SpaceCrate & The Great: A Case Study

SpaceCrate has been deployed on-set by The Great.  Elevating, accelerating and simplifying ADR recording.

2022 was another record-breaking year of feature and HETV work in the UK. 2023 is shaping up to be much the same. 

With capacity at breaking point, help is apparently at hand. Social feeds are full of architects’ renderings of new studio complexes, each more ambitious that the last, somewhere in the country, opening sometime in the future.  In the here-and-now, the industry is battling to keep pace.  Gratitude for the good times is tempered by grappling with bottlenecks across all disciplines. In production, in post, and in the one aspect that straddles both: ADR.

When it comes to making a show, ADR is an outlier.  It’s a post-production line item, yet it’s part of the performance, part of production, reliant on cast.  If you don’t have the dialogue recorded, have you truly even wrapped?  

Cast is coveted, often irreplaceable and their time is scarce.  Actors are precious commodities.  Once shooting is wrapped; they’re gone.  This character exorcised, motivations expunged and they’re immersed in the next role. They’re inhabiting somebody else’s world, somewhere else.  

Except… they’re not quite done.  There’s critical dialogue still to shoot in the form of ADR.   Post will just have to get them back.  If they’re available.  Hopefully they’ll be somewhere near a suitable studio.  Hopefully they’ll be willing.  Can they still do the accent?  In fact, does anyone even know where they are?  Last anyone heard was Sicily.  Is there a studio there? Has their agent returned our call? 

For many productions faced with the logistical minefield of ADR, capturing these performances on-set with SpaceCrate has been the answer.  Recording dialogue with the cast still on-set in their natural habitat, immersed in character, in accent (often still in costume) and fresh from the stage.  As ADR needs reveal themselves in the edit, the cast are still attached to the show.  Pristine replacement dialogue can be shot, earlier in the process than ever before.

One UK-based HETV production to take advantage of on-set ADR is The Great, the Emmy-winning period comedy-drama series, loosely based on the rise to power of Catherine the Great, starring Elle Fanning as Empress Catherine II and Nicholas Hoult as the Emperor Peter III.  

Shoots for all three seasons of The Great have been based at London’s 3 Mills Studios, with SpaceCrate positioned at the stage door for on-set ADR during the final few weeks of shooting.

SpaceCrate is a transportable, studio-grade recording environment.  Built within the exoskeleton of a standard shipping container, SpaceCrate can be simply deployed to set.  Delivered and equipped in a matter of hours, ready to receive cast members for regular ADR sessions when they’re not required on-set.

Post Production Supervisor Elaine Robertson explains “The traditional way of working means that we’d have to find our cast, find a convenient studio we can trust with our actor and their ADR, and find a feasible time across multiple schedules and time zones for them to record.  This is seldom easy, often complex, usually expensive. Sometimes it’s just not possible. To be able to record ADR using SpaceCrate when we still have cast available to us, engaged and immersed in their character and on-set for our show, means we can strip away several layers of time and complexity from post-production”.

The result is that rarest of things, a creative and budgetary win-win.  ADR captured and ticked-off early in the process, to the delight of the cast.  

Dialogue Supervisor Jamie Roden sees a secondary benefit: “When you can shoot ADR on-set, the performance is elevated.  Cast are in character, in the moment and willing – excited even – to be doing ADR in the more familiar environment of the set.  As a dialogue editor, this gives me better material to work with.  It fits better, it sounds more natural, it’s better ADR”. Roden continues “I see SpaceCrate as a tool, another innovative piece of kit we deploy in pursuit of the outcome. It’s our choice of ADR mixer in SpaceCrate, our go-to mics and software, meaning it’s the same process, except closer – physically and emotionally – to the performance.”

SpaceCrate is a great response to support best-practice ADR, giving the PPS more control and versatility in scheduling. Scheduling actors after a shoot can be a struggle due to uncontrollable variables (location, availability, willingness, cost) and requires a great deal of negotiation.

ADR after the shoot can mean getting the performance may be more challenging. Having Nearside ADR allows you to get actors fresh off the set, in character, in their natural environment, and often still in costume. For the PPS, this removes time & complexity from a particularly stressful period later in the schedule. Plus, with the advent of studios preferring more & more finished versions of episodic television, this allows post to get ahead of the game. 

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