Which song goes beep beep Toot Toot

Sound film

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Needle tone process

The films of the late 1920s were presented on reels that had a screening length of a maximum of 16 minutes, after which a second projector had to be switched to. For the setting, a long-playing record was developed, which initially had a playing time of twelve minutes. This media network is also known as the needle tone process. It was replaced by the light tone in the 1930s.

"The Jazzsänger" (USA, 1927) with Al Jolson and directed by Alan Crosland, considered by many critics to be the first full-fledged narration film, was, due to its prominent actor, more of a music film and still in the Vitaphone process (sound on record, 33⅓ min−1) manufactured. The monologues and dialogues were improvised. Warner Bros. had only intended to make a film in which the music and vocals were synchronized, which meant that no dialog manuscript was necessary. This explains the content of Jolson's first monologue: "Wait a moment, wait a moment! You haven't heard anything yet. Do you want to hear Toot-toot-tootsie? That's right, just a moment." Was there "You haven't heard anything yet.“ (you ain't heard nothin 'yet) one of his most famous twists, which he also presented in his usual stage appearances. The only other speech sequence was significantly longer with at least 354 words and played between Jolson (340), Eugenie Besserer (13) and finally Warner Oland, who was even allowed to say only one word - and specifically, "Stop".

The first film with consistently synchronized dialogue was "Lights of New York", shot in 1928 under the direction of Bryan Foy. He had just under an hour of play.

Optical tone method

35 mm cinema film with a sound track consisting of two double jagged tracks

The Polish engineer Józef Tykociński-Tykociner (1877–1969) can be described as the inventor of the optical sound process. Another pioneer was the German engineer Hans Vogt (1890–1979), who worked with his colleagues Joseph Massolle (1889–1957) and Joseph Benedict Engl (1893–1942) in the Tri-Ergon company (Greek-Latin: “Werk of the three ") realized the sound film idea. The laboratory of the three, in which the development of the process also took place, was located in Berlin, Babelsberger Strasse 49 (memorial plaque at the house entrance).

On September 17, 1922, the first German sound film was presented to the public in the Alhambra cinema on Kurfürstendamm in Berlin in front of 1,000 spectators. Vogt played a decisive role in this with his idea of ​​an integrated optical sound track. The screening copy was 42 mm wide film.

One of the films was the first dramatic dialogue film "The Arsonist". All the rest were pure orchestral films with vocal accompaniment, which were received mixed by the critics. Remarkably, the criticism of the press was directed not against the technical level, but against the content-related level of the dialogues. Looking ahead, they realized that this would permanently destroy the actual art of silent film, pantomime.

1922/23 Lee de Forest produced his first commercially distributed sound films ("De Forest Phonofilms") Songs of Yesterday and Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake Sing Snappy Songs. Phonofilms were made until 1927 when the system was sold to Fox Pictures and renamed Movietone.

At the Sound film the soundtrack is applied to the film next to the images. This track is illuminated with a lamp and transmitted to an electric photocell. The different electrical voltages, which cause the different brightness, are converted into audible tones by means of an amplifier and loudspeaker.

The coupling of sound and image on the common strip ensures that synchronization between the two is maintained. (subject: compulsorily synchronous)

Because the film is moved between loops to represent the sequence of images, the audio information cannot be placed next to its corresponding individual image. It would then always be at the height of the picture window, which would also stop and move the soundtrack jerkily. The result would be an incomprehensible rattle. Since the sound track has to be moved uniformly, just like with a record or tape, the film is guided over a roller with a flywheel. This also mechanically eliminates the remains of the transport jolt. With an internationally standardized distance (technical: offset) between Image window and Tape head of 20 frames (+/- 0.5), which corresponds to the image / sound offset on the film, the sound is then without Howl and can be heard in sync.

There are basically two methods of sound recording, serrated writing and sprout writing. With zigzag writing, the modulation is achieved by exposure of different widths, with spar writing by different degrees of exposure with a constant width of the sound track. The serrated script later prevailed. With the zigzag script, the tone was less noisy, so it was clearer. Reason: In the case of the sprout writing, the brightness changes over the entire width of the soundtrack, when it is idle it remains uniformly gray. This means the grain of the film material, any dirt, etc. generate too loud background noise when the track is scanned. With zigzag writing, the soundtrack becomes almost completely black when it is idle, only two very narrow light stripes remain. When scanned, these stripes mean only two small white dots in an otherwise black, i.e., opaque, area. Black means: no visible grain, no images of dirt - and thus a considerably lower background noise than with the sprout font. In 35mm film production, the so-called light-tone camera with jagged writing was constantly in use in the final production of the film until around 1962. Independently of this, film producers and cinema owners agreed on a sound recording and reproduction standard as early as the late 1930s. In any case, the light tone scanning was carried out with technically identical devices for both rung and serrated writing. The optical sound process is still used today for sound reproduction.

Magnetic sound process

Since the 1930s, attempts have been made to replace the optical tone with the magnetic sound process; however, these attempts have not been consistently successful. In 1948, sound recording on magnetic tape and magnetic film began at the wealthy studios in Hollywood. Today a combination is used: the original sound recording is transferred from magnetic tape to magnetic film. After synchronizing with the picture and editing this sound copy, the three classic elements become Dialogues, Effects (Noises, "atmosphere") and music mixed and made one or two tone negatives by the mixed master. Image negative and sound negative are “married” in one corridor, as the jargon goes, whereby a so-called combined positive is created for the presentation.

Newer sound methods

In 1976 a groundbreaking sound system came into the cinemas: Dolby Stereo with 4 sound channels. First film after the procedure was Tommy (1975) with the rock group The Who. In 1987 Dolby SR (Spectral recording) the sound quality improved considerably, but there were still four channels. With Dolby Digital, DTS and SDDS there have been high quality sound systems since 1992, which even support five or seven sound channels and a subwoofer bass channel (channel scheme 5.1 and 7.1).


  • Harald Jossé: The making of the sound film. A contribution to a fact-based film historiography. Alber, Freiburg im Breisgau 1984, ISBN 3-495-47551-6 (reprint at Polzer, Potsdam, ISBN 3-934535-23-2)
  • Wolfgang Mühl-Benninghaus: The struggle for the sound film. Strategies of the electrical and film industry in the 20s and 30s, Droste Verlag, Düsseldorf 1999, ISBN 978-3-7700-1608-2
  • Corinna Müller: From silent film to sound film. Wilhelm Fink Verlag, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-7705-3925-7
  • Karl Röwer: The technology for projectionists. VEB Wilhelm Knapp Verlag, Halle (Saale) 1953.
  • Michaela Krützen: Esperanto for the sound film. The production of language versions for the early sound film market. In: diskurs film (Munich), No. 8 (1995), pp. 119–154, ISSN0931-1416
  • Cinematography Wonders of the World - Contributions to a Cultural History of Film TechnologyISSN1430-7987
    • Sound - the sound in the cinema, 1996 (3rd edition)
    • The rise and fall of the sound film, 2002 (6th edition)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ William K. L. Dickson experimental sound film
  2. ↑ https: //reto.ch/training/2018/201812/Formate.pdf Reto Kromer: Film conservation and restoration. Carriers, formats, procedures, Bern University of the Arts, 13. – 14. December 2018, accessed on December 13, 2019
  3. The arsonist in the IMDb
  4. ↑ B. Z. Berlin: It happened in Berlin
  5. Huppa, Huppa, Muppa, Muppa. Spiegel story, accessed October 13, 2020.