• FA-112714 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Information & Communication
Photograph and Film
medien.welten (media.worlds)
1920 - 1929

Western Electric Needle and sound-on-film projector

Electrical Research, New York 1928


Sound film

The main challenge for early sound film was to synchronise the film and the soundtrack. The American film The Jazz Singer from 1927 marks the beginning of the sound film era.

Attempts to add sound to the silent pictures on the screen are initially unsuccessful due to problems such as insufficient volume and inadequate synchronisation between images and sound. Although most films are accompanied by music since 1910, the synchronous playback of speech only becomes possible after many long-winded attempts. The Jazz Singer, an American sound-on-disk film from 1927, is the first true sound film to emerge. However, it is the subsequent Movietone system which becomes the international standard. Here, the sound is not played back from a simultaneously played record, but is recorded directly onto the film as an optical track.

The changeover to sound film requires a conversion of the projectors and cinemas as well as the determination of the image frequency. The sound film, however, also radically changes the rental conditions: from now on, films can only be used internationally if they are available in various language versions.

Inv.Nr. 17344
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