Setting Up Your Home Video Studio

Low Budget (under $50 plus smartphone)

Camera

your iPhone or smartphone

Lighting

 
shoot in front of a window with indirect sunlight, preferably with sheer curtains

Medium Budget (under $300)

Camera                                                                                   

Logitech C920 HD webcam
basic lightweight tripod

Additional Items:

rip stop or opaque vinyl shower curtain clothespins Use clothespins to attach rip stop or shower curtain to front of clamp lights-this will help to diffuse the lights and give it a softer, more flattering look

High Budget ($1200 and up)

Camera                                                                                                           

Nikon D3300

Lighting                                               

2 light continuous lighting setup with softboxes

Backdrop                                              

backdrop stand

Editing Software

Windows Movie Maker
Windows, free
Adobe Premier Pro                                     Wndows/Mac, $19.99/month

iMovie
Mac, free
Final Cut Pro X                                                              Mac, $299

Editing, Exporting, and Delivering Video Auditions

 

Premier Pro

  1. Go to File-->New-->Project to start a new project   2. On pop-up screen, Name your project, choose a location on your computer for it to be saved, and set drop down menus as pictures below. Then press OK.     3. Go to File-->New-->Sequence to start a new sequence. In most instances, your settings on the pop-up menu will be to select HDV-->HDV 1080p24 (this will make your clip a widescreen format at 24 frames per second). If your clip was shot in a lower resolution (like 720p) then select the HDV-->720p24 setting. Name your sequence, then press OK. Leave all other settings as they are.     4. Go to File-->Import and then navigate on your computer to find your video clip. Press OK and then clip will open up in Premier like below.   5. In the top left project panel, double click the video clip you want to edit. The video will appear in the Source panel in the top middle panel. Here, you can use the play/stop button and the step up one frame/step back one frame buttons to navigate throughout your clip. Use the ‘Mark In’ button that looks like { to choose where you’d like the clip to start. Use the ‘Mark Out’ button that looks like } to choose where you’d like the clip to end.   6. Drag the marked video clip from the top left Project panel down to your bottom right Sequence panel. The new clip will only contain the section that you’ve marked In and Out. You may get a Clip Mismatch Warning--that pop-up will appear if the video clip settings (frame rate and size) don’t match your sequence settings. Select “change sequence settings” to make sure your final clip matches the settings you shot it in.   7. Repeat this process for any additional video clips or takes. Always send at least two different takes of an audition unless specified otherwise (you only need to slate once at the beginning). If you have multiple takes within the same clip, simply mark new In and Out points in the Source Panel on your clip, drag the new clip down to the sequence, and place it behind the first clip in your timeline.   8. In your sequence panel, drag the first clip so that it begins somewhere between 1 and 2 seconds (see the time codes at the top of the Sequence panel. Drag additional clips so they are immediately behind the first. Note that for each clip, there are two parts that move together--your video file in the top and audio file in the bottom. It is possible to Unlink the audio from the video so they can be moved independently, but I don’t recommend doing that for something like this. 9. To preview your video, drag the blue arrow in the Sequence box back to 0 seconds. Then in the top right Preview panel, press Play to view.   10. Go to File-->Export-->Media. In the Export screen, you can scrub through (view quickly) the video using the slider on the bottom right. Make sure all of your clips were exported correctly. In the top right Export settings, go to Format and select H.264 and go to Preset and select Match Source - High bitrate. Make sure both Export Video and Export Audio boxes are checked. All other presets can remain the same. Press Export at the bottom of the panel. Your video will be exported as an MP4 file. 11. From here you could upload the clip to Youtube or Vimeo to send a URL of the video audition. If you need to upload the file, see if there are restrictions on the file size. Definitely do NOT try to email a video file larger than 10MB, as this is too large for most email clients to handle. Check the size of your video file by navigating to its location on your computer desktop, selecting the file and then hovering your mouse above the file--the file size will appear in the bottom of the window. Most video auditions will be measured in MB--if the file is less than 1,000Kb then it’s too small, and if it’s more than 1,000MB (or any size GB), it’s too large (to put it in perspective, a 4-7 minute short film shot in HD and properly compressed into an MP4 file is about 500MB--your audition clip will likely be much smaller than that). If you mess up and send a super large file, most casting directors or clients won’t even bother taking the time to try and download the audition.

Other Video Editing Systems

For all video editing systems, keep export settings as MP4 format, H.264 video codec, and AAC audio codec to get the highest quality video and audio in a low file size.

Windows Movie Maker
https://youtu.be/15oqfpYnw7o

iMovie
https://youtu.be/UviYzKGFm4g

Final Cut X
https://youtu.be/e7-zZkHJHas
 

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One of my biggest pet peeves as an agent was how clueless many actors were about auditions. Or specifically, that they had no idea about the kinds of roles they should or shouldn’t be auditioning for.

Actors would come in with a copy of the breakdown for a big studio film shooting in the area and point out a role they thought they were “perfect” for. Then would come fifty questions wondering if we had submitted them for the job, how could they get the casting director to meet with them (because of course if the casting director saw them in person they would KNOW that they were right for the role), and what sort of money they would get from the gig.

They had actually mentally cast themselves as a Hollywood star–but some of these actors hadn’t even booked a paid acting gig before!

I mean, it’s great to have big dreams and aspirations, but you need to have a realistic plan for getting there. Would you try out to be an NFL quarterback if you were a scrawny kid that had never even played football? Of course not! But for some reason,