Self Tape Tools

Nail Your At-Home Audition: A Guide to DIY Recording

You don’t need a professional studio to record a stellar audition tape right from your home. With just a few key tools and techniques, you can capture clear audio and video that shows off your talents.

With the right tools and techniques, you can produce amazing audition videos from the comfort of home. Stay confident in your abilities and put your skills on display with an engaging DIY-recorded tape.

Camera

When getting started with at-home auditions, your first choice is what device to use for recording. There’s no need to buy an expensive camera right away – your smartphone can work great for early auditions. Many actors have successfully booked major roles by submitting tapes filmed simply on their phones. Don’t feel you need fancy equipment to make a stellar audition video. Focus on your performance skills and use whatever recording device you have on hand to capture your talents. As you progress in your career, you can look into upgrading your setup, but a smartphone provides solid quality for those initial audition tapes.

This revolutionary pocket-sized camera is specially designed to shoot outstanding selfie videos, making it the ideal tool for self-tapes. Weighing next to nothing while packing pro-level performance, the ZV-1 lets you shoot self-tapes that demand attention anywhere, anytime. For actors seeking an all-in-one mobile studio, the ZV-1 is in a class of its own. Make it your secret weapon and watch your self-tapes reach the next level.

The Canon M50 is Canon’s best-selling mirrorless camera, popular among YouTubers and actors for its compact size. It’s slightly bigger than the Sony ZV-1 fixed lens camera but allows lens changes, useful for varied projects. Recommended M50 accessories: spare batteries and a battery door plate for easy access.

The Canon EOS 90D is an excellent, near-professional model. I’ve shot over 1000 successful self tapes with the 80D, so the 90D should perform reliably, albeit at a higher price point.
This camera excels for self-taping with its 45-point focusing system and dual motors that prevent blurry shots.

The predecessor to the 90D has 23 focus points and dual motors for reliable focus, at a lower price.
The Canon EOS 80D’s fast performance, intuitive controls and innovative tech make it ideal for DIY self-taping.

Audio

When developing a more advanced home studio setup for self-tapes, an external microphone is recommended for improved audio quality. Built-in mics on phones and cameras often pick up lackluster sound. Many actors opt for shotgun mics specifically designed for voice recording and interviews. They capture crisp, clear audio perfect for auditions. As your self-taping skills progress, add an external shotgun mic to your kit to take the sound to the next level. Ditch distracting background noise and muted tones from subpar built-in mics. Invest in one of the shotgun mics below for professional voice pickup that showcases your abilities on every self-tape.

The Shure MV88 is a small, versatile microphone that plugs directly into an iPhone or iPad’s Lightning port. It can record in stereo or mono and offers multiple pickup patterns. The companion ShurePlus Motiv app provides extensive digital signal processing controls. Despite its compact size and reasonable price, the MV88 gives iOS users professional-quality audio capture on the go.

This professional-grade lapel mic outperforms most built-in mics. Designed for iOS devices, the PoP voice mic plugs directly into iPhones for simple operation – no adapters or batteries required. It features a high-quality chip for reliable performance on iPhones and iPads with Lightning ports (not compatible with USB-C). With plug-and-play functionality and superior audio over built-in mics, this lapel mic enables actors to record broadcast-quality sound for self-tapes directly on their iPhone.

This wireless lavalier microphone kit simplifies audio capture without adapters, Bluetooth or apps. Simply plug the receiver into your phone or camera and the transmitter automatically pairs for instant setup. With its plug-and-play functionality, auto-pairing, and handsfree clip-on design, this wireless system makes it effortless to record studio-quality audio for self-tapes directly on your phone or camera. No expertise required – just clip on the mic and start recording professional voice pickup.

The VideoMicro II is a compact, lightweight shotgun mic that connects via audio cable to give professional audio quality for any camera or smartphone. With an included windscreen, it’s ideal for run-and-gun filming or simply upgrading video sound, while remaining easy to use.

The MKE 440 stereo shotgun microphone has a unique dual mini shotgun design that tracks your movement and focuses on your voice while minimizing background noise. Its matched mics pan audio as you shift left or right during an audition or performance. With optimized acoustics, adjustable sensitivity, and wind protection, this mic excels at capturing clear, detailed speech, music and ambient sound.

The V-Mic D3 Pro is a versatile “smart microphone” that connects via 3.5mm jack to DSLRs, phones, tablets, transmitters, laptops – almost anything with a mic input. When plugged into stereo mic inputs, it outputs dual mono tracks. This universal compatibility allows the D3 Pro to work seamlessly across devices.

