Walt Disney's cartoon character Mickey Mouse entered a decline in popularity in the mid-1930s. Disney devised a comeback appearance for Mickey in 1936 with The Sorcerer's Apprentice, a more elaborate edition of the animated Silly Symphonies series set to the music of The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Paul Dukas. Disney met conductor Leopold Stokowski in late 1937 at Chasen's, a noted Hollywood restaurant, and Stokowski agreed to conduct the piece at no cost. Stokowski was an enthusiast for new and improved methods of sound reproduction and had already participated in experimental stereophonic sound recordings in 1931 and 1932, and a live, long distance demonstration of multi-channel sound a year later.
In January 1938, over 100 musicians assembled at Culver Studios in California for the recording of the nine-minute Dukas piece. The plan was to create a multi-track recording that allowed the separation of sound channels which would allow the dynamic balance of the music to be adjusted on reproduction. To increase reverberation, the stage was altered acoustically with five double plywood partitions that separated the sections of the orchestra, creating the world's first baffles. Although a satisfactory recording was made, in the days before widespread use of headphones and click tracks to control the speed, the musicians could not hear the other instruments clearly enough and this affected the tempo of the piece. Poor control over the separation of low frequency sounds presented a further problem on playback of the music.
As production costs for The Sorcerer's Apprentice surpassed $125,000, it became clear to Disney that it would not recoup costs as a short. In February 1938, he decided to expand the concept and start on a feature-length film consisting of several animated segments named The Concert Feature.
A year after recording The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Stokowski signed an 18-month contract with Disney to conduct the remaining pieces for Fantasia and the process began in earnest. Fascinated with the rich sound he heard from the playbacks at Culver Studios, Disney felt the conventional sound systems at the time sounded too tinny and inadequate for the experience he wanted Fantasia to be. "We know...that music emerging from one speaker behind the screen sounds thin, tinkly and strainy. We wanted to reproduce such beautiful masterpieces...so that audiences would feel as though they were standing at the podium with Stokowski", he said. The goal was to reproduce a full symphony orchestra with its normal volume range and acoustic output in the theatre. The set-up used for the recording of The Sorcerer's Apprentice was abandoned, and it was decided to record with the Philadelphia Orchestra, which Stokowski had directed from 1912 to 1938, at the Academy of Music concert hall in Philadelphia, the orchestra's home known for its good acoustics.
The recording for Fantasia began in April 1939 and lasted seven weeks. In the sessions, 33 microphones placed around the orchestra captured the music which was transferred onto eight optical recording machines located in the hall's basement. Several safety measures were enforced to prevent the risk of fire as the Academy was constructed of wood. A maximum of 18 rolls of raw nitrate film stock were allowed in the venue at any one time, with a film delivery truck parked outside the hall being converted into a storage unit for a sufficient quantity of film. Six of the channels recorded different sections of the orchestra which provided a "close-up" of the instruments – cellos and basses, violins, violas, brass, woodwinds and tympani – while the seventh channel recorded a mixture of the first six and the eighth captured the overall sound of the orchestra at a distance. A ninth channel provided the click-track function to help the animators time their drawings to the music.
Each microphone was channeled to a central switching panel, where an operator would read the score and mute those that were not in use to keep noise and leakage to a minimum. Engineers in the basement used headphones for sound mixing and cathode ray oscilloscopes for level indicators, while those who picked up the distant orchestra sound used horn monitoring. In the 42 days of sessions, over ninety miles of sound track were recorded. After being developed, the film was shipped to the Disney studios in Burbank, California where tone and other adjustments were made prior to mastering. The nine recorded sound tracks were then mixed into four – three for the music, voices and special effects and the fourth for control of the volume of the first three.
The average monaural sound system around the time of the production of Fantasia had a number of disadvantages. Their limited range in volume was ineffective as symphonic music was impaired by excessive ground noise and amplitude distortion. Their single point source of sound, though suitable for dialogue and action at the centre of the screen, caused music and sound effects to suffer from acoustic phase distortion which is absent when sound originates from multiple sources. Led by William E. Garity, the chief audio engineer at the Disney studios, technicians developed a multi-channel reproduction system that was dubbed Fantasound, a process that was to be a desirable alternative sound system.
