Audio Post Production: Tools That Empower The Best Dialogue Editors
The world of post production audio seems to be getting harder than ever. Budgets are reducing and deadlines are getting tighter. The world has become a smaller place, so there are times when you find yourself competing for work with those who don’t have to charge as much as you to stay afloat.
Dealing with the task of ADR is part art, part skill. It’s not as simple as cutting up pieces of audio and then matching them. It starts with a great performance, matching of sound, as well as dealing with timing to ensure tight lip sync.
At Synchro Arts, we are honoured to have some of the best dialog editors in the business using our software and in this article we speak to them about how our tools are helping them create the highest quality dialogue for top movies and TV shows. In this article you will read about the remarkable amount of time saved by those using Synchro Arts software in their daily work. It’s often regarded by some as the ‘silver bullet’ in their workflow.
Our software has received many awards including an Emmy Award for Technology and Engineering, a Scientific and Engineering Award for our contribution to the film industry from The Academy (the same organisation that presents the Oscars), as well as Queen’s Enterprise for Innovation Awards.
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First The Science Of APT
Getting the best fit in ADR has often been a combination of trying to get a great performance from the talent, chopping up takes, or using inferior time-stretching technologies.
Whilst these techniques can help, they are both time consuming and often give compromised results. This is where our APT (Audio Performance Transfer) technology makes the difference. APT enables the timing, pitch, vibrato and level features of one audio source to be applied to other tracks in seconds.
The APT process first determines the timing relationship between key features of the Guide and Target (Dub) audio signals using state-of-the-art pattern recognition algorithms based partly on Synchro Arts' VocAlign technology.
Next, the APT process measures performance-related features (such as timing, pitch, vibrato and level) of both the "Guide" (which usually has certain preferred performance characteristics) and one or more Targets (Dub) signals. User-selected Guide performance features are transferred to the Target audio to create a new Modified Target signal with the selected Guide features.
The transfer process usually includes the timing alignment, so Guide features are incorporated at precisely the correct places along the Target. However, this is an option. If satisfactory, the processed Dub(s) can be instantly transferred back to the DAW via a number of methods including Revoice Pro Link plug-ins, drag & drop or copy and paste.
Synchro Arts - The Silent Partner In Post
Ben Norrington (pictured right) has worked on TV hits such as Gentleman Jack, Peaky Blinders and Manhunt, plus many more and is a Revoice Pro 4 user.
“It is an excellent tool for dialogue editors; it is part of my daily armoury of tools and can be invaluable in helping to make sure that alternative sync takes or replaced dialogue, or any ADR, remains in sync with the picture.”
One lesser known Revoice Pro tool feature Ben finds helpful is the intonation match. "Sometimes, the particular feature of being able to match the intonation of the original performance works well and that can help disguise the fact that we have used a different take.”
It’s for these reasons that Ben is a big fan of Revoice Pro 4, “The strongest testimony to this tool is that I use it on a daily basis when dialogue editing; it has become an essential tool.”
Mark Lanza (pictured right) has worked on everything from big budget movies like Independence Day, to beloved TV hits like Reacher, Meet The Goldbergs, and Homeland. Mark is a user of both VocAlign and Revoice Pro 4. “I usually use Vocalign for the end of my ADR tightening pass once I have cut it by hand to make it spot-on. If I get any artefacts I go to Revoice Pro. If it is a bigger job I start with RVP, I also use RVP for changing intonation.”
Again, it’s sometimes the little known tricks that Revoice Pro has to offer that help in the middle of a difficult edit. "I recently had a show where a non-native English speaker mispronounced a person’s name throughout the show. I recorded myself reading the line (tightened it to the original with Revoice Pro) and then transferred my intonation to him, it came out great and went right through the mix without anyone knowing it wasn’t ADR’d - they had spotted the error for ADR but didn’t have to use the ADR with this fix.”
“Revoice Pro is a tool that certainly every ADR Editor should have in their arsenal no matter how good you are at manually cutting to sync”, says Mike Hertlein (Blade Runner 2049, Black Hawk Down, The Trial Of The Chicago 7). “If you’re editing dialogue you may not think you need a tool like this but I use it all the time on alternate and cheated takes. Sometimes with lines that have massive wind machines or other visual priorities that require ADR, I can use a denoise plugin to strip out noise without regard to sound quality so that I have a reference track left over for Revoice to work against.”
He continues, “As a dialogue/ADR editor I use Revoice Pro. For ADR I usually run my line through Revoice as well as cutting a version by hand and then choose the best bits for sync and sound quality. If the ‘sync’ performance doesn’t match the original, Revoice is a life saver. For dialogue I’ll use it to match the original sync with alternate takes or on lines that the picture editor has cheated in. The pitch adjustment tools are such a powerful component especially when a word is cut off mid-sentence and is supposed to sound like the end of a sentence. You can adjust the pitch ending to make it sound like the sentence ends naturally.”
Always Improving Workflow
After doing this for several decades it would be fair to assume we might take our foot off the gas, but instead we continue to innovate to help improve workflows.
Revoice Pro 4.3 is the first product to feature SmartAlign, our new technology which intelligently uses the presence of audio in your Dub track, instead of the Guide, to decide when an alignment should start and end. This is a huge timesaver as you can now transfer whole complex vocal arrangements into Revoice Pro and SmartAlign will calculate which section of the guide track your dubs should be aligned with. No more need for any manual pre-editing, let Revoice Pro 4 do all the hard work for you.
In Pro Tools, Revoice Pro 4 uses Audiosuite plugins to import and export your audio quickly and easily. With 4.3, we’ve updated the Quick APT and Quick Doubler plugins so you can save time by selecting processing presets without opening the main Revoice Pro 4 application. In addition, the Revoice Pro 4 Link plugin has been improved, so now you can create a Revoice Pro session which can be saved and reloaded to keep your adjustments and edits for future use. It's also now possible to capture audio files and create processes from within the Link plugin too.
Art And Science Working Together
We’ve always appreciated that our tools help those at the top of the craft of dialog editing to do the best they can. Our software is not here to replace the skills of dialog editors but to assist them and give a helping hand when needed.
From the simplicity and speed of VocAlign to the forensic dialog powerhouse in Revoice Pro, we have a tool to suit every task. If you are yet to discover the power of Synchro Arts software in your workflow, then we encourage you to download a free demo and try it for yourself.
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