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‘The Sound and the Story’ Signals a New Record

Old film converted to video tells the tale of record creation

Nothing elicits snickers from cynical sophisticates like an informational film (aka, “documentary”) from the 1950s.

So how about evoking some real guffaws with an informational film describing the creation of that old dinosaur, the vinyl record. And for a cherry on top, make it a classical record.

Running almost 24 minutes, “The Sound and the Story” is just such a creature. From 1956 and made by RCA (remember? they used to be a pretty big name in our industry?), “The Sound and the Story” follows the process of making a record, a 33-1/3 “Long Play” record, from original recording to pressing to first play on a consumer record player.

“The Sound and the Story” begins with a lesson in early recording technology — including the master tape machine, “recording” console (long before anyone had heard of Trident or Neve, much less Solid State Logic); practices such as multiple takes and terms such as “dynamic range” are used, though with minimal explanation. “The Sound and the Story” clearly was aimed at the general audience.

However, those with experience or the technically curious will have much to entertain them.

The exact and surprisingly complex methodology of creating the record “master” and the process of stamping the platters are detailed. Viewers will also learn that RCA took record quality control seriously. Additionally there is an explanation of the arcane distribution system used at RCA’s Indianapolis plant, which also supplied the roots of the RCA Music Service and other similar operations. These operations once bestrode the land but are now just generational memories.

It’s here.