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Old June 2nd, 2011, 09:31 AM   #1
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The Hardware and Workflow for ADR Booth

Hi All,

This could probably go into the home studio section as well, but I figured this may be the better place.

I'm reconfiguring an ADR booth (whisper room, if you're curious) at the school I work for. The setup includes a desk with a Mac Pro and the booth, which sits next to it. The window looks out towards the desk/recordist, with the door on the side.

What it needs (this may be long):
Ideally two types of students need to use this booth, journalism students and film students. The journalism students need to be able to cut track quickly in the booth, the plan for them is to have a small recorder that they can just drop their SD/CF card into and record using the mic in the booth. Conversely the film students need to be able to do ADR looping with an actor in the booth. Either looping something from FCP/Avid, or Pro Tools. They also need to be able to communicate with with the actor in the booth.

I wouldn't say money is no object, but we do have some resources as well as a lot of gear that could serve us if needed.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

On the software side, any hints on good software/looping practices within the aformentioned programs would be also be great.
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Old June 3rd, 2011, 05:43 PM   #2
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Re: The Hardware and Workflow for ADR Booth

The term "booth" makes me a litter nervous for ADR, as ideally you want to record ADR with the same mic and configuration used in the set. (i.e. a MKH416 shogun overhead with a blimp, or whatever the situation was).

In any case, some more info might be helpful.

What kind of gear do you currently have to use? (No sense buying equivalent versions of gear you already have)

Can you toss out a ballpark $$ range for your budget?

Pictures of both spaces would be great with dimensions.

Also, what kind of connections exist between the rooms currently? Are there just some XLR jacks that lead over to a patch panel in the studio?
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Old June 3rd, 2011, 06:22 PM   #3
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Re: The Hardware and Workflow for ADR Booth

Actually a booth is better because unless you are recording in the exact same space, the acoustics of the similar space will be fighting against your efforts to simulate the space in the film. Best to record in a dry, treated room, then add reverb to match the room of the original shoot. And as for workflow, I made this tutorial for Synchro Arts that shows how it's done as far as the software goes.

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Old June 3rd, 2011, 08:37 PM   #4
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Re: The Hardware and Workflow for ADR Booth

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Lovejoy View Post
Hi All,

This could probably go into the home studio section as well, but I figured this may be the better place.

I'm reconfiguring an ADR booth (whisper room, if you're curious) at the school I work for. The setup includes a desk with a Mac Pro and the booth, which sits next to it. The window looks out towards the desk/recordist, with the door on the side.

What it needs (this may be long):
Ideally two types of students need to use this booth, journalism students and film students. The journalism students need to be able to cut track quickly in the booth, the plan for them is to have a small recorder that they can just drop their SD/CF card into and record using the mic in the booth. Conversely the film students need to be able to do ADR looping with an actor in the booth. Either looping something from FCP/Avid, or Pro Tools. They also need to be able to communicate with with the actor in the booth.

I wouldn't say money is no object, but we do have some resources as well as a lot of gear that could serve us if needed.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

On the software side, any hints on good software/looping practices within the aformentioned programs would be also be great.


I'm going to side with Alex on this one.

A Whisper room for ADR is like going after an annoying mosquito with a shotgun. The right mic, a few moving blankets and the ability to temporarily turn off the room HVAC system does 99% of the same thing as the multi-zillion dollar special purpose 2 ton pre-fab room. But how you spend your tax money is up to you guys.

I also agree it's going to be a poor acoustic mach for ADR since virtually NOTHING recorded in the real world ever sounds like it was done in a booth. The only stuff that sounds right out of a booth is strict narration where the audience expects the voice to come from soundless LIMBO.

And sorry, Chad, but your clip (while quite well done given the process it must explain) makes VocAlign seem so complicated that I wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole - it leaves the impression that the software is largely about digging down layers of menus that themselves are modal to different software packages in order to re-set deep preferences? That kind of super complicated workflow is TOTALLY YESTERDAY. If VocAlign can come up with something that works with two clicks on an iPad - then we're talking. Particularly if it's going to be used by students. Until then, it's the wrong tool for this job in my view.

