Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"Things..." episode 020.

020: Don't fear the ADR.

Of all the lessons I learned working on Hide and Creep, "Don't be afraid of ADR," might be the most important.

"ADR" is short for "automated dialogue replacement" or "additional dialogue recording." I prefer the latter definition, as there is nothing "automated" about ADR in the low-budget world.

I spent many hours trying to fix Hide and Creep problem audio -- dialogue recorded on set marred by traffic noise, airplane noise, and/or poor choice of microphone placement. It would have been easier (and, in the end, better-sounding) to just rerecord any problem dialogue.

There is one cardinal rule of do-it-yourself ADR: record the sound as "dry" as possible, with no natural reverb. Have the actor get close to the microphone and record the sound in a small room with carpeted or padded walls. The reason for the dry approach is simple -- you can easily add reverb to dialogue in post-production, to make it match the sound of the original room, but you cannot remove reverb.

I've been working on a new setup for Interplanetary ADR. I'll post details after I've had the opportunity to try it out with an actor (hopefully sometime next week).

EDIT: Looks like I opened up a can of worms with this topic. Please read the comments for more ADR info.


Andrew Bellware said...

Now for me, I'd be inclined to record ADR a bit wet - to try to get it to sound like the dialog was recorded on location. If the talent is too close to the mix then you'll get that "proximity effect" or low-end boost that's hard to EQ out to make the dialog sound like it was recorded in the same room and in the same way as the rest of the movie.
If you are really trying to match a bunch of different spaces then yeah you'll wanna go dry, and if the room you're recording in sounds yukky the only way to go may be to get the mix as close as possible. But if you have the option of recording in a room acoustically similar to the location (either similar to the way it sounds on the non ADR dialog or similar to the way it looks on screen if all the dialog is ADR.)
Of course you never want the recording to be as reverberant as real life 'cause that'll make the dialog sound really cheap...
There I go again, making a comment where I end up contradicting myself by the end of it!

Chance Shirley said...

Good points, Andrew. I'm basing my "dry" theory on the fact that my first ADR attempt was done in a large room with a high ceiling. If you listen closely while watching Hide and Creep, you might hear a few lines delivered outdoors that sound more like they were recorded in a cathedral!

On the other hand, I looped some lines for another project dry for insertion into a scene set in a huge factory. After adding some reverb and ambient factory noises, it ended up being the best-sounding dialogue in the movie.

Ted said...

yeah, i'll add my two cents by saying you have to be careful relying too much on reverb to retouch and match your dialogue. especially, as an example, if you recorded external dialogue with a shotgun and tried to replace it with ADR recorded in a completely dead studio with the talent close to a standard cardioid condenser mic. since technically speaking there are usually no parallel reflections outdoors, reverb always sounds a bit unnatural when trying to emulate the ambient quality of the audio. you hear this all the time in films where people are supposed to know what they are doing. to me it sticks out like a sore thumb.

i say yes, don't be afraid to ADR, but also don't be afraid to experiment with your methods for re-recording. in other words, pretty much everything that has already been said anyway.

ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL, i'm just glad i finally put this blog into my rss reader so i can keep up with the film.

Chance Shirley said...

Hey, Ted!

One of my other rules is to use the same mic in the studio you use in the field. I'll get into that (and other issues) when I write my "DIY ADR" manifesto. Stay tuned!

anonymous said...

What is your set up for doing ADR. I saw that you said that you try to use the same mic that you used on location, but what about software or mixers? Do you have your actors watch the footage while recording? I'm just trying to figure out how to do it on a shoestring. Thanks! -- Dave Hughens

Chance Shirley said...

Hey, Dave. I'm planning on doing a full write-up on my DIY ADR setup ASAP, hopefully sometime in the next couple of weeks. Right now, I'm trying to get caught up on day job stuff.