A couple of points.
First of all, Everest pioneered 35mm recording and their original belief and marketing tack was that
it was a superior medium to tape -- greater s/n and greater dynamics due to no saturation problems
plus no print-thru problems (which apparently many labels had trouble with with classical recordings
made on Scotch tapes in the 1950's -- Mercury always used AudioTape and I don't recall hearing a lot
of print-thru stories). I have heard many reports beyond yours about the poor quality of Everest
vinyl. Indeed, one of the marketing hooks used by Vanguard when the Everest classical recording were
first remastered to CD in the early 1990's what that finally fans could hear what they _really_
sound like vs. the poor-quality records. There was an interesting if somewhat fact-challenged
article about the Everest remasters in Mix magazine in 1994. Lonn Henrichsen recently completed a
2-part history of Everest being published in a British audio/music magazine, name of course escapes
me when I need it!
As for editng 35mm masters, it's not as difficult as you might think. Remember the film moves at
what amounts to 18 inches per second, so lining up sprocket holes was doable even to insert a
percussion beat. The splices were straight-across so they were slightly more audible than angled
tape splices, but some editors may have done custom cuts on an angle and the much lower background
hiss mitigated most of the audibility. The original Everest studio setup used a Moviola table with
3-track magnetic heads according to Frayne's article. Mercury had an interesting custom rig -- an
Ampex 300 transport with 2" custom guides and 3-track film-width heads and a custom-machined capstan
motor "puck" so the thing moved film at 18 inches per second. The editor (Harold Lawrence) could
then edit the film just like he was used to with 1/2" tape, the only difference being that splices
need to line up vis-a-vis the sprocket holes -- and even in that case it didn't need to be
super-precision because the Westrex film drive had small-diameter sprocket wheels and small sprocket
teeth so it was forgiving on not-perfect splices and also on shrunken film. I'm not sure how Command
did their editing, they might have inherited the Everest Moviola table.
As I said in my original post, the number of music-recording studios was limited. As far as I know,
aside from perhaps movie soundtracks not marketed as superior-sounding because they were made on
35mm, no Hollywood film soundstages were used for this recording fad.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Steven Smolian" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2007 10:15 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] The 35mm fad and record ageing
> One of the underlying questions is- who had 35mm equipment? I suppose such recording was possible
> in Hollywood, using, say, a Foley stage and individual 35mm tracks- however many the recorder was
> set up for. I have a vague memory of a chamber group being recorded this way.
> Editing alternate takes would be a nightmare since the spockets would be in different places for
> each take. I'd say they would have to have been "direct to film." It's too likely a fun idea
> not to have been tested.
> One advantage to 35mm film- one strip thereov- was the possibilty of using wider tracks to reduce
> signal to noise. Even though I worked for Everest- street salesman- I never understood why they
> used that unvinyl which went noisy after a limited number of plays, much faster than vinyl. That
> kinda cancelled the s/n advantage of the tape.
> All playback comments refer to the records when current. Each pressing formula ages differently
> and, when played back today, will have about 50 years of chemical reaction with the world which
> will have created differences among them that were of no consequence when they were fresh.
> Steve Smolian
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Tom Fine" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2007 9:31 PM
> Subject: [ARSCLIST] The 35mm fad
>>I am trying to gather facts for what might be a web page maybe an article about the short but
>>exciting fad of using 35mm mag-film as the original recording/mastering medium for music records
>>back in the late 50's and early 60's. I have a bunch of good information on Everest, Mercury
>>Living Presence and Command but would like to know more details about the few other studios that
>>deployed 35mm and also if there were any record companies beyond Everest, Mercury, Command and
>>later Project 3 that used this technology as a featured part of their marketing.
>> This guy in Japan did a pretty good job collecting references to most of the Mercury Perfect
>> Presence Sound series:
>> [BTW, the PPS series was different from the Living Presence use of 35mm in that these were
>> multi-mic studio production albums probably set up to compete against stuff like Command's
>> hifi-extravaganzas. Living Presence 35mm records were made like all the rest -- 3 mics to 3
>> tracks, editing on session tapes and mastering to LP with a live 3-2 mixdown so the LP master was
>> one generation away from the session recording. The three Fennell albums were the only time
>> Mercury classical-marketed albums were done with many mics in a studio-production type
>> atmosphere. The Victor Herbert and George Gershwin albums were done on tape at Fine Recording in
>> Manhattan. The Cole Porter album was done at Fine Recording Bayside (former Everest studio) on
>> Note that not all PPS series albums were done on 35mm, but from this discography (which is
>> basically lifted from Ruppli), it appears that 35mm albums were done at Fine Recording, United
>> Recording (Bill Putnam) in Hollywood, Radio Recorders in Hollywood and maybe -- but it's not
>> clear -- Universal Recording in Chicago.
>> Later, in the mid and late 60's, Enoch Light's Project 3 made 35mm-master recordings at Fine
>> Recording and later at A&R Studios in NY.
>> I don't know if this fad was ever wider-spread -- that's what I'm hoping other listmembers might
>> I'd also love to know details about the 35mm recording equipment and techniques at the Hollywood
>> recording studios mentioned, Universal Recording and A&R. For instance, at Fine Recording the
>> Westrex recording and playback EQ curves were tweaked to produce flatter extended treble response
>> for music recording. I don't know if Hollywood in the early 60's operated on a standard EQ curve
>> for 35mm recording or if Westrex machines had one curve, RCA had another, etc. Did other
>> music-album recording studios tweak their film machines to have an extended/flatter top end?
>> Finally, in case I do a web page, discography info about any Mercury albums not detailed on the
>> page above and anything that was not on Mercury, Command, Everest or Project 3 that is a
>> confirmed case of 35mm original recording/master.
>> Thanks in advance. This fad ended up pretty short-lived among the record companies due to the
>> high cost 35mm and the limited number of studios using it. But, the sensation definitely raised
>> the quality bar on regular magnetic tape. Several Ampex veterans have told me that Ampex's
>> extensive re-thinking and science research of magnetic recording that led to the MR-70 was
>> because corporate and marketing people panic'd about 35mm's perceived superiority. The MR-70 was
>> by all accounts an amazing piece of engineering and capable of superior sound to all other tape
>> machines of the time, but was priced too high for the market and thus was a monetary/business
>> failure. Once solid-state technology matured a bit, Ampex was able to produce the same superior
>> electric specs and nearly as good mechanical specs at market-bearable prices with the AG-440.
>> Research for the MR-70 led to numerous AES papers which expanded the knowledge and science of
>> magnetic recording and tape recorder design. I'd be curious to know if there were other similar
>> indirect fall-outs from the 35mm fad.
>> -- Tom Fine
>> PS -- for those interested, John Frayne of Westrex wrote an article for the AES Journal in 1960
>> that gives a lot of detail about the original Everest setup. And there was a 1967 Popular Science
>> article detailing step-by-step a Project 3 session recorded to 35mm at Fine Recording, then
>> taking the album thru the editing, mastering and manufacturing process.
>> No virus found in this incoming message.
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