1439296922Fast Girls, courtesy of Studio Canal, 2012

ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) / Dialogue Editors

Industries:
Film
Personality type:
Technologist
Departments:
Sound

The lowdown

  • Making sure that all film dialogue is in the right place
  • Checking the quality of the dialogue sound
  • Working with Actors to re-record dialogue where necessary

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • Have an excellent knowledge of acoustics
  • Understand sound recording and audio post production processes 
  • Be able to manipulate and work sound for the moving image
  • Have excellent listening skills
  • Have excellent visual skills
  • Be able to work efficiently under pressure
  • Have excellent communication skills
  • Have good organisational skills
  • Be able to work to strict deadlines
  • Understand the relevant health and safety laws and procedures 

What does an ADR/Dialogue Editor do?

The ADR Editor and the Dialogue Editor are usually two different technicians on big budget films. On some very big films, there may even be one ADR and one Dialogue Editor for every reel of the film. On medium to low budget films, these two roles are usually carried out by the same person.  

Dialogue Editors start work on a film well into the picture editing process. They attend a spotting session with the other Sound Editors to discuss and note all sound issues. All the lines of dialogue are carefully scrutinised for problems. These might be technical, such as the sound of traffic over an actor’s line, or performance-related. In some cases an actor might mispronounce a word or be inconsistent with an accent.

ADR/Dialogue Editors review the original sound files to check whether these problem sections can be replaced. Using an editing software programme, ADR/Dialogue Editors cut between a number of takes (sometimes even using different syllables from each take) to create clean, crisp lines of dialogue. If this is not possible, Automated Dialogue Replacement is used.

During ADR sessions, actors watch themselves on screen, and re-voice as accurately as possible. They have to make sure that their lines are synchronised with the pictures (lip-sync), and that their performance matches the original. Actors may also have to record new lines for off-camera dialogue to help make difficult scenes work. During ADR sessions, ADR/Dialogue Editors have to make quick, accurate decisions about whether the performance is good enough.

These sessions are extremely expensive and difficult to co-ordinate because of actors’ limited availability. Sometimes these are done remotely. However, for large amounts of dialogue re-recording, experienced ADR Mixers are hired to work closely with the actor(s) in situ. 

After the newly recorded ADR has been edited into the original dialogue track, ADR/Dialogue Editors work on the background or ambient sound. They have to match this up using frames or fractions of frames from other sound takes. During the Pre-Mix (the first dubbing session), all the dialogue and ADR is smoothed out (cross faded), and any mistakes are corrected. This is usually the end of most ADR/Dialogue Editors’ work, although on big budget films, they may be involved until after the Final Mix.

ADR/Dialogue Editors may be freelance, or they may be employed by an Audio Post Production House. They work long hours.

Will I need a qualification?

You will need a degree in Arts, Music, Electronics, Maths, or Sound Technology. You will also benefit from a postgraduate qualification in music. You can also take HND qualifications.

If you are considering taking a film production course in higher education, the following courses have been rigorously assessed by the film industry and awarded the Creative Skillset Tick for the high standard of education they provide and the degree to which they prepare you for a career in film:

Film production courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick 

What is the best route in?

You can usually start out as a runner in a Sound Studio or Audio Post Production House. You can then progress to Assistant, working with in-house Sound Editors or ADR Re-Recording Mixers. As a junior in an Audio Post Production Houses you can make contact with freelance Sound Editors, who may take you on as an assistant. 

You could apply to be a trainee through Trainee Finder, which gives you hands-on experience in the industry and helps you build those all-important contacts that are essential when competing for a job:

More information about Trainee Finder

Interested? Find out more…

Websites

Publications

  • Sound on Sound
  • Music Tech Magazine
  • Audio Media Magazine
  • Sound Design: The Expressive Power of Music, Voice and Sound Effects Cinema. Edited by David Sonnenschein (Michael Wiese Productions)
  • Film Sound: Theory and Practice by Elizabeth Weis and John Belton (Columbia University Press)
  • Audio-Vision : Sound on Screen by Michael Chion (Columbia University Press)

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