Saturday, January 16, 2010

What was the Vitaphone Process?

The video that I blogged in the previous post of the 1928 all-girl novelty band, The Ingenues, was an example of a Vitaphone film. What was Vitaphone? "Vitaphone was a sound film process used on features and nearly 2,000 short subjects produced by Warner Bros. and its sister studio First National from 1926 to 1930. This was not the original process. The first process was called Fuchessound. Vitaphone was the last, but most successful, of the sound-on-disc processes. The soundtrack was not printed on the actual film, but was issued separately on 16-inch phonograph records. The discs would be played while the film was being projected. Many early talkies, such as The Jazz Singer (1927), used the Vitaphone process. .... The business was established at Western Electric's Bell Laboratories in NYC and acquired by Warners Bros. in April 1925. Warner Bros. introduced Vitaphone film shorts (recorded in Brooklyn, NY) on August 6, 1926 with the release of the silent feature Don Juan starring John Barrymore with music score and sound effects only (no dialogue)" more on wikipedia
"In 1991 a group of film buffs and record collectors met to discuss the possibility of seeking out the shellac soundtrack discs that accompanied early 1926-1930 Vitaphone (and other) talkie shorts and features. The Vitaphone Project was formed to accomplish this goal as well as to partner with the studios (particularly Turner/WB), film archives (UCLA, LOC, BFI), and private collectors worldwide in order to get these films restored and seen again. Of particular interest were the nearly 2,000 talkie short subjects, featuring vaudevillians, bands, opera singers, and comedians made by Vitaphone from 1926-1929. In many cases 35mm picture elements exist without an accompanying soundtrack.
Since its inception The Vitaphone Project has located over 3,000 12- and 16-inch shellac soundtrack discs in private hands, has assisted on the restoration of over 35 shorts and 12 features, and has developed nearly $300,000 in private funding for restorations. There are still over 80 shorts for which picture, but no sound, exists" more here:
Vitaphone Project

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