The first task was to create the illusion of sound "moving" across neighboring speakers. It was found that by placing two speakers roughly 20 feet apart it was possible to produce a "moving" sound, but the effect could not be achieved through simple volume control. The problem was solved with a three-circuit differential junction network named the "pan pot" (panoramic potentiometer), that allowed sound to progressively travel using constant fades with a left, center and right speaker configuration. The second issue was dynamic range, the difference in volume between the loudest and quietest sounds. The dynamic range of typical film soundtracks at the time was limited to a poor signal-to-noise ratio of about 40 dB. This was tackled by increasing the volume during loud passages and reducing it during quiet ones, to which the dynamic range would increase. A tone-operated gain adjusting device, or "Togad," was built that varied the volume of the replayed sound under the control of a tone of varying amplitude. This device was the predecessor of the automated mix-down systems found in modern recording studios.
Ten different Fantasound setups were built and tested during its development. As many as several hundred designs were detailed on paper, each with different equipment combinations. The first set-up that was constructed, the Mark I system, used a left, center and right speaker placed across the stage plus one in each corner at the back of the auditorium. It used two sound channels, one directed at the stage center (or "screen") speaker, while the second could travel around the remaining four across the room smoothly using a manually controlled four-circuit panpot. The following Mark II configuration used a third sound channel and three additional speakers, one placed on each side wall of the house and a third placed in the middle of the ceiling, all with a manual six-circuit panpot. By the time the Mark II system was devised, the control of the sound system was too complex for a single operator. To solve that difficulty, the Mark III system was developed to study the effects of a pilot tone-control track. The configuration was a single-channel Togad expander, controlled by either an oscillator or a tone track. The Mark IV system was identical to the eight-speaker, three-track Mark II system except that a Togad replaced manual control. It was installed at Disney's Hyperion studios in the summer of 1939 and was used for sound and music department research until Disney's relocation to Burbank in 1940. The equipment for this system required a floor space of about 35 feet by 4 feet and used nearly 400 vacuum tubes.
The Mark V system, the first installed at Burbank, was in operation for one day. Though the equipment operated correctly, the system failed because the personnel could not remember the correct configuration from one rehearsal to the next. The crew then developed the simpler Mark VI setup that consisted of three stage speakers, three program tracks and a three-tone control track. The first serious dubbing of Fantasia was attempted on this system. The Mark VII was the first to be manufactured by RCA that closely resembled the Mark VI, but included tone rectifier modifications. The Mark VIII system was a rearranged version of the Mark VII. A log-log tone rectifier designed by RCA replaced the linear tone rectifier used in the Mark VII. The second dubbing of Fantasia was done through this system. Following the installation of a stand-by channel, this equipment was installed in New York City for the film's premiere. Two further systems were developed after the film's opening. The arrangement of the Mark IX setup was changed and two sets of rear speakers were manually switched in to supplement or replace the left and right front speakers at several points in the film. In the Mark X, the switching and level changes in the rear speakers are done automatically using a thyratron and mechanical relay system operated by means of notches on the edge of the film. This was developed by Disney engineers C. A. Hisserich and Tickner. Disney became an early customer for the newly established Hewlett-Packard company when it ordered eight of its Model 200B oscillators to test the Fantasound systems.
Fantasia debuted as a roadshow theatrical release under Walt Disney Productions at The Broadway Theatre in New York City on November 13, 1940. The film was shown in only 13 theatres, as the installation of equipment required for Fantasound at each venue was costly. Twelve of the thirteen theaters were legitimate theaters converted for the purpose, not movie theaters, due to the need to close the theater during installation of Fantasound. With these expenses and its large budget, Fantasia was unable to make a profit during its initial release.
