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» Film-Tech Forum   » Community   » The Afterlife   » The Jazz Singer (1927 version). (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: The Jazz Singer (1927 version).
Stephen Furley
Film God

Posts: 3055
From: Coulsdon, Croydon, England
Registered: May 2002


 - posted 07-26-2015 03:50 PM      Profile for Stephen Furley   Email Stephen Furley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Bought a copy of the, I think quite recently released, DVD today. I'm quite impressed by the quality of the sound on it for something of that vintage. Says that it's taken from the disks rather than the later optical transfer.

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Jim Cassedy
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1538
From: San Francisco, CA
Registered: Dec 2006


 - posted 07-26-2015 06:37 PM      Profile for Jim Cassedy   Email Jim Cassedy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
About 5 or 6 years ago, WB released a boxed set with The Jazz Singer and
a number of the Vitaphone shorts, all of them with sound tracks pulled from
the original Vitaphone recordings. And yes, the sound is quite impressive.

But you've got to remember- - by 1927, disk recording technology had been
around for almost 50 years, and so, was far more advanced than the early
film recording processes of the time, which were not quite as perfected yet.

Writer & Film Critic Leonard Maltin Holds Up A Vitaphone Disk From
My Collection During a "Vitaphone Shorts" Program Several Years Ago

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

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From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 07-26-2015 07:25 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
[Eek!]

Fingerprint grease all over the groove ... all it would take is for his hand to slip ... that photo could be subtitled "How not to handle a record." I'm probably being OCD and that disc is just one of a dozen surviving copies, and not the one in the best condition, but even then if I were an archivist for the institution that preserved this record, I would be mightily p!ssed at that photo entering the public domain.

Also worth noting that there were some important differences in Vitaphone discs from consumer ones which made them sound a lot better. The groove pitch was wider, and they were made from a much softer mix (more shellac, less abrasive filler). The soft steel needles were only supposed to be used for one side before replacement (although there are numerous reports in the trade press of less reputable theaters using them two or three times), and the records had a designed lifetime of only 24 passes.

As SOD was winding down, Warners/Vitaphone tried to cut costs by subcontracting their record pressing to RCA Victor in 1931, who reduced the size to 12", reduced the groove pitch and used an early vinyl compound as the substrate. They didn't sound anything like as good, with a worse s/n and more surface noise. The final US SOD theater installations were done with a contract that guaranteed record availability until 1934, so Warners had to find a way to keep supplying the small number of screens that stuck it out until the end (not a dissimilar situation to the remaining 35mm installations now).

So when they're remastered carefully and sensitively, Vitaphone titles can sound seriously good.

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Jim Cassedy
Phenomenal Film Handler

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From: San Francisco, CA
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 - posted 07-26-2015 08:53 PM      Profile for Jim Cassedy   Email Jim Cassedy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Leo- Relax- - take a deep breath:

That's one of my "show & tell" disks - the surface is not in the best shape,
and it actually has a crack in it. It's the "pass around" disk used for
show & tell, such as you see here. I never would have let them treat a
'good' disk this way, and I'm pretty sure Mr Maltin, who has a great
knowledge and respect for these things, would have enough sense not to
handle handle it as you see in the photo had I not assured him it was OK.

That disk had been passed around classrooms & lecture halls and mis-
handled by tens of dozens of people long before Mr Maltin got his hands
on it. I even caught the cat sleeping on it once.

I can't recall the title of the film that particular disk is for, and while all
Vitaphone disks are 'rare', it is a title for which other disks, in much
better condition, are known to exist, and for which a restoration had already
been done. When I acquired a quantity of Vitaphone disks about 10 years
ago, I contacted The Vitaphone Project people, & they were not interested
in this particular disk at all for the reasons I stated in my previous sentence.

So, yes, you are 100% correct that this photo is a perfect illustration of
"how not to handle a Vitaphone disk", but in this case, it's OK! Trust me!

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

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From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 07-27-2015 10:30 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I guessed, and, as stated above, was being a bit OCD. I'm just a bit leery of photos like that doing the rounds, because if someone ever does (for example) find a record of the missing reel of audio from Lights of New York in a thrift store, remembers seeing that photo, thinks it's OK to pick it up that way and then their hand slips ... that's all.

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Paul Dorobialski
Film Handler

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From: west allis wisconsin
Registered: Mar 2013


 - posted 10-23-2015 07:13 PM      Profile for Paul Dorobialski   Author's Homepage   Email Paul Dorobialski   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I found some Vitaphone discs while cleaning out a former theatre sound techs house these past years. I found some that were from Universal studios & some Warners. 2 of them were 'test discs' one for Right machine & the other for Left machine. I played one of them at Bob Paquette's Microphone Museum & all they had were 1000 cycle tone for turntable audio balance. I didn't play the one from Universal.

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

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From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 10-23-2015 11:08 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The test record would probably be very useful for someone setting up a turntable for remastering playback. I'm guessing that the Vitaphone Project guys have some. Microgroove setup test records are easy to get hold of; coarsegroove ones much less so.

