Updated: Feb 4
Even pre-pandemic, self-tape auditions were increasingly common. For many musicals, a video submission is often required in order to secure a live audition in front of the panel. So, if you haven’t already, start making friends with the camera. You don’t need an expensive fancy set-up, but a few tips and tricks can help make your videos look and sound great!
1. CAMERA The camera on your phone is more than adequate, just make sure you use a tripod or a stable surface. Check you have enough storage space for a few takes. The rear facing camera (not selfie mode) is higher quality.
2. BACKGROUND A solid neutral background looks best. You could tape a bed sheet to your wall (remember to iron it!) and make sure there are no wall hangings or light switches to distract attention.
3. LIGHTING You want to use soft light so there are no harsh shadows. Natural daylight is ideal with windows behind the camera so the light is coming from in front of you. If you’re shooting without natural light, you can use a ring light, soft boxes or even lamps from around the house.
4. SOUND Close windows and doors to cut out external sound and turn off noisy appliances. Make sure we can hear you clearly and that the volume of your accompaniment/track is balanced with your voice.
5. FRAMING A medium close-up is best. Frame the shot from just above your head to just below your armpits with you in the centre of the frame. The camera should be at eye-level and in landscape (horizontal) not portrait (vertical).
6. EYE-LINE Your eyes are the most important thing we need to see. Look just to the left or right of the camera without staring directly at the lens. At the beginning of your self-tape, you need a short intro looking directly at the camera stating your name (and sometimes agent, age or height if requested).
7. CLOTHING & MAKE-UP Avoid busy patterns or stripes and be careful of distracting jewellery, hair or make-up. You want to suggest the character, without being in costume. It’s good to wear a colour that complements your hair/ eyes and doesn’t blend into the background.
8. EDITING Use simple editing software like iMovie to trim the beginning and ends of your clips. Create a single file rather than sending separate video files. Double-check it from start to finish before sending.
9. FILE LABELLING Casting directors receive multiple videos a day for the same project so put your NAME first so they can find yours easily.
10. SEND IT There are a number of platforms you can use (eg. Vimeo/YouTube/Dropbox). Check the instructions from the casting director. You can also password protect your video if needed, which is important if you’re working on confidential material.
About the author
Jennifer Peers is a voice teacher and musical theatre performer who has appeared in numerous musicals in Australia and on the West End. She teachers singing at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) and Brent Street, as well as running a busy private studio teaching many of Australia's premier musical theatre performers. For further information or to work with Jen, visit jenniferpeeers.com
ANATS is the peak professional association for singing teachers in Australia. We help teachers of any style of singing to be the best they can be, by provide professional development, advocacy and community for singing teachers and other voice professionals across Australia.
We welcome members from all musical cultures, vocal styles and singing or teaching environments.
We are committed to building an inclusive culture that encourages, supports, and celebrates the diverse voices of our industry.