Look. ADR itself is a sliver underneath a sliver of what audio for video recording is all about. And while sound recording in itself is certainly critical to good videomaking - audio itself is just ONE aspect of the production process.

This whole approach makes it seem like ADR should be a MAIN EMPHASIS in audio for video - rather than what it actually is - which is a FAILURE that should be avoided with strenuous application of good practices - not PLANNED for. When it happens, it needs to be noted, and fixed as best it can as simply and easily as possible. The emphasis needs to be on AVOIDING it, not building the perfect system for fixing it.

Imagine next year the kids walking into their classroom and there's a giant 100 gallon eight foot tall fire extinguisher bolted in the middle of the room.

The first thing any intelligent kid would think is "Damn, I guess fires are pretty common and accepted around here."

See the point?

My two cents anyway.
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Old June 3rd, 2011, 09:10 PM   #5
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Re: The Hardware and Workflow for ADR Booth

Yes ADR should not be planned for if at all possible. Controlling your set is the best way to get your sound.

Is there a better ADR plug-in than VocAlign Bill? I have only heard of ones that assist in the recording process, with the actor being the one matching the timing as best they can. This VocAlign stretches the new voice to match the original without phase or artifacts as far as I've heard. It works on instruments and song vocals too for doubling.

Hooking it up the first time may seem complicated, but really the process is simple after you do it once. And the process is clearly written out with the help in the GUI. The hardest thing for me was getting the talent to match the intensity of his original performance.
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Old June 3rd, 2011, 10:56 PM   #6
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Re: The Hardware and Workflow for ADR Booth

Couple additions as I think some of my earlier statements were misunderstood....

1. I'm opposed to a booth as it limits headroom and space for proper mic positioning and actor movement (if you can have someone actually boom for ADR lines and the actor wears socks to move around, that can actually help a TON for some lines). The room should be just as acoustically dead as an iso booth. Same as a Foley stage, you want it dead, but you also want space to move around.

ADR actually shouldn't match production acoustically when it's recorded. It's supposed to be as dry as possible. On the mix stage, you use Altiverb and MATCH the dry ADR lines to the production audio. If your production sound-mixer loved you, he may have recorded impulse responses in each location, which you can then plug into Altiverb as a starting point to try and match the sound acoustically.

Moving blankets and a coat closet work in a pinch (certainly not 99%), but a school with a budget should really be using the right tools for the job so the students learn how post houses work. Sound isolation, acoustics, and electrical connections all should to be considered.

2. While I agree ADR is a backup plan, students definitely SHOULD learn it us it. If he's teaching ADR, then these are people that want to work in the post-sound industry and most likely not one-man-bands. If a film needs a lot of ADR, that's just more work to bill for. Directors and location-sound guys need to understand how bad ADR is and how to avoid it. Someone working professionally at a post-sound house however, just needs to know how to do it well and then bill for it.

On most films, post-sound houses aren't even talked to until after the film's shot. At which point telling them how bad the production audio is doesn't help anyone.

3. VocAlign is great, and many places us it. I'm a bigger fan of manual editing however as I've gotten pretty fast at it. No program is 2-clicks on an iPad and just works, VocAlign is the best there is for working AND giving a usable quality result. It may be a yesterday, but until someone makes something better and faster, it's still what pro's use to make audio work.
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Old June 4th, 2011, 01:28 AM   #7
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Re: The Hardware and Workflow for ADR Booth

Ideally, we could avoid ADR, but there are times when you simply have to plan for it.

Say you're on a tight schedule, shooting inside, and there's a huge, loud rainstorm. Or you're filming near a northern coast where it's always windy. It's not like you're going to wait for the one calm day of the year.

