Category Archives: Subscribe to Newsreel

Picturoll

Picturolls

Picturolls contained additional “code” specifically for the instruments and sound effects on the Fotoplayer.

Though any piano roll could be used on the foto­play­er, the Pic­tur­oll made by the Film Music Co. were made specif­i­cal­ly for the foto­play­er. The Pic­tur­olls were cut with a unique com­bi­na­tion of long and short holes in the paper to make the piano and the organ pipes per­form bet­ter togeth­er.

The titles of these rolls indi­cate the mood of music which one would play to match the action pro­ject­ed on the screen. Titles such as Mushy Music, Fire! Fire! Fire!, Drunk Soused Spree, and The Roar­ing Vol­cano, are some of the typ­i­cal rolls that a foto­play­er oper­a­tor would have ready-at-hand.

Please let Joe Rin­au­do know if you have or have seen any of these Pic­tur­olls, as Joe  would love to hear them played on his machine. Con­tact him here.

TESTINGNEW COMPOSITION

Scott Lasky and Joe Rinaudo listen to a few test runs of Mr. Lasky’s new roll arrangement of “traditional” silent film chase music.

Scott Lasky is Musi­cal Direc­tor for Famous Play­ers Orches­tra, a silent film orches­tra based in Los Ange­les. Mr. Lasky vis­it­ed Joe Rin­au­do to test his new­ly-cut piano roll.

Accord­ing to Mr.  Lasky , “I recent­ly dropped in on Joe Rin­au­do and showed him a new piano roll arrange­ment I was work­ing on. This was a test roll which we tried out on the Amer­i­can Foto­play­er in order to hear how it would sound using dif­fer­ent set­tings and tem­pi and also check for errors.” That vis­it was filmed for the above video.

REVIVING REMARKABLE MUSIC

Vis­it the Famous Play­ers Orches­tra web­site, FPOrchestra.org, and enjoy this short piece about music of the silent cin­e­ma, and about the orga­ni­za­tion:

Famous Play­ers Orches­tra CD Fund Dri­ve

Share your love of silent films and great his­toric music of the silent era with a con­tri­bu­tion to Famous Play­ers Orches­tra. Famous Play­ers Orches­tra is an IRS 501(c)(3) not-for-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion and your tax-deductable con­tri­bu­tions are great­ly appre­ci­at­ed! Your gen­er­ous sup­port will help FPO to con­tin­ue their work in reviv­ing this remark­able for­got­ten music through live con­cert per­for­mances and new record­ing projects. Vis­it the dona­tion page.

The End

Sub­scribe to the NEWSREEL

Our newsletter will notify you of upcoming Itinerant Shows, articles about Silent Cinema Art and Technology…and when a long-lost reel is discovered in someone’s attic!

100% Pri­va­cy. No spam. No sound or col­or, either.

Sounds of Silent Cinema

This doc­u­men­tary explores the use of orches­tras, bands, sound effects artists, piano play­ers & organ­ists dur­ing the Silent Film Era (1895 – 1927).



Fea­ture inter­views:
Dr. Paul Mona­co
Bob Mitchell
Joe Rin­au­do
Mil­dred Lewis
Ed Kelsey

Produced by Chapman University as a graduate film project
Jeff Callaway & Craig D. Forrest, co-directors
Aaron Burns & Ben Bateman, editors
Special thanks to David Shepherd (film historian), Michael Kowalski (advisor) & the late David Garcia (advisor)

Awards:
Voted Best Short Documentary @ Oxford Int’l Film Fest (2007)
Best Student Short Documentary @ Family Film Fest (2008)
Best Student Short Documentary @ Hollywood Int’l Student Film Fest (2007)
Official Selection: Whittier Film Fest (2008), Scene First Student Film Fest (2006), Charleston Film Fest (2008), Reynolda Film Fest (2009).

Of Special Interest:

Famous Players Orchestra

Famous Play­ers Orches­tra per­forms and records his­toric cin­e­mat­ic music used by movie the­ater orches­tras dur­ing the silent film era. Lis­ten to sam­ples and learn about the orga­ni­za­tion here:

fporchestra.org

The End


 

Glass Lantern Slides

INTERMISSION

(ORTHE FILM JUST BROKE)

In the years of silent cin­e­ma, lantern slides were used pri­mar­i­ly to announce com­ing attrac­tions, adver­tise prod­ucts and ser­vices, and to enter­tain the audi­ence while film reels were being changed on the pro­jec­tor. It also served as an emer­gency paci­fi­er when­ev­er the film broke or caught on fire (real­ly! —ear­ly nitrate film was high­ly com­bustible).

