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Re: [ARSCLIST] 35mm magnetic film as a music-master recording method
To the best of my knowledge, Command stopped using 35mm as a recording
medium after Enoch Light sold the label to ABC Records in 1965. ABC then
sold it to MCA, who promptly relegated it to the trash heap of
re-issues. A sad story...
Richard Gradone did a doctoral dissertation on the career of Enoch Light
and his record labels while at NYU in 1980. I have never read it, so I
don't know if it might contain any pertinent information or not.
I have only a few Project 3 original releases. I know that "Patterns in
Sound" series was done on 35mm, but after that, I'm really not sure.
There is also the entire catalog of Project 3 quad releases, which I
assume were probably done on 4 track tape, but could have been recorded
on 35mm 4 track mag as well.
In general, the recordings that Enoch Light did under the Command label
were considered by many to be both artistically and technically superior
to the Project 3 releases, which had arrangements which were tended to
be less interesting than those that were done under the Command label.
In general, they didn't sell as well as the Command releases did.
I have no idea what Essex is doing with the current catalog, or even
where the masters are. My guess is that they are probably in about the
same condition as the Everest masters.
The only other possible release I can think of might be the 1957
(Stokowski) version of "Fantasia", release by Walt Disney under the
Buena Vista label. Sadly, the original 1939 recording has been lost to
time, having been recorded on 35mm nitrate film, and later transferred
to 3 track magnetic film over a jury-rigged class A phone line
arrangement in 1955. Despite this, Terry Porter managed to clean it up
fairly well for the 1980 re-release.
There were also a number of other movie soundtracks which were done on
35mm mag for film release, some which ran simultaneous session tapes. I
know a few scoring mixers who worked in Hollywood during the early
seventies. They have told me that practices varied from session to
session. Some would run tape and film, others were done only on film
(usually four track or six track), and later mixed to a 2 track tape
master for album release. Since liner notes seldom contained these
details, they are probably lost to time. Nearly every mixer I've spoken
to has preferred the quality of the mag film masters over those done on
tape. This is probably primarily due to the faster speed of the film
(equivalent to 18 IPS), thicker oxide formulations, and wider track
configuration (150 mil for 3 track, 100 mil for 6 track).
Nearly all the mag film that I have worked with from the mid-1950's
through the late 60's has suffered from some degree of VS, some much
more so than others. Even film that has been stored in decent vault
conditions has suffered, primarily due to the fact that most of it has
been stored in sealed film cans, which doesn't allow for venting of the
film. Most of the films also suffer from various degrees of base warp,
which makes for a difficult situation when it comes to maintaining
Scott D. Smith
*Chicago Audio Works, Inc.*
Tom Fine wrote:
I'm cookin' up some research here and I figured I throw a few
questions out to the group. The topic: the use of 35mm mag-film as the
main recording medium for music albums.
1. As far as I can tell, before Everest Records started using 35mm to
do classical music recording sessions, the only prior use of 35mm as
an album-recording or album-mastering medium was a few cases of
film-soundtrack albums where the LP master was cut right from the 35mm
soundtrack magnetic master. I think RCA issued a few of these early in
the LP era but I'm not positive those were from 35mm magnetic masters
(they might have been from optical masters from pre-magnetic film
days). Any specific pre-Everest titles would be most appreciated.
Everest's use of mag-film was circa 1959-60.
2. The mag-film trend was short-lived, I think. As far as I can tell,
by 1964 or so, only Command Records was still regularly making 35mm
mag-film masters for music albums. Any information on other labels
aside from Command and Project 3 regularly using 35mm as their
recording and mastering medium in the mid-60's would be appreciated.
The last Mercury Living Presence film sessions were 1963. Mercury's
pop Perfect Presence series ended in late 1961, if I recall correctly.
3. By the late 60's, I think only Enoch Light's Project 3 Records was
still regularly recording and/or mastering to 35mm. If anyone has
information different from this, I'd be most appreciative if they'd
share it. I think Project 3 continued to use 35mm regularly into the
early 70's, even creating 4-track quad masters. But I don't have any
specifics about that era and Project 3, so any additional information
is greatly appreciated.
For those shy and/or discreet, please feel free to ping me off-list
and thank you in advnace.
-- Tom Fine