Recently I stumbled upon a DVD store, of which my having knowledge of is extremely perilous to my wallet/bank account, it's called $5.99 DVD Funhouse and it's a store full of DVD's for $5.99 or less. Now most of these are movies bought in bulk from places like BlockBuster when they went out of business and are resold at a liquidated price. Actually, most of these are DVD's that have been used as rental DVD's have have merely been put back into their cases and repackaged and sold as though they're new. I actually have no problem with that because, hey, it's $5.99, they were at some point in time real and all the ones I bought worked, some were even legit new, even if the casing for The Dark Knight had a French version. I, however, digress, because that is far from the point.
At this DVD store I bought John Woo's "Hard Boiled," a movie I've seen before, (about 2 years ago) and a movie I decided to re-watch recently (meaning today). Watching it again I realized something I noticed last time but couldn't quite put my finger on; the entire movie is ADR'd.
Now, for you not film people, ADR, or "Automated Dialogue Replacement," is a process by which you call your actors back in, after shooting, into a studio to re-record their lines, which is done by their staring up at a screen playing clips of themselves and trying to match their lips from whenever they shot those scenes. This process is done when you have un-usable production track or no production track, and a lot of Hollywood movies insist on redoing the entire movie in ADR if one scene was done "for the sake of continuity," but I think that notion is kind of silly, especially if you have a good sound mixer, both for production and post.
Anyway, I wondered why they might do that for "Hard Boiled,". I mean, aside from the obvious scenes (explosions and guns and water and etc) there are plenty of scenes that are in places or shots where ADR simply is not needed, and, from my ability to notice the inconsistencies in audio anyways, other, more recent productions have not ADR'd the entire film. This is when I remembered something my Camera II teacher, John Crawford, told me last year.
"The Arri 353 was the workhorse of the HK movie industry." Now again, for you non-film people, the Arri 353 is a film camera that shoots 35mm film and is extremely durable and versatile, only one thing; it's MOS.
MOS, again, for you non film people, is a term that started appearing thanks to our German brethren, who would say, for scenes without sound, "Mit Out Sound," just imagine a heavy German accent saying that and it makes a lot more sense and becomes quite amusing. So, as a joke, we started saying "MOS" and it just kind of stuck.
Back to the Arri 353, for those of you who don't know, the camera is "MOS," not because it doesn't record sound, (though it doesn't) on film sets, picture and sound is recorded separately and married together in post (which is why you see a clapper; so the assistant editor, apprentice editor or post house (or whomever's doing it) can sync the sound with the clap later). No, the 353 is a silent camera, paradoxically because it is NOT a silent camera, it is actually quite annoyingly loud, sounding like a blender when its running. (Yea, try and get that out of your production track).
Anyway, I bring this all up because I began to wonder; hey, if these guys could ADR this entire film, how difficult would it be for me to ADR an entire film. I wonder if I should try it.
Then I decided that I would wistfully ponder that question until I actually had to sit in those ADR sessions, at which point I would just want to kill myself for being so dumb. If I did, however, I would at least make sure to get reference track.
Besides, its not like we really care about what the people are saying in this film, it's John Woo, not Wang Kar-Wai (though we don't really care that much about what people say in his movies either, but it's slightly more important).