Dickson Experimental Sound Film – first known sync sound recording
Audio for Visual Media, it all began in 1894
The Dickson Experimental Sound Film is a film made by William Dickson in late 1894 or early 1895. It is the first known film with live-recorded sound and appears to be the first example of a motion picture made for the Kinetophone, the proto-sound-film system developed by Dickson and Thomas Edison.
(The Kinetophone—consisting of a Kinetoscope accompanied by a cylinder-playing phonograph—was not a true sound-film system as no attempt was made to synchronize image and audio throughout playback.) The film was produced at the “Black Maria,” Edison’s New Jersey film studio. There is no evidence that it was ever exhibited in its original format. Newly digitized and restored, it is the only surviving Kinetophone film.
In 2002 the discovery was made – The Library of Congress has discovered the missing sound-track for this film, which was at the Edison National Historical Site all along. It was a cylinder, broken in half, labelled “WKL Dickson Violin with Kineto” and it has recently been repaired, transcribed, and put in synch with the image. This short film now takes its place as the oldest existing sound film. Before the image starts, you can just hear someone saying “Are the rest of you ready? Go ahead!”
Walter Murch, a legendary and Oscar-winning sound designer and film editor, was personally involved in reuniting the film with its cylinder phonograph soundtrack for the first time since the 19th century.
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