Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Night Shift: Attack of the Additional Dialogue Recording

The Night Shift is the production diary of Fighting Owl Film's new independent supernatural-adventure-comedy of the same name currently in "post" in Mobile, AL. Over the course of the next several weeks and months, you'll get an insider's peek at what it's like for filmmakers to craft a new entry of paranormal pop culture from Erin Lilley, a producer and actress on the film.

Attack of the Additional Dialogue Recording

Just when I thought it was safe to put up the audio recorder ... (dun dun dun!) ... More ADR!!!  

The Damnable Generator
For those of you just joining us, "ADR" stands for Additional Dialogue Recording. Some people refer to it as "looping" or "dubbing". I call it "mildly annoying." 

Here's the deal:  We had to run a generator to power lights for night shoots. The generator was loud and, being a low-budget enterprise, we didn't have the means to encase the generator without causing a fire, or worse, an explosion. We tried to keep it as far from the microphone as possible, but there were times when the generator absolutely drowned out the actors. We did a little pre-emptive ADR on scenes where the generator was so awful we didn't even bother using the microphone, and our sound department geniuses (we love these guys so much) have cleaned up the majority of the rest of the scenes.

Unfortunately, there were a few scenes even Miracle Max couldn't save, so we're back to the recording studio (a.k.a. my living room).

So, for the past few days, I've been playing detective to hunt down actors through email and Facebook, then set up recording times that are convenient for everyone, given the holiday season. Basically, next Saturday the actors will arrive, look at the scene(s) to be re-recorded, and try to re-create the line readings they gave during filming. It sounds easy enough in theory, but in practice, it's a whole 'nother story. The actors have to make sure that the new line reading fits their earlier mouth movements. It has to have the same level of intensity as the original performance, as well. That's not too hard for a conversational scene, but try standing still, teathered to a computer by headphones, and re-creating an action-packed fight scene - grunts, screams, yelling, panting, the works - into a microphone, all the while matching lip motions. It's a little easier said than done.

We're lucky, though. In this film, we only have a few scenes to dub in. The short version is entirely dubbed, as is The Strange Experiment of Doctor Purefoy. At least we're not having to do ADR on a two-hour feature.

That would, to put it bluntly, suck.

Everyone's coming over next Saturday, and we're hoping to have everything done that day. Then Thomas will match up each line to its respective shot, render it out on the computer, send it to the sound department who will clean it up and send it back, and then re-edit it into the finished film. We'll be one step closer to finished.  

Thank the Lord.

The special effects should, hopefully, be done soon and then they can be edited in and color corrected to match the rest of the film. The new, story-oriented trailer is finished, and as of this minute is on DailyMotion (embedded below for your amusement), uploading to YouTube and will be on the website in the next day or so.  Our poster signing/publicity event is scheduled for next Friday, and we've already had some press interest, so that's good.  

All in all, things are clicking along. We're hoping to have this ready by the end of the year, but it's a matter of everyone getting their individual projects done and back to us. Stress is rising, but I can see the light at the end.

I just hope that light is a projector.  

We're still plugging away at this thing. In the meantime, you can follow The Night Shift at You can check out the poster, trailer, cast and crew, and some fun downloads. Heck, if you like, you can even be our friend on Facebook and Twitter (@NightShiftMovie), where you can follow more of the progress of the movie.