Last week in part 5 of this series on Audio Post Production Workflows Using Pro Tools, dialog editor Michele Woods completed her look at what a dialog editor does. In parts 6 & 7 we are going to look at ADR in some more detail and the idea of doing ADR on location and Dave Humphries who has been doing ADR on location for many years is going to take us through what he does….
ADR stands for ‘Automatic Dialogue Replacement’ (but believe me, there is nothing ‘automatic’ about it! ) it can also stand for ‘Additional Dialogue Recording’ and in America some still call it ‘Looping’ (this is because when it was all shot on 35mm film the magnetic film stock used to record tracks were put onto the record machine as endless loops ).
Getting an artist back for ADR is always a problem. Actors are often off to a new job by the time a film comes to post-production. So, one way to get better access, is to travel to wherever they are and re-record their lines.
I use a very small kit of Apple Macbook Pro (I’m now on my third incarnation) an Mbox 2 pro, an iPad 2, a Canopus AC110 (video output via Firewire) and a Sennheiser MKH416, plus the usual bag of cables and headphones.
Artists project more normally when they can hear their ‘live’ voice, so rather than give them headphones, I take apart a perfectly good pair of (cheap) headphones and give them one earpiece only. It takes very little soldering skills to replace a flimsy headphone cable, with something more robust. Remember, they may be re-voicing a fight scene, so the equipment needs to be up to it.
Using Pro Tools 10.3.8 for my DAW, (PT11 is still not quite there yet for me). I share a video screen with the artist and this is fed from the firewire output into the Canopus box. To allow for real sync, you have to put a 18 quarter frame offset into the ‘Video Sync Offset’ window under the Setup menu. (Why the PT manual still says 18 quarter frames and not 41/2 frames, I don’t know!)
I cue the artist using ‘beeps’. This is an audio cue of three beeps in rhythm, with an imaginary fourth beep as the cue to start talking. I make this cue by selecting a short, blank piece of audio on the ‘beeps’ cue track, I then go to the AudioSuite plug-in ‘signal generator’ and render the 1K sine wave tone. Jump to the start of the cue and nudge the cursor forward 1 frame. Then press B to cut the track. Then select the remaining tone cue and nudge it 12 frames later. Again, nudge into the cue 1 frame and then cut again. Repeat this until you have four beeps. Then discard the rest of that tone and select all of the beeps and consolidate that into a new cue (the command is at the bottom of the Edit drop down menu). Then jump to the end of the cue, nudge back one frame and delete the last tone. Finally, double click the audio and rename it ‘Beeps’. Now, when you need to drop a cue into your timeline, you can place it precisely at the start of the line by dropping it there and using the ‘end point’ position in Spot mode, or place it on the track and put your cursor at the correct place and hold Control+Command while you click it, and the end of the audio will jump to that place.
I use the 416 mic on a tall stand, and position it roughly half the distance from where I think it would be in the shot on screen. This of course, will mean changing the mic from scene to scene, but I generally leave it in the same position for each scene, once it is set. I also use a neck mic recording to a second track, as this can match better if there was a lav being used on the original shoot. I also give the artist a music stand as a lectern. This gives them an anchor point and stops them wandering off-mic.
In part 7 we will conclude this look at doing ADR on location with Dave Humphries