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What is ADR?

ADR has many names. Some use it as an acronym for Automatic Dialog Replacement while others prefer Additional Dialog Recording. Still others call it Dubbing or Looping. Regardless, it is the process of re-recording replacement dialog for a production. ADR is used for many reasons.

The most obvious use is replacement of noisy audio on the day of the shoot, or situations where dialog recording simply wasn't practical. ADR techniques can eliminate profanity for a television audience, or completely replace voices for use in another country. In fact, if you watch TV or movies at all, you hear ADR all the time. Feature-length movies, TV dramas, reality programming and even animation and video games all use ADR at one time or another.

Here's a typical workflow: after a rough cut is established, the talent comes to a special studio called a Dubbing Stage. The producer or director shows them a clip of the scene and the actor rehearses their lines along with the clip. The goal is to recreate the emotion, setting and intensity of the original shoot - or possibly improve on it. An engineer hits the record button and, as the scene plays on a large screen, the actors hear their original take through headphones as they deliver the same lines. When everyone is happy with the take, the process repeats for all of the required replacements. Every actor in the project may visit the dubbing stage before completing the process. Once the producer signs off on the final recordings, the editor or engineer edits the best takes to make them fit the visuals. It's a long, drawn out process that often takes months to complete. Why do they go to all that trouble? In a word, control. By recording dialog in a controlled studio setup, the producer and director get exactly what they wanted in the first place, plus they have full control over volume and clarity in the final mix. A final bonus is the ability to remove the voice and replace it with an actor in another language.

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