On Top Gear it's clear that they do ADR often. The hosts might be riding in an open car or on a motorbike jabbering away - and the audio is clear as a bell.

As soon as you write...

EXT. RIDING A 1949 MOTO GUZZI AIRONE SPORT - LATE AFTERNOON

...and you follow that with dialog, you should have no doubt that you'll be recording ADR.
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Old June 4th, 2011, 03:20 AM   #8
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Re: The Hardware and Workflow for ADR Booth

One handy hint is to try and get the ADR done on location or at least get the lines read as a wild track, at least you then have something that is done with the same set-up used on location.
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Old June 5th, 2011, 11:54 PM   #9
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Re: The Hardware and Workflow for ADR Booth

I'm going to wade into this once more. (and hope to keep my shoes from getting ruined.)

Of all the hours of film, tape and digital footage shot, "movies" probably consist of, at best, perhaps 1 percent.

The other 99 percent of the business, corporate work, training, events, web direct, promotions, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc. virtually NONE OF THAT has a regular need for ADR.

So a school that puts in a specific ADR learning course has to realize that they are spending to train on a skill that will likely ONLY be necessary for a part of the top ONE percent of their students.

Personally, I"ve been making corporate video for nearly 20 years and I think I've had to do ADR once or twice. And when I've needed it, I've been able to do it perfectly well without ANYTHING but my standard editing software.

So if you want to spend time and BIG BUCKS training kids to use the tools that are necessary for a small fraction of the students who will persue this SPECIALIZED sub-category inside the fraction of one percent of the REAL JOBS they're likely to be going for - well - fine.

But for every 10,000 of those kids, there will probably be 1 real job available doing ADR on an actual profit making picture. And probably 100 jobs doing audio for video that has NOTHING to do with ADR. And so if you're so enamored with MOVIE SOUND have at it. Just understand that you're playing a SLIVER game - not a fundamental one, no matter how much you'd like to think the business is all about "movie making." It's not.

Also understand that visual sound editing is already built into every single NLE I've ever seen. So while specialized tools like VocAlign are wonderful for the fraction of the fraction of the users who require them - don't be shocked if the huge majority of the kids coming up look at the little digital puffs of waveforms of the original - look at the little digital puffs of the waveforms of the ADR tracks, and just say "Screw it" I can use the software I've already paid for and do an OK job of this without spending another dime.

That's the reality of the larger production world out there right now. Specialization is falling away in favor of generalists. Generalists add tools WHEN they have the need. If they find themselves spending months doing ADR, they'll buy it and learn it in a week. It does NOT need to be a core skill up to that point. Other more basic audio processing skills are, in my professional opinion, FAR more important.

I've seen WAY too many school, industry and government programs build fancy "state of the art" studios one day - only to watch half the gear become obsolete in six months and sit unusued for the next 5 years.

This is NOT your fathers or your grandfathers movie making world. And traditional ADR kinda is for all but a very, very, VERY few lucky people who get paid to put their butts in those precious specialist seats.

Simple as that.
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Old June 6th, 2011, 12:58 AM   #10
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Re: The Hardware and Workflow for ADR Booth

I just took an introductory audio production class at my community college. One of our four labs involved doing ADR work. It was more for teaching us what ADR was about in a hands-on way, than trying to learn the nuances of doing it perfectly. We just set up an omnidirectional mic in the middle of a room and a group of us stood around the mic reading lines from a script into it. Part of the assignment was to add some reverb when we edited the sound back in to match the picture. Yes it would have been better to use blimped shotguns on a proper whisper stage, but none of that would have really improved our education much.

But I will say that I wish we had a quiet soundbooth room when we were recording foley effects and having to tell everyone else in the lab "be quiet please while I record these footsteps".
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Old June 6th, 2011, 10:26 AM   #11
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Re: The Hardware and Workflow for ADR Booth

Bill,

I agree that corporate work rarely needs ADR. That said, I've found that our narrative work often requires it. I think any good school on audio for video should cover it to some degree.
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