Adiabatic Demagnetisation Refridgeration, or ADR, is a cooling technology based on the magnetocaloric effect. I don’t know what that means, but it doesn’t have anything to do with Automated Dialogue Replacement, which is what ADR stands for in the film industry.
Last Friday, Georgina Sherrington, Oliver Park, Therese Collins and I all got together for the first time since we shot Stop/Eject – almost a year ago. Along with sound designer Henning Knoepfel and behind-the-scenes camera operator Gerard Giorgi-Coll, alumni of The Dark Side of the Earth, we descended on Soundtree in East London to re-record some of Stop/Eject’s dialogue.
Recreating a performance in the sterile environment of a studio can be difficult for an actor. I remember struggling with a line of Kate Burdette’s on Dark Side where she was crawling backwards along the floor while a seven-foot-tall wooden robot with a massive sword bore down on her. Standing still and alone in an empty, soundproof room, it’s hard to summon up the same energy.
If I’ve learnt anything about ADR it’s that – as with any aspect of directing – you have to figure out what conditions each actor requires to do their best work and then try your best to provide those conditions. So while Georgie’s years of ADR experience on The Worst Witch meant she was quite happy acting and lip-syncing at the same time, Therese’s performance was best when delivering the lines wild, straight after hearing the production audio. Your sound crew has to be up for this, though. Kudos to Henning, who recognised and accepted that this was the best way for Therese to work, even though it would mean extra graft for him manipulating the audio to match the picture.
Breaking further with convention, I had the actors feed each other lines sometimes. You have to be careful; at one point they started to overlap each other, which is exactly why we were ADRing the scene in the first place. (You want each character’s voice to be on a clean, separate track when you come to mix.) But even just rehearsing the scene a few times before recording can help recreate the performance. That’s why it’s always good to have all your principal actors present at the same time for ADR, if at all possible.
After wrapping the ADR we recorded the People’s Choice Reward, which you have probably seen already, followed by the cast commentary for the DVD and Blu-ray. With the music written, many of the VFX complete and now the ADR done, it is really starting to feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel for Stop/Eject.