Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Doctor Seuss in the Studio

I found this photo on Michael Barrier's website. It combines three things I love in life: Dr. Seuss, Chuck Jones, and a whopping big audio board.

From Michael Barrier's site:

From my files, this photo, probably taken a little over forty years ago, of Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) and Chuck Jones at a recording session for the 1968 TV special How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The men at the console are an engineer, Thorne Nogar, and a producer for MGM Records, Jesse Kaye.

I'm not one to contradict Mr. Barrier, but according to the filmography in "Chuck Amok" Grinch premiered in 1967. Plus, "Grinch" won a Peabody Award, so if you care to look it up, that should be the definitive word on the matter. Therefore, this photo is likely from a scoring session in late 1967. Notice the musicians in the studio. Recording the score is usually the final step in the process, assuming no further effects are added.

I can't identify the make of the audio mixing console, but this is typical of the mid-sixties in spite of it's ancient appearance. Rotary faders were still in wide use in the US until the 1970's. It's a mono board, as stereo wouldn't come to American television until the 1980's, and most film soundtracks were still optical mono. Looks like it can mix eight sources at a time. There are five meters on the bridge, but that doesn't mean there were five audio tracks being recorded. Four-track was the common technology of the day, but I can see what appears to be only three sub-mix outputs on the far right of the board. That means they may have still been using three-track, a very common format in recording studios on the West Coast in the late 50's to mid 60's. EQ settings on each input were critical due to the temperamental microphones of the day. Notice the turntable on the far left above the engineer's head.

This was back in the days when recording engineers, and everyone else, still wore a tie. Jones was being counter-revolutionary with his bow ties in the 1960's. Squaresville, man.

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