices about using different accents. At least not in a contest (unless it's a contest about accents).
- Whisper yelling is a BIG no-no. This goes back to the point about over acting. It's much more realistic if you actually yell. Don't be shy!
- While SFX and voice filters can be cool an add to your skit, overuse can be confusing and out of place. It's also distracting and it seems like you're trying to divert attention from your dialog for some reason. Unless you're really good with mixing, you should keep it simple in most cases.
- When a character interrupts another character, make sure it sounds natural. If I can hear the cut you made, it sounds scripted. also, try to overlap the dialog (just a little) to make it sound unexpected. If they stop talking right before getting cut off, it's like they knew it was going to happen.
- A few skits didn't really highlight the theme really well. If this is you, then make sure you keep that in mind for the next contest. Since I didn't make it clear how this would affect your scores, each judge took it out of different parts of your score, but either way, points were taken. I am making a note to add this to future contests so it's more clear.
- A few more random thoughts: I was very happy to see that almost everybody in this contest was a new name (at least to me). The fact that almost all of the skits scored in the "good" to "great" range is even more exciting!-- Almost all of the scores were really close and in fact there were three ties that I had to break... two of which were for 1st and 3rd.-- Lastly, as a testament to how hard it was to judge this year, all of the judges scores differed a lot of various entries. This is a good thing and I'm happy that I was able to have three other judges to balance out the opinions.
Final words: Great job to everyone! I'm really happy with the results and everyone deserves praise for their work. I really hope to see you guys next contest and hope you all continue to improve (no one's perfect!) and maybe we'll be able to actually work together on projects in the future! On a different note, after these scores are posted, please do not flame or troll. Respect the judges' opinions as we were all fair and unbiased. No matter what your score, don't stop recording. Practice, network and get support from other VA's! The voice over community is a tight one! Speaking only for myself, please feel free to PM me with any questions, comments or suggestions about the scores and contest. The other judges will let you know if they will be responding to inquiries. Lastly, I am only posting the final scores in the next post. If you would like to see the breakdown and comments from each judge, check your submission for a review left by me. (I'll be doing these after posting the scores).
Now, without further ado...