AT&T Tech Channel

About this video

Finding His Voice (1929) is a short film, created as an instructional film on how the Bell System's sound-on-film recording system worked. It was originally intended to be a demonstration film to sell the system/concept of talkies to theater owners and projectionists. It specifically includes both talking and music.

Fleischer tells the story of sound on film through two characters, "Talkie" and "Mutie." "Mutie" earns his vocal cords halfway through the film and begins to talk. In the film there are some sly technical asides--"Mutie's" pulse needs to be raised from 60 to 90 (a reference to an increase in film speed with the sound system), and the story is by "W.E. Erpi," which refers to Western Electric, Electrical Research Products, Inc.

Inkwell Studios films for AT&T:

  • How the Telephone Talks - 1924
  • That Little Big Fellow - 1927
  • Now You're Talking - 1927
  • Finding His Voice - 1929

This film used the new optical film soundtrack technology in its production, which consisted of an optical audio track down the side of the actual film. But not all of the movie houses that screened "Finding His Voice" yet had that new technology in place. So the film was mostly produced for distribution on Vitaphone — one step backwards in tech — using a flat disc that rotated at 33 1/3 rpm synched to the film, and which most theaters still had in place.

The type of soundtrack-on-film system described in "Finding His Voice" remained essentially the same until multi-channel and digital sound came to prominence in the early 1990s.

Directors: F. Lyle Goldman and Max Fleischer
Produced by Inkwell Studios

Footage courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center, Warren, NJ

Release date: 07/06/2011