ADR stands for Automated Dialogue Replacement. It’s a way to fix bad sound (or even re-write dialogue) after the movie has already been shot. In the standard version of ADR, a technician makes a loop of each line to be replaced. The actor watches the action on screen and hears the old version of the line in his or her headphones. Then they say the line into a microphone in sync with the picture. Again and again till it’s perfect. If done right, the looped dialogue is invisible to average filmgoer. ADR booths and technicians are expensive — too expensive for Rain in the Mountains. So Joel and Christine devised
The living room of Joel’s parents’ house became a recording studio. The lav mic was on a stand next to the actor, while the boom was held by the cushions of a couch about eight feet away. They used the same mics that were used during production because, with ADR, you try to reproduce the sound as best you can (in case you have to mix and match from production and ADR tracks). Throughout the day, they proceeded to record each actor one at a time. The others patiently, and silently, played poker outside.
This isn’t true ADR because there’s no attempt to sync the new sound to the lip movements of the footage. But it can be used in a pinch in combination with angles that don’t show the talking person’s face, or do so from a great distance. Robert Rodriguez, in his book, also talks about editing El Mariachi to the ‘poor man ADR’ sound and then cutting away before the audience notices the lips are out of sync.
While all this was going down, I was in a far room of the house, quietly trying to burn photo CDs for the cast with my slowass computer. Just when I got the first one done, Joel bursts in with a Kodak film box filled with DAT tapes. “Take these to Seattle. Now!”
Typical Joel. Okay, where? “Modern Digital [the post-production house].” Any instructions? “Stay and watch the transfer; make sure there’s nothing we have to re-shoot.” Sure thing, boss. Oh, and how about some directions…
I gunned it to Seattle and got there only five minutes after the session was supposed to begin. The colorist, Bill, already knew what Joel wanted… so I just sat back and enjoyed the footage. Joel, Lillian and Christine came as soon as they finished the “ADR session” (Nick took a long time; wouldn’t stop fidgeting). They arrived just in time to see my star turn as farmer Earl. We ate Subway sandwiches and felt the burden of shooting lift as all the reels came out AOK.