Last week we talked about how cameras became mobile. This week, we focus on the development of sound in movies. As you might remember, the first movies had no sound on screen. When they were shown, however, they were accompanied by a pianist who played live and adjusted his music to whatever was shown on the screen. Sometimes there was even a big orchestra present to accompany bigger movie releases.
But there was spoken word as well. Films were often narrated by a live narrator, who would explain the action on screen to audiences. And there were also intertitles: these are textcards inserted between frames and containing info on dialogue or action. As the cinema art changed and became more and more developed both technically and artistically (more on this to follow in the editing post next week), filmmakers became capable of conveying subtle emotional and narrative nuances with less or no accompanying dialogue or intertitles needed.
Nonetheless, the invention of sound on film was a real revolution. Around 1925, the first shorts with sound were released. One of the first commercially produced sound films was The Jazz Singer (1927) with Al Jolson; it was a musical. These first years, however, it was difficult to properly sync audio and film and attain to sound quality good enough for the audience to discern every word uttered (when the films were shown in theatres).
Early sound cameras and equipment were big and noisy and had to be kept in their own soundproof enclosure (i.e., a blimp). After a while, the boom pole was invented to move the mike with the speakers while keeping it beyond the reach of the camera. Before this, early sound films had to be rather motionless because actors had to speak to a static mike, even though the cameras were able to move around a bit more by that time.
Sound in film has developed pretty much ever since. The technical side of both recording and broadcasting of sound had been re-invented and improved so much; just think of various Dolby noise reduction systems, digital recording and surround sound technology, to name but a few. The great thing is that nowadays we can all profit from these great inventions. What about the great Denoise app pre-packed with Together? Even your mobile device can easily reduce noise without any need for expensive and/or sophisticated software. Have you ever tried Denoise yet? Do give it a go and let us know what you think about it!