The Ultimate Audition Fantasy

by | Aug 7, 2013 | Ruminations, Technology, Web/Tech | 8 comments

internet-aWhat you’re about to read is every voice-actor’s dream.

Join me, won’t you?…for a digital vision.

I’m absolutely positively convinced my dream is virtually possible — the technology exists —  I’m jut not smart enough to design it, nor rich enough to fund it.

Naming…Explaining

It would be a ‘bot, or a cookie, a marker, or a digital “tag”…so for the purposes of this dream, I’ll call it a “tracer”. (throughout this fantasy, you’ll see how there are already analogies or real-world examples currently being used — I’ll put those comparisons in dark blue letters)

The tracer would be coded software commercially available to everybody for free, or a small fee…kinda like installing a flash player or the java functionality.  It would be ubiquitous and so common that we’d wonder what life was like without it.  In that sense it would resemble the internet.

Any voice talent would add this digital tracer to their audition.  The tracer would be written into the code of the audiofile so that it’s inseparable from it (sort of like a watermark in that sense).  So, you send the audio file with the tracer to your agent or the client or the P2P, and along the way it “reports back” to the originator… that’s you, the talent; the person who attached the tracer.  This is no different that the detailed report you get back from the internet about an email that was undeliverable.robot

All this would be seamless, unobtrusive (unseen and uncomplicating) to each person who handles it along the way.  By “handling”, I mean any person or computer that receives it, stores it, plays it, deletes it, copies it, forwards it, or otherwise manipulates it.  In that sense, it’s much like tracking a Fed-Ex package across the miles.

The tracer continually returns messages to you in a report interpreted by a simple software reader read on your computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet.  The report would tell you where the file got routed, how it was handled, when it was played, dates, times, IP addresses, even names if possible (see “troubles” below).  ‘Not all that different than the sort of functionality you get when you subscribe to VoiceZam.

The Upside

Imagine the uses!  Not only would it build your database of prospects, but it would give you at least a guess as to how far your audition made it to the final cut.

Let’s face it..  ANY feedback on the creative bit of digital sound we send out many times a day in our auditions would be a QUANTUM LEAP improvement in the absolute dearth of info we receive once the audition is sent.

No wonder the voice-actor’s mantra has been:  “Just send it and forget it”.  Of course it is!

We have no control over the fruits of our labors.  We can’t even claim we own it.  We’re just expected to gladly give it up to the universe, and blithely go on our way to the next audition we’ll never see.

Been there….Done that

cookiesSuch tracking concepts are disappointingly mundane…even cliché.  It’s already being done! That’s why it’s so easy to find real-world examples.  If advertisers, content providers, and Wal-Mart can do it…why can’t we?…we provide content!

Cookies have been used by marketers through your browser device to determine where you travel on the internet, and what your patterns are.  Ads are being customized for your internet travels according to those patterns, suggestions are being made for your searches, and even relationships are being designed for you using digital designs much like I’ve described above in my “digital dream for VO’s”.  There’s even software that can track your eye movements on the website, and create a report for the person who owns or designs the site.

The Downside

This VO dream quickly becomes a cultural, workplace, and even an ethical conundrum.

Designing such a tracer would immediately lead to counter-measures by clients, producers, agents and engineers.  Enterprising software authors would create and sell the antidote to digital tagging.  Then the counter-counter measure would be devised, and much could get lost in the battle.

Let’s step back even further in the argument, and ask if uppity voice talent even have the RIGHT to demand such functionality over their creative endeavours!  Why, that would infringe on the rights of those seeking voices for their projects, and maybe prompt the current paradigm to collapse entirely!  Anti-tracer legislation would reach a polarized House of Representatives, and result in a case coming before the Supreme Court.

—–OR—–

It just might…for the first time… give us all a bit of a bargaining chip to negotiate with voice-seekers.  A chip that ends up improving the whole feedback system, and the quality of the work AND the pay-scales.

OK, any braniac software coder wanna tackle this?  How ’bout it Warren Buffet?…got a couple of extra dollars in the kitty to offer as venture capital?

Am I conjuring up a dream?  Did you read the first line of this blog?

CourVO

Comments

comments

CourVO Newsletter



8 Comments

  1. Bob Merkel

    Hey Dave – that’s a great dream, but most of it is about to become a reality!

    Meet VoiceZam’s latest add-on, Zamfusion—a fully branded, voiceover-centric, file delivery system; already offering many of the features you’ve asked for.

    Here’s a mock-up sample of what the recipient receives: http://bit.ly/16upFCA

    Zamfusion is project-based, and utilizes a single-versioning methodology in the cloud. That means no more messy .MP3 versioning hassles and no more FTP/email search and delivery SNAFUS. The talent just updates it on their side in VoiceZam, and the client immediately sees (hears) the new changes on their side.

    Add any type of file to the project: MP3s, PDFs, JPGs, etc. for the audition—including your latest demo(s).

    And you can even use it as a stand-alone finals delivery system (.WAV, .AIF), or just add the finals to the project later when you get the booking; giving the producer a unitized set of all the project files.

    Plus, all playback hits & downloads are tracked and clearly reported back to the talent (by project) in VoiceZam’s robust Zamtistics reporting package.

    And more…

    Zamfusion is currently in beta and open to any new or existing VoiceZam member. To give it a BETA whirl, just sign up here: http://www.voicezam.com/public/Membership.aspx using the Promo Code ZAMFUSION.

    PS: Sorry for the pitch dAVE, but I’m really excited about this!

