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We all probably know what lip-sync is from seeing examples of it in B grade movies, where lip movements and words do match at all. The goal of this voice replacement technique is of course to make it look like the persons who were originally speaking English or any other language are really speaking French or Chinese. As most of you already know or suspect, there is no such thing as perfection when it comes to lip sync.
For feature films, lip sync dubbing is accomplished using a technique called looping or Automatic Dialogue Replacement (ADR). Unless you have a feature film budget, it is highly unlikely you will want to spend the money necessary for this type of work.
In short, looping involves recording tiny snippets of speech at a time, a few words, syllables, or phrases at a time. A machine determines the amount of time for a given snippet of speech in the source language, and then generates “in” and “out” points for the foreign language being recorded following the frame accurate time code on the video track.
Only when the recording fits within these “in” and “out” points is the next snippet of text recorded and synchronized to video. It is appropriately called looping because the machine just loops back to the beginning of each snippet if the time requirement is not met.
Looping requires special audio recording equipment and is, due to the many takes that are usually necessary, very time consuming and expensive. It is very easy to spend as much time and money as is available, because the effort to produce perfect voice replacement is a never ending quest: incremental improvements are always possible.