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Steve Matz
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: Billings, Montana, USA
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 - posted 10-26-2015 10:40 PM      Profile for Steve Matz   Email Steve Matz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've posted this Photo before; The Original Vitaphone System I believe [beer]

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I think the Needle went from the Center outward !

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

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From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 10-27-2015 12:04 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It did, and there are essentially two reasons why.

1 - Because the lead-in groove is in the dead wax area of the record, that enabled the mastering engineer to scribe a needle positioning mark (usually a big X) in that groove. That's where you placed the needle after threading up the projector with the start frame in the gate, in order for the two to start in sync.

2 - A mastering engineer would normally cut the groove wider towards the center of the record, because the smaller radius compresses the bandwidth more. The wider grove and less anti-skate force needed near the center has the added benefit that this is where the needle is least likely to jump during the rapidly increasing speed and torque of the motor ramp-up when the projector and turntable were started for a changeover. For obvious reasons, a needle jump at this stage in the game would be catastrophic - sync lost and no way of getting it back without interrupting the show. So by cutting the disc from the center out, you reduce that risk.

EDIT/AFTERTHOUGHT - they must have been seriously worried about vibration causing needle jump - look at the concrete plinth that projector/turntable combo in the foreground is sitting on! And is that a coffee/travel mug behind the guy kneeling, background left? If so, not much has really changed in the movie technician's working life in the last 90 years or so...

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Paul Mayer
Oh get out of it Melvin, before it pulls you under!

Posts: 3835
From: Albuquerque, NM
Registered: Feb 2000


 - posted 10-27-2015 10:24 AM      Profile for Paul Mayer   Author's Homepage   Email Paul Mayer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Look how they're dressed! Tech pay must've been good back in the day... (I know I know, it's most likely a staged promo pic).

My projection mentors and dearly departed best friends ever (Art Schruhl and Larry Little) told me stories of working/apprenticing in Vitaphone booths in Charleston, WV. Stories of some huge coal ore truck driving by and causing the needles to skip...

As it always has been, ain't technology grand? [Big Grin]

FWIW, CEDs, LDs, CDs, and BDs all start from the inner tracks and work their way outward...

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Kenneth Wuepper
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: Saginaw, MI, USA
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 10-27-2015 07:45 PM      Profile for Kenneth Wuepper   Email Kenneth Wuepper   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I did engineering and service for a local recording studio. He had 2 lathes for cutting acetate discs. The problem was when cutting from the outside to the center, the chip would get in the way of the cutter. He used a vacuum collecting system to catch the chip and remove it from the turntable.

Early broadcast transcriptions were cut from the inside out to eliminate the need for removing the chip produced by the cutter, it simply piled up around the spindle.

His last cutting system used a heated stylus and if the chip got caught near the stylus there was an immediate fire since the material was very combustible. If that burning chip got into the vacuum system the results were very astonishing and HOT.

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

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From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 10-27-2015 08:20 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yup - the lacquer discs that are cut on the lathe before being electroplated to form the mother are made of nitrocellulose - exactly the same stuff as nitrate film base, only thicker. One-time recordings were acetate, but for a reason I've forgotten acetate can't be electroplated and so can't be used to cut a disc that is to be mass-duplicated.

Back in the 1920s I believe that they were a glass or steel substrate coated with wax, hence the phrase "dead wax" to describe the unrecorded section (the run-out section on a conventional, plays from the outside record). But that isn't hard enough for microgroove cutting, and so the record industry started to use nitrate just as the film industry was abandoning it!

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Monte L Fullmer
Film God

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From: Nampa, Idaho, USA
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 - posted 10-28-2015 02:33 PM      Profile for Monte L Fullmer   Email Monte L Fullmer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
From You Tube 1942.How a record is made

When making the wax masters, paraffin wax was used.

What's interesting is that Building 17 of the RCA Victor Camden Campus still stands.

The Nipper Building

-Monte

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Mike Blakesley
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From: Forsyth, Montana
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 - posted 10-28-2015 07:22 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Jim Cassedy
I'm pretty sure Mr Maltin, who has a great
knowledge and respect for these things, would have enough sense not to
handle handle it as you see in the photo had I not assured him it was OK.

I'm surprised he handled it that way anyway. I don't think my DNA would allow me to handle a record that way no matter how beat up it was! [Smile]

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 6902
From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 10-28-2015 08:18 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Interesting in the 1942 RCA promo that the wax master blanks are actually made (as in, the wax coated onto the substrate) in the studio and then cut almost immediately. I wonder if it was possible to store them for any significant length of time before cutting (e.g. to transport them to a non-studio venue to make a field recording) or if they had to be used immediately, and your only option for recording outside the studio was to acetate and then re-record that onto a wax for electroplating and mass duplication.

The world's largest producer of lacquer master discs is actually located just a few miles from me, in Banning, CA. Here is a video of someone using a 1940s (by the look of it) field recorder to cut a disc on a modern Transco lacquer. That record must be one of the cleanest sounding 78s ever cut!

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