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Does the use of ADR result in loss of emotion and characterisation?

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Gulli Gunnarsson
Does the use of ADR result in loss of emotion and characterisation?
on Nov 14, 2011 at 12:11:04 am

Hey everyone,

Im writing my BA thesis on ADR, and the possibility of loss of emotion and characterisation when used.
One could say that the actor’s original interpretation of his character, his emotional state at time of shooting, and the realism of the scene could be lost in the process..

There are a lot of factors when discussing this, as in, what kind of movies could this relate to, what carries emotion in a scene, quality of ADR recorder/mixer etc.

Ive got a pretty good research going, and im looking for more external thoughts on this from industry people and people interested in the subject.

let me know your thoughts.

regards,
Gulli


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Eric Toline
Re: Does the use of ADR result in loss of emotion and characterisation?
on Nov 14, 2011 at 3:17:31 am

If the actors and re-recording mixers are really good you should never know the difference.

Eric


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Richard Crowley
Re: Does the use of ADR result in loss of emotion and characterisation?
on Nov 14, 2011 at 6:13:36 am

You could even make the argument that voicing the dialog in ADR allows them to concentrate on vocal delivery, the visual acting part having already been captured. Of course that assumes the ADR director is doing their job properly, and the actors are competent and motivated.


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Noah Kadner
Re: Does the use of ADR result in loss of emotion and characterisation?
on Nov 14, 2011 at 8:44:58 am

That'd be pretty much every movie ever made at least for some portion so that'd be a tough thesis to prove...

Noah

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Featuring the Panasonic GH2 and GoPro HD Hero.


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Andrew Rendell
Re: Does the use of ADR result in loss of emotion and characterisation?
on Nov 14, 2011 at 5:42:04 pm

I think it mainly depends on how good the actors are.

How familiar are you with the "method"? Being able to replicate his emotional state at time of shooting is one of the things that actors should be able to do.


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Andrew Rendell
Re: Does the use of ADR result in loss of emotion and characterisation?
on Nov 14, 2011 at 6:06:23 pm

BTW There is an article here (on the 'Cow) about ADR, which might be interesting to you (although if you're already researching it you might already have found out what's in it) http://magazine.creativecow.net/article/adr-hollywood-dialogue-recording-se...


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Bob Kessler
Re: Does the use of ADR result in loss of emotion and characterisation?
on Nov 15, 2011 at 5:08:23 pm

ADR is a tough choice at the low/micro-indie level, which is my bailiwick. Most of the actors have a difficult time with the ADR process; a recording studio is an unfamiliar and slightly intimidating place for them. The biggest problem the actors have, however, is that they are months away from production and have "left the character behind" so to speak. It takes them a while to get back into the character, and they may have a hard time when they are unable to interact with another actor. The technical aspects also leave them a bit frustrated; they have to match the sync very closely, something else with which they are unfamiliar. Getting a closely synced performance that has the proper emotional content is very hard for some actors - they get the sync right but the performance sucks, or the performance is great but the sync isn't there. Fortunately we have tools like Vocalign to make takes that are close to the original dialog fit the visual image.

Of course the biggest problem for low budget indies is the cost. You need to pay for the studio time. You need to get the talent to the ADR facility, feed them and, in some cases, pay them. The scheduling can be problematical as they may have moved on to other projects. Since they are unfamiliar and uncomfortable with the process the sessions can take a long time. The director, who may also be unfamiliar with the process, sometimes decides that s/he can get "artistic" about it rather than doing straight replacement.

Capturing the production sound dialog properly in the first place will save a lot of money and hassle. Selecting sonically appropriate locations goes a long way. I first try to replace problem dialog with audio from the unused takes. Although time and labor intensive, I've found it's faster and cheaper.

Peace,

Bob
____________________________________________________________________
Filmmaking is the art of the invisible;
If anyone notices your work you haven't done your job right.


