Sound comes to the photoplays

Posted by | June 6, 2012

‘How the Talking Pictures Talk’
Smyth County News
Thursday, June 27, 1929

There are two main ways of making talkies. One is the so-called disc method and the other the sound track method. In the disc method, the cheaper and less satisfactory of the two, discs something like regular phonograph records are used and the sound is synchronized with the movements of the actors. This is the Vitaphone system and it is all right but rather difficult if the film breaks or the machine gets out of whack.

When pictures are made by this method, the action of the play is photographed in a sound proof studio and at the same time the records of the voices, music, and incidental sounds are made.

Vitaphone logoThe other system is the sound track system. It is the one used in the new Lincoln Theater. Under this system the sound is recorded on the film at the same time the picture is photographed in the sound proof studio. A film with a small track of different substance at one side is used. The recording is done by light which plays over the sound track, made of a delicate chemical substance, and the light varied by the sound of the action caused vari-shaded little bars on the sound track.

This system is the Movietone system.

When the picture is shown, another needle of light in the projecting machine plays on the marked sound track and through it to the delicate electrical apparatus. As the light is varied by the shades on the track, the sound is varied and the human voice, the noise of machines, music, etc. comes out of the speakers.

These are located behind the screen, which is of a special cloth full of little holes to let the sound through unmuffled. Back of the screen, except where the speakers are placed, is a heavy black cloth to cut off the light.

Marvelous things have been accomplished by this method. Exact synchronization of sound and action in the picture play have been achieved and the characters moving on the screen never get ahead of or behind the sound of their voices. To the audiences it is like the characters were speaking their parts.

Lincoln Theatre, Marion VAUndated early photo of Lincoln Theatre in Marion; collection of Lincoln Theatre, Inc.

In addition to this equipment there is another special outfit in the new Lincoln. This is a disc outfit not intended to go with the showing of talking films, but to furnish incidental music to the performance of silent films and to furnish overtures and the like. It will play the finest of organ solos as played by Jesse Crawford in the Paramount Theatre in New York and it will play the music of some of the country’s greatest orchestras.

Altogether, the Lincoln Theatre is completely and finely equipped for the reproduction of sound with the showing of its photoplays. The equipment is of the finest; nothing cheap has been used. It is far ahead in quality of the equipment used in sound reproduction in theaters of some of our neighboring towns.

Costing thousands of dollars, well into five figures, this equipment promises much entertainment to the citizens of Smyth County and those citizens of our neighboring counties who will come to Marion to visit the finest picture house between Roanoke and Knoxville.

source: Sherwood Anderson Newspapers Collection/Smyth-Bland Regional Library
www.sbrl.org/sa_newspapers.htm

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