Silent/Talkies??

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
salus
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Silent/Talkies??

Unread post by salus » Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:14 pm

Will the technology ever come that will be able to turn the old Silent Films into Talkies and can it happen. Will it make the films very valuable again? And finally will the heirs of the Silent stars be eligible for royalties if it happens?

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silentfilm
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Re: Silent/Talkies??

Unread post by silentfilm » Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:54 pm

#1 Why would you want to make a silent a talking film? It would radically change the pace of the film and would probably sound ridiculous.

#2 No, you would not owe the heirs anything regardless of how you change the film.

earlytalkiebuffRob
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Re: Silent/Talkies??

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:15 am

A more useful task would be to put optional subtitles on talkies with poor or poor condition soundtracks. I realise we have hard-of-hearing subtitles for a lot of films, but some of the less commercial PD ones (I tried to watch OKLAHOMA CYCLONE the other day and gave up for the time being) could do with this.

And no, I don't see the point of 'converting' silents to talkies, although something of the kind was done with quite a few releases from 1929/30, particularly over here in England...

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Donald Binks
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Re: Silent/Talkies??

Unread post by Donald Binks » Tue Jan 02, 2018 5:38 am

One would have to consider the market to whom this would appeal? The majority of people today would find silent pictures frightfully old fashioned - in story and fashion, let alone anything else.

With CGI I daresay anything is possible and it could be done, but at a great cost and I don't think there is anyone around willing to open their cheque book to finance such an enterprise.

When I saw the picture "Polar Express" a few years back, my mind did turn to the possibility of "doing up" silent pictures using CGI - making them into colour, widescreen and everything else - but in the long run I think that it would be far easier to start from scratch and we may seen a reproduction model rather than the original come out one day. Who knows.
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Nosferatu
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Re: Silent/Talkies??

Unread post by Nosferatu » Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:41 am

Not sure if this thread is trolling. If anything I'd prefer the other direction. I want to see more modern silent movies.

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Mike Gebert
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Re: Silent/Talkies??

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:37 am

Much as with colorization, you can only bring a film of a certain era so far forward.

The site Bright Lights/Dark Rooms, a sort of online film magazine, asked Twitter followers to name a classic they were embarrassed to admit they hadn't seen. The winner by a comfortable margin among the millennials was The Godfather.
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Re: Silent/Talkies??

Unread post by Phototone » Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:54 am

There was a Laurel and Hardy short (which I believe had Jean Harlow in it) that was "converted" into a talkie for a home video release (as an alternative). It was pretty good. The voice actors on the Laurel and Hardy characters did a good job.

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Re: Silent/Talkies??

Unread post by 2 Reel » Tue Jan 02, 2018 11:42 am

So, what next . . . paint The Sphinx? Plant a recording behind the Mona Lisa so we can hear what her voice might have sounded like? Add a score to Dracula (1931) because it's not scary enough as-is? Add dialogue to The Nutcracker ballet performances?

I think not in all examples.

Pantomime, and visual expression in general, are arts in and of themselves and need no embellishments.
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Re: Silent/Talkies??

Unread post by silentfilm » Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:13 pm

The "sonarized" Double Whoopee (1929) is not on the Internet that I can find, but this video about making it is...


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Re: Silent/Talkies??

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:39 pm

Add a score to Dracula (1931) because it's not scary enough as-is?
Uh, I have some news for you...

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Red Bartlett
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Re: Silent/Talkies??

Unread post by Red Bartlett » Tue Jan 02, 2018 1:04 pm

salus wrote:Will the technology ever come that will be able to turn the old Silent Films into Talkies and can it happen. Will it make the films very valuable again? And finally will the heirs of the Silent stars be eligible for royalties if it happens?
The technology is there. Things like this are already happening, though, only as it serves modern interests. Peter Cushing "reappearing" in the recent Star Wars Rogue One is a decent example of what I mean.

I mentioned/asked in another thread, how long before we see new films staring Charlie Chaplin? And with Artificial Intelligence, how long before we see new films directed by him as well?!

Either way, the technology to simply add sound to silents is clearly there, just whether or not there is a reason and a market. And once the technology becomes affordable enough, it will happen more.

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Smari1989
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Re: Silent/Talkies??

Unread post by Smari1989 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:36 pm

QUOTE:
Red Bartlett wrote: I mentioned/asked in another thread, how long before we see new films staring Charlie Chaplin? And with Artificial Intelligence, how long before we see new films directed by him as well?!
So, maybe he'd get to make THE FREAK after all... :? (sorry, couldn't resist...)

The subject of AI is an interesting one, for sure, but also quite frightening, IMO!

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Donald Binks
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Re: Silent/Talkies??

Unread post by Donald Binks » Sun Jan 07, 2018 5:13 pm

Bruce - here is the short film "Double Whoopee" (1929) with Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy to which dialogue and other sound was added in 1970.



Whilst the whole is undoubtedly able to provoke many a guffaw - I think the most hilarious was that scene where the lady is applying powder to her cheeks...
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Re: Silent/Talkies??

Unread post by radiotelefonia » Sun Jan 07, 2018 5:23 pm

The reason why DOUBLE WHOOPE was dubbed in English was as result of larger experiments outside the United States. The Laurel and Hardy silents shorts were dubbed in Germa and Portuguese for TV in their domestic market... the versions sound awful but they can be hilarious if you understand the language.





