Daphne Nitsuga has spent the last four years building her career as a professional actress. She shares the main differences between voice acting and on-camera acting. She also suggests helpful tips to deliver convincing performances in the recording booth and out on the field.
What’s in this Article?
Main differences between acting on camera vs. voice acting
With voiceover, you only have your voice to work with. Because of this, voice acting has a lot of freedom in terms of the roles I audition for.
I can be anyone from any height, species, gender, age, and so on, as long as my voice suits the part or my “type”. It really leaves a lot of room for imagination and lets you go wild!
It’s funny because my “type” for voiceover is actually very different from on-camera!
Challenges of Voice Acting
Limited Rehearsal Time
There’s usually minimal rehearsal for voiceover roles. As of right now, all of my voiceover roles are recorded from home, usually on my own time where I’m directing myself.
Sometimes I get to do a full readthrough with the cast if we’re doing a live session, but, most of the time, I usually just read the script or dialogue that I’m given beforehand. This is where the acting training kicks in.
Overcoming the challenges of Voice Acting
Deliver a Convincing Performance
Even though we don’t see your face up close, with voiceover, it’s still so important to feel and mean every word with your heart. Because you only have your voice, your performance has to be 10x bigger than you think it does!
Being able to make strong character choices and gauging the character’s feelings and opinions, engaging in dialogue with another person whose voice you can’t hear, and being able to express all of those feelings with only your voice is a lot more difficult than it looks!
Since I’m almost always in the booth alone, unless I’m given footage to record with/over, a lot is left up to imagination. I always tell my friends the story of how I cried in my booth for an hour because the character was crying in the scene -- and a very long one, at that. Again, even though you can’t see my face, the emotion in the delivery really shows!
On camera, the audience can see you and, if the camera is close enough, can look straight into your eyes, so you have your facial expressions and body language to work with.
Since you can see me as a person, the roles I can go for are a bit more restricted than voiceover. I’m restricted to the age range I can pass for based on my face, height, etc. There’s also my ethnicity, appearance, physical capabilities, and the like.
However, there’s still lots of room for fun and pretending, because my roles are basically me, but sometimes doing fun and exciting things I wouldn’t get a chance to do when the camera isn’t rolling!
Challenges of acting on camera
Intense Filming Schedule
The days of filming are usually filled with several short, but intense, bursts of scene work to get the right performances, angles, and coverage all while maintaining one’s makeup, wardrobe and also character mindset in between takes.
Sustaining the Quality of your Performance
To give a full and honest performance over and over again, saying the same words a million times, making sure you don’t move out of frame -- it’s a lot more difficult than it looks! Depending on the role, filming days can be up to 12 hrs long (I’ve had a shoot go for 19 hrs straight once -- talk about endurance, right?).
Overcoming the challenges of acting on camera
Here are some ways you can overcome these challenges:
Act with Your Heart
The camera can see straight into your eyes, so it’s very, very important that you feel and mean everything you say and do with your heart when it’s rolling. Anything to break that facade for even a second can be seen plain as day (it’s scary how the camera can see all your feelings–and your pores!)
Communicate with your Castmates and Director
To do this well takes a lot of prep, usually involving meeting your other castmates and understanding your chemistry, talking to the director beforehand to discuss the plot, characters, etc, and sometimes a few small rehearsals in between.
Know your Script
Knowing your script and your role inside and out -- not just their words, but their feelings and their opinions, because all of that shows on camera! And of course, our scripts have to be memorized!
Why I prefer On-Camera Acting
I honestly really love to do both but I guess if I really had to pick one, I would pick acting on camera, mainly because I like to physically do the things I’m pretending to! I’ve gotten to do all sorts of random things I’d never do in my normal life because of film—using a syringe, being a spy, playing a game of Humans vs Zombies, the list goes on!
Tips for Balancing Both Forms of Acting
Tip 1: Choose Different Skills for Different Settings
Since being on-camera is so different from being behind the mic, you kind of have to know which “hat” to put on at the right time.
At the core of it all, it really does come down to acting at its core. Understanding your roles, feeling every emotion with your heart, having an opinion about everything that’s said, knowing the script inside and out – things like that.
Tip 2: Take Breaks
When it comes to my schedule, I tend to take things as they come. Sometimes I’m doing more voiceover, sometimes I’m doing more on-camera, sometimes it’s kinda dead for both and I’m using that time to take a break!
It’s important to not overwork yourself, too–acting is a lot of mental work and in order to juggle both, you need to let yourself rest!
Tip 3: Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
The second you start comparing yourself to other actors is when you’re going to spiral downward. It’s important to remember that you’re going on your own journey and to go at your own pace.
Some people have acted their whole lives, which is cool! Some people just got into this weird acting thing and are kind of running around and auditioning to get experience. That’s also really cool! You’re not going to be a better actor by getting more roles or bigger part.
You’re going to be a good actor by being the BEST YOU you can be. I can’t even count the number of times a director has told me “I ultimately cast you because you’re YOU.” Not being popular or in demand says nothing about your worth as your person.
You are NOT your numbers! But at the same time you’re not going to earn anything by resting on your laurels. If being an actor in cool projects is what you really want to do, continue to work hard and give it your all even when you’re not booking things.
Tip 4: Update your skills.
Create/update your resume and reels, submit auditions, TAKE CLASSES, make connections and MAINTAIN them. Use everything at your disposal. Chance only comes to those who are prepared!
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