I figure a good place to start with a looping blog is to actually let you know WHAT looping is. Looping, also known as Group ADR (automated or automatic dialogue replacement), is the voice work that gets done in post production. It fills in all the “holes” from production. You may have, as an on camera actor, gone in and looped your dialogue from a scene that had camera noise or perhaps the director wanted to tweak a performance. That is also ADR but you are just re-voicing yourself. In Group ADR you are amongst an entire group of actors and are most likely going to be the voice for MANY in the film or television series over the course of the session.
Since the extras can’t talk on set, or it would ruin the dialogue for the principle actors, they hire a loop group to voice what you should be hearing from them. Literally ANYTHING you’d need to hear to fill in the holes are done in a group ADR session. When you hear hospital PA’s (“paging Doctor McDreamy to the ER stat”) or Airport PA’s (“Flight 53 from Boston has been delayed”) and even commercials playing on a television in the background, they most likely all came from a loop group session. Sometimes the cues are written for the loop group actors and sometimes they are completely improved or prepared and written by the actors themselves. In the next few blogs, I will start going over some of these in more depth, but just to give you an idea of a true loop session, sometimes even the main actor’s efforts (for example if an actor gets hit you’d need to hear the actor’s grunt but it wasn’t picked up loud enough during the shoot) are also covered in a group ADR, or looping, session by one of the loop group’s actors.
Without looping, you can see there would be a lot of holes in a film or television show. It’s a really fun actor job if you can get the work. (not to mention it pays union scale and you get residuals just like on camera) And if you do get the work, make sure you are prepared….
Paula Price is co-founder of the loop group The Three Beeps