The mic reverses itself — from subject to practitioner

Here’s something only an audio geek can appreciate, but it’s not often that a film sound team becomes the focus of a Hollywood scandal.

There seems to be some controversy about whether Heath Ledger finished his ADR for Dark Knight before he died.  ADR is dialogue replacement, wherein an actor re-records his lines in sync with the film. Most of the dialogue you hear in a film is actually reconstructed in a recording studio.

This quote made me giggle: “EW placed a call to Oscar-winning sound designer and sound editor Richard King, who’s handling the Dark Knight audio work, but he declined to comment.” The sound guy getting calls from an entertainment mag. And having to decline comment. That’s funny.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens if the dialogue is not up to par. They’ll have to either do some artful cleaning of the production tracks or get someone else to do his lines, then blend Ledger’s tracks with the other actor’s. It brings up a lot of interesting questions, especially if Ledger gets nominated for some awards. How much of a performance is in the delivery of the lines? Does it matter if what we’re hearing isn’t him, but some sort of collage of him and someone else?

Sound can now accomplish incredible acts of wizardry. In this age of technology, you can lift a syllable or a breath and re-purpose it elsewhere. Maybe they’ll just reconstruct whole words for him. So is it still him?

It’ll be interesting to see… and hear… what happens.

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