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<br><br>Whitaphone, Vitafon (English Vitaphone) – the first mass sound cinema system based on separate recording and reproduction of sound and image. The technology did not provide for the production of a combined phonogram on a film copy. Instead, the soundtrack of the film was recorded on a gramophone record, which was played by a turntable synchronized with a movie projector with a common drive. For records with a of 16 inches (40.64 centimeters), a speed of 33 ⅓ revolutions per minute was used for the first time, very low for that time. In contrast, the standard frame rate and projection have increased to 24 frames per second versus 16 in silent films. This recording system was used in the early sound films of Warner Bros. and First National Pictures, filmed from 1926 to 1931. The premiere of the first film based on the „Waitafon» system – „Don Juan» – took place on August 6, 1926.<br><br>Later, the name „Whitaphone» was used for cartoons and short films with more modern optical soundtrack on film.<br>History of creation<br>In the early 1920s, Western Electric developed shared and separate media sound cinema systems. The development was based on the latest advances: the first triode („Audion»), created by Lee de Forest in 1913, advances in the development of loudspeaker devices and the first condenser microphone, created by the company in 1916. At that time, there already existed a sound cinema system called „Phonofilm Forest» with an optical phonogram on a common carrier, demonstrated in 1923. However, its extremely poor sound quality, compared to the excellent sound of the Western Electric demos, convinced Warner Bros. to use the system with a familiar turntable.<br><br>The Whitaphone production facility, located at Bell Laboratories in New York, was acquired by the film company in April 1925. The public presentation took place a year later, simultaneously with the screening of the silent film „Don Giovanni», supplied with musical accompaniment and sound effects. The screening was preceded by short episodes with a synchronized soundtrack of opera singing and a single speech fragment, on which the of the President of the Association of Producers and Distributors of the USA, William Hayes, was recorded. Don Juan was never able to recoup the costs of developing the Whitaphone system. Success came on October 6, 1927, with the release of The Jazz Singer, which brought in impressive revenues and placed Warner Bros. among the main players in the American film market. In the history of cinematography, this film is considered the first sound film, despite the fact that some pictures with sound accompaniment using other technologies were released earlier. In addition to the musical accompaniment, the first and almost the only phrase uttered in the film was the replica of the protagonist – «Wait, wait! You haven’t heard anything yet! » – which later became a symbol of the onset of the era of sound films. According to many historians, the picture was the first fictional work that convincingly showed that sound cinema is possible, and more than thirty years of the „great mute» is nearing its end. A full-fledged speech soundtrack appeared only in the next film, shot using the Whitaphone system – The Singing Fool.<br>Description<br>In the early years of sound cinema, the synchronization of filming and sound recording devices was carried out using a common AC source for synchronous electric motors. The Whitaphone system used the same principle of synchronized shooting. Despite the difference in the rotation frequency and diameter of the records from those used for ordinary sound recording, the device of the recorder did not differ from the traditional one. A spiral sound track going from the center to the edge of the wax disk was recorded by an electromechanical head with a needle. The 16-inch Whitaphone disc was continuously recorded for about 11 minutes, which was enough for a standard 35-mm film with a length of 300 meters. Cinemas operating on the Whitofon system were equipped with ordinary silent film projectors, the drive of which was connected by a common shaft to a turntable. Additional audio equipment consisted of an amplifier, volume control and loudspeakers. Before starting the projector, the projectionist combined the mark on the film leader with the frame window and set the pickup needle exactly opposite the arrow on the record label. In this way, synchronization was achieved.<br><br>The system differed from all previous gramophone (for example, the „Gaumont Chronophone» 1910) in several fundamental improvements. The recording time of ordinary gramophone records, which did not exceed 2-3 minutes, was increased due to a decrease in the rotation frequency and an increase in the disc diameter. In addition, for the first time, such a novelty was used as an electric microphone, which reproduces sound through an electronic amplifier and speakers loudly enough for a large . The synchronization accuracy achieved by the system designers was incomparable to all previous technologies on separate media. The quality and loudness of electromechanically recorded and reproduced sound were also orders of magnitude higher than traditional mechanical horn amplification systems, and the frequency range of the condenser microphone was sufficient to obtain excellent speech intelligibility.<br>Flaws<br>About 1000 short films were shot using the Whitaphone system, the length of which was limited to one part. The production of multi-part feature films was difficult because re-synchronization was required each time the projection post changed. Disruption of sound synchronicity was also inevitable in the event of a cut off of a film copy and its subsequent gluing. Even in the absence of these problems, the synchronization was not ideal, so the cinema installations were equipped with a regulator that allowed the projectionist to change the projection frequency within certain limits and restore sound coincidence. Distribution of sound films was complicated as it required additional infrastructure for the delivery of phonograph records stored separately from film prints. The service life of shellac discs with sound did not exceed 20 sessions, after which they had to be replaced. To control the number of plays, a special table was printed on the label of each disc, which was filled in by the cinema staff.<br><br>Another inconvenience of the system was the impossibility of editing a phonogram recorded on a disc. This severely limited the creative possibilities of directors who were forced to shoot long sound scenes in their entirety. Therefore, with the advent of competitive systems with optical phonogram on the same film with the image, all film producers abandoned the Vitofon system. A separate sound carrier reappeared in the cinema only in 1952 in the panoramic cinematographic system „Cinerama», which provides for the synchronization of a separate 35-mm perforated magnetic tape with film using toothed drums and synchronous electric motors. The same technology was used in earlier versions of the IMAX format. Currently, some of the films are supplied with a DTS soundtrack on a separate CD, synchronized using the time-address code printed on the film.<br>