What Is ADR in Film?

ADR, or Additional Dialogue Replacement, is a filmmaking technique with pros and cons, but any aspiring videographer would benefit from becoming proficient in the art. It’s important to know when it’s advantageous to use ADR to be mindful of moviemaking budget concerns and the quality of the final product. While the technique has other applications, such as video game technology and sometimes music, ADR is most common in the film and television industries.

If you work in or are hoping to work in these sectors, Peerspace can help you out. Not only can we take you on a deep dive into ADR in film, but we can also provide you access to amazing filming locations to hone your craft. In fact, we’re the largest online marketplace for hourly venue rentals. This means we have stunning production spaces available to you in cities across North America and beyond.

But before we show you a few incredible production spaces to practice ADR in film, we need to explain precisely what it is.

So, what is ADR in film?

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Formerly known as “looping” and sometimes called “Automatic Dialogue Replacement,” ADR is re-recording cinematic dialogue in a sound booth after a scene has already been filmed.

ADR is sometimes confused for “dubbing,” which involves replacing one language’s dialogue with another. Rather, ADR has the talent reenacting the spoken elements of the film. They watch the silent footage in the sound booth and replicate their own original tone, inflection, and affect in a controlled environment. The director usually sits with the actor as they re-record, allowing for quick dialog modifications and retakes.

The blog No Film School has excellent content explaining the ADR process. And you can watch a fun video about the process broadcasted from UCLA’s School of Theatre, Film, and Television here. In that video, the “actor” replaces the famous “Night of the Living Dead” line: “They’re coming to get you, Barbara!” with his own take, with silly results.

Benefits of ADR

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There are no truly controlled environments in which you can make a film. Even studio sets have ambient noise like the buzzing of cell phones and the clatter of a boom microphone. Movies filmed on location have even more noise to deal with, like traffic, crowds, and overhead airplanes.

Sometimes directors decide in post-production to change the dialogue in its entirety for artful purposes. Either they don’t like the vocal effect that came out of the filming, or they literally decide to change the verbiage, perhaps adding a line or accommodating an actor’s perfect improvisation. All this is possible using ADR.

While sound editors are magical people and have some serious tricks up their sleeves when it comes to intrusive noise, sometimes a director just has to re-record dialogue – especially when the scene is otherwise perfect and cannot be re-shot.

ADR’s challenges

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ADR is a highly specialized technology that requires talented mixers and editors to match recorded dialogue perfectly with the video. It’s expensive and time-consuming. Not unlike Photoshopping an image, it’s best to have the excellent raw material so you need fewer tweaks. It’s important to factor in the projected costs of ADR when setting a budget before filming.

Further, film acting is a talent that is separate from voiceover work. You can compare ADR with it like when you’re filming in noisy, naturalistic settings, like New Yor,k which affects casting decisions.

The nitty-gritty of ADR in film

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At the beginning of a session, the sound mixer cues the video up to a frame where the actors can prepare to get back into the role. The sound mixer records – and re-records – the actor’s voiceover.

After you record the new dialogue, you must integrate it with the video in post-production. Sound editors generally use Avid software’s Pro Tools to begin a project. Adobe Premiere also has a simple-to-use ADR feature for those with a lower budget.

There is a difference between ADR for live-action films versus animated films. When actors do voiceover work for animation, they perform the initial takes in a sound studio with a perfect microphone and acoustics. Replacing errors or recapturing their dialogue for whatever reason is simpler, as the raw piece is already so crisp.

Also, the same actor is in the same soundstage for the edits, using the same high-quality equipment and talented mixers. That way, the audio quality matches perfectly with the initial recording.

This video expands upon the nuances of ADR in animated versus feature films and pre-recorded television.

Peerspace production venues for practicing ADR

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Now that you have a basic answer to the question “what is ADR in film?”, you can put your knowledge to practical use. As we mentioned earlier, you have come to the right place for that, too! Peerspace is home to the most production, event, meeting, and other venues for gathering on the internet.

This means you can easily book a professional space that lets you shoot a production or audio recording anywhere. Here are a few examples of our favorite Peerspaces that let you do just that:

This is only a small glimpse of the types of audio recording and producing spaces you can find on Peerspace. Check out the types pf spaces we have available near you today!

What is ADR in film: conclusion

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ADR is a misunderstood but vital component of any filming production working with even a moderate budget. It makes all the difference in the overall sound quality. It can also enhance an actor’s delivery and give directors a chance to make post-production story changes.

It’s costly, time-consuming, and requires specialized talent to do a good ADR job, which is why there are those Emmy and Oscar awards for the most euphonic sound mixing (you know, the ones we all are guilty of skimming through waiting for Best Leading).

Hopefully, after learning the basic ins and outs of ADR in film, you’re more adept at the art and craft. In fact, you won’t even be able to tell that finely executed ADR ever happened.

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