The itin­er­ant pro­jec­tion­ist had a large case of sev­er­al slide cat­e­gories: pre-show and inter­mis­sion slides includ­ing sing-alongs, code of con­duct announce­ments, upcom­ing pro­grams, and adver­tis­ers’ lures. Yes, there were “com­mer­cials” way back then, too. There were also emer­gency pro­ce­dure slides in case of a film catch­ing on fire or oth­er com­mon cat­a­stro­phe.

The authen­tic glass lantern slides shown on this page are from the col­lec­tion of Joe Rin­au­do, silent cin­e­ma his­to­ri­an and preser­va­tion­ist. They are all orig­i­nal images, opti­cal­ly restored by Chaz DeS­i­mone and re-mount­ed by Mr. Rin­au­do.

Here’s what the worn, scratched, fad­ed slides looked like before they were restored to orig­i­nal splen­dor:

singin-BEFORE

and after:

singin-RESTORED

Type is sharp­ened, col­ors are restored, con­trast is expand­ed, and every scratch and spec of dust is removed. The bril­liant col­ors are bleed­ing out­side the image because these black and white pho­tographs were hand-col­ored with vibrant trans­par­ent dyes. Con­sid­er­ing how small the slides are, it took a fine brush and a steady hand to stay with­in the lines. You’ll notice an uneven­ness in some large areas of col­or, where the ink tend­ed to blob, streak or mot­tle.

These bril­liant slides added a splash of col­or to an oth­er­wise mono­chro­mat­ic show.

HISTORY OF THE LANTERN SLIDE

The mag­ic lantern was invent­ed long before mov­ing pic­tures. Here’s some his­to­ry from Wikipedia:

The mag­ic lantern or Lat­er­na Mag­i­ca is an ear­ly type of image pro­jec­tor devel­oped in the 17th cen­tu­ry. It was com­mon­ly used for edu­ca­tion­al and enter­tain­ment pur­pos­es.

The mag­ic lantern used a con­cave mir­ror in back of a light source to direct as much of the light as pos­si­ble through a small rec­tan­gu­lar sheet of glass — a “lantern slide” — on which was the paint­ed or pho­to­graph­ic image to be pro­ject­ed, and onward into a lens at the front of the appa­ra­tus. The lens was adjust­ed to opti­mal­ly focus the plane of the slide at the dis­tance of the pro­jec­tion screen, which could be sim­ply a white wall, and it there­fore formed an enlarged image of the slide on the screen.

Apart from sun­light, the only light sources avail­able at the time of inven­tion in the 16th cen­tu­ry were can­dles and oil lamps, which were very inef­fi­cient and pro­duced very dim pro­ject­ed images. The inven­tion of the Argand lamp in the 1790s helped to make the images brighter. The inven­tion of lime­light in the 1820s made them very much brighter. The inven­tion of the intense­ly bright elec­tric arc lamp in the 1860s elim­i­nat­ed the need for com­bustible gas­es or haz­ardous chem­i­cals, and even­tu­al­ly the incan­des­cent elec­tric lamp fur­ther improved safe­ty and con­ve­nience, although not bright­ness.

The mag­ic lantern was not only a direct ances­tor of the motion pic­ture pro­jec­tor, but it could itself be used to project mov­ing images, which was achieved by the use of var­i­ous types of mechan­i­cal slides. Typ­i­cal­ly, two glass slides, one with the sta­tion­ary part of the pic­ture and the oth­er with the part that was to move, would be placed one on top of the oth­er and pro­ject­ed togeth­er, then the mov­ing slide would be hand-oper­at­ed, either direct­ly or by means of a lever or oth­er mech­a­nism. Chro­motrope slides, which pro­duced eye-daz­zling dis­plays of con­tin­u­ous­ly cycling abstract geo­met­ri­cal pat­terns and col­ors, were oper­at­ed by means of a small crank and pul­ley wheel that rotat­ed a glass disc.

—Wikipedia; read full arti­cle here

TITLES & INTERTITLES

View before-and-after restora­tion exam­ples of silent cin­e­ma main titles and inter­ti­tles .

