adr ADR in a film


The 12 minute short film I am working now, has ~ 5 minutes of dialogue. As the production sound was no good, we did the ADR for 3 minutes. Most of the dialogue was only 2 lines, so I thought it wasn't going to be that hard, but I was wrong. It was somewhat tedious than I thought. Also after few takes, actors were also not that interested as they were on the set.

I am just curious, on an average, on a 90 minute feature film, how much % would be ADR?

Also how to work with actors during the ADR process?

I am just curious, on an average, on a 90 minute feature film, how much % would be ADR?
As little as possible, but it depends on the film, or the individual scene. The job in production is to get dialog clean and clear, period. There are some scenarios where that’s just not possible, but barring extreme circumstances production sound should be captured to be used.

Extreme circumstances include specialty shots. For example, a stunt shot on a chroma wall that will be composited to make the actors look as if they’re hanging off the side of a cliff needs high wind to enhance the tension. That means high-powered fans. High-powered fans mean lots of noise that make usable dialog impossible. But they’ll still record production sound to use as a reference for ADR. Movies that have lots of these shots will thus have lots of ADR.

There may also be times where the director decides, against the advice of the sound mixer, to push through a scene due to production constraints (time, location access, etc.). Something may have come up that is interfering with sound. Maybe a construction site started up that the production didn’t know about beforehand. There are times when you just can’t win for losing. Crappy location selection can lead to these situations. That’s why it’s always good to take your sound mixer out on location scouts. Production dialog here is also used for reference in ADR.
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Also how to work with actors during the ADR process?
ADR is also sometimes referred to as “looping”. Playback of the reference track is looped. In other words, it plays over and over again so the actor can hear it to try and match delivery in timing, emotion, energy, inflection, etc. The actor will throw out several deliveries of the line while listening to the loop. There are plug-ins in most major DAWs that help align ADR with the original audio, but looping can actually alleviate the need for most of that.

The two biggest challenges in ADR: the actor is no longer “in the moment” and has to try and recreate the same delivery after days or weeks or months have passed, and ADR recording done poorly can sound too dry and sterile from the recording environment as opposed to dialog recorded on set. The latter requires using same or similar mics in the ADR facility that were used in production, along with careful use of reverb and EQ to match the rooms or other locations from production. The former is a bit more complicated.

ADR should not be stressful. If you bring your actors in to ADR and you spend the whole day pissing and moaning about botched production sound and what a pain in the ass ADR is, you’ve just turned the entire session into a chore. Just like on set, the director shapes the tone and attitude for the day. Provide a relaxed environment. Sit down with the actors and focus just on the work that needs to be done, not the work that was screwed up. Go over the dialog that needs ADR. Listen to playback and give the actors a chance to re-familiarize themselves with their on-camera performances. Encourage them to get back into the same headspace. Run some lines if you need to just to get them as close to “in the moment” as you can.

And for the next film, get someone who knows what they’re doing to handle your production sound.
…..the production sound was no good
I guess that now you hopefully recognize the importance of capturing quality production sound. As I frequently expound on this forum, every dollar/minute you spend on production sound will save you at least ten dollars/minutes in audio post.

I thought it wasn't going to be that hard, but I was wrong.
Just as with every other aspect of filmmaking, ADR is specific technical skill and an art-form. That's why there are audio post teams who specialize in doing ADR.

It was somewhat [more] tedious than I thought.
Of course it's tedious if you consider it so. I don't do production sound because I found waiting around on the set for hours before I could get around to my job to be tedious and boring; it felt like I was wasting my time. Is doing lighting set-ups boring? Blocking? Doing H/MU on the actors? It's all a matter of your perspective. I find dialog editing - sitting in a dark room all by myself sifting through a dozen lines of production dialog, plus wild lines plus ADR - very satisfying. Many find it tedious and boring. Again, it's a matter of perspective.

Also after few takes, actors were also not that interested as they were on the set.
The actors, especially inexperienced actors, are not as invested in their character. Many find it a waste of time, tedious and boring; "I've already done this, invested all that time and emotional energy; why do I have to go through this all over again?" The other issue is that the actors have to give a performance very similar to what is already there; they are no longer in the moment, reacting to other actors and their environment. Experienced actors on well budgeted projects know, without doubt, that they will be doing ADR after the shoot is complete, it's in their contracts. They also know that, if they are not invested in the process, it just extends the amount of time they will spend in a studio redoing all their lines, so they get into the proper mindset even before they enter the studio.

Also how to work with actors during the ADR process?
It is the job of the ADR recordist and the director to get the actors into the proper mindset. Every ADR recordist, with the compliance of the director, has their own way of accomplishing this. There are numerous methods to accomplish this and various technical ways to facilitate this process. Some ADR studios are large enough that they will use a boom-op to follow the actor around while the actor recreates the scene, although this is not a usual scenario. In my personal process I get the actor to recreate the tone and pacing of the lines while watching the scene, then turn off the visual playback and try to get the actor emotionally invested. The key to the art of ADR recording is knowing which ADRed lines can be sliced and diced to fit, then fine tuned with VocAlign (my personal choice) or other vocal alignment plug-in.

I am just curious, on an average, on a 90 minute feature film, how much % would be ADR?
This, of course, is going to depend upon the quality of the production sound and the budget of the film. On "Hollywood" budgets it is not at all unusual to ADR the entire film. This is more of a budgetary/logistical/scheduling decision; it is cheaper to get the actor in and ADR the entire film in one set of sessions rather than recalling the actor time after time, paying for travel, lodging, etc. each time, to do fixes. However (depending upon the film, of course), the ADR is not used for much of the film, all of that ADR is there for use "just in case." The dialog editor will use the existing production sound from ALL of the takes to construct the line deliveries, next using the dialog wilds recorded on the set and dipping into the ADR as a last resort. I have constructed a single line of dialog from two or three takes of production sound. The next line may be a combination of production sound and wilds, the next constructed of ADR. Action sequences, with their noisy sets, are almost always wilds and ADR. The variations are endless, which is why dialog editing is an art unto itself - just like every other aspect of filmmaking.

I hope that this has given you some insight into the process and the need for capturing quality production sound.


I look at ADR as an opportunity to make their dialog BETTER! Yes ADR takes practice as a director. You have to identify when their performance isn't up to par or the timing is off. One thing I DON'T do is lead people in with a click track. That throws them off. I play them the clip a few times to learn, then roll and record for them to perform by memory.
I like to mix it up. I'll have them record one phrase at a time. Then I might have them do entire sentences or lines, expecting the performance to be the most natural, but then the timing is less exact. Sometimes I'll have people do 10 takes of one problematic part. I NEVER regret getting LOTS of takes. If I get enough takes then I can always piece it together one way or another.

I ADR'ed an entire 90 minute feature.The most difficult ADR I had to do was that of this play-by-play commentator, but I got it done....