How to Record Broadcasting Quality Voice Tracks for Your Movie (ADR)

Automatic Dialogue Replacement (ADR) can greatly improve the soundtrack quality of a movie, elevating it to a whole new level of professionalism. Here is how to set up your very own simple ADR studio to produce broadcast quality sound.

ADR (Automatic Dialogue Replacement, also called looping) is the process of recording high quality sound for a movie in a controlled studio environment, to be synchronized with the filmed picture during post-production.  ADR may be necessary for a number of reasons, including scenes shot in windy conditions or undesirable background noise present during filming on location, making dialogue difficult to make out.     

Though commonplace on Hollywood productions, many independent filmmakers and video hobbyists avoid ADR like the plague for they view it as a nearly impossible, extremely time-consuming task. 

Let's look at how, with a little investment and a simple setup, you can produce broadcasting quality sound for your productions reasonably easy: 

Very importantly you will need effective software for the job.  There are many sound software packages that many filmmakers can recommend; to start you off you may want to have a look at a program called CUBASE, by Steinberg.  We have used it and will probably continue to use it for a while, for we have been very happy with its results.

In Cubase you can have the video open in a small window, while recording on a timeline in sync. What’s great is that you not only can move the sound clip around in the timeline in relation to the video, but you can also speed parts of it up or slow it down, without affecting the pitch, to get it in perfect sync.

Aside from that, you can of course add echo and weird and wonderful voice effects, along with correcting dynamics settings (stabilizing levels to make sure the volume stays within an acceptable range throughout your movie).

Once you have proper sound software, your quality of sound will further be determined by your microphone.  You might want to have a look at the Studio Projects B3 microphone, the Studio Projects B1 v2 Condenser Microphone, or any similar microphones from the Studio Projects family.  Though obviously more pricey than what you will pay for consumer mics at the supermarket, the quality of these microphones' recording is superb and your once-off investment will deliver quality results for years, even decades to come. 

Proper studio microhophones require a mixer with a +48 volt phantom power supply to power the microphone (there are no batteries inside the microphone).  For your home studio you probably need only one XLR input on your mixer, so start by searching online for the Behringer 502 5-Input Mixer or similar and check out any related search results. 

Many mixers come with impressive built-in effects like reverb, echo and more, but unless you're doing live shows, you do not need these at this time as they make the mixer more expensive while at the same time all these effects and more can be done using audio software anyway.  

Having your studio set up with these essentials, you're likely to find that after a short while of use, you know your way around and can do ADR much easier and faster than is generally believed, and have fun doing it!   


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