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Gulli Gunnarsson
Re: Does the use of ADR result in loss of emotion and characterisation?
on Nov 15, 2011 at 7:42:14 pm

Hey everyone,

Yes, it is an interesting thing to research. Im very familiar with the method, the pros and cons etc..
In my thesis im not trying to prove that its "right or wrong" to use ADR because its part of the movie making "toolkit" and it is there to be used. There are many films that the emotion is carried out by other elements, and/or films that there is no other option but to ADR (action films/other world...)

But looking away from the technical aspects of ADR, and into the philosophical nature, where we from learned experience relate certain emotions to facial and bodily expressions, and when one aspect is altered(using ADR) isnt there a chance the audience subconsciously feel that something isnt quite right?

g


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Eric Toline
Re: Does the use of ADR result in loss of emotion and characterisation?
on Nov 15, 2011 at 10:03:13 pm

The audience is not that sophisticated nor do they care. It's 2 hours of entertainment not brain surgery. Unless the ADR noticably detracts from the story telling it's all good.

Eric


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Craig Alan
Re: Does the use of ADR result in loss of emotion and characterisation?
on Nov 26, 2011 at 7:07:25 pm

I like films that have an organic feel and it is often the result of a more organic workflow. A lot of what is being done digitally is making movies less memorable. It’s not the technology or the skill to use it that is the problem. An increasingly complex and fast changing skill set may be overshadowing artistic sensibility as a prerequisite to employment.

Audiences have gotten accustomed to scenes that are mind-numbingly loud, fast, and supernatural. The bar to excite them grows higher and higher. With focus groups and multiple writers on each project, the objective is to sell and appease not produce the most memorable experience.

In theatre and motion pictures, moments and beats are the elements that build scenes, which, in turn, build the story. The story is the vessel that holds the moments, beats, and scenes. ADR is a necessary evil. If scenes were composed with live dialog as a variable then other elements would need to be kept in check. A lot of quick paced edits that override our sense of time and space is a step in the wrong direction. But they certainly eliminate any possible audience awareness of ADR.

ADR does not alter the story. But I think your assumption that it affects beats and moments is correct. Throughout history, a good movie actor has been able to reproduce beats and moments as many times as needed with as much consistency/continuity as possible. Things are shot out of sequence. Retakes and extra coverage is the norm. Today’s movie actor, however, needs to interact with the invisible and silent more than ever. Where the body goes so goes the mind. Actors use their whole bodies to create emotional responses both in themselves and in their audience. So if they do not have the benefit of natural stimuli, then they must draw on sense memories and imaginary interactions. ADR is only one technique being used that creates this need.

To prove your thesis you would need to do a double blind study in which you gauged the response of audience members as a scene unfolded. Was there a difference in their response to an ADR scene vs. one in which the sound was captured live? Since there are so many elements that affect audience response, it would be hard to isolate this one variable. Well-executed ADR certainly fools the audience -- they are not consciously aware it was recorded after the fact. I suppose one study you could do is record a short form video in which ADR is not technically needed. Have audiences watch the scene without ADR and then the same scene with ADR. But since first viewing is not the same experience as second viewing, you would need to use two different, fairly large, groups to reach a valid conclusion.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Does the use of ADR result in loss of emotion and characterisation?
on Nov 29, 2011 at 10:29:39 pm

Orson Welles' answer to your question would be:

"No."

He worked a lot in radio, before film and TV, and he did a lot of film work in Europe, where there was a greater affinity for and use of ADR for technical as well as other reasons. Welles loved ADR and used the hell out of it to further sculpt the performances he captured on film. He sometimes replaced himself as well as several cast members in the looping booth, using his talent for mimicry.

In fact, on "Ambersons", he tried to do the whole movie in what you might call "reverse ADR": To get around the bad acoustics and production noises on set, Welles pre-recorded every line of the film's dialog in the looping booth, edited, polished, and sweetened the performances as pure audio, then tried to have the actors lipsynch and act, live to a loudspeaker master playback on the soundstage. It was of course a disaster, and he had to re-do the entire film in the more traditional manner. But it was an innovative experiment.

Welles also did an early version of nonlinear audio editing in this process: the takes were slated using playing card suits as part of their ID. Welles then auditioned the takes and laid out the matching cards on a table in front of him, arranging and re-arranging.


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