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#1 Filip Plesha

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 07:55 AM

Greetings

I'm interested to find out something about a typical number of generations that a movie sound went through when most of the gear was analog.

I'd imagine a typical production chain would be, first, recording various sounds (ADR, Foley, or live dialog) to a full track mono tape, or stereo. Music directly to a multitrack tape.
Mixing all the effects unto another multitrack. Then mixing everything together to another tape generation for stereo or mono.

But this is all just a guess.

What would be the actual typical case of sound recording in say, 70's
in terms of tape formats used for various stuff, and what brands were most popular for tape machines in US. (I assume Ampex and 3m)

And in the end, when I'm looking at a DVD of an old movie from 60's and 70's, what kind of tape am I actually hearing in the soundtrack (if it isn't a digital remix).
Is that the original stereo mixdown, or some kind of safety copy
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#2 Christopher Kennedy Alpiar

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 02:25 PM

I am assuming you want to know about the audio chain in the very last period of analog recording? That would be around 1970-75. After that the process became more and more digital and everything changed. Its such a huge question you are asking as it was different in every studio and production company in the world and depended mostly on studio head engineer preference and gear selection. Assuming also the top 5 film companies are what you have interest in (like how was audio tracked for the top box office winners for 1972) it was in constant flux and was constantly changing process. I dont have exact answers but I have done some reading on it and here are some things I can suggest :)

Firstly I suggest for every filmmaker to be as much of an expert in this process as is possible, a decent resource to start with is Sound for Film and Television By Tomlinson Holman (developer of THX system):
http://www.amazon.co...o/dp/0240802918

Getting into the history is really interesting, its amazing the circles that happened to get to where we are today, like the Warner Brothers' Vitaphone: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitaphone
which competed with what would become the standard through the 70s, the RCA Photophone: http://en.wikipedia..../RCA_Photophone

a quick way to see all the changes in film audio is a nice timeline you can see:
http://www.classicth...gyTimeline.html

http://filmsound.org...-sound-history/

this one is particularly funny:
http://lavender.fort...rt-of-sound.htm
those damn talkies!

There are probably some guys on this forum that can answer much more definitively but thats at least a start on info I can share, hope it helps!
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#3 Hal Smith

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Posted 22 December 2007 - 02:40 PM

The Landmark Lowes Jersey Theater is in process of restoring a Vitaphone equipped projector and plans to show Vitaphone films.

http://www.loewsjers...tour/tour12.php

DTS sound is the modern equivalent of Vitaphone using special CD's with a time code track on the print to sync the sound with the picture.
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#4 Christopher Kennedy Alpiar

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Posted 23 December 2007 - 01:13 PM

wow that sounds cool Hal! I am going to have to make a trip to see that. They couldnt restore with a better engineer thats for sure :) I love they are restoring Benograph (spelling) as well...
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#5 Filip Plesha

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Posted 25 December 2007 - 07:14 PM

Thanks for the links, but I was more interested in the process of making the final sound tape , and not how film soundtracks worked. How many tape generations does a typical movie soundtrack pass through etc.
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#6 Christopher Kennedy Alpiar

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 08:15 PM

Thanks for the links, but I was more interested in the process of making the final sound tape , and not how film soundtracks worked. How many tape generations does a typical movie soundtrack pass through etc.

I think its hugely varied from company to company, from era to era, there is no single answer for this, tho maybe someone that has worked in post at paramount in the 70s could give you a definitive answer
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#7 Clive Tobin

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 11:55 PM

...I'd imagine a typical production chain would be, first, recording various sounds (ADR, Foley, or live dialog) to a full track mono tape, or stereo. Music directly to a multitrack tape...


Before the days of multitrack, everything was based around 35mm magnetic film. (Or 16mm for nontheatrical work.)

The field audio was done on a Nagra recorder with Neopilot sync, using 3M Scotch 1/4" tape typically at 7-1/2 IPS but some people used 3-3/4 or 15 speeds. A visible and audible clapstick at the beginning of each shot enabled picture and sound to be lined up later in precise sync. Selected takes were resolved (transferred in sync) to 35mm "edit stripe" magnetic film. Music and effects were recorded "wild" (nonsync) on any handy 1/4" recorder and also copied to edit stripe.

The 35mm edit stripe transfers were then edited into multiple rolls. One for actor A, one for actor B, one for actor C, one for crowd noise, one for sound effects, one for music, etc. An edit sync mark on the head of each enabled them to remain in perfect sync, owing to the sprocket holes and interlocked machines. The production reels were each normally 1000 feet or about 10 minutes running time. In many cases the workprint and dialog rolls were synced up with each other and serial ink edge numbered with matching numbers, in yellow or black ink, so in editing the sync could be maintained, and re-established if lost.

The 35mm rolls were interlocked on multiple dubbers, perhaps a dozen or maybe more at the highest end mixing studios. These and the master recorder could all roll forward or backwards in sync with the projected edited work print. Typical equipment brands were Magnatech, RCA, Westrex and possibly others. The magnetic film was mostly 3M but other makes were also used.

The sound mixer would preview the reel and play with the gain and equalization of each individual roll. When he and the director were pretty satisfied, they would actually record the master mix on 35mm fullcoat. In case something needed redoing, such as missing a manual volume change point, they could roll back to the point of the error and replace that part of the mix with an improved version.

The master mix was mono, but on 3 tracks of the fullcoat. One for dialog, one for music, one for effects. For a foreign dubbed version, a 3-track copy of the mix could be sent overseas and they could use the existing music and effects tracks but come up with a local dialog version.

The 3 tracks of the master mix were combined at equal volume levels to a 35mm optical sound negative, also mono. Preferred equipment brands were RCA and Westrex. The optical sound stock was usually Eastman Kodak but some people liked Agfa-Gevaert. The master mix had a self-adhesive "sync beep" applied to coincide with the "2" frame or else "picture start" on the countdown leader.

The optical sound negative and edited picture negative are then both printed to color positive stock to make a composite print for projection. The sync pop is lined up with the appropriate frame of the picture negative countdown leader for printing, then advanced 20/21 frames to agree with the standard picture & sound head separation in the projector. The sound track area only is "applicated" in processing with a viscous redeveloper, to restore silver to improve the volume and signal to noise ratio when projected.

This is my recollection of the process c.1970 but your mileage may vary.
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