Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"Things..." episode 023.

023: DIY ADR.

I blogged a little about ADR a few weeks ago. I finally got around to the first rerecording session for Interplanetary last night, so I thought I'd post some details on the ADR setup (Mark I).

One of our closets is the "sound booth." The hanging clothes baffle one wall (to cut down on reverb), and blankets and sheets are hung to baffle the other walls. There is another blanket hanging in the doorway. The baffles also help insulate the closet from outside noise. Luckily, it's pretty quiet in our condo at night.

The trusty MacBook (perched atop a stepladder) serves as the actor's monitor. I'd pre-loaded the MacBook with QuickTime videos of the scenes the actor would be rerecording. The MacBook makes a good monitor because (1) the LCD screen looks so good and (2) it is virtually silent when playing QuickTime videos off the hard drive (as opposed to, say, a portable DVD player). Though it'd be on the small side, a video iPod would also make a good monitor for DIY ADR.

A headphone splitter attached to the Mac feeds audio to the actor's headphones so she can hear the dialogue she's trying to match. The same shotgun mic we use for production recording is attached to a small mic stand, and the mic's cable runs out of the closet to John's super-awesome Sound Devices 702 digital audio recorder. That headphone splitter connected to the Mac also feeds audio to the 702. My headphones are plugged into the 702, and I end up with the actor's new dialogue (from the mic) in my left ear and the old dialogue (from the QuickTime videos) in my right ear.

Both the Mac and 702 audio recorder can run on batteries, so no AC power is required.

After all that stuff's set up (which only takes 15 or 20 minutes), it's time to get the actor (Amanda Myers in this case) in the "booth" and start rolling. My first plan is to get Amanda to recite the lines in time with the original takes, so I can listen to the playback and get an immediate feel for how closely the new dialogue take matches the original. However, this is easier said than done, since it's tough for Amanda to figure out exactly where to begin the line.

On to plan B: Amanda hits "play" on the Mac, listens to a line of dialogue, hits "pause," then repeats the line. This seems to work pretty well, as Amanda is good at gauging the meter and tempo of the original dialogue.

The only downside of this method is I won't know for sure how well the new lines play with the original film footage until I get them all synced up. I'm not too worried about it, though. Past experience has shown that, as long as the looped lines are fairly close to the originals, timing-wise, there won't be any noticeable "drift" between the picture and dialogue.

I have an idea (Interplanetary ADR Mark II, maybe) for another setup that might allow immediate ADR plus picture playback, but I'll write about that if and when I have time to try it.


Andrew Bellware said...

That's interesting. I would have thought you'd just use the voiceover tool in Final Cut to record the ADR.
Is this for all the "in helmet" audio?

Chance Shirley said...

Yeah, but the 702 has such awesome pre-amps, and going straight into Final Cut Pro would involve my questionable USB analog-to-digital converter.

Amanda's ADR was for in-helmet audio, but I used the session to test out a (hopefully) hi-fi setup for later recordings where sound quality will be of more importance.

Andrew Bellware said...

Yes, I've decided that Sound Devices is a magical company run by benevolent elves to make our lives easier on set. And I've even met the guys...

If you like spending money:
(Although it's not as much as a recorder -- I think they're under $600).

But I feel that you're right about the "listen only" method of determining what works in ADR. The voice reveals everything about the performance, and you can hear the lip sync.

Chance Shirley said...

Thanks for pointing that out. Looks like my bank account will soon be $600 lighter. That little device plus a MacBook running Garage Band would be all kinds of sexy.