    Reply
  2. Joe J Thomas

    “Oh, that way madness lies…”
    Thought provoking article, Dave. Pros and Cons abound.
    I do want feedback on my auditions, but only from live human beings.
    Tracking statistics on every audition, IMHO, is focusing way too much on minutiae.
    I find it more useful to double-down on my acting skills. Ensure that each audition is top quality. The rest will happen. Or it wont.
    Either way, I’ll know from the feedback I get from agents, casting directors, and clients.
    Drowning a career in data is a horrible way to go!

    Reply
    • CourVO

      Joe,

      ‘Can’t agree more…BUT…feedback on my auditions from “live human beings” is sorely sparse. If you’re getting that… please let us know your methods… ’cause most of us are getting NAGA back… especially from clients. Hell, I’d just love to know if I was in the quarterfinals, semifinals, or the final-four. But what client is gonna take the time to do that?!

      So this solution, while second-best, still has merit, no?

      Thanks for stopping by with your thoughts. Always appreciate that!

      Dave C

      Reply
      • Joe J Thomas

        Hey Dave,

        Sorry, but for me, only getting a count of who clicked, without knowing why, is negative information. By that I mean that it raises more questions than it answers. In the long run, focusing on the numbers is an exercise in futility, IMHO.

        Example 1: Someone listened to your audition 17 times. Why? Did they really like it? Or was it so bad, they played it for everyone in the office?

        Example 2: Your audition wasn’t listened to at all. Why? Was the project cast before they heard yours? Did they cast their cousin? Did they cast a guy they always use? Was the project cancelled?

        Example 3: Your audition was listened to exactly once. Why? Did they only need to hear it once and you hit the nail on the head? Or was it not what they were looking for at all? Maybe they were interrupted while listening and forgot about it all together…

        Without knowing “Why?”, knowing how many times someone listened is just preventing me from moving on to the next audition or job. It mires down my mind with too much information, little of which is useful to me.

        How do I get feedback? Sometimes it is offered afterward. Sometimes I’m put on avail or short-listed. Sometimes it’s a studio audition and the feedback is during the audition. Casting directors, Agents, and Production companies also send me notes directly. Perhaps I’m lucky. Occasionally, I’ll ask for feedback.

        Either way, it’s not the way I work. Everyone is different. For me, the numbers are a hindrance.

        Hope this is a bit more clear 😉
        (btw, I’m planning a blog on this, but haven’t coagulated my thoughts yet)

        Cheers,
        Joe

        Reply
        • CourVO

          Joe,

          All good points, but we’re probably not going to resolve our differences, here, Joe…’cause I would LOVE to know it was opened 17 times, or once, or not at all. While it does raise questions — as you pointed out — it’s still a boatload of information more than what I have now…which is NOTHING.

          I’ll let my imagination run with the why’s and wherefore’s.

          And yes, you ARE the luckiest guy I know in VO-land getting that kind of feedback. I’ve never been to VO audition or for that matter a VO job in any other studio in my life, so I would not get feedback there. A quick word on the efficacy of my work is NEVER just “offered”. Notes from casting directors, agents, and production companies????!!! Wow! I guess I need to press for that, ’cause in my nascent 7 years seriously pursuing VO work…I have never…again — never — gotten a voluntary note from ANYONE on my work. Bully for you.

          I still maintain the scenario I ‘dreamed’ would be well-received, would sell, would work, and people would be happy to have it. It is FAR from perfect, but it’s not a hindrance, and it’s not negative information…but that’s my estimation. Your mileage in this case obviously DOES vary.

          Thanks again for explaining yourself so well, Joe… I love that there’s room for all points of view in this biz. I really look forward to your blog on this subject when you get it done. In the meantime, did you read Bob Merkel’s comment? He’s close to realizing my dream!

          warmly,

          Dave C

          Reply
          • Joe J Thomas

            Hi Dave,

            Everyone works differently, and every situation is different.

            Markets, careers, methods, etc.

            What works for me may not work for others, and visa-versa.

            Bob’s got his eye on the same prize as you, and there’s definitely a market for the product. I hope it brings you closer to your goals.

            I’ve never been, uh, “a regular Joe” – always followed a different path than most.

            I hope you’ll read my blog post, and comment on it when it’s out.
            You’ve definitely spurred me on to think a bit more deeply about my methods… and that’s always a good thing.

            Thanks, buddy…
            Joe

  3. Anthony Mendez

    It’s an intriguing idea, for sure. My “feedback” comes from the fact that my agents continue to send me opportunities and buyers (some of them) continue to return.

    Tracking for file sharing exists *now.* Digioh, for example, can provide that service for you and, as a matter of fact, has already partnered with many popular email delivery services like MailChimp and Aweber. The challenge, as I see it, is not a system that tracks opens/hits or what-have-you’s via hosting the audio, but rather a file format that allows for tracking itself without requiring a service to host it. It won’t work with mp3, because that standard doesn’t allow for anything other than id tags, which aren’t executable. There are viruses that are disguised as mp3’s, but that’s another bag – the file in and of itself is not an audio file in those cases.

    I’m not sure that people are following the send-it-and-forget-it philosophy because they can’t presently track their auditions. I believe it’s for sanity and, like has been mentioned by another poster, to focus their energies where they can get bigger returns; on their craft.

    My 2c. I just got over obsessing over my website tracking data.
    -Anthony

    Reply
    • CourVO

      Anthony,

      So glad you visited and commented!

      I find it hard to believe that NO ONE can devise a tracking code for .mp3’s. It WILL happen (gotta believe that). I understand it’s not close to a perfect solution. HUMAN feedback is always better, but it’s also incredibly hard to come by. I’m glad you have agents that find the time to give you that… one of these days…

      warmly,

      Dave Courvoisier

      Reply

Leave a Reply to Joe J Thomas Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

My Second book is available now!

Dave Courvoisier releases a new edition of his popular book More Than Just a Voice, The REAL Secret to Voiceover Success. This new book has all new content, a full six years in the making!