Assistant Dialogue Editor

  • Assistant Dialogue Editor

On a lucky day, the average film may require only a few minutes of replacement dialogue to substitute for unusable audio recorded during principal photography. Then there are those films that necessitate a great deal of ADR because of added special effects or particularly challenging environmental conditions where ADR editors may be working on replacement tracks in the double-digits. When a single ADR editor winds up with a massive workload, he or she often relies on an assistant to keep the process organized and efficient.


Duties

The assistant dialogue editor works within the post-production sound department under the supervision of the ADR editor. This person is chiefly responsible with the day-to-day operation of the dialogue editing unit, allowing the ADR editor to exclusively focus on cutting together the audio tracks. The assistant may perform any tasks delegated by the ADR editor or supervising sound editor, but typical duties will include organizing and retransferring replacement dialogue, cueing tracks before each session, and laying up of tracks. When the ADR editing process is complete, the assistant dialogue editor is responsible for readying the tracks for the final mix by cleaning the audio—removing minor noise—and preparing cue sheets. 

Skills & Education

A college degree in recording arts or film and television production with a concentration in audio post-production is recommended for this career. The assistant dialogue editor must be proficient in the use of audio editing consoles and software, as well as the standard techniques commonly used in the post-production process. Familiarity with the different types of microphones and their intended applications is required. Like any technician working in the audio field, the assistant should have a good ear for audio, which requires extensive training. Courses in music appreciation and sound theory are useful in developing a discerning ear. It is desirable that the candidate be meticulous and attentive. The editing process for both audio and picture is long and arduous; a simple mistake by a rookie assistant could cost several hours and thousands of dollars in lost time. On the other hand, excellent performance could lead to opportunities to advance and become the primary ADR editor.

What to Expect

This can be an entry-level position with the appropriate education and demonstrated skills. Employment opportunities may be found as a full-time assistant in a post-production audio studio or as a freelancer on a contract basis. Trainee positions, which are essentially internships, may also be available where assistants are ranked as mid-level roles. To get a foot in the door, seek out any relevant employment within a post-audio studio. Even if you are just getting coffee for the editor or labeling CDs, it is a start. On the job, you can expect long, irregular hours depending on the production schedule. The closer the deadline looms, the longer you can expect to be in the studio. Like the music industry, it is not unheard of to spend 18 hours in the editing bay.

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