This blog was originally posted by Chicago Filmmaker/Actor/Friend of the Teeth Joe Avella on his own blog.
Most times I shoot in noisy locations or ones I need to leave quickly because I’m there illegally. Time is always of the essence and I don’t like getting bogged down with more equipment. What almost always suffers in my production process is the audio.
Thanks to the library of sound FX in programs like Garageband and free sound sites like Free Sound Project, you can easily recreate any location specific sounds, but not dialogue.
Here’s a quick and easy dubbing (also known as ADR, which stands for AutomatedDialogue Replacement) method that’s worked well for me. Quick, simple, and can be done with your iPhone headphones. Helpful for when you couldn’t get clean audio the first time.
First, shoot your scene
I shot with no external mic, just the one on my camera. It’s a decent mic, but as you can see from the 1st video below, the location was super noisy. (Per a previous blog post: Some filmmakers re-record the lines while still on location. That method rarely works for me because the location is usually too noisy, hence the problem in the first place, and it’s hard to get a good match.) Get 60 seconds of the location’s ambient noise to be added in later!
Cut the scene together with the bad audio
Invite the actors back to your home or office
Hopefully you weren’t a tyrant while filming and they’re still talking to you. Also, hopefully you have a quiet room to record audio in.
Open your project in Premiere and a start new file in Garageband. Plug in the iPhone headphones.
In Premiere, you can isolate any line and loop it.
Have them talk clearly into the iPhone headphone mic. Hold it close, but not too close or your audio will peak!
When you pick your actor’s first line it will sound like this:
In Garageband hit record, then play the loop in Premiere
Have your actor repeat his line over and over with the loop, Garageband will only pick up what’s coming through the headphone’s mic and you will get something like this:
Start and stop recording in the Garageband file as you go
line-by-line in Premiere
What you will have at the end is a track with your actor’s clean voice saying each line several times.
Once you have all the lines, send your Garageband
track to iTunes:
It will open and play in your iTunes. Right click the track and show in Finder:
Drag the mp3 into your Premiere project
Open it, scroll across, and pick your favorite line. Pull your favorite onto a new audio track. The shape of the waves should be similar so you can match them up visually. If no, move it back and forth until it matches up.
Once you have your clean lines in place, mute the tracks with the bad audio
Here the scene with just the clean dialogue:
Too clean sounding. To make indoor audio sound outdoor reduce the bass and maybe add more treble. Adjust by ear.
Add your sound FX
I get mine (gun shots, ricochets, etc.) from Garageband and/or Free Sound Project.
The dramatic music is from the Team America soundtrack (Hopefully I won’t get sued).
Add your layer of uncut location ambient noise! It should be low enough to be just barely heard. Its continuous drone in between cuts will further enforce the audio illusion. Fancy!
Here’s the scene with the FX and music mixed in:
No it’s not. I’m no master at this technique, but I’ve used it a lot, with varying degrees of success. There are may variables you can adjust (actor’s line readings, a better mic, perhaps recording the ADR on your laptop and go back to the shoot location if at all possible?)
If you don’t have great audio equipment, are pressed for time on a location, or end up getting bad sound, this ADR method can be a great way to keep your production moving and save poorly recorded dialogue.