Finding His Voice

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Finding His Voice
Directed by F. Lyle Goldman
Max Fleischer
Produced by Western Electric
Voices by Billy Murray
Walter Scanlan
Animation by Al Eugster
Distributed by Western Electric
Release date(s) 21 June 1929
Color process B&W
Running time 10:38 minutes
Language English

Finding His Voice (1929) is a short film, created as an instructional film on how the Western Electric sound-on-film recording system worked. Recording stars Billy Murray and Walter Scanlan, uncredited, provide the speaking and singing voices. Murray also provided the voice for the Fleischer Studios character Bimbo.

Plot[edit]

A live-action hand draws a strip of (sound) film, which takes the form of a human head, who uses musical notes to form a body. Then he sings notes that form a xylophone. Then, he performs a short solo, until another piece of film (silent) jumps on him. The talking strip yells, "Hey, Mute! What's the big idea, ruining my act?" The silent strip uses sign language, with subtitles above, asking him about his voice's origin. He talks about a man named "Dr. Western" that gave him "a set of vocal cords", saying he needs to see him, too.

They go to his office, with "Talkie" telling him to put "'Mutie' through the 'works'." They go to a filming set, where Talkie performs a song named, "Just a Song at Twilight". Then, Dr. Western explains every step of the Western Electric process of sound recording, and Mutie finally earn his voice, as Talkie was performing his song. He jumps onto stage and disrupts his solo. He asks him to calm down, and they perform "Goodnight, Ladies" and "Merrily We Roll Along" as they sail on a boat, with an awkward ending of a whale eating the boat and an advertisement for Western Electric.

Production background[edit]

Late in 1926, AT&T and Western Electric created a licensing division, Electrical Research Products Inc. (ERPI), to handle rights to the company's film-related audio technology. (In Finding His Voice, the credits give W. E. Erpi as the author of the story.)

The Warner Brothers sound-on-disc system Vitaphone still had legal exclusivity, but having lapsed in its royalty payments, effective control of the rights was in ERPI's hands. On December 31, 1926—just four months after the premiere of the first Vitaphone feature Don Juan—Warners granted Fox-Case a sublicense for the use of the Western Electric system. In exchange for the sublicense, both Warners and ERPI received a share of Fox's related revenues. The patents of all three concerns were cross-licensed.[1] Superior recording and amplification technology was now available to two Hollywood studios, pursuing two very different methods of sound reproduction.

Although the film explained the Western Electric sound-on-film system, when the film was originally released, the sound was provided by the Vitaphone sound-on-disc system.

Co-director F. Lyle Goldman had done the animation for Wireless Telephony (1921) and The Mystery Box (1922) for the Bray Studios and released by Goldwyn Pictures, and The Ear (1920) for International Film Service and released by Paramount Pictures.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gomery (2005), pp. 42, 50. See also Motion Picture Sound 1910–1929, perhaps the best online source for details on these developments, though here it fails to note that Fox's original deal for the Western Electric technology involved a sublicensing arrangement.
  2. ^ Goldman's entry at IMDB

Bibliography[edit]

  • Douglas Gomery, The Coming of Sound: A History (New York and Oxon, UK: Routledge, 2005) ISBN 0-415-96900-X

External links[edit]