The big players with magnetic film gear in the US that I know of were Westrex/Western Electric, RCA
and Magnasync in the earlier years and then Magnatech later on. I think Reeves also made mag
machines for various partial-stripe recording techniques in the wide-screen/mag-strip era. Reeves
made their magnetic tape and mag-striped films in Danbury, CT. I think they made their equipment
somewhere on Long Island.
Perhaps another listmember can help out with the major European manufacturers. I think Albrecht
(sp?) was one.
Most of the record-albums recorded to 35mm used the same set of equipment, which was originally
built for Belock/Everest. The Everest studio and equipment were purchased by my father when Belock's
board shut down Everest. The same 35mm gear was then used to record Mercury and Command albums, as
well as the soundtracks to several multi-channel large-format films made for the 1964-65 World's
Fair in Queens. These machines used stock Westrex modules and were of superb audio quality. By the
way, I've heard high-resolution transfers of the 6 channel soundtrack to a couple of major motion
pictures made for wide-screen in the 50's and early 60's. The sound quality coming out of Hollywood
in those days is first rate. The dialog is crisp and human sounding (most of it recorded live, not
looped), and the music sound quality and mix quality is superb. SFX are realistic and well-mixed.
So, no doubt that this was a very high-fidelity medium. Also no doubt that the lower-end stuff
wasn't as good as the best stuff.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Aaron Levinson" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Saturday, June 27, 2009 1:23 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] 35mm music-album masters made at Spectra-Sound in L.A.???
> Thanks to both Tom and Mike. My last question is were the magnetic film recording electronics as
> sophisticated as those used in dedicated music recorders? I see that of course the width and
> thickness were obvious advantages but did the film audio chain have as much "High Fidelity"
> characteristics as those machines dedicated to audio only? I imagine they did but as I only did a
> limited amount of film sync work in college my familiarity with the record/reproduce machines is
> very rudimentary at best.
> Was Magna-Cord the company that made most of that stuff?
> Tom Fine wrote:
>> Hi Aaron:
>> Standard speed for 35mm is approximately 18IPS. Mercury (and most others but not all others)
>> typically recorded taped sessions at 15IPS. I know some early RCA mono was definitely 30IPS but
>> I'm not sure they did any 3-tracks other than 15IPS. Vanguard recorded directly to 2-track and I
>> have some LPs that specifically state they ran their tape at 30IPS. I'm not sure of others,
>> except that I own an old Columbia Ampex 300 transport and it ran at 15IPS top speed.
>> The big advantage to 35mm was not the (slightly) faster speed. That might have been the least
>> advantageous difference. The main advantages were little to no print-thru due to very thick
>> magnetic stock (as compared to 1.5 mil non-backcoat tape of the time), wider tracks, much wider
>> separation bands (not that crosstalk should be a big problem with a properly-aligned 1/2"
>> 3-track), and very good speed stability with the better transports of the day. The wider tracks
>> and thicker oxide, along with the slightly faster speed, resulted in a very low noise floor
>> compared to any tape formulation of the day. The main disadvantages were cost, cost, cost and a
>> few other details.
>> -- Tom Fine
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Aaron Levinson" <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Saturday, June 27, 2009 12:02 PM
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] 35mm music-album masters made at Spectra-Sound in L.A.???
>>> I have a copy of The Nut Cracker with Dorati and The London Symphony, it is a Mercury Living
>>> Presence 35mm Mag recording. They mention wider, thicker and faster in the notes but what were
>>> the specifics?
>>> Did it run faster than 30 ips?
>>> Tom Fine wrote:
>>>> Hi All:
>>>> Another listmember kindly pointed me to a Billboard article from June 3, 1967 - "Spectra-Sound
>>>> Films' Records" - indicates L.A.-based Spectra-Sound studio was offering 10- and 12-track 35mm
>>>> capability (not clear if it was on single custom-format machines or via machine rooms of 3- and
>>>> 6-track standard-format machines) for music-album production.
>>>> Does anyone know of any albums recorded at this studio with the "tracking" medium being 35mm? I
>>>> couldn't find any among my Project 3 albums from that time period. As far as I know, by 1967,
>>>> only Project 3 was regularly using 35mm mag-film for record-album production. Command Classics
>>>> made 35mm recordings in Pittsburgh in the spring of 1967 and the spring of 1968, but Command's
>>>> regular flow of pop albums at this time were exclusively or almost exclusively done on tape.
>>>> Anyway, any info on Spectra-Sound's use of 35mm to record music-albums would be appreciated. As
>>>> far as I knew until this article, the only west coast studios to make 35mm albums were United
>>>> and Radio Recorders, both for Mercury's short-lived f35d series.
>>>> -- Tom Fine