ADR and Foreign Language Localization

ADR, or Automated Dialogue Replacement, refers to an audio post-production process in film and video and is used for many reasons, the two most common being:

  1. The sound of the original recording is compromised due to suboptimal conditions during the shoot or unforeseen ambient noise.
  2. The content producer may wish to replace the dialogue to “soften” it by replacing explicit language or in order to improve upon its delivery. 

During the creation of ADR, continuity of style, delivery and tone are of paramount importance. Expert ADR directors will also be particularly focused on pitfalls. 

Common ADR Pitfalls

Since ADR is a post-production recording — made to fit existing video, yet in an entirely different recording setting —getting the words in sync with lip movements can sometimes be overemphasized to the detriment of getting the aural energy right. Meaning, the actors may be more concerned with the mechanics of delivery and thus inadvertently diminish the actual voice “acting” performance.  Often, actors recording ADR will speak at a slower cadence and at a lower pitch than they do while filming. This underlines the importance of directing an ADR session as much as filming take. While sound engineers have ways to adjust for some of these issues, technical wizardry can only take you so far.

How to Localize ADR

When localizing ADR, meaning when the ADR session extends on top the entire audio track and is in an entirely new language, the same principles as standard ADR hold, in addition to taking into account language specific requirements. 

First, you need the same precise casting of the translator as you would in any localization project. The script used to record the audio track needs to reflect the meaning, tone, style and energy of the original.

Foreign Language ADR

CMI recently created a foreign language ADR track for a fitness video. We assigned a translator who himself was an avid fitness enthusiast, someone who naturally conveyed the necessary energy and movement to ensure a seamless match with the original script. Next, the voice actor who recorded the translated script needed to be similarly cast. It worked so well, using this team of running aficionados, as they literally lived and breathed the content, with the actor sounding realistically winded in the foreign language ADR.

In addition to choosing a translator who speaks the language with the required dialect and grammar, ADR video localization also requires:

  • Niche casting: Choosing a translator who fits the role—as shown in the example above—whether the actor is a soap opera figure or a fitness buff.
  • Acting ability: Capturing the right tone and inflection to secure the nuances of the story and emotion. Meaning, someone who is feeling dejected is likely to be wistful and whispery—not wielding a voice that’s deadpan or stern.
  • Timing: As anyone who’s suffered through watching a film with lots of stutter knows, when the timing is off for subtitles or a dub doesn’t match the actor’s lips, the story is off, too. 
  • Good Direction: Both the director and the sound/recording engineer are key to helping the voice talent stay on track and hit the high and low notes to match the content.

 Choose CMI

 At CMI we localize ADR, and we devote the same attention to detail as we do for all localization projects — whether it’s a full-length feature film or a corporate video.  Contact CMI today to discuss your localization project.

FREE GUIDE:  Learn most costly mistakes made from skimping on the dialog list