By Buzz Stein

Automated Dialog Replacement (ADR) is a term in film when you need to dub in the dialog in a scene because of sound issues.

What sound issues? Like the sound a shoe makes, the wind, a car in the distance or when the characters are talking in a wide shot like in the Woody Allen film Manhattan.

The idea is that you want clean sound. The famous bridge scene has the track, Someone to Watch Over Me, under the dialog of Woody Allen and Diane Keaton. The scene makes it impossible to place a mic and boom pole.

Ideally, you don’t need it. You can film people in a studio and hit record just after yelling quiet on the set. Or you can try and manage to get good sound on location, but more times than not you are trying to recreate the magic days or weeks later after the scene was shot.

The actors are placed in a studio in front of a mic with hopefully a large screen to help recreate the mood and impact of the scene. In my case they talk in to my zoom mic while looking at my laptop. It’s kind of more like reading for a radio show. The challenge is to make it work after the fact. The advantage of using ADR is that you will get clean sound, and you get get multiple tracks of a line of dialog to choose from.

It’s kind of like dubbing lines from the audience like the Mystery Science Thearter folks. When it works, it works. But you are now in the realm of voice acting, which means that you really need to think about that when casting for your film.

Can your actor deliver the magic in the sound studio like they did on set?

Then there is the phrase, “phoning it in.”

This is when some one just coasts by with their performance, while still taking the large salary. But in some cases it literally means to phone in your lines, which are recorded for the actual dialog track in a film.

I recall an interview with James Woods about the how in the animated movie Final Fantasy he said there were times when he actually phoned in his lines to be recorded for dialog for the film.

As for other sounds for film, I like to keep a recorder on me at all times to capture it. And don’t forget to get 30-60 seconds of ROOM TONE, the ambient sound of a space, room, car, outside, free from dialog. It comes in handy to add under pauses in dialog.

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