Monday, December 29, 2014

The Sound of Your Own Voice

I hope you've had a glorious holiday with your families!  Or if you don't happen to celebrate Christmas, I hope you had a wonderful week of eating Chinese food and playing in the snow.

I say snow because I am blogging to you from temperatures that never grace the palm trees of Los Angeles. It is Cold. I am Cold. (Yes, that was two capital Cs.) I'm the goofy chick in the corner coffee shop bundled up in twenty layers of sweaters and hats and a gigantic scarf.  Even though I act like a baby, running inside from the car to minimize exposure to the snowy weather, I secretly enjoy it. It is fun to get out of the unending summer that is Los Angeles and enjoy a few different seasons. Especially this time of year. Somehow Santa seems a little more jolly and twinkle lights give off a little more twinkle when surrounded by snow banks. If you can, it's worth it to get out of the city for the holidays. Los Angeles (and this career in general) are such a grind, you need to step into some fresh air every once in a while. (Both the literal and figurative fresh air). 

I was working right up until I left for the holiday. A couple days before jumping on the plane, I had to pop into a sound studio to do a little ADR for one of the movies I shot this fall. AD-what?? It stands for Automated Dialog Recording, also known as looping. 

Sometimes when you're filming, something happens with the sound. Perhaps an ambulance drives by or an airplane flies overhead, or maybe your wardrobe rubs the body mic taped between your boobs and it crackles. On-set sound pays close attention to stuff like that while shooting, and the director will start another take and "hold" the call for action until the sound annoyance is out of mic range.  But inevitably, somewhere along the line, your best take will have a dog barking right through the middle of it. 

When that happens, you have to go into the studio during post production and re-record your lines.  It's a bit weird. You watch yourself say the line on repeat (looping) and try to match your voice with your own lips on the screen. You get three beeps and then your line starts immediately, then three more beeps, and you try again. As a performer, you want to try to make it authentic and real, but it's this strange, orphaned line experience without the context of the entire scene.  And did you grunt, or make any odd "thinking" noises? Yeah, you have to recreate those too.

Still, looping is a necessary evil and every movie has at least a few. They stand out to me like a sore thumb, even in big fancy blockbusters. It's one of those things that makes you realize you've left normal movie fan world and entered into professional filmmaker world. I'll be in the theater and halfway through the movie I'll flinch slightly. My friend looks at me to ask "What?"

I whisper, "Blech. Badly looped line." 

My friend just rolls her eyes and asks that I please stop ruining movies for her.


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