Thursday, 18 April 2013

The Voice of the Movies - are you in the Loop?

What do you think of when I mention sound design in film and television? I'm sure many of you will immediately think of music used to enhance dramatic effect, of added sound effects, or of foley to recreate daily noises such as walking on different surfaces. I wonder how many, though, will think of the background voices in crowd scenes, the conversations of incidental characters portrayed on screen by extras, of even the re-voicing done on main speaking characters when the audio recorded on location isn't up to scratch? All of these voice recording fall under the umbrella of  a vital piece of the on-screen jigsaw: ADR, or its proper name Automated Dialogue Replacement.

Sound technicians use ADR to enhance, create and correct, in all television and film content, and on group scenes within Gaming. Laughter is not canned laughter regurgitated again and again from one film to the next, crowd scenes noises are not from a compilation track. No, instead each scene, each ambiance, each location is created from scratch, performed by a team of ADR actors, aka a Loop Group. These actors are responsible for making the scenes come alive, for making them become more 'real'. This stage of post-production makes all the difference, and yet when done well goes barely noticed by the captive audience absorbed by the dramas unfolding on screen.

The techniques and requirements of the ADR actor are unique, although they share similarities to those employed in Gaming, In many ways, although the voice is recorded, the style required is much more akin to acting than to voice over work. Physicality, location, character, status, period research and improvisation are crucial to establishing a 'true' background soundscape. Researched, non-specific dialogue improvisations are key to making an unobtrusive but natural background to any scene. Vocal takes from group work and individual microphone work are layered together to create detailed environments. This team work makes the restaurant come alive with diners, the party seem in full swing, and the surge of the crowd that bit more threatening.

In September 2012, David John of In the Loop ADR Voice Casting established ADR training together with Louis Elman and Abigail Barbier to form the Louis Elman Academy. For many years, Elman and his team have been known as the experts in the business, and on this course it is easy to see why. They share their extensive knowledge and experience with those seeking to work in ADR  based at the Warner Brothers De Lane Lea Studios in Soho. Forget Hollywood, many blockbuster and award-winning movies are given their sound treatment here in the UK, and on this course, you get the opportunity to see some of the world's best sound engineering talent at work.

The next course dates are 11th May and 1st June 2013, and you can find our more here Please do tell them I sent you. Who knows? Perhaps you are a natural and you could land yourself slap bang in the middle of an award winning movie. You may have to listen very carefully to hear your voice, but it'll be an important part of the picture nevertheless.

 Have a listen next time you watch the telly, or go to the cinema, Really listen. You'll be surprised and impressed at the detailed level of vocal work that you hear. You may never be able watch anything in the same way ever again!

I often get a huge response from my blog's from people interested in the books and materials I recommend. I have put many of them (and more!) together in a recommendation list with Amazon, which you can view below should you wish to buy directly from them. Please click below:<a href="" target="_blank">
, and get developing and improving your self!