Synchronization as a Sound-Image Relationship

3 Early Synchronized Sound Systems

While Edison’s Kinetophone from 1895 was still a closed peep box, with the advent of film projection a space opened up that a combination of gramophone and film now had to play: the cinema. From a technical point of view, there is the problem of amplifying the sound, and in particular synchronization, for the sound is meant to come from where the projector cannot possibly be: from the screen. The various synchronized sound systems that were developed and marketed beginning in 1896 — in particular in France and Germany (‘Tonbilder’ or ‘sound images’), for example, by Léon Gaumont (after 1902) and Oskar Messter (after 1903) — were, incidentally, more successful than talk about the triumph of the sound film in the late 1920s would have one suspect.[13] On the one hand, the motion speeds of the two devices were aligned by means of a variety of arrangements of human, mechanical, and/or electromechanical entities, for example by means of a gramophone-speed indicator in the projection room to which the projectionist has to adjust the running of the projector, or by means of the electrical transmission of the rotation angle from one motor to the other. On the other hand, the precise temporal matching was controlled by means of graphically marking the starting point on the sound and image recording media.[14] The production of the sound and image recording media frequently succeeded one another, i.e., films were set to music following their completion or, by contrast, the film was shot to fit an existing gramophone disc. This kind of motion picture with synchronized sound was in many respects strongly dependent on the individual presentation situation (the respective technical arrangement, the projectionist, etc.).


Timelines:1890 – 1920