Fall 2015

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67 FALL 2015 / CINEMONTAGE of Chace Audio (now part of Deluxe), a noted expert in sound restoration and preservation, who served as production supervisor and one of three executive producers on the project. Heiber began the Rick Chace Foundation to commemorate the work of the late Rick Chace, inventor of restoration equipment and founder of Chace Sound. The foundation, whose "mission is to 'break the silence' on the history, art and technology of motion picture sound through education, outreach and empowerment," and the UCLA Archive worked together for 20 years, along with numerous other industry supporters, to create this definitive exploration/explanation of Hollywood motion picture sound. A Century of Sound began as a live, 180-minute presentation by Gitt at the 1993 conference of the Association of Moving Image Archivists, the world's largest organization for professionals in the field. It was received with wild enthusiasm that demanded follow-up and expansion. Over time, Gitt repeated and refined that presentation in many venues, projecting film clips with their original sounds (hiss, edit pops, flutter, etc.) included. The need to make these into a more permanent, accessible record was obvious. The resultant project certainly meets that need. For instance, those who associate the start of movie sound with Vitaphone's Jazz Singer (1927) or Lights of New York (1928) may be surprised. At least as early as 1902, Leon Gaumont in France introduced the Chronophone, a sound-on-disc system that synchronized with images on the Cinematographe. Also, in 1911, Eugene Lauste exhibited sound on film in the United States. A major purpose of the project is to give the unsung innovators of every era their due, and Gaumont and Lauste are only two of the many dozens of inventors, engineers, artists, scientists and businessmen who are cited. Some, like Gaumont, are well known; others, like Lauste, might be forgotten if not for efforts by Gitt and fellow historians. There are plenty of people to credit, since no advancement in sound becomes mainstream without input from multiple creative and competitive sources, from studio heads to sprocket manufacturers. Speaking both on camera and as off-screen narrator, Gitt details the earliest attempts to reproduce sound onward through an exhaustive — and sometimes exhausting — step-by- step history. The first volume, 2007's The Beginning, extends from 1876 only to 1932, the time when sound pictures eclipsed silents. The next volume, 2015's The Sound of Movies (1933-1975), emphasizes optical sound, documents the transition to magnetic, and ends with a discussion of Dolby technology. Added to this detailed mix is the rapidity of sometimes concurrent developments, and the fact that while different technologies were employed simultaneously, some were in use for only a couple of years. There are finely drawn patent diagrams of machines, portraits, myriad close-ups of ever- evolving devices, and comparisons of various film stocks, perf holes, aspect ratios and microphone enhancements/placements. Soundboards are on display as well as production stills from all phases of shooting, lab work, editing, exhibition and equipment maintenance. Richly colored posters tout the glories of particular sound systems to moviegoers. Period trade advertisements provide charming punctuation: Marilyn Monroe, in a slinky formal gown, gazes adoringly at a new Conductor Leopold Stokowski, center, in a 1939 publicity photo, helps engineers set up RCA 44A Ribbon microphones to record Hollywood musicians performing "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" for what would become a part of Walt Disney's Fantasia.

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