Fantasound never expanded beyond the initial roadshow engagements in New York, Los Angeles (where the automatic Mark X system was used), Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, Baltimore, Washington, Minneapolis, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Eight of the roadshow engagements used the Mark IX systems.
Garity and RCA's Watson Jones ended the roadshows in 1941, and later gave these reasons:
In April 1941, RKO Radio Pictures acquired the distribution rights of Fantasia and replaced the Fantasound soundtrack with a mono soundtrack. The film got a wide release in 1942 as a double feature with Valley of the Sun with its duration cut to 80 minutes. All but one of the Fantasound systems were dismantled and contributed to the war effort.
On February 26, 1942, an Academy Honorary Award was given to Disney, Garity, Hawkins and RCA for their "outstanding contribution to the advancement of the use of sound in motion pictures through the production of Fantasia".
Fantasound marked the first use of the click track, overdubbing of orchestral parts, and simultaneous multi-track recording. Almost a fifth of the film's budget was spent on musical recording techniques.
Fantasia was re-released multiple times, with the full-length version making a return to theaters in 1946. Stereo sound was not restored until its 1956 release when it was also presented in SuperScope, an anamorphic widescreen format similar to CinemaScope. To create the stereo soundtrack the original tracks were transferred across telephone lines from the optical Fantasound equipment to the new magnetic recording equipment. These were housed in separate buildings and could not be brought together. This wire transfer resulted in some loss of treble response, but the copies retained the original dynamic range.
For Fantasia's 1982 issue, the original recordings were abandoned all together and a completely new soundtrack was recorded using digital stereo technology in Dolby Stereo, conducted by Irwin Kostal, who later composed in Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983).
The original soundtrack returned when Fantasound was also recreated in Dolby Stereo for the film's 1990 theatrical release. Disney audio engineer Terry Porter spent six months restoring the Stokowski soundtrack. He used remastering technology to remove some 3,000 pops from the four-track magnetic copy from 1955, with tools also used on phasing, hiss and distortion. "I proposed to management that we could piece the soundtrack together...in a way that re-created the impact of the original roadshow. When we play it back...it exactly simulates the way their equipment played in the theaters...back then." The result, named "Fantasound 90," was only set up in two theaters, one each in New York City and Los Angeles. The six-channel surround print that Porter created was also used as the basis for the master soundtrack of the film's DVD release on November 14, 2000.
For Walt Disney Pictures' 2016 film version of The Jungle Book, director Jon Favreau and composer John Debney sought to recreate the Fantasound experience Disney had in mind. When mixing the soundtrack in Dolby Atmos, as Favreau said, "we isolated instruments when we could. And in the sound mix, we created a Fantasound mix. If you see the film in Atmos, you will feel that there are instruments that move around the theater." A mention for Fantasound appears in the film's closing credits.
The following is a list of persons who were acknowledged by Garity and Hawkins in a 1941 article for their "suggestions and assistance in the development of Fantasound":
Alesis Digital Audio Tape or ADAT is a magnetic tape format used for the recording of eight digital audio tracks onto a Super VHS tape that is used by consumer VCRs.Blu-spec CD
Blu-spec CD describes a Red Book CD manufactured by a process introduced by Sony Music Entertainment Japan in late 2008. Its name derives from the similar manufacturing process to that used to create Blu-ray Discs. Instead of a traditional infra-red laser, a blue laser is used for recording the pits on the CD master that is needed for disc replication. The blue laser purportedly creates more precise pits, which Sony claims reduces distortion in the optical read-out process.On 28 September 2012, Sony Music Entertainment Japan announced "Blu-spec CD2" or BSCD2, a progression of the Blu-spec CD format which employs a more precise BD cutting machine, a master disc that is made from the same smooth material as silicon wafers for chip manufacture, and a different recording layer material for the master disc. Sony refers to this process as "Phase Transition Mastering".A Blu-spec CD can be played on all CD players and does not require a blue laser to be read. The same holds true for Blu-spec CD2 discs.Broadway Theatre (53rd Street)
The Broadway Theatre (formerly Universal's Colony Theatre, B.S. Moss' Broadway Theatre, Earl Carroll's Broadway Theatre, and Ciné Roma) is a Broadway theatre located in midtown Manhattan. It has a large seating capacity of 1,761, and unlike most Broadway theaters, it is actually located on Broadway, at number 1681.
