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By Charles O'Brien

The conversion to sound cinema is generally portrayed as a homogenizing technique that considerably diminished the cinema's range of movie types and practices. Cinema's Conversion to Sound deals another overview of synchronous sound's impression on global cinema via a shift in serious concentration: in distinction to movie studies' conventional particular challenge with the movie photograph, the publication investigates nationwide alterations in sound-image perform in a revised account of the worldwide changeover from silent to sound cinema. Extending past fresh Hollywood cinema, Charles O'Brien undertakes a geo-historical inquiry into sound technology's diffusion throughout nationwide borders. via an research that juxtaposes French and American filmmaking, he finds the classy results of primary nationwide adjustments in how sound applied sciences have been understood. while the emphasis in Nineteen Thirties Hollywood used to be on sound's intelligibility inside a film's story-world, the pressure in French filmmaking used to be on sound's constancy as copy of the development staged for recording.

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Additional resources for Cinema's Conversion to Sound: Technology and Film Style in France and the U.S.

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As conversion unfolded, ¤lm companies entered into agreements with stage producers, founding or purchasing radio stations, recording studios, music publishing houses, phonograph companies, and fan magazines. ) The conversion-era cinema’s interconnectedness with other entertainment media powerfully conditioned the notion, widely shared among ¤lm critics, that synchronous sound had undermined the art of ¤lm. Many critical judgments against early sound ¤lm cite the cinema’s evident links to the popular stage and also to the new electronic media of radio and the electric phonograph.

Sound-era homogenization could be said to have occurred in a variety of domains—including ¤lm styles, ¤lm-exhibition practices, modes of industrial organization, ¤lm-production methods, and design of sound-¤lm technologies. Separating the topic of sound conversion into subtopics, the following survey distinguishes among domains of ¤lm-historical change and discriminates among claims regarding the cinema’s sound-era convergence. In thus disaggregating the conversion period as a research topic, this chapter foregrounds the period’s internal contradictions in ways that complicate familiar assumptions concerning sound technology’s impact on ¤lm style.

An image whose sound is dubbed may, in phenomenological terms, differ radically from one whose sound has been direct-recorded, just as the same shot sequence might well take on a transformed stylistic identity through a change in the nature of the sound accompaniment. An awareness of this mutability was implicit in much of the ¤lm criticism in conversion-era France. As will be discussed in chapter 3, French ¤lms were typically categorized by sound technique, in recognition that the viewer’s experience of a ¤lm might vary considerably in light of whether the sound was direct-recorded, dubbed, or manipulated via some multi-track combination of both techniques.

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