ADR is one of the most commonly used tools in modern Film & TV. Although, many people don’t really understand what it is, or why it’s used. In this article, we explore what ADR is, how often it’s used, and how to be prepared for the day you’re asked to do ADR for yourself.
ADR is the process of replacing dialogue in the edit, with audio that the actor records in a quiet environment. Usually used when the onset audio was of bad quality, or when the director wants to alter dialogue during the edit. ADR is used in most movies of the modern-day.
ADR isn’t a bad thing, it’s usually seen as a necessary part of post-production. In fact, a movie could easily include up to 30% ADR without an unsuspecting viewer even noticing it.
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Types of ADR
There are a few different methods of recording ADR that you’ll need to know.
ADR with Visuals
Visual ADR is when the actor watches the performance back and rerecords the lines in sync with the visuals. This type of ADR is often done when the dialogue has to be lip-synced, coordinated with the visuals, or especially perfect for some reason.
ADR without Visuals
Although you’ll usually have visuals to record your ADR to, there may be occasions where you don’t. In these cases, the actor will be played a line, and the actor will either replicate it or record different versions of the line, depending on the directors’ needs.
This type of ADR can be done when the visuals aren’t as necessary to the audio. For example, when you’re line comes from a non-principal role.
Oftentimes, ADR will be placed over a shot where the actor that is speaking can’t be seen. This allows the ADR to be more effective, and convincing. As you can’t see the actors’ lips moving.
This type of ADR can also be a lot easier, as you don’t have to match up the dialogue as perfectly. The editor will then work their magic.
How often is ADR used?
ADR is used more often than people think. It’s used in the majority of modern Hollywood movies and TV shows. Many movie sets are loud, for a few different reasons. Whether that be a noisy location, or certain equipment needed for production, like generators. In these scenarios, ADR is necessary.
When ADR is done well, it can be almost impossible to tell apart from a scene without it. We see it so often, that our brains are accustomed to it. Although that doesn’t mean we don’t notice when it’s done badly. Bad ADR is probably almost worse than having bad audio.
When done well, ADR can be an asset to enhance the finished movie.
How to do ADR (For Actors)
ADR is, in theory, pretty simple. Although that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. In most cases you’ll be in a booth with a TV, microphone and script in front of you with the lines you’ll be recording on that day.
- The engineer will play the footage that you’ll be recording dialogue for.
- There will be some kind of queue, this is usually 3 beeps.
- Rehearse the lines
- You will record the line, as directed by the director. Whether that be exactly as you said it in the clip, or a variation.
Remember to try not to sound like you’re imitating yourself, but instead be in the moment, just like you’d be in front of the camera. This will improve the believability of your ADR performance.
Often your physicality is very important to your audible expression. Don’t just say the words.
Although in some circumstances, it’s important to keep in time with the visuals. You don’t want to sound like you’re trying to keep in time by slowing or speeding up, to get it spot on. Rather, focus on saying the line naturally, keeping it in time is just the addon.
Can ADR be done with non dialogue audio?
By definition, ADR (Automated dialogue replacement) can only be done with dialogue. Although the process of replacing sighs, grunts or other atmospheric and object sound effects is often called foley.
Foley is used to create a soundscape that enhances the audio atmosphere of your film. Whether it’s animal sounds, chains clinking, footsteps on a gravel path or any other sound that is in a film. If it’s not dialogue, it will be done using foley.
Foley is a whole art in itself, often using interesting objects to create great sounds to be used in post.
Foley is used more often than it’s not in modern film and there are whole production houses that are dedicated to creating great foley.