Winter 2017

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 47 of 67

46 CINEMONTAGE / Q1 2017 by R.J. Kizer W hen did ADR start?" It was a simple question, and our director was fond of asking simple questions; "Is that the best you can do?" was one of his favorites. Everyone on the mixing stage knew the question was directed at me so they kept their attention focused on the job at hand, allowing me, and me alone, to bear the brunt of slings and arrows about to come my way. I replied that I did not know, but I knew that ADR was around in June 1979 — the first time I attended an ADR recording session. The great man grunted in noncommittal acknowledgment, and his attention returned to the temp mix already creeping into the 14th hour. So when did ADR start? Post-synchronization of dialogue for motion pictures goes back to at least 1928 with the adding of dialogue to movies originally shot as silent pictures. The mechanics of achieving this evolved very quickly into what became commonly known as "looping" — a method that, by 1935, was employed throughout Hollywood. While the origin of the term is fairly self-evident (short segments of picture and guide track were each joined end to end, forming a loop), ADR is a little more mysterious. A quick search of the Internet will return "Additional Dialogue Recording" as a popular definition. Now, every ADR mixer and editor is quick to tell you that ADR really stands for "Automated Dialogue Replacement." The Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE) has been handing out awards for Best Automated Dialogue Replacement editing since 1983 (my emphasis). The scan of an ADR programming page for The Empire Strikes Back is dated November 1979, with the header information on the sheet reading "Automated Dialogue Replacement (see Figure 1)." Yet, when I pursued my research into the origins of ADR, I discovered that, when first presented to the industry, the technique went by other names and initials. In 1969, ADR stood for "Automatic Dialogue Replacement" (my emphasis). It was also called "EPS" or "Electronic Post Sync." In addition, the process was marketed as "Automatic Looping," "Electronic Looping System," "Auto-Loop," and "Reverse-O-Matic Dialogue Replacement." ADR came about in response to the physical limitations of looping and the technical innovations of electronic machine control. As mentioned earlier, "looping" took its name from the mechanical process by which the task was accomplished — namely that the picture and the original guide track of sound were each edited into separate loops of equal length. Being a loop, the picture and guide track would repeat over and over again. Once the actors felt they had captured the rhythm of the line, the recorder was turned on, and several readings would be recorded. When a good reading in terms of performance and sync was achieved, the recorder was switched off, and the next loop was threaded up. This method of post-sync line replacement was very time-consuming and labor-intensive in its preparation. Each loop per cue had to be exactly the same length; any mistake would have one element becoming out of sync with the other. The "virgin loop" method required three loops to be prepared for each Automatic for the People THE ORIGINS OF ADR ADR editor Joanne D'Antonio and director Irvin Kershner (seated) at an ADR session on the Goldwyn Studios ADR Stage E in December 1979 recording Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back. Photo by Gary Kurtz, from the book The Making of The Empire Stikes Back.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of CineMontage - Winter 2017