History of the Cinema: The sound in the cinema
9 may 2012
" If the Cinema achieves that an individual forgets in two seconds that the car has parked badly, he has not paid the invoice of the gas or has had a discussion with his chief, then the Cinema has reached his aim “ - Billy Wilder
You all know that the first movie that incorporated the voice was The Jazz Singer (1927), truth? How many of you have you seen at least some sequence of the movie? That yes, you will know that one does not treat any more that of what in English is named part-talkie, that is to say a silent movie that incorporates one or more sequences into sonorous dialog or anybody singing. The Jazz Singer only has fifteen minutes of dialogs and some song. The rest is a dialog in titles (as in the silent movies) and, certainly, it possesses the sonorous band, of an orchestra - recorded - as an accompaniment.
This type of "hybrid" cinema was the base of the process of transition of the mute cinema to the spoken one - that´s not sonorous, because sonorous it was since the music joined-. It was not until 1929 that the cinema was a hundred per cent spoken. The studies were late his in adapting to the change and incorporating the new equipments. The producers noticed that the collections of the hybrids were major, for what they improvised four different solutions:
Remakes of recent productions what was known like goat gland: movies finished with that one we´re adding one or two spoken sequences.
Production of spoken versions and sheds Part-talkies.
They all were announced from the premise " you will listen to the actors to speak! ", still when probably only there was a sequence in the whole movie in which the voice of the actors was heard.
That you have seen Singing in the Rain or The Artist you know the hurt that did the step of the mute cinema to the spoken one in the careers of some actors. But not only it, the pressure from adding dialogs to the movies also ruined several movies. Some examples of movies ruined by the sound are: Lonesome - banal dialogs that changed the opinion of the public about the prominent figures-, Show Boat - added a prologue and a couple of musical numbers; but it was a failure-, and the vocalization of The Phantom"s mute version of the Operates - it did not improve the original one, in spite of an investment of a million dollars-.
In 1929 the majority of the cinema produced in the United States was spoken, with some exceptions. One of the movie part-talkie more famous is later at the arrival of the spoken cinema: Modern Times, by Charles Chaplin (1936). The rest of the world did not receive with so much fill with enthusiasm the technological innovations: they were thinking that to focus in the dialog would reduce the value to the aesthetic virtues of the mute cinema. Nevertheless, industries like that of Bollywood (India) it owes his success to the sound.
But before the cinema had voice, already it possessed sound. Not only thanks to the orchestras that were entertaining the projections, but one tried to record sound along before giving voice to the actors.
The sound is more ancient than we believe let"s create
The merger of the cinema and the sound was born a long before the twenties. As the historical counts, is born approximately at the end of February, 1888. Edward Muybridge - pioneer of the photography - met Thomas Edison and, as said the first one, exposed to second a plan to create sonorous cinema combining his Zoopraxiscope with the device of Edison"s recording voice.
Supposedly at all it arose from this meeting, but years later Edison would invent the Kinetoscope, which he would accompany on his phonograph and would take Kinetograph name. In 1899, François Dussaud exhibited in Paris the Cinema-phonograph, a device similar to Kinetograph. And in 1900 they presented in the Universal Exhibition of Paris shorts of theatre, opera and ballet in a device that was receiving Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre"s name, close to the Cinema-phonographand another system called Théâtroscope. The problems that were presenting this type of devices were:
The synchronization of image and sound:
they were registering and were issued separately, and it was very difficult to activate them exactly at the same time
The volume of the playback:
the sound devices still were not enabled technologies to work to a volume adapted in big spaces
the first systems were producing a sound of very low quality when the actors were not positioned directly opposite to the device of recording, for what the live recording was limited.
In 1907, Eugene Lauste obtained in London the patent for the technology of the sound in the cinema, with a system that was transforming the sound into waves of light that were recorded in the celluloid photographically. Lauste had been employed at Edison"s laboratory between 1886 and 1892. It never exploited this system. In 1914, Eric Tigerstedt obtained a German patent to be employed the sound at the cinema, and managed to demonstrate his invention to a hearing in Berlin. Denes Mihaly presented his project to the Royal Court of Patents of Hungary in 1918. None of these inventions were adapted for commercial ends, for what the big studios of Hollywood were not interested in this technology.
It was not until the twenties that viable systems were invented to commercial level. The most important innovations were incorporating the reproduction of the synchronized sound (playback). The first one dates back to 1919, and it was created by Lee De Forest. His system was recording the audio track photographically aside of the film (what is called a "married" impression). The first commercial projection using this system, it is about on April 15, 1923. It was in the Rivoli Theater of New York.
Also in 1919, there was patented in Germany the system Tri-Ergon. The first projection with this system is of September 17, 1922, in the Alhambra Kino of Berlin. This system was the dominant one in Europe until ends of the decade. In 1923, this time in Denmark, Axel Petersen and Arnold Poulsen patented a system in which the sound was recorded in a tape parallel to that of the image. This system obtained the license under Electrical Fono-Films name, which concerned to Gaumont. It was brief commercialized.
In September, 1925, there was founded the Fox - Case Corporation from the system developed by an ex-partner of Of Forest, the Movietone. This one was the first system of sound in the viable cinema controlled by a Hollywood Studio. The following year, the Fox bought the American rights of the system Tri-Ergon, though they it found the Movietone low and impossible to integrate with the previous system.
Another system that was improved during this epoch was the one that was recording the sound on the discs of the phonograph. The phonograph was connecting to a modified projector, which was allowing the synchronization. In 1921, a Photokinema developed by Orlando Kellum was in use for incorporating sound sequences to Dream Street, of D.W. Griffith. As they count, dialogs were recorded; but the result did not convince and they were never in use. What yes was in use was a song, which could listen in the repremiere of the movie to the 1 º of May, 1921.
In 1925, the Warner Bros began to experiment with the same system on the studies Vitagraph of New York. The new technology received a Vitaphone"s name, and was presented to the public on August 6, 1926 in Don Juan"s premiere. The movie had sonorous band and sound effects, but it did not have dialogs.
The system that ended up by gaining the item was the first one (sound on the tape), due to the fact that there were no problems of synchronization, to edit was becoming simpler, the commercialization of the tape and the fact that the discs must be replaced after the movie was projected approximately twenty times. Nevertheless, initially it was the system with sound on discs the one that was gaining the item. This owed, it was difficult to which to record and to project less this type of sound (the new projectors were costing more), and that the quality of the audio was better on disc than on tape. As soon as these problems were overcome by the sound on the tape, this system was the winner.
The loyalty in the recording and amplification of the sound began to be investigated in 1922. The person in charge: AT&T. They started by investigating both systems of which I spoke to you more above (sound on tape and on disc). Warner was the one who bought the first invention of the company. In April, 1926, both companies, sign a contract for the exclusive use of this technology, the Vitaphone, and that was used in Don Juan. Meanwhile, Bell Labs (the area of investigation of the AT&T) were trying to find the way of which the sound could be transmitted to the whole cinema to a suitable volume. Not. 555 Receiver, he established himself in the Warners Theatre of just New York in time for Don Juan"s premiere.
At the end of 1931, it was allowed to him, the Fox uses the system in exchange for part of the earnings. Once two Hollywood Studios had the sound in his hands, it was time to commercialize it. And to give voice to those actors who were gesturing on screen. (It will continue)
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