FILM 1701 Lecture Notes - Phonofilm, Lee De Forest, Altec Lansing
Week 9: The Great Divide: Silent/Sound Cinema
The Evolution of Sound
-Lumière premiere screening accompanied by piano.
-early sync sound experiments: Edison provides musical accompaniment for images:
Kinetophone (did not catch on).
-Lee De Forest develops amplification system for sound.
-most big feature films have commissioned music score.
-Tri-Ergon optical sound system, which uses a photoelectric cell to convert sound into light,
devised by Engl, Massole, &Vogt.
-De Forest exhibits his Phonofilm sync-sound system and tries unsuccessfully to interest the
-first film with synchronized music disk system, Vitaphone: Don Juan
-first film with synchronized music and dialogue: The Jazz Singer, Warner Bros. Its tremendous
success leads Warner Bros. to convert all production to “talkies.”
-first all-talking film: The Lights of New York
-early sound systems required simultaneous recording of image and sound
-studios decide to standardize sound-on-film process developed by Western Electric, and
marketed by Electrical Research Products, Inc. (ERPI). Alternate system, “Photophone,”
developed by Radio Corporation of America (RCA), forms RKO company.
-Hallelujah! (first postsynchronization sound feature)
-all major studios convert to sound production by the end of the year; slow process of converting
theaters to sound begins
-capital cost of sound conversion (industry total): $300 million.
-rear projection developed; allows for non-location, studio shooting (important for early sound
-most theaters converted to sound.
-camera “blimp” introduced to muffle camera noise allows for greater camera mobility.
-post-dubbing fully developed for sound allows for separation of soundtrack and imagetrack