Terminology Tuesday – Loop Group

Also known as “walla” and, most correctly, as group ADR: Automated Dialogue Replacement. ⁠

It’s also considered one of the cushiest jobs in the biz. More on that in a bit. ⁠

In TV and film, only the principal actors are mic’d; the background actors are not. This is so that sound can stay clean for each scene and the principal actors can be heard. The loop group then comes in to create the ambiance for the entire scene; whether it’s a restaurant, store, office, etc. ⁠

Loop groups consist of a small group of actors (anywhere from two to ten people, usually) who produce these voices. ⁠

The actual loop group recording is done through the use of various techniques on a sound stage. The scene will be screened and any noticeable mouth flaps that need voices will be pointed out. The loop group coordinator will then ‘cast’ according to the various voices available.” ⁠

Things to know:⁠

For starters, you’ll need a strong improvisational background. It’s not easy to get up onstage and banter. ⁠

It takes a lot of research, listening, and quick response. Just like on-camera work, you’re expected to do your homework. This means if your scene takes place in a different era or surrounds a specific culture, you’ll need to do the prep work. Most times, actors are told their scenes before each recording session. You’ll then need to come in fully prepared with research that allows you to speak with authenticity. ⁠

Looping can also be very physical. Many times you are mimicking the physical actions of a group of people on screen. That can mean walking around briskly, running, and even jumping (big action scenes = more physicality). ⁠

So then why are loop groups the Holy Grail of acting gigs?⁠

Well, for starters, it can be pretty fun. AND you get paid a SAG day rate (PLUS residuals!!) ⁠

“Ok yeah, sign me up!”⁠

If only it were that easy. Unfortunately, there are no breakdowns or casting notices for loop groups. ⁠

There are plenty of great VO/ADR/improv classes out there which is a great place to start. Start digging!


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