Sound, lighting, backdrops, tripods… my gosh it’s a lot!
Self-tapes were already on the rise, but now, they are the norm! Recent events have accelerated this trend, so it’s key to be prepared for all self-tape audition opportunities that come your way.
For detailed tips on working the frames, make sure you’ve checked out my comprehensive self-tape blog called The Art of Self-Tape. After you’ve become familiar with my artistic tips for self-taping, the equipment tips below will help elevate the technical aspects of your process.
You have filming options!
You might be used to self-taping on your phone, but also consider that Zoom can be useful for taping because it allows you to integrate a remote reader smoothly.
OPTION 1: USE A CAMERA
Set up your camera or smartphone as well as your lights, sound, and background. Tape with a reader at home. Your reader can be local (in the room) or remote (via a computer or cell phone video or audio). In both circumstances, the reader is positioned next to the camera, as close as possible.
OPTION 2: USE ZOOM
Set up your computer, smartphone, or tablet at eye level for filming. Whoever is the host on Zoom can record. This is how I run class—I film people remotely on Zoom. You can use the other elements of your set-up as well: lights, sound, backdrop, etc. For more tips on how to use Zoom for auditions, go to my blog post How to Self-Tape Auditions on Zoom!
P.S. If you’re looking for a way to get rid of the black bars on either side of the video when you film via Zoom on an iPhone or iPad, check out this article about how to crop your video. But, please know that it’s completely acceptable and professional to leave the black bars.
Below are some equipment recommendations that actors have given me. Let it be a starting point for your research! Always check that any prospective equipment is compatible with your existing technology. Do you use an iPhone? An Android? A Mac or a Windows PC? Read the product specs and make sure you consider whether it comes with the necessary accessories (e.g., input cords, adapter plugs, stands, etc.) or if you’ll have to get them separately. If an item is no longer available via our link, you could Google the name and see if it’s available elsewhere.
We have affiliate links below for the items on Amazon so that we can continue to raise money for our Alumni Fund to support artists-in-self-tape-need. It’s really a teeny percentage—a few cents—but it all adds up! To apply for the fund or make a donation, please go here.
I recommend a neutral color backdrop—like gray—that will suit all genres. Blue can work nicely for comedy, commercials, or projects with a brighter tone/mood. Evaluate your setup and see if you need a backdrop stand as well (scroll down for those). Heads up! Sellers will change their color options from time to time, or items may sell out/come back in stock, so take a close look at the details if you decide to buy!
Need a video tutorial on how to put those darn things back in the bag? Alumnus Chris Russell has you covered: How to Put Away Your Collapsible Background Away in Less than 10 Seconds
Remember that your goal is to get the camera at your eye level.
In addition to these, also consider looking at standing desks, laptop risers, piles of books, boxes, etc. to raise your computer if you’re using it.
Alumni, please check out the lists generated in our Facebook community. Use the search bar to locate the posts on self-tape equipment, or filter with the topic #Self-Tapes.
And to all actors—keep checking out blogs and articles from your favorite acting resources. Browse the web, look at related products, and read reviews. Remember, this is just a starting point!