How to Edit an Audition Self-Tape
Updated: Aug 3
You‘ve got your self-tape setup and have been submitting for auditions from home but maybe you’re not... shall we say... technically inclined? How do I edit an audition? Can I use iMovie? What software should I use to edit? How should I compress my audition file?
Well, my friend, have no fear. This guide will walk you through all of the steps with a list of reminders, a video tutorial, and plenty of links to get you started. Here we go.
How to Edit
When you're in the audition room, the last thing you want to do is to think like an editor. Don't try to get the audition perfectly timed for the camera. Explore before! Let that end moment go longer than you think you need! Then, when you drag that file into your editing software, you can clean it up to be what you want to send off.
Things to remember when editing:
Include a moment before. Don't just start with the text. We want to see the thought that leads to the text.
Include a beat after. In the room, keep that thought going until the camera turns off. In the editing room, don't cut it out. Let us see where this scene could go.
Check your casting breakdown if the CD wants all one file, or multiples files (separating the scene(s) from the slate).
If it's unspecified, standard is to have all one file, with slate at the end.
If deciding between multiple scenes that each have good traits, rewatch and only start with the first 10-15 seconds. Which catches you first? Send that.
If you still can't decide, then the casting team won't be able to tell a difference, either. Both represent you well. Just choose one, trust your gut, and move on.
What Software to Use
Depending on your computer capabilities and technical knowledge, it may be tough to figure out which software is best. To be clear (and I'm going to put this in bold): If you get it right in your setup, you don't need a great software. In short, take the time getting your lighting, sound, and camera dialed in so you don't have to tweak anything in post. Then you only need your software to be able to cut files and save them to your computer. Do not go spend $300 on a video editing software. It will only overly complicate your editing process.
If you're on a Mac, I recommend using iMovie. If you're on a PC or want another option, I recommend Movavi. (www.Movavi.com)
How to Edit Audition Tapes using iMovie
How to Edit Audition Tapes using Movavi
How to Compress and Save Your Files
When compressing your files, there is a way to get the file size low, without losing video quality. Since most casting teams request files to be less than 100MB, it's necessary to learn how to compress at high quality.
When exporting, aim to save the file at 5Mbps (megabytes per second) or 5000kbps (kilobytes per second).
If that's confusing, both are explained in the above videos.
If it's a longer audition scene and the file is still too large, you can adjust the setting to 3Mbps/3000kbps but don't go any lower than that, or else you may start to see loss of quality.
How to Send Your Files
Industry standard for sending files to casting is usually WeTransfer.com. Other options include HighTail, unlisted YouTube link, downloadable Vimeo, or others. Regardless, as a self-tape studio, WeTransfer is our option of choice.
You can send files up to 2TB (that's huge)
You don't have to sign up for anything
You get confirmation when the file is sent AND when it is downloaded
The WeTransfer phone app is problematic, Whenever possible, send the file to your computer and edit/compress/send from there.
It can be tricky to be both actor and director for these auditions. But, in the audition room, trust your gut as the actor. Do what you need to do. Then use these tools and feel confident as the editor and director that you can get your acting in front of the right people.
Jordan Woods-Robinson is an Actor and Head Honcho at Book From Tape Acting Studios in Orlando, FL. He challenges his actors to harness impulse as a tool, to trust their guts, to work on their feet, to break rules, and, overall, to make bold choices that make a lasting impression through tape. Email Jordan