Designed by architect Eugene De Rosa for Benjamin S. Moss, it opened as B.S. Moss's Colony Theatre on Christmas Day 1924 as a venue for vaudeville shows and motion pictures. The theater has operated under many names and owners. It was renamed Universal's Colony Theatre, B.S. Moss' Broadway Theatre, and Earl Carroll's Broadway Theatre before becoming a legitimate theater house simply called Broadway Theatre on December 8, 1930. In 1937, known as Ciné Roma, it showed Italian films. For a short time during the 1950s it showed Cinerama films.On November 18, 1928 the first Mickey Mouse cartoon released to the public, Steamboat Willie, debuted at the Colony. Producer Walt Disney returned on November 13, 1940 to debut the feature film Fantasia in Fantasound, an early stereo system.The legitimate theater opened in 1930 with The New Yorkers by Cole Porter. Stars such as Milton Berle, Alfred Drake, José Ferrer, Eartha Kitt, Vivien Leigh, Zero Mostel, and Mae West have appeared on stage.The Shubert Organization bought the theater in 1939 and renovated it extensively in 1956 and 1986. It has long been a popular theatre for producers of musicals because of large seating capacity, and the large stage, which is nearly sixty feet deep. Often plays that have become successful in smaller theaters have transferred to the Broadway Theatre.Fantasia (1940 film)
Fantasia is a 1940 American animated film produced by Walt Disney and released by Walt Disney Productions. With story direction by Joe Grant and Dick Huemer, and production supervision by Ben Sharpsteen, it is the third Disney animated feature film. The film consists of eight animated segments set to pieces of classical music conducted by Leopold Stokowski, seven of which are performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra. Music critic and composer Deems Taylor acts as the film's Master of Ceremonies, providing a live-action introduction to each animated segment.
Disney settled on the film's concept as work neared completion on The Sorcerer's Apprentice, an elaborate Silly Symphonies short designed as a comeback role for Mickey Mouse, who had declined in popularity. As production costs grew higher than what it could earn, Disney decided to include the short in a feature-length film with other segments set to classical pieces. The soundtrack was recorded using multiple audio channels and reproduced with Fantasound, a pioneering sound reproduction system that made Fantasia the first commercial film shown in stereophonic sound.
Fantasia was first released as a theatrical roadshow held in thirteen U.S. cities from November 13, 1940. While acclaimed by critics, it was unable to make a profit due to World War II cutting off distribution to the European market, the film's high production costs, and the expense of leasing theatres and installing the Fantasound equipment for the roadshow presentations. The film was subsequently reissued multiple times with its original footage and audio being deleted, modified, or restored in each version. Fantasia is the 23rd highest-grossing film of all time in the U.S. when adjusted for inflation. The Fantasia franchise has grown to include video games, Disneyland attractions, and a live concert. A sequel, Fantasia 2000, co-produced by Roy E. Disney, was released in 1999. Fantasia has grown in reputation over the years and is now widely acclaimed; in 1998 the American Film Institute ranked it as the 58th greatest American film in their 100 Years...100 Movies and the fifth greatest animated film in their 10 Top 10 list.Hazard E. Reeves
Hazard Earle Reeves, Jr. (July 6, 1906 – December 23, 1986) was an American pioneer in sound and sound electronics, and introduced magnetic stereophonic sound to motion pictures. He was also the president of over 60 companies, including Cinerama Inc.HiPac
HiPac (stylized as HIPAC), is an audio tape cartridge format, introduced in August 1971 on the Japanese consumer market by Pioneer and discontinued in 1973 due to lack of demand. In 1972 it only achieved a market share of 3% in equipping new cars. In the mid 1970s, the format was repurposed as a children's educational toy called ポンキー (Ponkey) and was manufactured in the analog tape delay "Melos Echo Chamber".High Definition Compatible Digital
High Definition Compatible Digital (HDCD) is a Microsoft proprietary audio encode-decode process that claims to provide increased dynamic range over that of standard Red Book audio CDs, while retaining backward compatibility with existing compact disc players.