Titles & Intertitles

Sometimes — maybe once in a lifetime — we get the chance to do something enjoyable and fun that we thought we’d never be able to do again, simply because technology had taken its place. Thanks to an old friend, I’ve been given that chance.

by Chaz DeS­i­mone

Joe Rin­au­do, founder of Silent Cin­e­ma Soci­ety, has giv­en me a gold­en (black and white, actu­al­ly) oppor­tu­ni­ty to recap­ture a romance from the past: real hand let­ter­ing with pen and brush, and fine typog­ra­phy when wood and met­al char­ac­ters were set by hand. That, com­bined with repli­cat­ing the lay­outs and artis­tic styles of yes­ter­year, is what I nev­er thought I’d do again. But as syn­chronic­i­ty between two old friends would have it, I am once again thriv­ing at my pas­sion.

We’re talk­ing — er, we’re silent — about hand-let­ter­ing title cards for the silent cin­e­ma era of the ear­ly 1900s, when cam­eras and pro­jec­tors were cranked by hand, and when actors had no speak­ing lines. Along with elab­o­rate main title art­work, all the dia­logue and nar­ra­tive text was print­ed or hand-let­tered on title cards, called inter-titles, pho­tographed and spliced into the film. The film titles and cred­its were most often elab­o­rate­ly hand-let­tered with embell­ish­ments, but some­times sim­ply type­set, then pho­tographed as still images.

Back to my black-and-white oppor­tu­ni­ty:

Joe Rin­au­do asked me awhile back if I’d be inter­est­ed in restor­ing the title cards for his films and cre­ate new ones when the orig­i­nals are lost to time.

Who knew two best friends would be so valuable to each other nearly fifty years after meeting in seventh grade?

I’m restor­ing the miss­ing parts to his films and he’s restor­ing my pas­sion for let­ter­ing and typog­ra­phy. I have enjoyed ren­der­ing titles for Joe for sev­er­al years now, and I even get to see them pro­ject­ed on the sil­ver screen in silent come­dies and dra­mas accom­pa­nied by the Mighty Wurl­itzer. (Twice a year Joe brings his itin­er­ant show to the Nether­cutt Muse­um in Syl­mar, Cal­i­for­nia. A cal­en­der of events and details about the shows are on their web­site. He presents itin­er­ant shows else­where in Cal­i­for­nia, too. Sub­scribe to the Silent Cin­e­ma Soci­ety News­reel for announce­ments.)

Much of my work for these titles is clean­ing up scanned images of the orig­i­nal neg­a­tives. Some­times I have to “chop up” let­ters to replace parts of those which are bad­ly dete­ri­o­rat­ed. When titles are miss­ing entire­ly (usu­al­ly due to splic­ing after splic­ing of these near­ly hun­dred-year-old films) I have the most fun! Draw­ing upon my skill of hand let­ter­ing (which I did before com­put­ers could set a nice script or a mod­i­fy a type­style) and knowl­edge of peri­od type styles, I cre­ate new title cards from scratch, based on exist­ing footage and artis­tic styling of the era. Most of the let­ter­ing and effects I accom­plish with Pho­to­shop, but once in awhile I still need to use a real pen or brush with real ink to get just the right swing or flair.

You might be won­der­ing, how is it pos­si­ble that if all the scenes are intact on these films, just the titles and inter­ti­tles are miss­ing? I won­dered the same thing. Joe explains that much of the live action footage is indeed miss­ing on these old films, but the remain­ing footage still car­ries the sto­ry. How­ev­er, if a dia­log or nar­ra­tive inter­ti­tle is absent, the plot is hard to fol­low. So the new inter­ti­tles are insert­ed and the film seems com­plete, even with sev­er­al live action frames miss­ing. Most of the let­ter­ing I recre­ate for Joe is tak­en from the exact text in the films’ orig­i­nal man­u­scripts.

How­ev­er, when a restora­tion is cre­at­ed from seg­ments of sev­er­al prints of the same film — for instance, where some reels con­tain rare footage which is miss­ing from oth­ers — Joe assem­bles a “com­plete” ver­sion, for which he metic­u­lous­ly ana­lyzes the orig­i­nal nar­ra­tive and dia­logue, then writes appro­pri­ate text for recre­at­ed title cards. He is thus ren­der­ing a ful­ly-restored ver­sion that repli­cates as much as pos­si­ble of the orig­i­nal.

Such is the case with Joe Rinaudo’s restora­tion of The Phan­tom of the Opera. He is plan­ning an  arti­cle for this web­site which doc­u­ments each step of the process, includ­ing restora­tion of the orig­i­nal 2-strip Tech­ni­col­or seg­ments of the film.

TITLE CARD GALLERY

Here are some titles I’ve either cleaned up or cre­at­ed from scratch, repli­cat­ing the orig­i­nals, on a blank sheet of poster board (either Strath­more with ink or Pho­to­shop with pix­els) which were then pho­tographed and insert­ed into the restored films:

.

