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ADR - A technique for better sync without plugins
  • Now I'm sure some others have used this technique but here's an ADR tip I found that generally works for ensuring more accurate ADR without plugins especially with fairly inexperienced actors that many of us 'DIY' indie/low/no budget filmakers have at our disposal in a home/small studio environment.

    The standard method for ADR is to replay the video scene back to the actor on a monitor while they try to sync their replacement dialogue with the original recording. However this still somewhat hit and miss because the actor is almost always either lagging or leading their original dialog.

    Why? Because they cannot exactly see the precise moment when each word begins until it has begun, at which point they are often late. Alternatively they try to second guess the timing and pre-empt themselves.

    Instead of playing back their original scene as a cue give this a try.

    Let the actor view the audio waveform of their original dialog on a NLE video monitor... a bigger monitor is obviously better than smaller one.

    Minimise the amount of dialog on the screen at any one time to ensure the waveform of each individual word/phrase is clearly defined on the screen. If there is a lot of background noise contaminating the dialog then either remove it or at least minimise it so the individual waveforms for each word are clearly visible with well defined starts and endings.

    Let them watch the screen while you loop the section of dialog several times over. Point to the cursor as it moves horizontally across the screen so they can see as the cursor hits the start of each section of waveform representing each spoken word of the orignal recording.

    As they watch the cursor cycle across the screen they will quickly identify which section of waveform corresponds to which word they're hearing and thus deliver each word the moment the cursor just reaches the start of each section of the corresponding waveform.

    With a little practice they should now find it easier to achieve fairly accurate sync and they can then concentrate more on the delivery and emotion.

    Try it yourselves. You should find it is much easier to achieve accurate sync than by simply watching an onscreen video of the original take.

    Of course capturing good sound on location is always preferable.

  • 9 Replies sorted by
  • Wow, I wish I had thought of this. It's pretty brilliant. I'm going to try it.

  • yea, that's how they do it in professional dubbing studios. One that i've visited uses a big projection screen in an actual sound studio. The actors see the film (so they can read the character's emotions, moods), and beneath it are subtitles, the varying size of the letters give it a "waveform" look, and there are also little symbols indicating specific noises (exhales, coughs,...), or specific tone changes.

    The ADR technique would the low-budget version of it, quite interesting :)

  • My French chum uses this technique on animation records - but you wont find it used on Features - just the plain ol beeps or swipes for the big boys

  • @soundgh2 With no budget for conventional ADR I found it gives more consistent results than any other 'DIY' method I've tried. I don't have scrolling ADR text but the scrolling waveform still works pretty well. For shorts it's okay for some quick clean-up but it would be a chore for a large amount of ADR on a feature.

    Here's the real deal...

  • if you ever get the chance, try syncing vision to sound - like they do in cartoons.

    The reason this works is the same reason contemporary dancers can dance to contemporary music (without a beat to go by). The dancers are reacting to the music, but we don't notice.

    On the other hand, get musicians to try to accompany the dancers (as while choreographing a piece) and it's really obvious the music is too late.

    Our eyes see faster than our ears can hear

    When you get an actor to play his/her own voice while miming the words, then the lip-sync is a little late - but we don't even notice it.

  • Oh and games use this technique a fair bit - @roberto lots of ADR abd voice records for animation/games are filmed and the motion data given to the animators to speed things up a little ! See Image Metrics for clever mapping software

    @pundit sorry mate wasnt poo pooing it at all - ive used air display and an ipad mirroring the waveform screen myself - another helper for them is to make your own swipes on the timeline by making 3 small empty regions on the track above the waveform leading to the first line then blocks for the dialogue (if you see what I mean!) so they get big chunky regions above for timing and waveforms for nuances - some ppl like it - lots of talent are a bit stuck In the mud and it scares the bejesus out of em! :)

  • Interesting discussion. I've done a lot of video of musicians miming to playback and it's usually easy for them (useful to have clicks / count-in for the very beginning of the piece) and that tallies with what @roberto was saying. There are a few other tips for shooting miming musicians but maybe I'll start a separate topic for that if anyone's interested. I have had to do the opposite occasionally (play a passage to match a picture - more what this topic is about of course) and yes, it's much more difficult.

    @soundgh2 great tips. Never used waveforms but one to file away for when it's needed.

  • @Mark_the_Harp

    Great audio advice, once again. Yes, I'd like a music-miming topic but maybe a whole topic on non-sync sound would be something we can all benefit from.

    Considering most of us own the slightly audio challenged GH2; Also that - for much film making, sync sound plays a quite minor role; + all the skills in multi-tracking sound..atmos, foley effects, mic distancing, ..and indeed, dubbing

    I know there are a whole lot of people who only add music to their videos because the sound isn't up to their expectations.

  • Take a peek at Gallery ADR studio also to see what lengths you can goto when prepping for ADR

    The good ol fashioned way we sit and programme in each cue into a streamer from a cue list and off we go using a Colin Broad unit or simply as Mark said use the 3 plop, the main hurdle to get great ADR is the talent - Ive worked with a lot of major Hollywood stars who just cant loop ( however the American artists do seem to be much more versed in the art of looping than anyone else)