Originally developed by Pacific Microsonics, the first HDCD-enabled CD was released in 1995. In 2000, the technology was purchased by Microsoft, and the following year, there were over 5,000 HDCD titles available. Microsoft's HDCD official website was discontinued in 2005; by 2008, the number of available titles had declined to around 4,000.A number of CD and DVD players include HDCD decoding, and versions 9 and above of the Microsoft's Windows Media Player software on personal computers are capable of decoding HDCD.High Fidelity Pure Audio
High Fidelity Pure Audio, occasionally abbreviated as HFPA, is a marketing initiative, spearheaded by the Universal Music Group, for audio-only Blu-ray optical discs. Launched in 2013 as a potential successor to the compact disc (CD), it has been compared with DVD-A and SACD, which had similar aims.HFPA is encoded as 24-bit/96 kHz or 24-bit/192 kHz linear PCM ("high-resolution audio"), optionally losslessly compressed with Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio.HFPA discs are compatible with existing Blu-Ray players.Pure Audio Blu-ray refers to a different initiative (but with some goals in common) launched by msm-studios in Germany in 2009.List of film sound systems
The following is a list of film sound systems.Panning (audio)
Panning is the distribution of a sound signal (either monaural or stereophonic pairs) into a new stereo or multi-channel sound field determined by a pan control setting. A typical physical recording console has a pan control for each incoming source channel. A pan control or pan pot (short for "panning potentiometer") is an analog control with a position indicator which can range continuously from the 7 o'clock when fully left to the 5 o'clock position fully right. Audio mixing software replaces pan pots with on-screen virtual knobs or sliders which function like their physical counterparts.
A pan pot has an internal architecture which determines how much of a source signal is sent to the left and right buses. "Pan pots split audio signals into left and right channels, each equipped with its own discrete gain (volume) control." This signal distribution is often called a taper or law.
When centered (at 12 o'clock), the law can be designed to send −3, −4.5 or −6 decibels (dB) equally to each bus. "Signal passes through both the channels at an equal volume while the pan pot points directly north." If the two output buses are later recombined into a monaural signal, then a pan law of -6 dB is desirable. If the two output buses are to remain stereo then a law of -3 dB is desirable. A law of −4.5 dB at center is a compromise between the two. A pan control fully rotated to one side results in the source being sent at full strength (0 dB) to one bus (either the left or right channel) and zero strength (−∞ dB) to the other. Regardless of the pan setting, the overall sound power level remains (or appears to remain) constant. Because of the phantom center phenomenon, sound panned to the center position is perceived as coming from between the left and right speakers, but not in the center unless listened to with headphones, because of head-related transfer function HRTF.Panning in audio borrows its name from panning action in moving image technology. An audio pan pot can be used in a mix to create the impression that a source is moving from one side of the soundstage to the other, although ideally there would be timing (including phase and Doppler effects), filtering and reverberation differences present for a more complete picture of apparent movement within a defined space. Simple analog pan controls only change relative level; they don't add reverb to replace direct signal, phase changes, modify the spectrum, or change delay timing. "Tracks thus seem to move in the direction that [one] point[s] the pan pots on a mixer, even though [one] actually attenuate[s] those tracks on the opposite side of the horizontal plane."Panning can also be used in an audio mixer to reduce or reverse the stereo width of a stereo signal. For instance, the left and right channels of a stereo source can be panned straight up, that is sent equally to both the left output and the right output of the mixer, creating a dual mono signal.An early panning process was used in the development of Fantasound, an early pioneering stereophonic sound reproduction system for Fantasia (1940).Picocassette