The Rode VideoMic NTG is a versatile shotgun mic for cameras, computers and mobiles. With its highly directional pickup, it focuses on what it’s pointed at while minimizing surrounding noise – perfect for interviews, dialogue, and video with ambient sound. Notably, it has an onboard gain control knob so levels can be adjusted on the mic, without changing camera settings. This affordable shotgun mic delivers excellent broadcast-quality audio transparency.

The Blue Yeti USB microphone delivers professional-grade audio quality perfect for voiceovers and self-tapes. It connects directly to a computer via USB for quick plug-and-play setup. The included desktop stand allows flexible positioning. With its broadcast-quality sound capture, this condenser microphone enables actors to easily record studio-level voiceovers, auditions, and more right on their computer. The Blue Yeti excels in vocal clarity and power – ideal for self-tape reads.

A shotgun mic can be mounted on-camera or on a stand. The Kasonic stand works well, with a clothespin holder ideal for shotgun mics. This adjustable tripod stand holds mics securely, with rubber feet to minimize vibration and floor scuffs.

Lighting

If natural light or household lamps don’t meet your self-tape lighting needs, invest in studio lighting. Softbox lights evenly illuminate you while minimizing background shadows. Experiment to find ideal positioning based on your space. Proper lighting elevates homemade auditions to look professional-grade. Harsh shadows appear amateurish, softboxes make you shine. Control lighting conditions and quality with solutions designed for self-taping. With trial and error, configure lighting that enhances your performance for every audition tape.

This 3-light kit provides everything for creating flattering, soft-lit self-tapes.  With its high power output and included diffusers for soft light, this is an ideal all-in-one lighting solution for actors to elevate their self-tape auditions. The kit has versatile lights and stands to produce beautiful lighting in home studios or on location. For actors seeking professional lighting without the studio cost, this affordable kit has all the equipment needed for stunning self-tapes.

The Emart Professional Umbrella Continuous Lighting Kit provides high quality lighting optimized for neutral, true-to-life skin tones during video recording. The kit includes both white and black umbrellas to meet different lighting needs. The adjustable lighting and pro-grade umbrellas allow actors to achieve professional-looking results when self-taping auditions at home. By delivering neutral lighting and controlled spill, this lighting kit enables actors to get accurate skin tones and high quality footage for their self-tapes.

For self-tapers with limited space, large softbox lights may not be practical. LED panel lights like these 15.4″ models from Dazzne are a great space-saving alternative. The compact LED panels take up minimal room compared to bulky softboxes. Another benefit is dimmability for complete control over lighting brightness. The adjustable 3000K-8000K color temperature range means you can customize from warm ambiance to bright white daylight. The built-in LCD screen clearly displays settings. The customizable brightness and tone allow actors to dial in perfect lighting for self-tapes.

These dimmable 55W LED bulbs work with softboxes to create flattering lighting for self-tapes. The 5600K temperature provides bright, daylight balancing. With no UV/IR radiation or excess heat, they are safe for extended use. For actors and self-tapers, these LED bulbs deliver customizable, soft lighting to make you look your best on camera. Their bright daylight temperature, wide dimming range, and low heat make them the perfect complement to any softbox lighting kit.

Tripod

No matter if you use a phone or camera for self-tapes, a tripod is essential for stabilizing the video. Never resort to asking someone to just hold the camera – invest in a good tripod instead. Quality tripods are affordable, so there’s no reason to compromise on shaky footage. A tripod eliminates jittery video that can ruin auditions. For both phone and camera setups, a sturdy tripod should be the first purchase for any actor self-taping at home. With so many budget-friendly options available, tripods are an indispensable tool for capturing steady, professional-looking audition tapes. Don’t rely on unsteady hands – use a tripod for every self-tape.

(Phone)

The UBeesize Tripod S is an excellent phone tripod to pack in your suitcase for self-taping or photos on the go. Its flexible, bendable legs can twist into nearly any position, even wrapping around objects.
The sturdy design provides stability, and it’s one of the tallest phone tripods available at 10.6 inches high.
This updated Tripod S includes an upgraded adapter to position your phone horizontally or vertically. This key feature lets you easily take panoramic shots outdoors.
With its portable size, flexible legs, and horizontal/vertical adapter, the UBeesize Tripod S is ideal for travel self-taping or photography when you’re away from home.

If recording self-tapes with your phone instead of a camera, you’ll need an adapter to attach your phone to a tripod for stability. The Ulanzi Tripod Phone Mount is an affordable option that securely holds your phone while recording. This mount comes with a detachable mini tripod, but can also be used with a full-size tripod. Helpful extras include a shoe at the top to attach a mic or light.
When recording self-tapes on your phone, be sure to position it horizontally in landscape mode, not vertical. Casting directors will not accept vertical videos for auditions. With its ability to mount a phone on any tripod plus extras like a mic mount, the Ulanzi Tripod Phone Mount provides an essential, budget-friendly way to record stable self-tapes with your smartphone.

