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iZotope RX4: More talkin’ means more Tolkien

Audio repair and enhancement toolkit described as "game changer"

iZotope’s RX4 audio repair and enhancement toolkit played a key role in the production of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy, the US software developer has revealed.

Ray Beentjes, dialogue editor for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit epics, utilised the toolkit to capture more of the actors’ on-set dialogue, resulting in stronger performances and arguably more impactful storytelling.

When Beentjes began working on The Lord of the Rings, many of the actors’ best performances were unusable, he reports, often contaminated with noise from production equipment and the surrounding environment. In the end, only 5-10% of the original location audio was usable for the final cut, because the production team didn’t have a solution for salvaging the troubled audio.

“An actor could have delivered a stellar performance on location, but the audio would often be unusable,” Beentjes says. “They would then have to spend hours in a dubbing room re-recording their lines, and due to the complexity of the production, they might be covering what was six months’ worth of filming in a two-day ADR session. That often makes it very difficult to create the same mood again.”

Beentjes describes RX4 as a “game changer”. These days, he says, his team is able to save more than 80% of the original production dialogue, and blend in ADR when required.

“RX has been fantastic, and we’ve developed a completely different workflow,” Beentjes adds. “Now we can focus on finding the best performances from the original material delivered by the actors.”

(James Groves)