Video Demos – Are They Worth The Investment?

August 1, 2009  |  Articles

Nearly a month ago I got an email from one of my Sentinels (for those who don’t know who Taji’s Sentinel’s are… they are voice actors and professionals who send me news that they think I should write about and that my readers might find informative.) The email my Sentinel sent me included information that was all over the Voice Over blogs regarding a new trend in the voice over industry called the Video Voice Demo.

So for Short lets call it a VVD. Its a simple concept. Instead of just sending your client an audio file containing your collection of voice over highlights and range. You package it in the form of a video. My fellow canadian Bryan Cox decided to go ahead and get one done for himself. I Couldn’t figure out how to link it so I’ll have to post the link for the company that made the VVD for him and they include his demo on their portfolio page:

Cick Here To See Bryan’s Demo

Breakthrough  or Gimmick

I can’t really call a marketing tool a gimmick and make it seem like that is a negative thing. Some of the most memorable marketing tools have been gimmicks and since I worked on several marketing campaigns for companies ranging from telecom, to healthcare to automotive I can see the potential of the VVD and how it can be the decisive factor in someone getting chosen for the job or not.

To some degree if your video voice demo is well produced it can make you seem like a Pioneer, someone who is not afraid to take risks and invest in the future. On the other hand if your video is corny and badly produced then you will end up looking cheap and a follower… merely someone who decided to jump on the bandwagon.

So how do you go about making sure that your investment is not a waste of money and a potential Public Relations disaster.

Come up with an Idea

First and foremost the Video Voice Demo is a tool to promote yourself. It should be made by professionals and unfortunately for the guy who originally came up with the idea of the Video Voice Demo its not something you have to make with any 1 single company. Its too bad that you can’t patent an idea like that… but you can try to be the best and most affordable in the industry which means that other production companies will eventually start making these for voice over professionals and this might eventually become the standard way of presenting yourself in the voice over industry.

If you’re a good looking fella or gal you might think that it’s a good idea to keep splashing your face in the video to maximize exposure and association between your face and your voice… It’s not a bad idea… but unfortunately it lacks any creativity… after watching 4 or 5 of these video demos the producer or casting agent might just end up picking the best looking of the lot … and that defeats the purpose of making a video to promote yourself only to sell yourself solely on the virtue (so to speak) of your looks.

The video should be like a small commercial for yourself. It should have an idea… it should show your versatility and your creativity and deciding on an idea to promote yourself.

For example … I’m an arab… I primarily do Arabic voice overs and I live in egypt. Put all of these different factors together and what do you have?

For one you’ll have excellent locations (egypt has a gazillion monuments and locations for a arabesque video). If I wanted to further push the whole Arabic cliche thing I can go with the Bedouin in the desert thing and then introduce the different ranges of my voice by using the english written word (along with arabic) to showcase what I am focusing on in that specific part of the demo.

Each one of us has something unique about their personality. My friend Paul Strikwerda would probably go with the Dutch thing. Julia Lombardo might go with the exercise / personal trainer thing. Find out what is unique about yourself… and promote it.

So your assignment for today is… if you wanted to promote yourself via one of these new Video Voice Demos how would you want to portray yourself?

How Much Should You Spend

We spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars to promote ourselves annually. Should you set aside a big chunk of change for this?

Honestly… If you’ve decided to do this then it’s gonna cost you. The company that did Bryan Cox’s demo takes around $200 to $300 USD for their efforts.

If you are going to go shoot on location and make a production of it… then you’ll pay more … much more…

and if you have contacts in the multimedia industry that can make something for you at cost with minimal effort then you are the wisest financially.

Ultimately I wouldn’t suggest you put something together by yourself using online free programs that create sideshows of your cat and car.  Unless your idea is brilliant and doesn’t require much production… it will not only be disregarded. It will also reflect badly on you.

Get Some Feedback

Although we sometimes call ourselves voice actors… very often we do not have on camera experience or training. If you have decided to get yourself a VVD then please before you release it to the masses let a panel of your peers take a look at it and give you some honest to God feedback.

You might think its a brilliant concept… sublimely executed with possible Oscar potential.

But often times the truth is far from what is in your head. Get it reviewed before you start spreading it around.

Thats it for now.

make some noise… leave some feedback. Let me know if you guys missed me…. or not!

taji


6 Comments


  1. I have to start off my saying thanks for the mention buddy!! The “character” VVD has worked for me. I’ve sent it out to a few animators and landed 4 out of 6 jobs that I applied for. Agents have told me that this type of demo gets their attention and holds it. I know of people that spend alot more, just getting their audio demo made. If you use the internet to send out demos, why not send out video. It’s just common sense.
    In my case a picture is worth a thousand words…now I just have to grow some hair…it might look better on video…lol. Great blog keep it up Mr Taji and by the way get your butt back to Canada…ha ha
    Bryan Cox

  2. I have mixed feelings about video demos. On one hand, it could be a nice gimmick to stand out from the crowd. In the visual world of animation and the like, people tend to think in pictures and they are used to watching videos.