This 70 inch lightweight tripod comes with a phone adapter and Bluetooth remote. Although it claims to support heavier cameras, I would not trust it with more expensive equipment. However, if you film self-tapes with your phone, this tripod should be suitable. The height of 70 inch provides stability, while the included phone adapter allows you to attach your smartphone securely. The Bluetooth remote allows hands-free control while self-taping. So for aspiring actors self-taping auditions with a phone, this inexpensive tripod and its features like the adapter and remote make it a good budget option. But it may not be sturdy enough for costly camera gear.

(Camera)

Consider getting this fluid head tripod mount to help make framing and panning smoother when self-taping. It works with camcorders and DSLR cameras using external accessories. The variable fluid mechanisms allow full control over smooth camera motions during shooting. So if you want to step up the production quality of your self-tapes with smooth pans and tilts, this mount used with a tripod can help achieve that professional look and feel. It’s a great upgrade for actors who use a camcorder or DSLR to record audition videos and want the full smoothness control of a fluid head.

Shaky footage can ruin a self-tape, so a sturdy tripod is essential. This metal tripod is rock solid and extends up to 114″ in height. It is designed as a light stand for mounting photography equipment in-studio or on-location. The stainless steel construction is corrosion-resistant for durability, even in salty air.  It comes with a 1/4″ to 3/8″ universal adapter compatible with most photo equipment. With its adjustable steel height and stable base, this stand provides a sturdy foundation for eliminating wobble in self-tapes, while protecting your gear. Perfect for actors who want pro-quality, shake-free footage.

This 75-inch aluminum tripod has four adjustable height levels and a pan/tilt head with 360 degree rotation. It can be used in studio or on location, supporting smartphones as well as smaller point-and-shoot, DSLR, and mirrorless cameras weighing up to 9 lbs. The range of adjustable heights and full rotating pan/tilt head make it ideal for getting optimal shots with different cameras when self-taping audition videos. Sturdy aluminum construction provides stability for clear footage. So whether filming in your home studio or out in the field, this versatile tripod works with multiple camera types at various heights.

Background

To create an ideal self-tape backdrop on a budget, the two most important items are a blank wall and paint in an attractive color. Light blue or light grey are preferred by most casting directors, as they complement all skin tones and keep the focus on you. Choose an eggshell finish paint rather than semigloss or gloss, which can appear too shiny on camera. Position yourself 2-3 feet from the wall to minimize shadows behind you. With a neutral colored eggshell paint and proper distance from the wall, your self-tape auditions will have an optimized backdrop that spotlights you and your performance.

This collapsible backdrop offers easy setup and takedown for self-taping. While the blue side is more saturated than ideal, the grey side provides an optimal neutral tone. As a budget-friendly portable option, these backdrops are great for tight spaces, unfolding to 5ft x 6.5ft but folding into a compact 28 inches. Having both blue and grey options allows you to choose the best color for your skin tone and audition needs. The convenience and portability of quickly setting up these folding backdrops makes them ideal for actors without dedicated studio space to record self-tapes.

This seamless paper backdrop provides excellent quality for self-taping studios. For actors seeking an affordable, wrinkle-free backdrop that looks great on camera, this mounted paper backdrop creates a seamless, polished look ideal for self-tapes. The professional style elevates home studios to look like real production sets.

The Fovitec Backdrop Stand is a compact, heavy-duty metal stand ideal for portable backdrops when self-taping. Its sturdy construction can hold up to 11 lbs, with a standard stud mount to attach backgrounds. The small size is perfect for actors on the go, fitting into most light stand bags. With its durability and portability, this backdrop stand enables self-tapers to easily set up professional-looking backdrops anywhere, whether home studio or on location. It provides a stable support system for seamless paper or collapsible backdrops, elevating the quality of self-taped auditions.

This T-shaped backdrop stand adjusts up to 8 feet tall while only 5 feet wide, saving space for small home studios. It includes 4 spring clamps to securely mount backdrops. The compact footprint and easy breakdown make this stand ideal when storage is limited. Despite weighing just 2.9 lbs, the sturdy frame can bear up to 22 lbs. With adjustable height in a slim profile, this backdrop stand enables self-tapers to setup polished, professional backdrops even in tight home spaces. The lightweight steel is easy to transport and mount collapsible or paper backdrops to. For space-constrained actors, this collapsible stand creates studio-quality audition tapes without taking up much room.

Editing Apps

(Mac & PC)

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