We talked to ADR pro Justin Walker about how the ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) process works in film and television. Specifically, we asked if the use of ADR was dictated largely by the work itself, or by the director’s preference. “The need for ADR recording,” he says, “is split between technical and creative purposes, and there are many possible factors that would determine why ADR would be used.”
Walker says that “Since ninety nine percent of my work with dialogue and ADR editing is technical, I almost exclusively look for those types of lines to prep for ADR sessions.”
In an ADR project, Walker looks for dialogue lines that are:
• too low-level
• scratchy-sounding from cloth movement on lavaliere mikes hidden under wardrobe
• off mic or off axis sounding
• buried in noise from loud locations or production effects
• ruined by crew noise from creaky dolly shots, footsteps from Steadicam shots, or a crew member bumping into a C-stand
“On the creative side,” Walker says, “it is common for the picture editor to record his or her voice as temporary ADR that is intended to be recorded later in the ADR process. They do this often when there is a need to change or add a line of off screen dialogue.
“A typical example would be a scene where there is a phone conversation and we hear the person talking through the phone receiver.
“There may also be the occasion where the director isn't satisfied with the way the actor delivered a line. I add those performance ADR cues to my list only if the director explicitly mentions that they want to re-record it. The director plays a major role in approving ADR, both in deciding which takes to use and whether or not they prefer the original lines over the ADR.”
We observed that some made-for-cable TV movies have audio that sounds almost artificial, as though all of it was recorded on ADR. Walker says, “Those types of programs often have very tight budgets with even tighter sound budgets. It's possible that the sound edit and mix was rushed due to lack of resources, but it's hard to say exactly without knowing specifics. I know of several reality shows that are formatted for an hour in length, but due to lack of budget, the re-recording mixers are only allowed one day to mix. That is not enough time to mix an hour-long show in my opinion.” READ MORE...
We talked to linguist and dialect coach Doug Honorof about the use of accents and dialects in film. Honorof coaches actors and performers for film and television, commercials, voiceovers, and broadcast journalism.
When it comes to the use of foreign language in an American film, Honorof says, “Actors do not need a language teacher at all. They are not learning a foreign language; they are just creating the illusion that they have learned one. What they need is an illusionist. Dialect coaches are illusionists extraordinaire.”
He goes on to say, “With accents of English, when time permits, I try to get the actor speaking as the character in accent improvisationally, before working the dialogue and getting off book.” When coaching an actor to act in a language unknown to the actor, Honorof says, “… obviously, we can’t approach the problem that way. The actor would not even know how to use the melody of the voice to express an emotion the way a native-speaker would. In such cases, we have to work phonetically.
“I have all sorts of tricks for writing up the dialogue in eye dialect or phonetic transcription, for preparing recordings for the actor to practice with, for helping the actor remember the sounds, and for prompting via earwig or nearby on set and, ultimately, for ‘fixing it in post’.
“But ultimately, I am not teaching the actor a language. They don’t have to speak the language. They just have to look like they do. It is all smoke and mirrors with foreign language work.”READ MORE...