    In the auditory world of spoken books, guided tours and phone messages, a video demo seems to be overkill. To use an analogy: if you’re hoping to hire a dancer, who cares if that person sends in an audio clip.

    Making a professional VVD is an expensive undertaking. Is it worth the money? Those who can afford it, probably don’t need it. Those who think they might need it, probably can’t afford it.

  3. At 200$ its not really that expensive… but the cost isn’t just tied to the video alone.. you have to have a professionally produced audio demo first which will cost you. Then you will have to come up with a theme that makes you stand out from the crowd… so maybe get a consultant to help you (or a family member) and then you sit with the VVD people and get yourself the demo you want.

    I can see this working out as documentary narration shorts… maybe ask the production companies you work with to send you copies of the completed video with your voice over in it and make a compilation of the different videos your voice is on. Or maybe if you have done a few television commercials… put clips from the tv ads your voice is featured in in a sequence… that why you don’t have to technically physically be featured in the video nor do you have to pay for production costs (like going on set and shooting) just the video compilation costs. and with some of the applications available online today you can probably do it yourself.

    just an idea.

  4. Bryan’s demo looks good, and the other two on the site are good as well. I’ve tried to hire videographers before and people want hundreds if not thousands of dollars for work.

    I need two minute videos produced for wrestling entrances (not the same line of work) but I am going to contact the company and see what they would charge.

    Something tells me it will be cheaper than what most others are quoting me.

  5. Hi, My name is Jason LeBlanc creator of My Next Demo. I thought I would chime in here. First I appreciate all the comments and talk that is going on here…I take this stuff to heart, but I wanted to give my opinion on this whole thing as well. I recognize that this is extremely new, and open to lots of opinions, which I understand, but I thought you might like my views on this, not as an owner, but as a composer/producer/voice actor who’s in this business.

    Originally I just wanted to stop the theft of my mp3’s, and noticed that Flash videos had no “right click, save as” feature, and at some point most mp3’s, which were invented primarily for slow dial up speed, and that blank Media Player screen, had to be filled up, and soon everything would include video…why wouldn’t it? Our computers, after all, are just TV’s, so, I started “My Next Demo”, in an attempt to fill this void.

    I decided to utilize high-end graphics, top-notch graphics artists, professional audio producers, and web designers to totally theme out your package, with the goal of offering these services at a price we could afford. Taji is right, home movie-makers look cheap and “WILL NOT” improve you image.

    It is true, since this is so new, and there aren’t enough of these out there yet, people aren’t sure what to do, or really what they want, since they can’t say…”can you make it look like so and so’s”, but we, as professionals in this business, are here to assist in any way we can. We do personal interviews, visit their web sites, listen to their demos and help formulate what direction we think they should go in…I wouldn’t have igloos in Taji’s video for example lol.

    Personally, I am an audio professional (25 years) with a nice studio with high-end gear and do “new” demos for $200, which is a great price. We’ve been taught that voice over demos be split into many categories and we all know that people only listen to 10 – 20 seconds of a few and then trudge on…My suggestion in this new arena is to combine your best 20 seconds from 3 or 4 demos (still only 1:20) and let people watch while they listen. The fact these are new and engaging, people actually spend more time finishing your demo…in that light alone…these are worth it. I will slice and dice up your “existing demos”, re-master and compress where needed, for $50 to fit your video. If you have video you want featured on these, that’s not a problem, but I agree, this shouldn’t be ego driven, as some of us are in radio for a reason lol

    About the high pricing…I agree…these are probably not needed by someone who’s making a really good living doing VO…this is for the rest of us…that 90% that aren’t making zillions doing this. I’ve priced these things as affordable as I can, and they don’t look cheap…plus these are not only to solicit agents etc, these are for the front page of you websites, so people can read about you while they watch/listen to your demo and since it’s a mixed audio track, they get to hear more variety than just your audio book demo…without clicking on something else…

    I thank you for your time…and if any of you are into Star Trek…I am the voice of Captain Aaron Glenn, Starship Commander of the USS Azrael, in Star Trek’s new, just released animated series “Star Trek” – USS Faragut – The Animated Series. http://farragut-animated.com/

    Jason LeBlanc
    Audio Art Café – http://audioartcafe.com/
    My Next Demo – http://mynextdemo.com/