These are the basic elements required of an actor auditioning from home. Taping from the comfort of your own home is the broad industry standard at present, so if you want to stand out, you’ll need to have a set up that makes you look great. Not good, not passable, but great.
We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite tools of the trade, that will help your self tapes and virtual auditions in ship shape.
If you’re just starting out, check out the “Free” or “Beginner” column for a list of free or low budget solutions to get you in the rhythm of putting yourself on tape. While these will be sufficient for practice, we highly recommend investing in quality materials that will help you maintain precise control of your production value as soon as you are able.
If you’re a trained actor with designs on a career, check out the “Advanced” column for a list of reliable equipment that will last a long time through repeated use. Most regularly auditioning actors fall into this category.
And if you have the funds and inclination to invest in high end gear, check out the “Multihyphenate” section, for a list of equipment that will serve you in capacities beyond your auditioning needs. This equipment will give you the ability to turn in auditions with stunning production value, and will prove an invaluable resource should you desire to add filmmaking to your repertoire.
|Camera||Cell phone camera||Cell phone camera (2018 or newer)||Cell phone camera (2018 or newer)|
Panasonic Lumix G7
Panasonic Lumix FZ300
|Panasonic Lumix G7 (invest in variable lenses)|
|Camera Stabilizer||Pile of books||Neewer Ring Light Kit|
Fugetek Selfie Stick & Tripod
|Kobra Tech 70 Inch tripod||The LA Shop Pro Camera Tripod|
|Sound||Cell phone||Cell phone microphone (2018 or newer)||PowerDeWise Professional Omnidirectional Lavalier (for phones)|
Rode VideoMic GO (for mounting on camera)
|Rode VideoMic GO|
|Lighting||the Sun, lamps from around the home||Neewer Ring Light Kit|
Neewer 700 Professional Photography Lighting Kit
|Mountdog Softbox Lighting Kit with Upgraded LED (2x)|
Lume Cube Broadcast Lighting Kit (2x)
|Mountdog Softbox Lighting Kit with Upgraded LED (3x)|
Neewer 3 Packs Dimmable Bi-Color 480 LED Video Light Kit
|Backdrop||A blank, neutrally colored wall or well ironed bedsheet.||A blank, neutrally colored wall |
well ironed bedsheet
Fovitek Pop up collapsible photo backdrop
|Fovitek Pop Up Collapsible photo backdrop|
Kate Collapsible Backdrops
Gray on one side, blue on the other, no matter what you get
Savage Seamless Background Paper in Blue, Gray, and any other set of muted colors that compliment your skin tone
|Editing||OpenShot||iMovie/Windows Movie Maker||Final Cut ProX, Avid||FCPX, Avid, Adobe Creative Suite|
|Distribution||WeTransfer||Dropbox, WeTransfer, YouTube, Vimeo, EcoCast||Dropbox/WeTransfer, YouTube, Vimeo, EcoCast||Dropbox Pro/WeTransfer Pro, Vimeo Pro, YouTube, EcoCast|
|Data Storage||Cell phone/computer hard drive||WD 2TB Elements Portable Hard Drive|
|WD 4TB MyPassport Ultra||SeaGate 8TB Desktop External Hard Drive|
|Remote Audition||Zoom||Zoom, WeAudition||Zoom (Pro Acct), WeAudition||Zoom (Pro Acct), WeAudition|
CAMERA: The most obvious tool you’ll need to shoot from home! Luckily, in the 21st century, most of us carry at least one of these around with us everywhere we go. Many regularly working actors book entirely off of performances captured using their mobile devices, but we’ve included some higher end camcorders and digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras as options for dedicated use.
CAMERA STABILIZER: This will help hold your camera still at a consistent elevation while you tape. Your roommate’s arms aren’t going to do it (unless they’re a professional photographer or videographer, in which case….still don’t do it). Mono pods, tripods, ring light mounted cellphone clamps, we’ve seen and worked with them all!
SOUND: An often fatally overlooked aspect of self tapes that can make or break your audition. Most people are willing to overlook a tape with low quality visuals, but poor audio is often a deal breaker. Many cell phone microphones do a sufficiently good job, but there are no end to options for peripheral accessories and dedicated sound capturing devices to make sure your voice sounds as gorgeous as you look!
LIGHTING: The best camera in the world won’t do you a lick of good if it can’t see you! A wide variety of solutions exist for ensuring even, flattering lighting for your tapes. If you’re just starting out, the sun is great (thanks for all the plants!) if you have the right windows, and the ability to time your auditions to its most flattering angles. However, you’ll eventually want the ability to more finely control the light in your space, in order to set the proper mood for your tapes. Ring lights work well, and have major bonus points for their ease of storage. However a three-point lighting system, with adjustable brightness, color, and temperature provides the finest artistic control.
BACKDROP: Plain and simple! If you have something in your shot that distracts the viewer from your work, you’ve already put yourself at a substantial disadvantage. Having a dedicated backdrop (or set thereof) for your auditions will help you tremendously in keeping the focus on you.
EDITING: So you’ve shot your self tape, slated, and picked your favorite takes! Now what? You’ll need at least a passing facility with video editing software to take your raw footage and turn it into a sleek, finished product before you send it off to casting. Most personal computers have some free or low cost options available, or you can invest in the high end software products that the Hollywood pros use in order to make the finished product look sleek. Just remember, don’t let your fancy edits pull focus from your work!
DISTRIBUTION: This is the means by which you’ll transmit your self tape to casting or your reps. Most often, your tapes will be too large to attach to an email, so familiarizing yourself with at least one cloud based file delivery system will ensure that you’re ready to send your work off without stress. Many of these services have free options, and you can upgrade your account to send and store larger files should the need arise.
DATA STORAGE: High quality video files are BIG. If you’re going to be auditioning a lot, or saving your material to review at a later point, consider investing in an external hard drive to avoid bogging down your main device with a ton of takes.
REMOTE AUDITIONS: So you’ve got yourself a good old fashioned appointment time for a virtual audition! Congrats! The options in this row are all possible avenues through which casting might arrange your reading, so be sure you’re at least somewhat familiar with them beforehand, so you don’t end up taking up your appointment with tons of “can you hear me”-s or “am I still muted”-s.