Loren L. Ryder, one of Hollywood's most honored sound directors who was awarded five Academy Awards and nominated for 12 more, has died in a Monterey convalescent hospital. He was 85, and died Tuesday.
From 1936 until 1957, Ryder was sound director and chief engineer at Paramount, where he was nominated for his first Oscar for that studio's 1937 production of "Wells Fargo."
For more than 20 years he was head of sound on such Paramount films as "The Great Victor Herbert," "Northwest Mounted Police," "Double Indemnity," "The War of the Worlds," "Rear Window" and "The Ten Commandments."
Sound of Avalanche
His first Oscar came in 1938 when he recorded the squeal of a pig and reproduced it backwards, creating what became the sound of an ice avalanche in "Spawn of the North."
It was not his last innovation.
A 1924 physics and mathematics graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, which he attended after Army service in World War I, Ryder was working for Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Co. when he discovered how to improve the use of light valves used in transmitting pictures over telephone lines.
In 1928, he brought that finding to films where it was used to improve the quality of Hollywood's newest infant--talking pictures.
He joined Paramount and began winning honors for fine grain emulsions on sound tracks, designing sound channel lineups and supersonic playback systems and--in a departure from his specialty--developing wide-screen VistaVision, Paramount's answer to CinemaScope.
In 1948, he made what probably was his most important contribution to sound in films, the use of magnetic tape. Before that, studios were forced to rely on heavy optical recorders (Ryder hauled his around in an 11-ton truck). Ryder's system, which today involves recorders weighing ounces rather than tons, was first used in the film "Geronimo" and later on Rudy Vallee's television programs.
Paramount was at first hesitant to use Ryder's new method, according to Leo Chaloukian who bought Ryder Sound Services when its founder retired in 1976. The studio gave him some old equipment to use in proving that his concept was feasible.
Founds Own Firm
The offshoot of those experiments was an industrywide conversion to magnetic tape and Ryder's founding of his own firm in 1948, although he stayed with Paramount until 1957.
Ryder's final accolade came in 1978 when his colleagues honored him "for outstanding service and dedication in upholding the high standards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences."
Survivors include his wife, Isabelle, and two daughters.