Hot on the heels of the free Hollywood Helper: Broadway Buddy, a neat lines-learning app for the iPhone that I wrote about some time ago, here’s Rehearsal from Sotto Voce Film+Works. It’s also iPad ready!
Rehearsal, like HH/BB has also been designed by and for a working actor; you can just tell by the features that have been adapted from the way we work, e.g., the coloured marker approach to text markup as well as an annotation capacity. Apart from their obvious mobile advantages, what these lines-learning apps for the iPhone do is to cut out the necessity for the long-suffering friend who has to sit for ages hearing your lines.
While HH/BB is text-oriented, Rehearsal is for those people who like to learn out-loud, and that’s something that I have always recommended to my students, and use myself. In fact, this app is just a nose ahead for me in terms of optimising learning since it also incorporates the on-board recording capability of the iPhone – nice if you want to work ‘silently’ as well.
The learning process built into both apps is very similar. You upload your script, then break it down into scenes for convenience. You can highlight your lines, and annotate on the text or in the margins. When you are in rehearsal mode you tap a ‘black-out’ button to hide your lines. You get your cues only, but if you get stuck, you just tap the blacked out section and a hint appears.
Rehearsal adds a couple of features not found in HH/BB. First, it’s how you highlight the text for your lines. You choose a colour ‘marker’ from an on-screen selection, and use your finger to highlight lines or words. There is also an ‘eraser’; you just select it and then tap the individual highlighted line or word, and they disappear – touch screen magic at work! Secondly, you can add an image or an audio file to your scene if you wish; this is in addition to the text notes capacity.
Rehearsal really comes into its own though through its voice features. After you’ve uploaded and prepared the scene you’re working on you then record all the text on the iPhone. Rehearsal suggests that you ‘half-voice’ your own lines so that in playback mode they are fainter but still audible. The idea is to listen to your ‘scene partner,’ getting used to your cues, then speaking over your own pre-recorded lines. It’s the repeat, repeat, repeat method aka rote learning that you use to nail your lines DLP (dead-letter perfect). You can then listen back to hear how you’re going and, at the same time, follow the lines. This is great to check speech clarity and for progress on dialect and accent study.
In the early repeat sessions you are working to the rhythm and the tempo of the recording, but this changes when live rehearsals take over – and of course, you can always re-record; in fact you should be doing so as the learning process with its accumulation of rehearsal discoveries will inevitably alter your lines-reading. When you are ready, just tap to ‘black-out’ your lines. As well as those of others, you will, of course, still hear your own lines sotto voce unless you have left them out of a subsequent recording. I really like the graded learning steps that Rehearsal provides. By the way, you can keep all of your recording sessions (dated and named as you wish) to check on progress; I can see the benefit when you are working on a dialect or accent in a role.
Something I really like is a special feature for voice actors. Again , you upload the script, and from here can record a demo to send on to the client or studio; it’s emailed on as an mp3 attachment directly from your iPhone. You can use the excellent voice app on the iPhone or add a microphone if you prefer. There are even the three standard stand-by ‘beeps’ so you can record for time if you wish. It’s all very smooth indeed!
The Nuts and Bolts:
Rehearsal is free for the first week with unlimited uploads of scripts. You have to register your email and details straight from your iPhone to get the account. After that just email your scripts as word or pdf docs attachments to a special email address you get from Rehearsal. After the week’s free trial is up, you can choose to upload per script, per month, or per year. Right now that’s $US1.99 per script and $US19.99 for unlimited monthly uploads or $199.99 unlimited annual. Oh, and they send a sweet little email hoping you ‘break a leg’ every time you upload a script. This isn’t cheesy at all; we need all the help we can get!
Update: May 2011. I am currently using Rehearsal myself as I prep for a role. You can see my post on my use of Rehearsal at On the job on the iPadhere on Groundling.