Tom, this brings up one item in the MLP catalog I've been curious about. One
rare point where the seams show is in the finale of the Dorati/LSO Concerto
for Orchestra. There are lots of edits, including after the first note. The
passage with the trumpets after 3:00 gets really microscopic and they had a
hell of a time with a bunch inserts there. Not all of the joins match in
level (nothing they could do about that after the session), but the cuts
themselves seem to bump over the heads roughly. My thought was that the 35mm
editing was not as good for such short highly-exposed bits vs. regular tape.
I can picture those spots flying past the heads, with the tape hardly
regaining contact before the next one comes along. Even the easier joins
seem noisy on that session.

Was that master always trouble, or by 1990 did your mom find those edits
hard to play due to deterioration? I don't have an old LP to compare.
Elsewhere in the recording some disturbances don't sound like edits, but
just rough spots in the tape. Maybe this was early in their experience
working with 35mm?

In any case, I feel their pain, as it's a blemish on an otherwise excellent
production. I think it's one of Dorati's very finest recordings and the
deepest realization of that score I've heard; a hard-won victory. The LSO
earned every shilling that day, July 3, 1962. (I'll drink a toast to them on
the 50th.)

-----Original Message-----
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Tom Fine
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 3:21 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] EMI, opera and 35mm?

Hi Peter:

Regarding your last comment, about editing 35mm for classical music ...

I am pretty sure that Everest used a standard Moviola editor for their 35mm.
However, I think they 
prefered not to do note- or even few-measure inserts. So I don't think they
were doing a lot of 
nit-picky splices. I might be wrong on that.

When Mercury decided to undertake 35mm classical recording, Harold Lawrence
wanted an editing setup 
similar to what he was used to for tape. So my father and Bob Eberenz built
him a modified Ampex 300 
transport with 35mm guides probably kludged off a spare dubber and a spare
3-track play head, I 
think it might have been custom made by John French's father or Tony Preto
out in Illinois. The head 
was custom mounted so it worked on a 300 form-factor (this isn't trivial
work but not impossible 
with access to a machine shop). I would guess they made sure the head was
the proper impedence to 
interface with Harold's 300-3 electronics. Unfortunately, not photos exist.

Mercury, too, was not prone to make tiny-length inserts, so Harold told me
that he didn't have too 
many problems with reverb tails or the like. He used a standard 35mm
splicing block, although I 
suspect there was some facility to cut on an angle through several sprockets
so you don't get bumps 
and ticks at splices. In any case, to my ears, the splices on the Everest,
Mercury and Command 35mm 
recordings aren't any more or less obvious than well-done 3-track tape
splices. I don't know the 
details of Command's 35mm editing rig, but they certainly edited enough 35mm
masters over the years.

The larger issue with classical recording is the need for a minimum length
per reel. I think the 
35mm portable units in stock configuration maxed out at 15 minutes or so per
reel. Fine Recording 
eventually modified the Westrex machines with new reel motors mounted in a
"penthouse" box above the 
original case, to accomodate up to 30 minutes recording time. This was
mainly to allow for edited LP 
side-length masters to be cut to disk. The modified machines were definitely
in use in the late 
Command Classics years, but I think Mercury was done with 35mm by the time
the machines got 

The logistics of 35mm mag-film were more cumbersome vs. tape, but that
wasn't what killed off the 
fad. Cost was the main killer, the economics of mag-film don't work in
music-album recording but do 
work in higher-margin Hollywood. Also contributing were improved tape
formulations and tape 
recorders in the early and mid 60's.

-- Tom Fine