Understanding ADR

By Kevin Graham

Whether it’s due to gear limitations or noise on-set, sometimes it’s just not possible to record your dialogue during the filming of a scene.

In situations like this, if there is dialogue in the scene, it will need to be re-recorded later by the actor, in a studio, and replaced in post-production.

This process is called ADR, which stands for Automated Dialogue Replacement.

filming on set ADR

When To Use ADR

If your set has to be loud, whether it’s from props or vehicles or the location itself, it’s going to be very difficult to capture usable dialogue audio.

Noise reduction software and a skilled sound mixer can work wonders on minor audio problems, but sometimes, it’s a lost cause.

This is when taking the time to replace the dialogue via ADR can pay off immensely.


The ADR Process

It is important to still record scratch audio of the actor’s performance during filming, because this is what they’ll use as a reference during the ADR session.

Usually recorded take-by-take, the scratch audio is played (along with the video) in the studio for the actor, who then attempts to recreate the cadence, inflection, intensity, and tone of the dialogue, this time in a quiet acoustic setting.

Most seasoned actors are used to this process, and can convincingly recreate their earlier performances.

Putting It All Together

It is then the sound mixer’s job to add the ADR audio back into the timeline and adjust levels and effects to match the original environment.

Because the ADR was likely recorded in a studio environment, different types of EQ, reverb, and distortion are usually needed to get the new audio to play well with what’s happening onscreen.


Especially in bigger-budget films and videos, ADR is more popular than you might think. In fact, most of your favorite movies have likely used ADR to some extent, sometimes even exclusively.

We hope this quick overview will give you the knowledge needed to bring this blockbuster technique to your own productions.

Kevin is the Music Director and Lead Composer at Filmpac.

FILMPAC Filmpac is a premium stock footage + music membership library.