Why were films silent for so long if audio recording technology like radiowas already commonly used?


Why were films silent for so long if audio recording technology like radiowas already commonly used?

In: Technology

Crude technology, meaning that camera recording and playback speeds were a bit variable. Audio recording is difficult on a set with so many people, things etc moving around. (no modern sensitive microphones) This makes synchronization a big issue since the video and audio almost have to be recorded separately.

Radio does not record audio, just transmit it, and even that came just as audio movies were invented. A better example would be gramophones. Edison were an early adopter of both of these technologies had did actually come out with combined devices as early as 1895. But these early system had issues synchronizing the audio to the video, the projectors were usually louder then the gramophone output and the audio quality were generally quite poor. The sound also had to be recorded live in front of the recording device as there were no sound editing equipment yet. That made it hard to get anything but music on these recordings or maybe a simple voiceover. And at that point it was just cheaper to have simpler cinemas with a piano or organ.

It was only until the 1920s that you got electronics good enough to handle analog signals like sound that audio movies started to become a thing. And as these techniques and technologies developed you got the first popular talkies starting in 1927.

Radio is not an audio recording technology it is an audio transmission technology, There is no storage of the sound required.


The first feature film with synchronized sound is [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jazz_Singer](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jazz_Singer) from 1927. The majority of studio moves used sound in 1929, Half of all cinemas in the US had sound systems in 1930.

The first feature film is from 1900 +- 3 years depending on your definition.

When you get radio the first transmitted human voice was in 1900 and the first commercial radio station started in 1920

So even if the radio was relevant in only exist conversely for 1/3 of the time that silent moves were the norm.

The problem with sound is movies is synchronized. The first audio recording is on phonograph disc record and even tubes with a scratched gove that many would today just call LP even if that is just one variant. Music starts to be sold that way around 1890

The Jazz singer used discs and they manage to synchronize them. That syncopation was the key, The required technology is not directly related to radio transmission.

A magnetic tape that you might think of as old audio storage is later the sound in film. Practical plastic tape for sound was demonstrated in 1935 and metal tapes had been existed from 1924.

So movies started to use sound as soon at it was technically possible and it is quite soon after you have comersial radio broadcast.