Picocassette is an audio storage medium introduced by Dictaphone in collaboration with JVC in 1985. It is approximately half the size of the previous Microcassette, and was intended for highly portable dictation devices. With a tape speed of 9 millimeters per second, each cassette could hold up to 60 minutes of dictation, 30 minutes per side. The signal-to-noise ratio was 35 dB. The widest dimension of the picocassette was near 4.2 cm.Sound-on-film
Sound-on-film is a class of sound film processes where the sound accompanying picture is physically recorded onto photographic film, usually, but not always, the same strip of film carrying the picture. Sound-on-film processes can either record an analog sound track or digital sound track, and may record the signal either optically or magnetically. Earlier technologies were sound-on-disc, meaning the film's soundtrack would be on a separate phonograph record.Steno-Cassette
The Steno-Cassette is an analog cassette format for dictation, introduced by Grundig in 1971. It gained widespread use in Germany, where it was established as a DIN standard (DIN 32750) in 1985. It is easily distinguished from other dictation cassette formats (such as the Microcassette) by the integrated tape counter index, showing the amount of tape available.Stereophonic sound
Stereophonic sound or, more commonly, stereo, is a method of sound reproduction that creates an illusion of multi-directional audible perspective. This is usually achieved by using two or more independent audio channels through a configuration of two or more loudspeakers (or stereo headphones) in such a way as to create the impression of sound heard from various directions, as in natural hearing. Thus the term "stereophonic" applies to so-called "quadraphonic" and "surround-sound" systems as well as the more common two-channel, two-speaker systems. It is often contrasted with monophonic, or "mono" sound, where audio is heard as coming from one position, often ahead in the sound field (analogous to a visual field). In the 2000s, stereo sound is common in entertainment systems such as broadcast radio, TV, recorded music, internet, computer audio, and cinema.Surround channels
Surround channels are audio channels in surround sound multichannel audio. They primarily serve to deliver ambience and diffuse sounds in a film or music soundtrack.The Jungle Book (2016 film)
The Jungle Book is a 2016 American fantasy adventure film directed and co-produced by Jon Favreau, produced by Walt Disney Pictures, and written by Justin Marks. Based on Rudyard Kipling's eponymous collective works and inspired by Walt Disney's 1967 animated film of the same name, The Jungle Book is a live-action/CGI film that tells the story of Mowgli, an orphaned human boy who, guided by his animal guardians, sets out on a journey of self-discovery while evading the threatening Shere Khan. The film introduces Neel Sethi as Mowgli and also features the voices of Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong'o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, and Christopher Walken.
Favreau, Marks, and producer Brigham Taylor developed the film's story as a balance between Disney's animated adaptation and Kipling's original works, borrowing elements from both into the film. Principal photography commenced in 2014, with filming taking place entirely in Los Angeles. The film required extensive use of computer-generated imagery to portray the animals and settings.The Jungle Book was released in North America in Disney Digital 3-D, RealD 3D, IMAX 3D, D-Box, and premium large formats, on April 15, 2016. It became a critical and commercial success, grossing over $966 million worldwide, making it the fifth-highest-grossing film of 2016 and the 40th-highest-grossing film of all time. The film won the award at the 89th Academy Awards, 22nd Critics' Choice Awards and 70th British Academy Film Awards, all for visual effects. A sequel is in development, with Favreau and Marks set to return as director and writer, respectively.VinylDisc
The VinylDisc is a combination of a digital layer, either in CD or DVD format, and an analog layer, which is a vinyl record, developed by the German company Optimal Media Production.
It consists of a silver layer containing CD or DVD and a black polyvinyl chloride layer (able to hold 3.5 minutes of audio on 33⅓ rpm) which can be played on a regular phonograph.
