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Home Brew ADR, Part Two

July 1, 2010

We covered some basic concepts last issue, and now it’s time for the session. First, make sure that your setup is correct, so let’s step through the procedure. For instructive purposes, we will be using a Pro Tools system with an external video monitor, and a Canopus ADVC 110 as my video converter. I have taken the video signal and split it out from the converter box so that one leg goes into the isolation booth, and one leg comes back to me at the board. I have a small, flatscreen TV for my monitor, and I have asked my filmmaker to give me a copy of the film in QuickTime DV format. This is important, because Pro Tools will not send anything out over Firewire that is not in DV format. This means a .mov file won’t work with an external monitor. I have my session set up to match the film as closely as possible. (I do this in my session set up window). My frame rates are the same (29.97), my Sampling frequency is the same (48kHz), and even my bit depth (16 bit—even though this doesn’t actually matter, I like the uniformity between source and target).

Importing the Video

The next step is to import the video into your session via the Import menu. Don’t forget to include the audio, as well! Afterwards, set up a few mono and stereo audio tracks to have at your disposal for when you need them. Just for ducks, play that puppy through to the end to make sure everything is locked and loaded. The video should play just fine on your computer monitor.

Then, I go to my Options pull-down menu, and choose Video Out Firewire. This takes the signal and spits it out to the fire connection and to the converter box. You should now be seeing and hearing the film in the studio and iso booth (where the talent is wearing headphones, of course) on the external monitors.

Sync Issues

The last item on this setup list is a critical one. Because you are now sending the video signal out through an external routing source, there will be a delay between the audio and video. Happily, Pro Tools provides a Video Sync Offset Control. This is found in the Setup pull-down menu, and we will be using the QuickTime controls. For my purposes, I usually have this set to 25. This should be used only when you are viewing on an external monitor, otherwise your sync will be off.

“Sync” is probably the most important word of the day today. When we talk about sync, what we are really saying is whether the dialog lined up with the visual. If it’s off by even a few subframes, it will end up looking like an old Japanese monster movie. Always check for sync between picture and audio, because it is very hard to track down once you’ve lost it.

Getting Ready for the Talent

So now you have your iso booth set up with a mic that will represent the live-production audio sound closely. You also now have a clear video signal path to the booth that both you and the talent can see. You have set up your Pro Tools session to be able to playback the original audio to the talent as much as they need to get comfortable with the part and studio. Now it’s the talent’s turn. You don’t just want them to read the part, but react to the part. Of course, you don’t want them to overact the part, either. This is the fine line, and not crossing it is often the most timeconsuming element of the process.

In the next and final installment of this series, we will talk about the actual recording of the dialog and the treatment of the tracks in postproduction.

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