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5 STEPS TO THE BEST SELF TAPE SET UP!

Self taping is such a vital tool for any actor these days. It’s literally changed the game for actors, allowing you to audition for jobs all over the world from the comfort of your own bedroom. Too many actors let themselves down by doing great acting in their audition and a terrible job with their self tape set up.


At Sydney Screen Acting, we have seen thousands of self tapes over ten years and worked with professional casting directors whilst casting TV shows. We’ve been able to identify what works for you to ACHIEVE THE BEST SELF TAPE SET UP and give you the best looking self tapes in the biz!


CHOOSING THE BEST CAMERA




Of course the camera is number one on the list, after all, it’s capturing the magic of your screen acting performance. These days, we have endless camera options. You need something that is compact and can fit in your backpack when you travel, and is easy to set up in a hotel room if you're on a job.


Pro tip: 4K resolution isn’t necessary, as you will end up crushing the video down to 1080 when you send it off to your acting agent. Having the ability to flip the viewfinder around to face you is super helpful and saves time when self taping. I’ve used everything over the years from DSLRs, to Blackmagic Movie Cameras, to my iPhone, but the best camera for self taping is the SONY ZV1.


What we use

At Sydney Screen Acting we use the Sony ZV1 in our super sexy self tape studio and the results are slick!


This pocket rocket is legendary amongst Youtuber's for its amazing images, awesome design, and insane convenience. At just under $1000 it’s a worthwhile investment in yourself!


Self Tape Microphone



Looking good is only half the battle. Poor audio will affect the impact your self tape makes more than you could imagine.


The SONY ZV1, and lots of cameras, are equipped with an audio input that allows you to conveniently place an onboard mic on top of the camera. The results are crisp sound, perfect for self taping.


What we use

At Sydney Screen Acting, we use the Rode MicroVideo On Camera Mic. It is super compact, plugs straight into the camera, no adapters needed, requires no batteries, and can even be used with a smartphone! Whoahhh! We’ve used some of the more expensive On Board Mic options out there in our Self Tape Studio at Sydney Screen Acting, and this one is by far the best! Plus, best of all, it’s under $100!



The Background



For years I told myself the background didn't matter. I’d shoot my self tapes in a kitchen against a dirty wall, or in my living room by a bookshelf. It’s not that you can’t book a job doing self tapes this way. I’ve done it. But it can be distracting.


I’ve seen auditions where people's flatmates are in the back of shots, and their bookshelves filled with books are stealing focus from you.


What we use

At Sydney Screen Acting we make our self tapes amazing by using a 31 Blue Jay Seamless Paper backdrop. It’s easy to hang from a wall, or hanging frame and comes as a roll. We have had one roll for two years and there’s still heaps left in it. Some people like grey for DRAMA. But blue suits all genres.


Since buying a Blue paper backdrop (the kind used in photo studios) to use at Sydney Screen Acting, we have achieved a look that makes actors pop! It’s simple to set up, flattering, and keeps the audience focussed on you (not your books). Plus, they are cheap. You can even get foldable ones that can slide under your bed.


Lights, Lights, Lights!




Lights must be expensive and insanely tricky to set up right?

Wrong.


Lighting can make you go from average mug to movie star in your self tapes. There are oodles of options you can buy online that work brilliantly. Sure, if you're the cinematographer on THOR, these lights will not suffice, but for the purpose of a flattering self tape they are perfect!


3 point setup

Here are a few of our favourite soft-boxes, but you can buy budget ones from eBay that are half the price and hardly any different to the untrained eye.

These will fold up into a bag that you can pop under your bed, or in a cupboard. The lights are crucial to giving you a controlled, professional looking self tape. Yummy!


Making the eyes pop



We use an overhead light to give the eyes some highlights.


For overhead light, we choose a NEEWAR - a popular film accessories brand with hundreds of items available on Amazon. It’s great for making the eyes pop and getting separation from the background! It’s all about the separation yo!


What we use

At Sydney Screen Acting we use two SOFT BOXES with diffusion to soften the light and an overhead key light (for the eyes!), making it a simple 3 point lighting setup.



Edit it! Upload it!


Once you’ve successfully shot your self tape, you will want to edit it and get it off to your agent as soon as possible so you can book the job!


What we use

We love iMovie. It's incredibly user friendly. Even a Grandma with computer-phobia can figure out how to use it. Sure there are fancier, more powerful editing programs available, but it is not necessary here.


Online Hosting

Choose your favourite takes, export them to your desktop at 1080, and upload to Vimeo.

You’ll want to change the privacy settings so that people can’t comment on your video but are able to download and share it… you don’t want the Casting Director to be unable to access it.


Summing Up

So there you have it, five simple steps to sweet looking self tapes. As mentioned, we have been experimenting with a myriad of options over the past 10 years and this is the best we have come across. After an initial outlay of less than $1500, this professional setup will pay itself off in no time when you book an amazing acting job.


Interested in seeing our kit in action? Why not join our weekly acting class, or film your next self tape at our professional self test studio in Leichhardt, Sydney?







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