Recording post sync ADR for Sound Asleep short film with Nadaav Director and Danny John-Jules from Red Dwarf

Red Dwarf star Danny John-Jules was back in our East London studio with me this week to record additional audio for Sound Asleep. We hadn’t seen each other since the shoot and it was a joy to catch up.  

What is ADR?

ADR is short for Automated Dialogue Recording, also known as post sync. It’s when an actor’s voice is re-recorded after the original shoot. Often it is done to improve poorly recorded audio, change a line, or to be able to separate out dialogue and background sounds, so that a film can be dubbed into different languages. 

Sound Asleep is a unique short film: it has no dialogue. For our Automated Dialogue Recording session we did not try to record dialogue! Danny mostly recreated grunts, sighs, moans and groans, and a lot of heavy breathing. 

Different actors have different methods for ADR. It’s quite a technical challenge as they have to create sounds to match their lip movements on the video recording. Some actors are very technical while others transport themselves back to the moment and act it for real all over. 

Directing ADR

Directing ADR sessions is a lot of fun, but it can also be challenging. The director has to learn what works for the actor in what is a very technical environment. Experienced actors often have their way of doing things, and it’s usually best not to complicate that. A few little notes on mood and energy levels will be all they need to give the director what they want. Remember that an experienced film or TV actor has probably done ADR many more times than the director. Sometimes it is best to just keep quiet and let them get on with it.

Where you need something complicated, such as when I needed new audio to change the pace of a whole scene, it is often best to be clear to a more technical actor what the director’s overall goal. 

A less experienced actor can find the whole process quite intimidating. Directing a less experienced actor for a good vocal performance in ADR requires patience and a lot of positivity. A director has to help the actor feel comfortable in an alien environment. Allow a little extra time to talk them through the process and help them get familiar with the technology. Do a few rehearsals and record them! And keep your director’s notes light – often just doing the take again will give you enough variation in performance. 

Danny is a total pro. He is an amazing technical actor, making sure that a director can use just about every take he gives you.  It was a pleasure to work with him again. 

Follow me on instagram to see some really fun videos of the process.


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