Last week in part 3 of this series on Audio Post Production Workflows Using Pro Tools, dialog editor Michele Woods started part 1 of her look at what a dialog editor does and how she sets up her session so when she has finished it will be in a form that works for the re-recording mixer. Michele continues….
When the session is set up, I import the QuickTime with the guide track since this is literally my guide in this process. I import the AAFs provided by the editor. I make a duplicate of these tracks to start editing and inactivate the original AAF in case I need to go back to these original tracks later on in the edit. This AAF not only contains the dialogues, but also all the sound effects and sometimes (temporary) music the picture editor and director have chosen. Once I have named my working dialogue tracks, I also create tracks for sync sound effects that will possibly work for the M&E, and new tracks with the actors/characters name for possible ADR recording notes.
After I am all set up, I begin my first pass. This is quite an integral part of the process since this is when I choose microphones, look for alternate takes when needed, and mark up what ADR will be needed. Whilst choosing microphones, I am also searching for alternate takes for background noise, technical, level or clarity issues with the line(s). I usually colour the alternate take a different colour (usually a bright blue or pink) to the track so that the mixer can see that I have replaced a bit of audio and can always pull out to the original or find it muted on another track. If no alternate take is possible then ADR will be necessary. Notes for ADR are also added during this first pass (and often in the next few passes as well depending on how much time I have). Everything is typed into the session onto the character/actors tracks in the session using the Region Group Function. I click into this new clip which should be placed at the exact start of where the ADR line will be needed, type in the script and reason why it needs to be recorded. The ADR notes from the spotting session with the director are added in as well which are often performance issues or additional lines that are required to help the story along. I use a program called Edicue from Sounds In Sync which takes the notes I write directly onto Pro Tools and converts them into PDFs.
Finding alternate takes is a big part of dialogue editing and can often save a scene and help avoid unnecessary ADR recording. Since the actors shoot scenes take after take, you get the same pitch, projection, natural reverb and often a very similar performance over and over again. So if an actor should accidentally move off mic for a particular word or phrase, or if an extraneous noise occurs that has nothing to do with what is happening in the scene, or if for some reason there is a lack of clarity then I should hopefully be able to find an alternate take. Trying to replicate all this in ADR is very tricky since there is so much for the actor to think about when trying to replace their original dialogue such as pitch, projection, voice quality, performance and obviously getting it in sync! We’re not asking much! Of course, there are a lot of aids such as beeps, visual cues such as wipes and/or reading the lines off the screen, and hearing themselves in the headphones while recording. Even though ADR is recorded, I never remove the original audio. I actually edit and clean it to the best of my abilities since you never know - the mixer may be able to perform miracles and improve the quality of the audio. With all the plug-ins and aids available, there is always hope that the audio can be saved.
In part 3, we will look at the ADR process and the rest of the work as a dialog editor.