Here is a Clyde Cook "talkie".



Larry Semon's shorts were dubbed in Italy and the results are silly even if I don't exactly understand everything that is said.


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Donald Binks
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Re: Silent/Talkies??

Unread post by Donald Binks » Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:30 pm

Sorry Bruce. I did try. Can't understand why as the original film was made in the U.S. as was the sound dubbed version. I suppose it's another example of those seemingly ridiculous entanglements that are part of copyright.
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Re: Silent/Talkies??

Unread post by Gary Newman » Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:43 pm

Abel Gance did it when he post dubbed scenes from Napoléon, using the same actors, for his 1935 140 min. sound re-edit, Napoléon Bonaparte. These scenes were recycled in his final version in 1971, Bonaparte and the Revolution. When I saw the last back in the 1970s, I remember thinking that the dubbed scenes didn’t work well at all.

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Robert W
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Re: Silent/Talkies??

Unread post by Robert W » Mon Jan 08, 2018 7:42 pm

Back in 2013, Bruce Goldstein with the Turner Classic Film Festival ran Frank Capra's The Donovan Affair, a film that survives only in picture without the sound discs that accompanied the film. Using script records from the New York State Board of Film Censors, they were able to reconstruct 60% of the original dialogue and use lip readers to fill in much of the rest. A talented group of actors sat underneath the screen at The Egyptian Theatre and live-dubbed all of the dialogue through the film, with a sound effects crew present as well. It was a lot of fun.

Not exactly what this thread is about, but I thought some of you might enjoy hearing about it.
Last edited by Robert W on Wed Jan 10, 2018 8:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Silent/Talkies??

Unread post by boblipton » Mon Jan 08, 2018 7:49 pm

Robert W wrote:Back in 2013, Bruce Goldstein with the Turner Classic Film Festival ran Frank Capra's The Donovan Affair, a film that survives only in picture without the sound discs that accompanied the film. Using script records from the New York State Board of Film Censors, they were able to reconstruct 60% of the original dialogue and use lip readers to fill in much of the rest. A talented group of actors sat underneath the screen at The Egyptian Theatre and live-dubbed all of the dialogue through the film, with a sound effects crew present as well. It was a lot of fun.

Not exactly what this thread is about, but I though some of you might enjoy hearing about it.
On a related note, about twenty years ago, a friend and I went to the Capra festival at New York’s Film Forum. For one of the a translation so inadequate that by the quarter mark, my friend, a Canadian whose doctorate is in history and whose thesis was on the Third Republic, was offering his own translation, to general approval.

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Re: Silent/Talkies??

Unread post by All Darc » Tue Jan 09, 2018 10:28 am

Here on Brazil there were never a silent Laurel & Hardy on TV, since all silent titles of Laurel & Hardy presented here on TV were portuguese dubbing from re-edition made in USA by Chuck McCann . But while Chuck did the voices for all characters on the silent films, the brazilian dubbing put different people for each character. The voice actor for Laurel & Hard in the dubbing was the same for the talkies (dub translation to portuguese).

So as kid I didn't noticed it was silent films, despite some titles often looks fast in characteres moving, running, performing gags, and the voice actor trying to keep up while dub it..

Here a sample of one silent Laurel & Hardy dub to portuguese :







This video it's probably a sound synchronization of the old TV tapes soundtrack into the DVD restored edition footage, since the TV version I remamber was from a footage not so good, but probably from 16mm dupes.

I love the piano sounds and other musics CHuck McCann used in these editions. Is that released somewhere ?

I presume it's possible to try to adjust projection speed(transfer speed) to get a natural moviment scene by scene, and then dub the silents. In cases the adjust woukld let the film with too little frames per second, there is a technology to interpolate frames in a way to make the moviment more fluid. Such technology was used in the restoration of msome Doctor Who episodes that was shot in 30fps video but survived only in 24fps 16mm kinescope.

The ethics about it would be a problem. But about silent comedies for kids, I see no great harm. Better to allow kids get a alterated silent, than get nothing.
Phototone wrote:There was a Laurel and Hardy short (which I believe had Jean Harlow in it) that was "converted" into a talkie for a home video release (as an alternative). It was pretty good. The voice actors on the Laurel and Hardy characters did a good job.
Last edited by silentfilm on Wed Jan 10, 2018 12:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Silent/Talkies??

Unread post by Saimo » Wed May 16, 2018 6:43 am

radiotelefonia wrote:Larry Semon's shorts were dubbed in Italy and the results are silly even if I don't exactly understand everything that is said.
Larry Semon dubbed films enjoyed great popularity on Italian TV in the 1960s.
A 1953 compilation of Italian-dubbed shorts has been recently published on DVD (available on Amazon.it). Bonus features also include a very nice scan of an Italian nitrate 35mm of Rooms and Rumors (1918, silent).
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Re: Silent/Talkies??

Unread post by radiotelefonia » Wed May 16, 2018 11:53 am

Saimo wrote:
radiotelefonia wrote:Larry Semon's shorts were dubbed in Italy and the results are silly even if I don't exactly understand everything that is said.
Larry Semon dubbed films enjoyed great popularity on Italian TV in the 1960s.
A 1953 compilation of Italian-dubbed shorts has been recently published on DVD (available on Amazon.it). Bonus features also include a very nice scan of an Italian nitrate 35mm of Rooms and Rumors (1918, silent).
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