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The Evolution Of Sound In Films

1609 words - 7 pages

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The Coming of Sound
It is well known that films did not have sound during the initial stages of this industry. Silent films were the norm and just like other aspects such as color and cinemascope, sound in film was considered a possibility long before it eventually became a reality. The incorporation of sound to film came after years of intensive efforts and development. Thomas Edison was one of the persons who were deeply involved in the search of how sound could successfully be infused into film. Inventors like him worked tirelessly to fuse dialogue and film. Although he did manage to come up with a “few talkies”, doing it on a large scale was a completely ...view middle of the document...

Others installed various machines from which it was possible to draw various sounds of nature. These, for instance, including a dogs barking, a baby’s cry, the noise made by escaping steam or even the sounds of wind, rain and thunder.
Sound was finally able to be successfully infused into film in the 1920’s, and this sparked off a major revolution in the film industry. In fact, the arrival of sound in film was not exactly received warmly by all parties in films. Actors who for example had established names for themselves in the silent film era were progressively worried about what the arrival of sound would mean for them. Some were increasingly worried that their careers were virtually over. This in fact proved to be the case. It is estimated that about 90% of all silent actors actually disappeared into space (Introduction to Film History n.p).
One of the biggest names in the silent film era was Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin had begun his film career in 1914 and was the most widely known silent film star (Sight and Sound n.p). He starred is several critically acclaimed and commercially successful films such as “The Kid” (Sight and Sound n.p). Later on, when sound films were introduced and became the norm, he was able to carve out an almost equally successful career although to say the truth, he never reached the same heights that he had reached with silent films. In fact, during the early years of silent film industry, he was one of those who voiced an opinion that the visual mastery that had been evident in the late silent cinema era would be lost since now the main emphasis was on sound (Introduction to Film History n.p).This was partly because of new and upcoming stars who started dominating the talking film industry. An example is Clark Gable.
During the silent film era, Gable was a fairly unknown film star who was mainly cast as an extra. It was only after the development of the talking film industry that Gable started being cast in lead roles. He would later go on to become of the biggest stars of the talking film era.
The development of sound on film technique was first done by the Western Electric Company and this was later bought by the Fox Film Corporation and branded as “Movietone”. Later on, the vitaphone was introduced (Introduction to Film History n.p). This was sound on disc and it was not only cheaper but also produced a higher sound quality that previous technologies (Introduction to Film History n.p).
Gradually, sound technologies continued to evolve and to be proliferated across the world even in places like Russia and Germany (Introduction to Film History n.p).
In addition, the commercial viability of sound films was still unknown. Therefore, one interesting thing about this particular time period is that many studios actually used to release two versions of each film made. One would be the sound version accompanied by full sound effects while the other would be the silent version that was devoid of sound. The two...

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