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Re: [ARSCLIST] Recording Innovations

Hello Aaron,

--- On Wed, 6/24/09, Aaron Levinson <aaron.levinson@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> From: Aaron Levinson <aaron.levinson@xxxxxxxxxxx>
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Recording Innovations
> To: ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Date: Wednesday, June 24, 2009, 4:43 PM
> Hi Tom!
> Agreed. The daunting task accomplished by those pioneering
> film mixers was (and is) really incredible. I marvel at how
> well they were achieve to such a nuanced balance without the
> aid of our modern tool kit. And when one considers the
> frequency response limitations imposed by the optical track
> it is even more amazing!
By the time I was working in the studios as an apprentice in 1959, they were just changing over to magnetic stripe 35mm which was a major improvement sonically over the optical track, but the next step up technologically was the Rivas butt splicer which allowed the editors to add and/or subtract frames and even sprockets (four per frame) in re-editing.   When I first worked on the new mag. stripe, we hot spliced it, but then, any changes (breaking apart the splice, etc.) would be a problem.  With the butt splice, it was a piece of cake to "move tracks".

Rod Stephens

> Tom Fine wrote:
> > Hi Aaron:
> > 
> > What they were doing in Hollywood, from the early
> days, was recording different aspects of the final
> soundtrack on different bits of film and then mixing
> together from motor-sync'd playback to a final sound master.
> There were crude mixing consoles from early in the
> electronic recording days, too. One specific example I was
> told about, and I'll ask the guy for the film title because
> I don't remember it, was the final music was mixed from
> three optical elements, one made from each microphone, with
> each microphone focused on a different musician or group of
> musicians. This would be very similar to live-in-the-studio
> multi-tracking. They were also able to pre-record music
> tracks very early, so a singer on film would be singing
> against a playback. And lip-sync'ing and indeed orchestra
y the early
> 1930's, Western Electric (and probably others) had developed
> amplifier and mixer-network systems allowing for mixing many
> different sound elements into a final soundtrack. Also, the
> whole idea of "stem" mixes came out of Hollywood, a way to
> reduce many elements to a few logically organized stems for
> final mixdown. By the 1940s, the major studios' sound
> departments had big 3-person consoles for final mixing
> (dialog, music, sound effects). Those guys were aces, too.
> Think of the mono soundtracks for some of the big musical
> pictures, that's a very complex sound universe to fit into
> one channel.
> > 
> > -- Tom Fine
> > 
> > ----- Original Message ----- From: "Aaron Levinson"
> <aaron.levinson@xxxxxxxxxxx>
> > To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> > Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 2009 6:38 PM
> > Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Recording Innovations
> > 
> > 
> >> I agree that Les Paul takes undue credit for many
> things but what Tom describes as multi-track recording in
> Hollywood is not strictly speaking correct. To me
> multi-tracking means being able to change separate levels
> AFTER the process, what he is describing is more like
> sound-on-sound as opposed to multi-tracking as we commonly
> understand it today. The same is true of Mike Biel's
> assertion adding a sound or a voice to an already existing
> recording, this involves a generational loss whereas with
> multi-tracking and overdubbing as we employ it today it does
> not. But sound-on-sound, stereo and a bunch of other
> so-called modern techniques clearly had their unique
> antecedents which should be accorded their due. I
> nevertheless stand by my basic assertion that the reason for
> so many alternate takes was the recording process of the 78
> era. I am well aware that some exceptions do exist and I
> apologize for not duly noting them.
> >> 
> >> AA
> >> 
> >> 
> >> Tom Fine wrote:
> >>> While the general gist of what Aaron said is
> true (MOST sessions were done live and MOST for-profit
> record labels did not want to pay for e
tuff if it was avoidable), Mike is right about Les
> Paul inventing very little, by any reasonable definition of
> inventing. However, Paul is indeed a superb musician with an
> innovative mind. I wish he wouldn't "take credit" for so
> many other people's hard work, since he's done plenty that
> he can legitimately take credit for.
> >>> 
> >>> Anyway, Mike, how did Edison do "overdubbing"?
> Did he use some sort of acoustic mixing system or just play
> a cylinder into the room at the same time live sound was
> being made, with the horn picking up both?
> >>> 
> >>> As for multi-tracking, just about as soon as
> electronic-optical recording hit Hollywood, people were
> figuring out how to mix sprocket-synchronized sounds. There
> were multiple sound elements to some very early
> optical-sound pictures. At least that was told to me by a
> restoration guy who has done some very high-profile films.
> >>> 
> >>> -- Tom Fine
> >>> 
> >>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Michael
> Biel" <mbiel@xxxxxxxxx>
> >>> To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> >>> Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 2009 12:59 PM
> >>> Subject: [ARSCLIST] Recording Innovations
> (was: take numbers on emerson records)
> >>> 
> >>> 
> >>> From: Aaron Levinson <aaron.levinson@xxxxxxxxxxx>
> >>>> I for one am not at all surprised by
> numerous alternate
> >>>> takes in the 78 era, it makes perfect
> sense. Anyone that
> >>>> makes records, and Tom will back me up on
> this, knows that
> >>>> even in the era of multi-tracking takes
> can have a very
> >>>> different feel if not outright errors.
> Everything was
> >>>> live pre-Les Paul so no "punching" was
> possible.
> >>> 
> >>> I wish people would stop giving Les Paul more
> credit than he is due.  He
> >>> was not the first to do overdubbing, he was
> not the first to do
> >>> multi-tracking, and punch-in editing was not
> one of his things in the
> >>> early years.  He is an extraordinarily
> talented musician with a
> >>> fantastically innovative mind, but his knack
> is to adapt new technology
> >>> and ex
> >>> 
> >>> It is not true that everything was live before
> Les Paul.  Even Edison
> >>> did overdubbing on tinfoil!!!!!!!  I am
> not kidding.  This is the
> >>> absolute, well documented, truth.  Just
> this weekend Dave Weiner showed
> >>> a film at the Jazz Bash that showed a
> violinist playing a trio with
> >>> himself in the 1930s -- both sound and
> picture.  Voice over-dubbing was
> >>> common.  Adding instrumental tracks was
> common.  Editing in and out of
> >>> music -- punch-ins -- was common.  I
> challenge you to show me anything
> >>> Les Paul did that had not been done
> before.  And you have to realize
> >>> that by the late 1930s even many 78s by
> companies beyond Edison and
> >>> Pathe (who had done it back to the turn of the
> century) were dubs, not
> >>> recorded direct-to-disc.
> >>> 
> >>>> The players wanted it to be right and at
> that time the only way
> >>>> to insure that was to play it again
> Sam.  AA
> >>> 
> >>> It was not the ONLY way, it was just the usual
> way.  I have been playing
> >>> records for sixty years and have been
> researching the technology of
> >>> recording for fifty, and one thing I have
> learned is to never think that
> >>> something had never been done before.  I
> am still constantly surprised
> >>> by discoveries of earlier technologies. 
> All too often when a statement
> >>> is made "This is the first time . . ." it
> really should have been a
> >>> question "Was this the first time . . . ?"
> >>> 
> >>> Mike Biel
> >>> 
> >> 
> > 

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