Usually when filming, are the dialogues being recorded together with the scene of the shots or are the dialogues usually re-recorded by asking the actors to speak and record over the footages in a studio?

I am asking because I thought it feels like the dialogue recorded together with the scene in the shot may not be "pure" as there could have been noises from the background which makes it sometimes difficult for sound editing.


Sometimes yes and sometimes no. Dialogue recorded in the studio is referred to as ADR (additional dialogue recording).

A scene shot on the beach (for example) would have the dialogue re-recorded in a studio. However the character's dialogue would still be recorded on set and used as a guide track.

A scene shot in a motel room (for example) would most likely have the audio recorded on-set and used in the final cut as it is much easier to control sound in such an environment.

Contrary to what Colum has said, it is not impossible to sync the audio and actor's lips in post production -- there are many techniques to achieve such a goal. Although, Colum, is correct in saying editors have many different takes to cut in between.

A cool trick to see if the audio and visual of a particular shot were recorded separately is to look at the other person's face in a two shot (where both characters have lines) and see if their lips are out of sync with the audio. By 'other person's face' I mean the character who is not the focus of the shot. It is common in a conversation scene between two people that you cut to one character's reaction before the other has finished speaking. If the shot is framed as such that you can see the other character's face, you will notice that their mouth is moving but it's out of sync with the audio. Not many people notice it because they are looking at the focused subject.

  • Is the kind of shot that cuts to one character's reaction before the other has finished speaking usually have their dialogues recorded in the studio? Because I found dialogues in shots like this and the L/J cuts difficult to synchronise with the footages. Of course, if I had multiple cameras, it would be easier but I don't.
    – xenon
    Jul 19 '11 at 16:55
  • Um, it depends, man. It depends on the location more than the type of scene, but also depends on the budget. So you are having issues syncing ADR with footage? Or you are having trouble cutting together a scene because you only have one camera?
    – Chard
    Jul 20 '11 at 5:06
  • actually, I am having problems with a few things. First, for dialogues and sounds that were shot on set, these tracks has "noise" from the surroundings. Sometimes, it is only during editing that I have found out that, for eg, say a motorbike booming off during my shot, that its sound was also captured together on the same soundtrack. This makes editing difficult. If I try to dub the dialogue for that part, it may not sound consistent for all the other parts.
    – xenon
    Jul 20 '11 at 6:02
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    Yes definitely. Recording each sound individually is the best way to create a soundscape. When on-set, record 1-2 minutes of atmos (atmosphere) track before or after the shoot. Just ask everyone to be quiet until you say so, point the mic at the ceiling and hit record. In your case, this would be the sound of the room with the fan that you could use to make the cuts between dialogue smoother. Crossfading them in will also help :)
    – Chard
    Jul 20 '11 at 22:29
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    "ADR" stands for "Automatic Dialog Replacement", although little of the process is 'automatic' ;)
    – user1200
    Jul 21 '11 at 21:39

If you look more carefully, you'll notice that often the audio and the actor's lips are NOT in sync. Look at a few commercials, especially cheezy ones; the mismatches are glaring.

So, yes, the dialog recorded "on location" is often replaced after the fact. It might be an entire scene's worth, or just a few lines. In order for the audio to be seamless, location sound engineers record a few minutes of "room tone" - JUST the sound of the room (or, more generally, the environment, which might be outdoors). When replacing lines with new ones recorded in a quiet environment like a vocal booth, an audio editor can mix in just enough of the room tone so that the edits go by unnoticed. Of course, crossfades help too.

  • Thanks! I think one of the difficulties though is the actor's lips is difficult to synchronise with the audio recorded in the studio. The actor could have spoken a little faster or slow sometimes than the one recorded in the studio. And during editing, the matching may not be perfect.
    – xenon
    Jul 24 '11 at 10:15
  • Actually, a lot of commercials have badly-synched audio because they have a single visual take to use with multiple languages: they're done on the cheap :)
    – Ed J
    Jul 26 '11 at 9:29

The dialog is shot as the same time as the seen. Otherwise, it would be impossible to sync the audio and the actors lips.

The reason that its so perfect is that they can do the same seen 20-30 times from each angle. So the editors can have many different takes to cut in between.

  • Doing 20-30 takes of a single scene is going to take a very long time, let alone doing a that many takes from a single angle. Assuming the actors don't mess up (or some other thing goes wrong) you only really do 2-3 takes, and then the extras are only as a "just-in-case".
    – Ed J
    Jul 26 '11 at 9:33
  • Many times, it doesn't matter how many takes you do. If you for example have two people running in a snowstorm (extreme example, I know), you will have to fix the dialoge in post production, lest you want wind blowing on the mic and motion artefacts in the movie.
    – Speldosa
    Dec 16 '11 at 23:53

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