James Crocket to CAS forum:
ADR is a film technique that is much in heated debate. True film
purists will argue that ADR no matter how technically correct can not give a scene the same punch, mood and realism that original production dialogue can. Those of us who have been around this business for a while generally agree with this philosophy. There are however, some situations where ADR is unnecessary evil that directors and sound editors have used effectively. Perhaps the best excuse for ADR is when an actors crews up a name, date or other important piece of dialogue. This screw-up can be corrected, of course by ADR.
Sometimes a director likes the staging and visual part of a scene, but
does not like the way the actor delivered his lines. Again ADR is a useful
tool to get a better reading of the dialogue. Then, there is the situation
when there is just too much background noise because of location logistics.
A really good production sound mixers should generally be able to get al
least 90% of the production sound on a feature film clean enough when no
ADR is required. This is what separates the really great mixers from
the ones with little experience and no talent. Some directors are very
sensitive to the sound portion of a film and demand to use as much location
production as possible. They really would like to have every word
original production sound. Other directors, (especially new to the
profession and those getting by with little or no real talent) are not
I guess everybody knew I'd chime-in on this one. I agree with most of what Carl has said. But I'd tend to give a different estimate of the ratio of production dialog to ADR. Many of the films I work on are "action-adventure" movies which have notoriously noisy sets. So they tend to have a much higher percentage of ADR. The movie "Contact," for example, was about 60% production and 40% ADR. "Apocalypse Now" was about 80 to 90% ADR.
Carl was right to point out that a significant amount of ADR is done
in order to change the actor's performance. Sometimes lines are re-written,
or the actor may have had a cold and sounded stuffed-up on the day they
shot the scene, etc. The most difficult thing about integrating ADR into
most films is that it is unusual for entire scenes to be ADRd. The
poor dialog re-recording mixer is often asked by the Director to stick
one or two words of ADR into the middle of a line of dialog which is otherwise
"production." This is probably the single most technically difficult
The best way is to record the ADR in an acoustic situation as close
as possible to the one on the set, except without the noise of the set.
Using the same mic as the production mic helps. The re-recording mixer
uses eq, reverb, digital pitch-changing devices, and lots of other boxes
to try to make the ADR sound like production. The dialog and ADR editors
have typically also used systems (like VocAlign, for ProTools) which compare
an ADR line to a production line and alter the duration of each ADR word
in order to bring it closer to perfect lip-sync. In addition, they've
used many traditional techniques, including the one of extending the "room
tone" or "outdoor air" under ADR lines so that the production ambience
doesn't disappear whenever an ADR line is used.
Edited excerpts from CAS Forum, January, 1999
Original URL: http://www.ideabuzz.com/cas/archive/forum/adr.txt
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