Ever since the “Talkies” were invented, film has been a combination of the visual element – the film – and audio elements – dialog, ambiance, sound effects, “foley” and music. The first problem they had to solve was “synching” the sound with the video. A primitive way to do that was the slate clapperboard. When they clapped the top of the board together it provide a visual cue and an audio cue which they could align when they married the sound and picture together. Later techniques involved time code that connected the camera to the sound recording equipment.
All this technology allowed the director to record the dialog of the actors as the film was being shot. This gave an authentic performance because the mood of the actors visually matched the sound of their performance. And the sound matched the “ambiance” of the environment it was being performed in. A kitchen would sound different than a parking garage.
But sometimes this recording technique does not provide usable dialog. A jet may fly over during a scene set in the 1800s. Ocean waves may overwhelm a scene filmed on a beach. Or a glitch in the recording process may ruin the audio of a well-acted scene.
ADR Automated Dialog Replacement to the Rescue
There are some times when the dialog recorded in a scene is just not useful. In these cases the dialog is “re-recorded” in a recording studio using a process called ADR. This stands for Automated Dialog Replacement. An older term for this is “Looping” because it was originally done by projecting “loops” of film for a scene that the actor would try to match. You’ll also hear the terms “looping” and “re-recording”.
For ADR the actor arrives at an audio recording studio which will provide a quiet controlled environment for the recording session. There is a microphone that matches the mic used on the set and a video screen that the actor can watch to see and hear the original performance.
Recording software is set up so clips of the video can be played with the original audio. additional tracks are used to record the new performance. There is also a series of three beeps that are played to cue the actor when to begin the dialog. Beep, beep, beep, talk!
The actor tries to match both the timing of the line and the emotional vibe of the line. Donee correctly, in the final film the audience will not be able to tell the lines have been re-recorded. To make it easier for the actor, the lines are usually recorded as short phrases.
The Art and Craft of ADR
It is important to note that there is an art and a technology to the ADR process. Nothing should interfere with the ability of the talent to deliver lines that match the scene emotionally. The process should flow smoothly so the actor can stay in character and deliver lines that are artistically well defined. The film director or similar person should supervise and approve the performance.
But the dialog also has to be recorded well and synch with the film. Mic selection and placement should be monitored. And the repetitive nature of the process has to be seamless so that nothing is missed or left out. This requires an engineer that is familiar with the recording setup and the process to assure efficient, accurate results.
Aliso Creek ADR Services
At Aliso Creek Productions we provide ADR services for Student Films and Independent Films. We provide a sound controlled recording space, quality microphones and preamps, headphones, and video projection and synchronization that give you the top quality, efficient results of the “big sound stages” with the comfortable environment and flexibility of an independent studio.
And if you have your clips and audio on your computer we can provide “plug and play” capability where you bring you computer, plug into our audio and video interfaces and record directly to your audio work station.
So if you need ADR services for your film or video project, give us a call or contact us today.