Video Hosting

…with the most-est. On-camera Host Work 101

Recently I did on on camera job for Gaijin Pot on vintage shopping in Harajuku. It was a solo on-camera spot with VO,  so it works a little differently that if you’re co-hosting a spot. You have no one to play off of, and talking into a machine is probably the most unnatural thing you can possibly do. So here are some thoughts on how to prep for an on-camera spot, and a little bit on at home VO work.

Don’t overwork.

The best on-camera (and acting, arguably) is not working it. At all. No cheesy narrator voice, no big, theatrical eye pops or gestures. Directors will always tell you, “Just act like you’re talking to a friend,” because that’s really what most TV VO should feel like. Can you get excited? Yes of course, but it needs to be “fair” and in context. If you’re peeing your pants with glee over a shop that sells pens, not only does it come across fake, but it makes you look like a weirdo. A little personality in banter is always good, just keep it in line with the content.

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Take direction.

Where’s your one mark? Your two? Are you talking and walking? Are there two cameras- which do you hit first, and with what part of the script? Are you sitting down while you’re talking and having a camera follow you?(this is a shockingly tough shot).  Make sure you know exactly where you’re supposed to be and what part of the script you’re supposed to be at when you hit your marks. Your director will be more than happy to do a dry run to block everything out so everyone knows what the roll will look like. Below is a commercial I did several years ago. Delivering the line while I’m sitting? That took twenty takes alone.


This can be tough if you’re shooting outdoors. In the Harajuku shoot it was bloody HOT out, and my hair wasn’t having it. Your MUA will take photos before you get rolling to make sure you stay relatively consistent throughout the day, but for a quick and dirty shoot like a Tokyo Minute, you really have to keep your face in a mirror and make sure you don’t look like a transformed mongrel three hours later.

The Look

You’ll notice what I’m wearing in the Harajuku video– super simple, no bananas jewelry that’ll scratch against mics, no patterns, no white, no black. Hosting is never about the host. It’s about being a guide through the content. My personal brand is very simple, and yours should be too– the days of the “crazy hat lady” or the “cowboy book reviewer” are LONG gone. Audiences are way too sophisticated for that. Yes- you can have personal branding– I know one marketing mastermind who is impeccably dressed and he always wears a pocket square. He rocks it hard and it totally works because it’s refined, distinctive, and cool. Some girls do a cool ring, some girls have a rad beehive… but it has to work with your personal style otherwise it feels contrived. But I digress.

The VO

If you want to open up more range for your hosting, check out my article on the VO home studio. This little setup creates fantastic sound and costs almost nothing. I highly recommend it!




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