Recording, editing and mixing ADR is an essential part of the post production process. It’s a key element to producing a successful film.
ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) is a method of replacing the dialogue in a film with new recordings, which have been done in a controlled and acoustically treated environment. This is most commonly done when location dialogue becomes problematic due to ambient noise on set being too loud or equipment malfunctions.
Pretty much every major film you see on the big screen will have between 30% and 70% ADR dialogue. So it’s well worth learning the basics!
Treat Your ADR Recording Space
In post production you have much more control over your audio than you do on set. The idea is to get as clean a recording as possible for your ADR so that later you put the dialogue into the appropriate space using EQ & reverb.
Clearly the best option here is to book an audio post studio with suitable ADR equipment. However, if you are recording this in a less than ideal space here are some tips for treating your room.
1. Use heavy blankets to dampen reflective surfaces such as walls, the ceiling above
the talent, the floor beneath the talent and the wall directly below talent.
2. Make sure now ambient noise is in the room such as computer fans, fridges etc.
3. Use a carpet floor tile or thick towel to place over the talents music stand (that will hold the scripts).
When recording ADR it is best practice to use the same microphone as was used on set. The aim is to match the frequency response and tonal characteristics as much as possible.
You will also ideally need a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) such as Pro Tools or Cubase as they will make video and audio looping much easier while recording than trying to do this via video editing software.
What you need:
· Preamp/Audio Interface
· Digital Audio Workstation (Pro Tools etc)
· Video Monitor
Although you can buy specific ADR software, which makes the process as easy as possible, it is certainly not necessary to have.
ADR Microphone Placement
It’s important to maintain some distance between the microphone and the talent – depending on what is happening in the scene. With a shotgun microphone try placing it between 1 -3 feet away. It is usually best to angle the mic off axis, pointing down toward the talent from the left or right hand side.
It might seem obvious but the absolute most important element to successful ADR is the delivery or performance from the talent. Poor performances cannot be fixed when the actor leaves the studio! Make sure you get what you need.
When recording your ADR you need to have an audio and video feed for the talent. Sometimes they are in a booth other times they might be in the same room as the engineer.
Highlight the line or lines you will be replacing first in your DAW. Make sure your DAW is set to ‘loop record’ mode and ideally set so that it creates a new ‘playlist’ on ever new loop record.
Try setting up a 3 ‘beep’. One beep per second – 4 seconds before the line comes in. This way the talent gets a count in and knows to start on the fourth second.
Editing & Mixing
Now that you have a clean ADR recording you can begin to add it into the appropriate acoustic space. Clearly the new dialogue needs to be in sync and should have been recorded as closely as possible during the ADR studio session.
You can use tools such as VocAlign Pro which matches the original (unusable) dialogue to your ADR recording automatically.
You can also do manual editing on your ADR to get the sync as close as possible.
Next you want to drop in the ambience of the scene, either recorded wild on set or using something suitable from a SFX library. This will help blend the ADR into the scene.
Finally use EQ and reverb to taste to make the ADR sound convincing. A convolution reverb is recommended – a reverb plug in that simulates a real acoustic space – we suggest Altiverb