What’s the Difference Between Voice Acting and Traditional Acting?

Apr 21, 2023 | All, Voice Over

How different is voice acting from traditional acting, really? While it may seem obvious that voice acting is acting with only your voice, there is actually both a lot of cross over, and a lot of stark differences between voice acting and traditional acting.

The Three Main Types of Acting

While all acting is very similar, there are some major differences between the three main types of acting: on-screen, on-stage, and voice over.

On-Screen Acting

On-screen acting refers to any type of filmed acting. This is the acting you see in tv shows, movies, commercials, etc. A good on-screen actor conveys different feelings and emotions with subtle movements, facial expressions, and vocals.

Since you usually get close-up shots of filmed actors, more subtle body movements and facial expressions can be easily captured. An on-screen actor can act more naturally than they would on stage or with just their voice since these more subtle expressions are picked up on-camera.

On-Stage Acting

On-stage acting refers to acting that is done on a stage. Staged plays are the most common type of on-stage acting. Stage acting is often performed in front of a live audience.

In contrast to on-screen acting, on-stage acting usually requires more dramatic bodily movements and louder vocal projections. While larger-budget staged performances often use microphones these days, many still do not. Stage actors have to overdramatize their movements and vocals because they want to make sure that even the back row of the audience can see and hear what they are doing.

Voice Over

Voice over refers to acting done with only the sound of your voice. Voice over actors are commonly hired for animations, video games, commericals, and radio. 

Unlike on-screen and on-stage acting, a voice over artist can’t rely on their bodily movements and facial expressions to convey feelings or emotions. They are trained to show a range of emotions through just the sound of their voice.

Voice Over

Is Voice Over More Challenging Than Traditional Acting?

In many ways voice over can be a lot more challenging than traditional acting. Since you can’t rely on your body to portray your character, there is a different set of skills that goes into voice acting. You have to be able do a lot more with a lot less.

That’s not to say that voice over artists don’t still use their body in the booth. If you’ve ever seen videos of voice over artists at work, you’ll see that they’re often very animated inside the booth. However, making sure that expression shows through in your voice takes a lot of practice.

Another stark difference in voice acting, is that there are often no rehearsals, and there is very little preparation time between getting your script and going into the booth. Often times, voice actors get their scripts on the same day that they record. Sometimes this is even minutes before recording starts.


Your Voice is Your Greatest Tool

As a voice actor, a well-taken care of voice is the greatest tool you can wield. While voice prep is common in traditional acting also, it’s on a whole different level with voice over. If you aren’t taking care of your voice, you can’t work. Make sure you’re taking the proper steps to keep your voice healthy, and warm up before every recording session.


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About Ashley

I am a digital marketer and voice over artist based out of Fresno, California. I have a bachelor’s degree in English, and I have experience in copywriting, digital marketing, SEO strategies, StoryBranding, and voice over.

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