SH Spotlight How records are made: RCA Command Performance 1942 & "Living Stereo" 1956. MUST SEE!

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Dec 27, 2005.

  1. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    I've mentioned these two short movies before here but there are so many new SH Forums members that I want to guide you to these. Anyone who has even one 78, 45 or vinyl LP in their possession and hangs out here should really see these two movies.

    Those of you lucky enough to make a field trip to Record Technology, Inc. in Camarillo, CA with me have seen first hand how records are cut and pressed. For those of you who have not or can not make the trip, these 1942 and 1956 docu-commercials for RCA-Victor are pretty much right on. A few things have changed of course over the years but if you watch these little movies you will see how it was done then and if you make it out to RTI with me how much of it is STILL DONE the same exact way now!

    In the first film ("Command Performance") from 1942 you will see the recording of a "78", how the wax was prepared, the cutting of the live music, the preparation of the metal parts, the mixing of the shellac and the final pressing of the record.

    Notice the small room in which the orchestra was crammed and the drapes on the wall to cut any reverb bouncing off the walls? In the 30's-40's it was considered best if the music recorded had no ambiance whatsoever. They felt that the consumer's home would add the ambiance, hence the dry acoustically dead recording room. Later, when the H-Fi boom started (around 1953) the record companies started recording big orchestras in real halls with nice acoustics. Movie music for the most part was still recorded in the 1940's way; dead rooms leaving the big theater to supply the echo.

    Dig the "Magic Brain" 78 player as well..

    Watch COMMAND PERFORMANCE on your computer...


    After you see how they did it in 1942, when you have more time, look at this LIVING STEREO LP era version of "Command Performance" It is AWESOME:

    It's called "The Sound And The Story", Munch conducting in Symphony Hall, Boston, 1956. "Romeo And Juliet". I bet you classical buffs have this recording in your collection. I do too! Watch how they made it. You can see the stereo and mono Ampex tape machines going simultaneously, the neat RCA recording console, the way they placed the two stereo and two monaural microphones and the amazing looking RCA playback speakers. Notice later on how the metal parts are "cut" on a big dye cutter that is still marked "Victor Talking Machine Co. :love: :love: You will see how they cut the master tape onto a lacquer master and how the lacquer is turned into metal parts for the pressing of LP's, etc. It's quite fascinating.

    Watch it on your computer:

    There WILL be a test on this. :)


    Seriously, if you watch these two short movies you will know a great deal about record production and perhaps look at your old vinyl in a new way.

    If you have more time, check out this third short RCA-Victor film; it's about the introduction of LIVING STEREO LP's in 1958 and how the stereo stylus and stereo groove work.

    Check out the rest on this page as time permits! records AND mediatype:movies AND collection:prelinger
    ODIrony, TonyCzar, WisFish and 8 others like this.
  2. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled meeeeee!

    United States
    Man! That's a LOT of trouble to make one record! What kills me is how many washings and coatings of chemicals and metals they went through! What also gets me is that few people wore gloves!

    That record player the family had was also unusual. Did they dispose of the record after it played? Interesting!
  3. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

  4. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled meeeeee!

    United States
    Any videos of newer or more recent vinyl-making technology?
  5. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled meeeeee!

    United States
    Just did! That was fun!

    I noticed that they set and left the controls while recording, and didn't fiddle around with the knobs, like they would today.
  6. fdrennen

    fdrennen Forum Resident

    I see all of the formats to download I downloadedm thew mpeg2 which does not play back well on my pentium II computer do you think one of the smaller formats would play better?
  7. LeeS

    LeeS Music Fan

    Very informative Steve. Thanks!
  8. BradOlson

    BradOlson Country/Christian Music Maven

  9. t3hSheepdog

    t3hSheepdog Forum Artist

    lazor country
    totally cool!
    does direct metal master leave out the second negative and positive?
  10. Tetrack

    Tetrack Forum Resident

    Scotland, UK.
    Informative and enjoyable, thanks.

    I liked this bit, about the metal coating stages from "The Sound And The Story"...
    TonyCzar likes this.
  11. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    No, not at all. All DMM does is eliminate the lacquer by recording right on the metal creating the "MOTHER" (or MOLD as Victor calls it). From this some stampers can be made but the mother wears out quicker without an earlier master to make backup copies. Also, cutting on metal requires that the bass notes always be in mono so they are directed to the center of the stereo spectrum. Very hard to listen to a piano trio that way! I'm totally not a fan of Direct Metal Mastering, can you tell? :wave:
    ODIrony likes this.
  12. Joe Koz

    Joe Koz Prodigal Bone Brotherâ„¢ In Memoriam

    Thanks for the link, Steve. Very informative!
  13. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    You're welcome. I hope all of you can watch these two movies..... You'll really be ahead of the game that way.
  14. Phishphreak

    Phishphreak New Member

    "full dynamic range"
    Can we make sure people making discs today understand those words?
    EasterEverywhere likes this.
  15. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled meeeeee!

    United States
    Good idea. Maybe we better throw in an audio dictionary too! :sigh:
  16. *thanks a lot for the link, says the newbie!*
  17. Eric B

    Eric B Forum Resident

    Enjoyable and informative! Thanks Steve.....
  18. t3hSheepdog

    t3hSheepdog Forum Artist

    lazor country
    I've been given hints :)

    sounds like listening to the metal being cut would hurt the lathe operator's ears to bleed
    wouldn't the cutting head also diasppear quickly?
  19. pdenny

    pdenny 20-Year SHTV Participation Trophy Recipient

    Hawthorne CA
    There's a similarly fascinating doc on the making of a Duke Ellington 78 on the recent CENTENNIAL COLLECTION CD/DVD set.

    I love the Prelinger archives. The 50's-era high school films are a riot (and not on Sunset Strip!)!!
  20. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Lodi, New Jersey
    Thanks Steve - I'm glad I finally got to see these.

    I have to :shake: at one thing though - how the narrator talks about the masters basically being preserved & saved for all time at RCA Camden in the first movie. I guess they didn't get the memo when they blew RCA Camden up, lots of master discs and all... :sigh: :(
  21. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Yeah, that hurts, a lot.
  22. So, the demolition of the RCA Camden Warehouse took place with the stores still in place? What year was this? If you all covered it in an earlier thread I missed it.
  23. metalbob

    metalbob Active Member

    New Jersey
    Anyone having sound issues with the Living Stereo file?
  24. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Works ok for me. Just watched it again. Uncannily accurate; unusual for a docu-commercial of this sort from the 1950's..
  25. metalbob

    metalbob Active Member

    New Jersey
    I was downloading the rather large MPEG-2 videos to put them on a DVD to watch on a television. The other files seem to be streaming fine.


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