The history of sound in cinema created by : Dejah Voker
D.W Griffith was the father of film
David Wark Griffith (later named D.W Griffith) , “was born in LaGrange Kentucky on January 22,1875.”( Simkin ) “He was a legendary filmmaker, who at first set out to be an actor and write for theater then turned to cinema, creating highly innovative filmmaking techniques”( Bio. A&E Television Networks). When Griffith failed with pursuing this career he sought out to act in the new motion picture for Edwin S. Porter at The Edison Company. As time passed Griffith was “offered a job at the American Mutoscope & Biograph Co.” ( Kaminsky) While employed there he directed over 400 short films and conducted various experiments with his story-telling techniques. Griffith took what he learned and later perfected this into his epic film The Birth of a Nation, which also was considered the birth of modern American cinema. He also was the first person to “produce the first movie created in Hollywood, In Old California (1910).”( Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation). Years later after releasing The Birth of a Nation, Griffith never again saw the same tremendous success as his signature film. He also created “two full-sound films, Abraham Lincoln (1930) and The Struggle (1931) and those as well were not successful” (Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation). His increasingly failures caused him to never make another film and forced him to retire in the theater field. D.W Griffith was and is still one of the most significant figures in film history and sound today.
· Simkin, John. "Spartacus Educational." Spartacus Educational. Peter McMillan, Aug. 2014. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.
· "David Wark Griffith." Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.
· D. W. Griffith." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2014
History Of Sound
Before sound was created people watched silent film or read subtitles in order to perceive the message in films. They also used music to create a story allowing themselves to still be heard. Sound was created not only to boost profits in film production but to also make movies more entertaining and enjoyable. In 1877, “ Edison figured out a way to record sound on tinfoil-coated cylinders. He created a machine with two needles: one for recording and one for playback.”(Department of Interior, National Park Service) Thomas Edison invention was called the phonograph and for the first time ever people could record sound. “The Vitaphone was also created. This invention was created by the Warner Bros. and its sister studio First National , which produced the first commercially viable sound system. “This was useful because it allowed sound to be heard to large audience at a comfortable volume.” ( Millner) By the mid-1920s, several competing systems had been developed to add sound to motion pictures but this was a hard task because people thought that sound was not worth the cost. The cost to create sound was expensive and people didn’t want to take that chance of failure. “The first known public exhibition of projected sound films took place in Paris in 1900, but decades passed before sound motion pictures were made commercially practical.” (A Brief History of Sound in Movies). “Sound was recorded on disc similar to a photograph record, which was played in tandem with the movie.”(Emily Thompson) The “sound-on-disc” system was established by a company known as Western Electric. The death of silent films or the birth of sound of Motion pictures was The Jazz Singer in 1927, who was by the Warner Bros. and directed by Alan Crosland. By the 1930s, filmmakers began shooting their films without sound and then added all the features in the film later. When sound was first introduced a lot of problems came along with it. The audience had problems with clarity and understanding what was going .To them it was hard to interpret what the film was about. “The first microphones were omnidirectional and picked up any noise on the set.”(Mark Winoukur) There was a lot of background noises and “the sound cameras and equipment were big and noisy, which had to be kept in their own soundproof room, called a "blimp.” (Mark Winoukur). “Studio built these padded metal blimps to silence the camera but were far less awkward to use than booths” (Thompson and Bordwell 182). Furthermore, certain actors didn’t transition well to the new invention. They were used to being able to move around stage and not having to stay in one position. Some actors also did not sound the way they looked on the silent screen. Language was a huge factor in the creation of sound as well. It was important that the actors were fluent in languages and foreign accents were harder to understand. Another problem was the camera was stationary as well. Writers had a hard time adapting to sound too. It “was difficult for silent scene writers to find the right balance in sound scripts between action and dialogue.” Winokur) There was a huge technological difficulty of matching sound and visuals in such a way that everyone could understand. Theaters didn’t have a choice but to adapt to technology and develop new narrative techniques because there were other resources out there that could potentially take them out of business. “Studios also justifiably feared losing the international audience that silent film could automatically rely on.”(Mark Winoukur ) Silent films audience were happy with silent movies because they enjoyed being accompanied by music of some kind. When television was created it gave people immediate liveliness and provided families a stay at home baby sitter. “Ultimately, many… theaters that had not bought sound systems by the mid-1930s went out of business” (Thompson and Bordwell 193). Investing in sound systems was a way of filmmakers coming back from this downfall television brought upon them.
Without film just think about all the things that would not have been created. “At least one whole genre would not have been possible without sound: the musical.” ( Bruce Holsinger) “Some verbal kinds of comedy would not been possible as well until sound was invented.”( Winokur ) What would our lives be like without these things? Not even just comedies but don’t forget to include things such as movies and radios, your favorite Television shows, and etc. In music “with a volatile history, going in and out of popularity very often, the music genre persists in some form to the present day, from the "backstage musical" of the late 1920s, to the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers films of the Great Depression, to the big color MGM productions of the 1950s, to the MTV video, to the musical interludes of The Simpsons.” Sound has played a tremendous role in creating such aspects just so we are satisfied and entertained.
There are various kinds of jobs available in the film industry dealing with sound. “The introduction of sound in cinema gave African Americans a much greater opportunity to work in Hollywood during a time when racism and prejudices were still very prominent.”( Garrett) African Americans played a huge role in silent films and when the creation of sound came about it multiplied their opportunity during the first years. Sound is still a very important part of cinema today. When sound was first introduced people didn’t know rather it would have a positive effect or a negative effect one on the world. After being able to see all the wonderful creations sound was able to bring about, it has become an obligatory part of the film industry all over the world.
· Thompson, Kristin, and David Bordwell. Film History: An Introduction. 3rd ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 2010. 177-194. Web. 8 Dec. 2013.
· Winokur, Mark, and Bruce Holsinger. "Edison Invents the Phonograph."Edison Invents the Phonograph. F Penguin Group (USA) Inc, 2001. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.
· Foster, Garrett. "The Introduction of Sound in Cinema." Film History Fall 2013. N.p., 08 Dec. 2013. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.
· Edison, Thomas A.. "Edison with Cylinder Phonograph; Washington, DC; April 18, 1878." 1878. Photo courtesy of U. S. Department of Interior, National Park Service, Edison National Historic Site.
· Millner, Sperling. "Vitaphone." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
· The Complete Idiot's Guide to Movies and Film
What is sound ?
- "sound produced by continuous and regular vibrations, as opposed to noise."
- "vibrations that travel through the air or another medium and can be heard when they reach a person's or animal's ear."
- "emit or cause to emit sound"
- "convey a specified impression when heard"
In my own words sound is the the vibrations of waves something give off that you hear