The Stephens machine was really quite something to behold. Based  
(loosely) on the 3M Iso-Loop design, it boasted a capstan-less  
transport, and in it's day was the smallest 8 track 1" machine  

The servo mechanism could, however, be cranky, which occasionally  
resulted in the transport taking off at high speeds, or stopping  
altogether. Because of this, two machines were always kept on hand for  
the production of "Nashville".

Despite these shortcomings, the ability to record 8 tracks of dialog  
on location in 1974 was quite an achievement. I personally think that  
Jim Webb was deserving of at least an Oscar nomination for his  
efforts, but he was snubbed by the Academy. (In typical fashion, the  
Oscar for Best Sound in 1975 was handed to the loudest movie released,  
being "Earthquake". Not to take away from the engineering efforts of  
W.O. Watson and his team at Universal, but I'm not sure that  
Sensurround really made a huge artistic contribution to the film).

Jim did, however, go on to win the British Academy Ward for Best Sound  
that year, so he didn't go away empty-handed. (Those Brits always had  
better taste when it came to sound anyway...and I speak as a member of  
the Academy).


Scott D. Smith CAS

Quoting Roderic G Stephens <[log in to unmask]>:

> Thanks for the heads up,Tom.  On pg. 21 of the (IATSE) 695 Quarterly  
> magazine article  "When Sound Was Reel"  
> there is a shot of one of my brother's (John Stephens) 8 track decks used by Jim Webb and others (Robert Altman) for location  
> recording.
> Rod Stephens
> --- On Fri, 6/22/12, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> From: Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Magnetic Tape/Recorders
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Date: Friday, June 22, 2012, 2:52 AM
> I agree with Mike except to say that Capitol and Mercury started  
> doing most recording onto tape in the 1948 timeframe. Capitol was  
> one of the first customers for the Ampex 200 and later 300 model  
> tape machines, at their studio in California (I don't think they had  
> their own studio in NYC in those days). Mercury used three early  
> adopters of tape recorders for much of their recording in the late  
> 40's -- Radio Recorders in Hollywood, Universal Recording (Bill  
> Putnam) in Chicago and Reeves Studios in NYC. Reeves was fully  
> equipped to do both tape and disk recording in 1948, as detailed in  
> a series of articles in one of the magazines of the day, reprinted  
> by Fairchild (the main supplier of recording equipment to Reeves at  
> that time).
> That said, concurrent disk and tape recordings were often made, at  
> least in the case of Mercury, based on session books I've seen. If a  
> complete take yielded a master, then the disk was probably used for  
> production because it was "direct cut" with a successful take. If  
> editing was required, or re-recording (primative over-dubbing), then  
> tape was more likely used for the convenience and fidelity. I don't  
> think there were any hard and fast rules, everyone was learning and  
> experimenting.
> Hopefully Dennis Rooney and others will chime in about Columbia and  
> RCA. I do think they were more conservative about switching over to  
> tape.
> Mike is correct that in reality, there was nothing new under the  
> sun. Hollywood had perfected sound-on-sound, re-recording and mixing  
> techniques and equipment in the early days of optical film recording  
> with rooms of motor-locked optical dubbers.
> By the way, ARSC member Scott Smith has written a superb series of  
> articles of (IATSE) 695 Quarterly magazine. Googling on "When Sound  
> Was Reel" (Scott's series title) yields the site right away. Here's  
> the link to all the past issues:
> Scott's series started right with the first issue in Spring 2009,  
> and continues in the current issue (link to that on the front page).  
> Relavant to this thread, see Scott's article on the transition from  
> optical to magnetic recording in Hollywood.
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Michael Biel" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Friday, June 22, 2012 12:45 AM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Magnetic Tape/Recorders
> You've asked a bunch of questions that have been discussed here many
> times, and it is tough to go through it all again.  Last question first,
> overdubbing was possible way before tape recording.  It was common
> practice in film production, and was even done on disc.  Even Les Paul
> was doing it on disc before he started using tape.
> In a quick oversimplified paragraph, in general, broadcasters started
> using tape before the record companies.  Jack Mullen was recording Bing
> Crosby's Philco Radio Time from the second season on tape -- the first
> season was recorded and edited on disc.  ABC did their Daylight Saving
> Time delay recordings on tape in 48.  For various reasons the major
> record companies stayed with disc mastering into 1950-51 with occasional
> uses of tape from 49 on.  But all the first year or two of LPs were disc
> dubs with one major exception.  Murrow & Friendly's "I Can Hear It Now"
> was tape mastered and edited, with release in late Nov 1948 on LP & 78.
> "South Pacific" is said to be Columbia's first major session with tape
> used as a back-up in 49.  One of the CDs was issued off the tape, but
> had to be recalled because they used a shortened take of "Carefully
> Taught".  I think they went back to the disc masters after that for the
> CDs.  Tape was used more in 50 and 51, but by 52 and 53 just about
> everything was being mastered on tape.
> There have been books written on the equipment and there are plenty of
> websites.  The Brush Soundmirror was one of the first portable machines
> in 1947, and RangerTone, Magnacord, Stetchel-Carlson, and of course
> AMPEX followed in the next year, among others.
> Mike Biel  [log in to unmask]
> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject: [ARSCLIST] Magnetic Tape/Recorders
> From: rod smear <[log in to unmask]>
> Date: Thu, June 21, 2012 9:57 pm
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Reading about the Spanish Civil War here, I'm reminded of a book I've
> just
> finished reading, called ZigZag, about WW II british spy/espionage, and
> got
> to wondering about the German magnetic tape machines that were found in
> Germany during/after the war. What were the first U.S. record companies
> to
> use this medium for recording? When? Anyone know the progression of
> events
> in this field? Equipment? Wasn't this the beginning of having the
> capability
> to overdub easily?
> Rod