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Listen: This won't be dull

Two events sponsored by the motion picture academy will highlight sound technology.

June 05, 2005|Susan King | Times Staff Writer

Though two programs dedicated to sound in motion pictures are being presented by the Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, members of the council insist that one doesn't have to be a techno-geek to attend.

"Technology has a reputation for being pretty dry," admits Andy Maltz, the council's director. "But what's so cool about this technology is that it creates this art." So his aim has been to present programs that speak to both the tech-savvy and the public by illuminating the tech-art link.

"We try to make it very approachable and make sure what people see is not the same old stuff," Maltz says. "We also emphasize how technology has impacted the art. It's not about technology for technology's sake."

The first event, Thursday evening at the academy's Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood, explores the history of motion picture sound, from the earliest experiments in the 1890s to the present. David Gray of Dolby Laboratories, a member of the academy's sound branch, will be among the participants, along with former governor Don Hall and Oscar winner Ioan Allen. Film clips during the 2 1/2 -hour presentation will illustrate the forms sound has taken over the decades.

The second evening, June 23, deals with microphones and loudspeakers. "It will focus on the beginning and end of soundtrack generation" -- input and output -- says Douglas Greenfield, who hosts the program. "We are treating microphones in some detail."

In conjunction with the programs, the Dunn Theater lobby will feature an exhibition of microphone technology. "We have stuff going back to pre-synchronized sound days up to modern day," says Maltz. "There will be a good 20 pieces in the exhibit."

In the last year, the group, which is 18 months old, has presented evenings on 180 years of movie magic and the history of the camera. But there is more to the council than such programs.

"The idea is to have a dedicated entity within the academy that is charged with keeping us up to date and be sure that the academy, as an organization, has a position in the science and technology community as it does in the creative aspect of the art of motion pictures," says Greenfield.

"The council itself is made up of 23 academy members, and we have a small full-time staff," says Maltz. "We are building a database of motion picture technology history. There is no single resource you can go to if you want to know everything about the development of motion picture technology. So we have a full-time archivist. Some of that work feeds into the public programs and education activities we have."

An advanced technology subcommittee takes on problems dealing with the industry.

"We went from a standing start a year and half ago, and now we are well integrated into the rest of the industry," says Maltz.


Sound in Motion Pictures

Where: Linwood Dunn Theater, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study, 1313 N. Vine St., Hollywood

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday and June 23

Price: $3 to $5

Contact: (310) 247-3600 or

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