The Common Skill Set of On-Camera and VO Acting

Hey, there!

Something occurred to me a while back. It seems pretty simple, but it seems to escape a lot of artists.

What’s the concept?

Acting is acting is acting. VO, on-camera, stage, whatever.

Simple, right? Apparently not.

See, I’m always surprised how resistant some actors are to exploring VO as an acting form. They have no problem checking out theater, film, TV or even commercials, but VO? That’s a foreign object to them – a confusing, fuzzy no-thank you.

I’d like to spend some time convincing VO actors – you – that they should consider on-camera acting, and on-camera actors to consider VO.


Because when we train for one, we’re secretly training for the other. Every cold reading skill we learn, every storytelling technique we acquire, every emotional moment we create can be sold to producers both on-camera and on-mic.

Developing a character for on-camera, placing that character in the script’s situation, and playing that character in the scene, is no different from how we do those very same actions on-mic. The only difference is the collector device.

I call it “mutual muscles.” (I actually created a class for it: Mutual Muscles – it’s available to you here)

And our marketing strategies and tactics hold true for both areas as well: just as surely as we create a portfolio of headshots to show the different facets of our on-camera brand, we develop a portfolio of demos to show the different buyers of VO the disctinct flavors of our on-mic brand.

The more you realize how much all of our acting modes are alike, the more you ease into all of them, and share expertise across all of them.

And…the more money you make.

I hope that got your attention.


5 Responses to The Common Skill Set of On-Camera and VO Acting

  1. MzzQ2u September 26, 2015 at 5:21 am #

    Sho did! Yesiree.

  2. maya waterman September 26, 2015 at 12:07 pm #

    Thank you David!!
    After VO audition yesterday the very thought was in my mind!!
    So true!

  3. Howard Ellison September 27, 2015 at 3:58 am #

    That sure gets my attention David. Agreed all species of actor share the love, compulsion, gift, whatever. But, eyes closed, listening to TV ads, soaps and even audioboooks voiced by our admirable film and stage colleagues, I conclude that the specialist voice actor generally makes a far better job of them.

    We may or may not have attended RADA or Juilliard but when we step up to the blind microphone our being is completely vocal: there’s no costume, no spotlight, no slap, no audience murmur, usually no fellow actor to bounce off, not even a stimulating green room and bad coffee for home-based guys. A character, or even several together, may well have to be created in hours, not days or weeks of rehearsal. We might even have to withstand the dreaded ‘line read’.

    What an achievement! I think these are very particular strengths. But, yes, we should at least explore on-camera or unplugged… unless one has ‘a great face for radio’.

  4. andi October 4, 2015 at 2:35 pm #

    Certainly got my attention. Will be back in front of a mike by the end of the month. Been away too long. Thanks for continuing to keep me in your updates.

    andi hicks

  5. Robert Hilton July 25, 2018 at 10:00 am #

    Thanks. I’m not even a beginner yet, so welcome tips from the professionals. I’ve been doing voice stuff in an amateur way for decades and plan to try to go professional.

Leave a Reply