Updated: May 8
Most people, regardless of whether or not they have experience acting, are able to tell the difference between a good acting performance and a bad one. And that’s probably because a bad acting performance is usually easy to spot, often coming down to “not being believable” for one reason or another. However, when given a good acting performance, most can say it’s good but can’t articulate why. It becomes even more complicated when separating a good acting performance from a great one - we know there is a difference, and a significant one, but we struggle to articulate why.
Which is where one of my favorite acting tools comes in: video analysis! There are so many videos on Youtube that break down the intricacies of different acting performances. A good place to start is just your favorite piece of popular media. For example, my current obsession is the Breaking Bad cinematic universe, so I looked up analysis of the acting in the series. There are dozens upon dozens of videos (because Breaking Bad is insanely popular), but for this example I’ll be talking about “Breaking Bad - How Aaron Paul Perfected Jesse Pinkman” by Just An Observation on Youtube. This analysis is particularly interesting because Aaron Paul’s character was intended to be killed off by the end of the first season, but instead became a completely indispensable to the story and one of the most beloved characters in TV history (and won 3 Emmys for the role). So what did he do to be so captivating that the director simply had to rewrite his whole plan for the series to keep Paul? During the video we are given detailed insight on what makes his performance so special - boiled down to three factors about his performance: his physicality, his emotional transparency, and his emotional intensity. He then goes on to provide specific examples (with the footage, of course) of each trait in action and outlines why each is so important to a captivating performance.
From this, you’ve already learned something incredibly valuable. Not only do you now know why Aaron Paul is an amazing actor, but you know how too. The how being the way Aaron Paul performs, the specificity of his motions and what each tiny detail tells the audience. This gives you insight on new ways to display emotion and to convey strong character choices. And as you go through more videos of different actors, you will learn many different methods and choices that you can fold into your own acting performances.
In addition, by watching videos of acting performances being broken down, you will learn how to look at your own work with a critical lens.Since you will be able to see more complexity in performance rather than something just being “good” or “bad,” you will be able to detect when your acting is shallow and determine just what your performance needs to improve. This is especially useful in the realm of self tapes, when you have to essentially be your own director.
And the best thing about this method? It's completely free! And can be done whenever as long as you have an internet connection.
Link to the mentioned video: https://youtu.be/wVgmN9TXPiU