Early Film Sounds between Restoration and Presentation
Sonia Campanini (Goethe- Universität, Frankfurt am Main)
The aim of this paper is to reflect on early film sound technologies and the practices of restoring and presenting early film sound. As case study I focus on the Biophon system: one of the first devices, together with the French Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre and the Chronophone, that enabled the synchronization of recorded sounds with moving images.
In the first part of the paper I analyze the historical and technological dimensions of the Biophon system and offer interpretive tools for understanding the functioning of early sound-on-disc systems in general, i.e. systems that used the recording of sound on discs to accompany film exhibition.
In the second part I analyze and reflect on the practices of preservation, restoration and presentation of the Tonbilder films, referring to a recent restoration project of the Deutsches Filminstitute and Filmmuseum. The question is tackled referring to the concepts of device, dispositif, and performance, which constitute the theoretical framework exposed in the first part of the paper.
PANEL: Two or three things I know about it: experiences in sound restoration between theory and practice
Roberto Calabretto (Università degli studi di Udine), Daniela Currò (Cineteca nazionale/CSC), Federico Savina(sound recordist/Cineteca Nazionale/CSC)
Moving image preservationists are generally better educated in discerning good from bad when we talk about image restoration, much less they are able to discern good from bad, ethical from unethical in restored sound. Whether we are restorers, scholars or simply spectators, on average our eyes are trained to see and judge images better than our hears are trained to "hear" sound and its complexities, and even less we are aware of legacy technology for sound recording and reproduction, that is key to approximating sound to how it was originally experienced by contemporary audiences.
This panel aims at discussing sound theories and experiences in restoration of cinema classics such as Red Desert (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964) or Last Tango in Paris (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1972), pointing out a few DOs and DON'Ts in sound restoration.