Friday, 6 March 2009

The coming of sound

I'm researching the end of the silent era in British cinema. Last week I went on a tour of the archive at the National Media Museum in Bradford, where they run a free tour most lunchtimes.

The curator showed us a lot of fascinating materials but everyone seemed to get more excited when we went in this room full of large equipment. He kindly pointed out, for my benefit, this camera from the early years of sound. Because the cameras were noisy, the moving parts were enclosed in 'blimps' as you can see here. The blimp would have been pulled down during use.

I reckon this is stage two of development. In stage one, the cameraman and the camera were in a sweaty booth and couldn't move. It made for some pretty static films for a while. Don't ask me how long... haven't got the timeline down pat yet.

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