What is ADR in Film?

Sound is one of the powerful story telling tools. ADR in film is relatable with this powerful tool. The reason is ADR is all about sound synchronization, improvement or can be said sound experiment.If the sound quality is good int the film, it will connect more audience emotionally. Let’s know at first what is ADR in film.

Automated Dialog Replacement (ADR) refers the process of re-recording audio in film or any other television productions. Generally it is done in a sound proof studio through a more controlled and quieter setting. It is done during post production.

It includes re-recording by the main actor after shooting in order to to improve audio quality or reflect conversational changes. ADR is also familiar as the term ‘looping’. In the early days, when the first dialogue was being replaced, a loop of film was used in each re-recorded dialogue line that was played repeatedly in the loop. Modern techniques use computers to loop the section where we find the automated part of the ADR.

Why is ADR used?

Most of the big budget studio film’s audio is recorded after the shooting. There are some valid reasons to use ADR. Such as,

  • Replace vocal performance
  • Fix technical problems
  • Fix continuity error
  • Re-record inaudible dialogue from set recording
  • Creative purposes — capture a better performance
  • Altering intent of dialogue
  • To avoid noisy audio
  • Adding in voice-over or off screen dialogue. etc.

How is ADR recorded?

While ADR is making progress in film, even lots of work is needed in this process. ADR is recorded during an ADR session, which takes place in a specialized sound studio where an actor repeatedly looks at the face of the scene and listens to the original production track to aid in their guidance in headphones. They then re-perform each line to match lip movements, phrases and performance.

This process can also be distinguished between Visual ADR and Audio ADR. Visual ADR is when the actors simply watch their performances and re-record their lines, while audio ADR simply refers to the actors listening to their performances only on headphones.

After recording the line, the ADR mixer plays it in context with the rest of the scene. If everyone is happy to accept the recording, they move on to the next cues until all the cues have been recorded. The ADR mixer and sound supervisor take detailed notes about which takes they like most for each line.

After the session, the ADR mixer sends the recorded audio to the ADR editor to edit and blend with the rest of the film’s soundtrack. If all has gone well, the ADR will be same as the production audio.

When is ADR a Good Idea?

Nothing is better than being able to capture the ambience of the location and the actor’s original performance. But no matter how hard you try to get clean audio, you must face ADR in film making. ADR can enhance the quality of a scene and provide an essence of reality.

On the other hand, Automatic dialogue replacement is not cheap. ADR is pretty costly process because hiring a sound engineer and sound mixer as well as renting a post-production facility is all expensive. Moreover, receiving the exact voice to match previously recorded footage is time consuming. Comparatively more time is needed to mix the audio or add all layers of sound effects.

If ADR is expensive and time-consuming, then when should we do it?

Well… I suggest that ADR should never be your first choice. If you are new in film making or you have limited budget to make an independent film then ADR may be luxurious option for you. Then try to capture clean and usable ambient on location sound. ADR in film is a good idea when you have handsome budget for your film. Then this luxury is rational to use in your film. That is why big studios can afford ADR in their film.