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ADR – automated dialogue replacement


My interest in string theory leads to Mark Levinson
Walter Murch Film-maker
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At that same time, when we were in the editing [of Unbearable Lightness of Being], I was, for reasons to do with just my focus, I was interested in string theory, just as an interested citizen. I heard lots of about string theory in physics, and: what is it? And what's going on? And I heard that there was a gentleman in the Saul Zaentz Film Center in Berkeley, who had a PhD in particle physics, and he was working as an assistant in... on one of the other films. So I found out who he was. It was... turned out to be Mark Levinson. And I said, 'Let's go out to lunch someday, I want to ask you about string theory.' That wasn't his specialty, but he knew enough about it to keep me satisfied.

Anyway, our... That started a friendship 30 years ago now. And he wound up not becoming a professor in particle physics, even though he was qualified to do that. But he was a specialist in what's called ADR, automated dialogue recording, which is the replacement of dialogue in a film after the film has been shot. And it's a very specialised, very tricky area to get right, to know exactly what to say and how to do it. And you... As... Mark would work very closely with the directors on films, but it's a very... it's an area where it's easy to get things wrong, and Mark is one of the best in the business at that.

Anyway, he and I worked together on [The] English Patient. He was the ADR supervisor on that. And Talented Mr. Ripley, and Cold Mountain. He became a very good friend of Anthony Minghella. And we also worked together on K-19, Kathryn Bigelow's film.

Born in 1943 in New York City, Murch graduated from the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-Television. His career stretches back to 1969 and includes work on Apocalypse Now, The Godfather I, II, and III, American Graffiti, The Conversation, and The English Patient. He has been referred to as 'the most respected film editor and sound designer in modern cinema.' In a career that spans over 40 years, Murch is perhaps best known for his collaborations with Francis Ford Coppola, beginning in 1969 with The Rain People. After working with George Lucas on THX 1138 (1971), which he co-wrote, and American Graffiti (1973), Murch returned to Coppola in 1974 for The Conversation, resulting in his first Academy Award nomination. Murch's pioneering achievements were acknowledged by Coppola in his follow-up film, the 1979 Palme d'Or winner Apocalypse Now, for which Murch was granted, in what is seen as a film-history first, the screen credit 'Sound Designer.' Murch has been nominated for nine Academy Awards and has won three, for best sound on Apocalypse Now (for which he and his collaborators devised the now-standard 5.1 sound format), and achieving an unprecedented double when he won both Best Film Editing and Best Sound for his work on The English Patient. Murch’s contributions to film reconstruction include 2001's Apocalypse Now: Redux and the 1998 re-edit of Orson Welles's Touch of Evil. He is also the director and co-writer of Return to Oz (1985). In 1995, Murch published a book on film editing, In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing, in which he urges editors to prioritise emotion.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Mark Levinson

Duration: 2 minutes, 13 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2016

Date story went live: 29 March 2017