Movie Making Manual/ADR

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ADR- Automated Dialog Replacement, (also referred to as "Looping"): The replacement of dialog in post-production of a film or video. This is done with the vast majority of feature sound tracks. Often, the "sync" sound recorded on the set is sub-par because of ambient noise, set acoustics, or talent deficiency. Sometimes it is requested by the producer. For instance, all Mel Gibson's dialog was replaced in the original "Mad Max" movie because the distributor felt his Australian accent was too distracting.

Historically, film stock was spliced into a loop of the segment of the dialog being replaced and this segment was interlocked to an audio recording device. The actor would then watch the picture and listen to the sync sound while repeating the phrase ad nauseum until the director was satisfied the take was perfect. This has been replaced (except the "ad nauseum" part) by computerized workstations which greatly enhance the workflow as well as giving distinct advantages to further post production audio work such as "sweetening".

Also known as:

Additional Dialog Recording

ADR in India - MOS[edit]

The best place to learn about ADR is India. In southern India (as well as occasionally in some countries in Europe), 35mm motion pictures are shot MOS (The actual origin of the abbreviation MOS and therefore its meaning is not doubtlessly to be specified; it's often referred to the legend that a German-speaking film director translated badly "Mit Ton aus" into "with out sound" ). Then all the dialog is added later using ADR. This means none of the dialog is in sync.

Question: Why do they do this? Answer: India has over 30 languages. Actually, India is like a group of countries, each speaking their own language. Therefore, a motion picture for the Indian market must be dubbed into many different languages.

In Madras 80% of heroines and 50% heroes do not speak the language in which the movie is made. So they are left with no other option but to do ADR. The dts technology help them to do different language shows with same print.That is why 60%of theatres are dts ready.

All except one of the dubs would look out of sync... even if they used sync sound. So why not have them all out of sync by not using any sync sound? The logic of this might not seem ideal but the economics is wonderful.

By shooting MOS, you do not have to worry about noise on the movies set. That saves you 50% of your time right there. You don't have to worry about getting actors who can say their lines clearly. You don't have to use movie cameras which have accurate motors. You don't need a clapper to keep the audio in sync. (Note: In Madras, many of the profitable, low-budget comedies are filmed with an old Arri "C" camera. You can never get sync sound with that camera because of the noise and the less-than-perfect motor speed.)

In case you think that this is just one or two movies, remember that in Madras (Chennai), India, more motion pictures are filmed each year than in any other city in the world... including Hollywood.

In case you think that no professional movie will ever be filmed this way, look at "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly". Almost all of the dialog shots were filmed MOS. Even the Indian people like to watch the later dubbed sound instead of the sync sound.

The secret of doing movies MOS and adding all the dialog later via ADR is the quality of the actor's voices. If you have highly skilled actors with good vocal control doing the ADR for the entire movies, the results are more than acceptable. The voice actors for "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" had been doing radio dramas for years when they did the ADR for this movie for all but the principle characters in the movie, most of whom were speaking another language.

ADR does not work as well when you mix shots done MOS with shots done with sync sound. Then people can hear the difference. Some movies get away with mixing MOS shots with sync sound shots by using sync sound only for close-up shots and using MOS for all the rest of the motion picture.

ADR in Schools - DV Camcorder[edit]

The future of shooting motion pictures using total ADR never looked brighter. In theory, it is possible to film a motion picture with a DV Camcorder or an HD camcorder by using the built-in microphone to create a scratch track and then replacing all the dialog using ADR. Having a scratch track means you have a guide for both the voice actors but also for the audio engineer who must sync the two together. aligning newly recorded dialog to match a scratch track is easy. This way, you get perfect sync every time. That is why this method is ideal for high schools when they begin to make their own, yearly motion pictures. The scratch track can be extremely noisy but the final movie will have perfectly clear dialog.

Remember: For most motion pictures, all audio except the dialog is replaced in post production. If you also replace the dialog, you have an extremely clear sound track for your motion picture. So using a scratch track, you can make acceptable movies.

Naturally, a movie with little talking (a Western) will work better with ADR than a movie which has lots of verbal emotion.

Setup for ADR[edit]

Here is what you need to do your own ADR:

The Room 
The biggest problem with doing ADR for a low budget motion picture is building the recording studio. Getting a good sounding room which is totally quiet is not easy in a high school.
The Computer 
Most computers, including laptops, are not silent. The noise of the disk drive is enough to ruin the audio. Therefore, the computer must be outside the room where the microphone is.
The Software 
If your budget is extremely low, you can use GarageBand 3 to do ADR looping. You just need a program which can play the movie while you record the dialog.
A better alternative is a music program. Most music programs now include full DAW functionality. Get one which is easy to use.
Professional Software titles like Gallery's ADRStudio are widely used for Professional ADR sessions. Steinberg's "Nuendo" and Digidesign's "Pro Tools" are two audio software applications commonly used for post-production and are available on both Macintosh and Windows platforms but these do not have the specialist features of titles like ADRStudio or VoiceQ ADR. Features such as the script text scrolling on the screen as the video file plays and audible 'cues' playing without manual intervention. Gallery's VoicePro software is used for Video Game Dialog Recording. Another available Windows software is Dialog ADR and Dialog Spotting designed by ZIO AUDIO in Spain.
The Interface 
You need a good way to convert the signal from a professional microphone to a digital waveform in the computer. Many Firewire and USB microphone amplifiers are now available which will accept a balanced microphone jack.
The Microphone 
Good microphones are expensive. And they are fragile. Anything less and you will notice the difference in quality, although in the last 10 years prices of acceptable models have come down to less than a fifth the price of the traditionally used high end Sennheisers, Neumanns and AKGs.

Facts about ADR[edit]

Robert Rodriquez did not use any sync sound for his first feature-length motion picture. Instead, he recorded the audio immediately after filming the scene. As anyone in Hollywood will tell you, this is impossible. So, if you are going to bend the rules in filmmaking, you must understand how everything works. Note: When Robert Rodriquez makes a movie, he usually creates a 10-minute film school documentary. Watch these and learn.

Look at any motion picture filmed before about 1980... specially the outdoor scenes. Anytime you hear completely clear dialog from the actors, it was probably done with ADR. Once you start looking, you will be amazed how many movies used ADR that you thought were live recording on the movie set.

Now there are programs such as VocAlign which will take audio recorded in ADR (even in a foreign language) and reshape the audio to match the lip sync in the original audio.