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Level Up Your Self-Tape Equipment

I believe that self-tapes are the currency of a modern theatrical acting career.

They’re what you send your agent. They’re what your agent sends to casting. Self-tapes are 99% of how all these folks experience you.

They matter.

But you don’t need another coach recommending ring lights, soft box lights, and foldable backdrops.

Those are great, but most folks who’ve been auditioning learned that stuff in 2020.

So this week I let my inner-pragmatist run wild and put together a list of all the other equipment I use in my auditions, the ones most people don’t know about.


Catchy, right?

Note: There are lots of competitors making similar products to the ones I’m linking to. Feel free to comparison shop, there may be even better deals out there. But these are versions I think are good.

Projector Stand

I use this more than anything besides my camera, lights, and backdrop. These little tables are perfect for self-tapes. They help create environment for tables, desks, bars, etc. while taking up almost no space. It’s easy to adjust the height to get it in or out of frame. They’re also wildy helpful for Zoom auditions, giving you an easy and portable way to get your online reader even with the camera. These are a MUST for me. I recommend getting two - one for on-camera and another for any off-camera needs.  Cost: $30.

Larry David

Bluetooth Lav Mics (Compatible w/ Smart Phones)

Camera sound is often good enough. But when it’s not, you want a reliable option that won’t break the bank. So if a Rode Shotgun mic isn’t currently in the budget, check out these bluetooth lav mics. They come in packs of two. The receiver plugs into your smart phone and automatically connects to the lavs via bluetooth. When you record video on your phone, the lav mics start recording.

The quality is legitimately good. The connection is shockingly easy. It’s wildly cheap. If you shoot on your phone it’s an easy upgrade. If you shoot on a camera, these just turned your phone into the equivalent of a Zoom recorder. I bet you could record a podcast with these. Cost: $20

Larry David

Phone Mount w/Rig

Personally I don’t like shooting on my phone. The settings can be a pain, not to mention the data storage issues. But if that’s how you roll, please get this? This rig is affordable and really helps with stabilization. Thank you to Marc Fajardo for this recommendation. Cost: $20

Larry David

Isotope RX Audio Editing Plug-In (Standard or Elements) - ON SALE NOW!

This is a plugin for VO editing software that’s famous for removing all the nasty sounds from your auditions (voice clicks, spit sounds, etc) plus cool features like De-plosive to lessen your harsh consonants and pops. It’ll make your work sound professional and clean. Elements is less expensive and good for folks who want to upgrade later. Standard is more expensive but, well, standard. Thanks to our VO Guru Courtney Lin for this. Cost: $50-$200

(The links are showing up as problematic. Google Izotope RX Elements or Izotope RX Standard and you’ll find the link to buy. Make sure your editing program is compatible.)

Larry David

Tear Stick

Self-explanatory. Not a bad thing to experiment with for $20.

Larry David

Small LED Panel (Add a Back Light)

After you’ve got your lighting basics covered and you’re ready to kick it up a level, start here. Grab a small panel LED like this and place it on the floor so it’s shooting up and lighting your backdrop. When you light the backdrop, the subject pops out in the frame and looks more three dimensional. Just know you’ll probably need a small light stand to mount it on to make it work right! Cost: $45

Larry David

I hope this helps you make your home setup even better, or at the very least started this year’s Christmas list early 😉.

Brian Norris, The Norris Studio

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