Examples of singles already released in the hybrid format are Paramore's "Misery Business", The Mars Volta's cover of "Candy and a Currant Bun" by Pink Floyd, the 2017 album "Hyakki Echo" by Merzbow and Fightstar's "Deathcar" which reportedly had a limited run of 3000 copies. A sample VinylDisc to promote this new format was given to visitors of the 2007 Popkomm, containing music by Jazzanova, where it was presented in September 2007.Vitasound
Vitasound was an experimental sound system developed by Warner Brothers in 1939. It was intended to provide a wider sound source and greater dynamic range for music and effects than standard soundtracks of the period. But unlike the near-contemporary Fantasound system used for the roadshow release of Walt Disney's 'Fantasia' it was not a stereophonic system.
In order to achieve a wider sound source and greater dynamic range the Vitasound system employed additional left and right loudspeakers which could be switched in parallel with the normal center loudspeaker, and a variable-gain amplifier which could increase the replay volume by up to 10dB. Both the loudspeaker switching and the gain of the variable-gain amplifier were under the control of a control track recorded on the Vitasound print.
In all other respects the Vitasound print conformed to a standard 35mm release print of the day, with a standard "Academy" mono soundtrack in the normal position. Hence the Vitasound print could be played on a standard unmodified theater sound projector, though without the greater dynamic range of playback via Vitasound equipment.
The control track consisted of a clear line on a dark background in the spaces between the sprocket holes on the soundtrack side of the film (i.e. in the spaces now used for the data packets on Dolby SR-D prints). It was scanned by an additional optical track reader that scanned a portion of film 0.09" (2.3mm) wide along the line of the sprocket holes. The alternating sprocket holes and dark film produced a 96 Hz signal from the track reader, the amplitude of which depended on the average density of the film between the sprocket holes and thus on the control track width.
After amplification this 96 Hz signal was rectified to produce a DC control voltage inversely proportional to the track width. This control voltage in turn was fed to two units: the first was a threshold circuit that operated a relay when the control voltage reached a value corresponding to a track width of 0.04" (1mm), this relay connected the left and right loudspeakers in parallel with the normal theater loudspeaker.
The second was the variable gain amplifier so arranged that until the control voltage reached the value corresponding to a track width of 0.04" the amplifier gain was held constant at 0dB, But as the control voltage increased further the amplifier gain increased until, at a control voltage corresponding to a zero track width, the amplifier gain was 10dB.
The additional apparatus required for Vitasound was relatively modest: two additional loudspeakers, the variable-gain amplifier and relay unit, and a reader for the control track which was a fairly easy retrofit to existing 35mm projectors. There were no changes in operating compared to showing a standard film, and prints, which cost no more to make than standard ones, were compatible with theaters not equipped for Vitasound. So in other circumstances Vitasound might well have become the de facto standard for release prints just as Dolby Stereo was to become 4 decades later.
But Vitasound was trialled just as the US entered WW2 and by the time normal conditions were restored after the war "magnetic" had become the new buzz-word in sound recording. Most industry experts at the time assumed, wrongly as it turned out, that the future of theatrical reproduction of movie sound would be in the adoption of magnetic recording techniques.
As it was Vitasound was used for only two films: 'Santa Fe Trail' and 'Four Wives'. Like Fantasound it became just a footnote in the history of movie theater sound.William Garity
William E. "Bill" Garity (April 2, 1899 – September 16, 1971) was an American inventor and audio engineer who attended the Pratt Institute before going to work for Lee De Forest around 1921. Garity worked with DeForest on the Phonofilm sound-on-film system until 1927, when Pat Powers hired Garity to develop a sound system that Powers called Powers Cinephone.
Garity is best known for his employment at Walt Disney Studios, which used the Cinephone system in the late 1920s and early 30s. In 1937, also at the Disney Studios, Garity developed the multiplane camera. Ub Iwerks, having left Disney to work at his own studio, developed an unrelated multiplane camera, during this same time period.In 1940, Garity developed Fantasound, an early stereophonic surround sound system for Disney's Fantasia. After leaving the Disney studio, Garity later became vice president and production manager for Walter Lantz Productions. He was inducted in the Disney Legends program in 1999.