The Shapiro Files

Friday, August 12, 2005

Fun with ADR

MicrophoneI was asked by the director of Nightmares on Film Street (previously Cinema Nightmares) to come in for some post-production ADR work. For those unfamiliar with filmmaking terminology, ADR stands for "additional dialogue recording" and is also known as "overdubbing." ADR is a very common practice in movies where an actor has to re-record lines because the sound at the original shoot was somehow compromised. Common reasons include a noisy set or uncontrollable environmental noise. In our case, because we shot the movie on an indoor set of mostly hard surfaces, there was a lot of room echo that doesn't match our virtual Titanic and Casablanca locations.

One of the cool things about ADR is that you can actually improve your performance. When I arrived for the session, I got to see a rough cut of the movie and I felt there were a number of lines that I could have done better. So ADR gave me that opportunity. At the same time, the experience of doing an ADR session is somewhat surreal. The way it works is that they take a line or two and loop it over and over again on the video playback screen and you get into a rhythm so you can say your line perfectly in sync with your mouth on the screen. Then you just keep recording that line over and over. After a while, you start feeling very silly. After saying "Hungry? [pause] Hmmm?" about 10 times in a row, I got uncontrollable giggles.

Overall the session lasted an hour and provided director Jerry with countless versions of each line to choose from. I don't envy his audio-editing sessions to come. There are literally thousands of options for mixing and matching elements from these ADR sessions.

By the way, it was great seeing the rough cut and I was very impressed with the computer effects, which included a black and white Psycho parody sequence where only the blood was in color. Incidentally, while watching the movie, I also learned that I hate watching myself act. I've heard that a lot of actors don't like to watch themselves on the screen and now I know why. All you do is rip yourself apart ("Why am I doing that with my mouth? Why did I turn that direction? Why didn't I wait before making that gesture" etc.). On the other hand, I enjoyed watching the other actors, Brian and Fernanda, very much. Both of them happen to be in the process of moving to L.A. to make it in Hollywood. They're both extremely talented and I expect to see them in the movies or on TV soon!


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