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Movies To My Ear

September 17, 2017


I receive scores of invitations to people's websites from actors, directors, and a variety of other motion picture cast and crew in a single day. I view as many as I can usually. 


In reality, I don't watch many movies anymore, because a secondary reason for turning off movies is the script. However, that takes a bit longer - like about two to five minutes. If the movie doesn't hold you, it's poor craft at work, but that's not the main reason for why I don't watch most filmmakers. What's the prime reason I shut off some filmmakers within about sixty seconds? If a movie maker isn't going to take the time to learn how to use the basic tools of the trade, then why should I watch their video? 


An entire array of videos and websites have information on how to use these tools, so ignorance is not an excuse for poor audio and video work. Yes, that's my prime reason for turning off a movie within about sixty seconds. In fact, I usually don't make it through the trailer. Today, I want to focus on the audio, however.  


First of all, it may not be laziness. Not everyone knows what they don't know. Therefore, one thing I like to do is teach. For those with awful sound, they may benefit from learning about which microphones, XLR cords, and audio equipment are best to use or how to watch for spikes in the audio and other such information. That lesson is for another day. Today's article is about ADR (automated dialogue replacement). I have several videos below for you to view on the subject, as well as a few basic websites that might be helpful. 


Some say that ADR is used about eighty to one hundred percent of the time in major motion picture movies. Others discourage the use of ADR if you can get a clean sound on the set. I believe a balance

between these two is the best approach. However, one must know how to get a clean sound on a set. One answer is to eliminate all noise such as squeaking dolly shots. There's a reason that film makers use sound stages where they can control the sound indoors to shoot much of their movies. 


However, some sounds can't be eliminated such as planes going overhead or the ocean waves in the background and can cover the sound of the voices. Another suggestion is to ensure microphones are the correct type (typically super cardioid or shotgun on a boom pole but not always). Also, make sure the microphones are within three feet of the mouths of the cast if it is a long-medium shot, about two feet away for closer medium shots, or about one foot away if the shots for a scene are mainly going to be close-ups. However, be careful with how you adjust from cut to cut or it will sound ridiculous. 


Enjoy the links below and I look forward to sharing more on the trade of movie-making with you later. 





To view a quick overview of post-production audio, be sure to check out this video. 




A variety of software exists and you will want to view this link and this link and this link to learn more or view this link for a few tips from professionals. 


A quick overview on how to use ADR software can be found at this link, and other insights on ADR can be learned at this linkthis link and finally this link (a YouTube teacher's site)


This link gives keen insight into the cables you should use, and this link will give you a quick tutorial on which microphones you should use and for which purpose. 



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