The truth is it is both. The amount of skill required to fulfill all of the elements required in a Self-Tape audition are far greater than an in-person audition. You, the actor, are usually in a comfortable place that you are familiar with as opposed to the character who has to live in his world. Your world and the character’s world are very rarely the same. What I am talking about is – PLACE.
How you create the reality of place is far harder than it looks. How do you as the actor live in the character’s reality when you are comfortable in your own reality? In an In-Person audition you have the tension of working in their space and in front of people who are there for one reason, to determine if you are right for the role and get a callback. You have one shot with the choices you make. They might like what you did but it is not exactly what they are looking for so they give you notes and ask you to audition again and make the changes they asked for. Tension mounts because of adrenaline and your focus and commitment increases which pushes you to give it all you have.
The opposite is true in a Self-Tape because if you don’t like what you did you can re-do the audition until you are happy with what you have done and you could possibly do that numerous times. What happens is without knowing it you are actually starting to repeat the performance instead of living it as the actor for the first time in their world. That is the curse. You get comfortable and you forget all the other character realities that you must create and your focus is on the words and judging if they sound right to you.
Learn how to create all the realities that affect and motivate the character while you, the actor, are in the Self-Tape Box. That is when the casting director sees the character living their moments and that is what opens doors for you and creates opportunities.