GLASS LANTERN SLIDES

See authen­tic glass lantern slides from Joe Rinaudo’s col­lec­tion.

raining-auto-framed

HAPPY BIRTHDAY STUBBY

Joe Rin­au­do chopped off the tip of his fin­ger in a met­al shear the day before his birth­day a few years ago (it mirac­u­lous­ly grew back just like new), so  I cre­at­ed this “film title” as his birth­day card.

HBstubby2014

Hey, humor was crude back in the 1920’s.

.

The End

Meet Joe Rinaudo

For a sight-and-sound glimpse into the world of Joe Rin­au­do, which includes silent films, pro­jec­tors, mechan­i­cal instru­ments, ear­ly phono­graphs and vin­tage light­ing, watch the Huell Hows­er “Cal­i­for­nia Gold” doc­u­men­tary which aired Feb­ru­ary 18, 2006. The pro­gram begins after a 60-sec­ond spon­sor announce­ment, and runs 30 min­utes:

Professor Rinaudo”

Joe RinaudoJOSEPH A. RINAUDO
Silent Cin­e­ma His­to­ri­an and Preser­va­tion­ist
Founder of the Silent Cin­e­ma Soci­ety

Having been best friends with Joe for over 50 years, I am honored to introduce you to my friend,
Mr. Joseph A. Rinaudo…

Introduction by Chaz DeSimone

PROFESSOR RINAUDOas silent cin­e­ma afi­ciona­dos call him, has been my friend for over fifty years, since junior high school.

model-ABack when I met Joe he was restor­ing his Mod­el A to show­room con­di­tion, and it was always fun rid­ing around in that thing… includ­ing the some­what embar­rass­ing episode when Joe pulled into a gas sta­tion and pur­chased a whole nickel’s worth of gaso­line! It got us home, though.

At that time Joe was also col­lect­ing 16mm silent films and would put on shows for his friends. Today he research­es, col­lects, restores and exhibits silent films (35mm these days) on a Pow­ers Cam­er­a­graph hand-crank pro­jec­tor, usu­al­ly with live accom­pa­ni­ment of the­ater organ or piano, as itin­er­ant shows to audi­ences far and wide, includ­ing the Acad­e­my of Motion Pic­ture Arts and Sci­ences (in oth­er words, the Oscar peo­ple). Joe Rin­au­do is also con­sul­tant and provider of restored films to the Library of Con­gress.

This is Joe’s story, in his own words:

My inter­est in old films began in the 1950’s on black & white tele­vi­sion when most of the sta­tions would show silent car­toons and come­dies. The col­lect­ing bug came to a head when my father (who loved to film every­thing with his 8mm cam­era) dur­ing our reg­u­lar Sat­ur­day night 8mm home movie film shows insert­ed a Buster Keaton silent com­e­dy reel in with our home movies. He pref­aced this reel by stat­ing that this was an old home movie of our fam­i­ly from the 1920’s. Imag­ine my shock and hap­py sur­prise when I real­ized that I could own one of the mag­i­cal films that I thought could only be seen on tele­vi­sion! I then saved up enough allowance mon­ey to buy my own 8mm films from Sears & Roe­buck for 99 cents! I then began show­ing these films to kids in the neigh­bor­hood for 5 cents. I used a 78 rpm phono­graph with Spike Jones and Fats Waller records for the music. When I had saved up enough mon­ey I would buy anoth­er film.

The Music BoxThe mad­ness con­tin­ues! By the ear­ly 1960’s I began col­lect­ing 16mm silent films. I remem­ber how excit­ed I was when my moth­er would dri­ve me down to Films Clas­sics Exchange on Ver­mont Avenue in Los Ange­les. There a man by the name of Char­lie Tar­box would be seat­ed at his antique desk with an old Under­wood type­writer. He always wore a black suit with a thin black tie. He had a shock of white hair and a cig­ar in his mouth. There were stacks of film every­where. This was an old build­ing with a wood­en floor and high ceil­ings. It smelled of stale cig­ar smoke and acetate film. This was right out of the 1920’s! Char­lie was always very kind to me and his voice remind­ed me of some­thing like a com­bi­na­tion of W.C. Fields and Maxwell Smart! Then the big moment arrived when I pur­chased my first sound 16mm film from Black­hawk Films, Lau­rel and Hardy’s The Music Box. Talk about mag­ic! I now had a film of high qual­i­ty (com­pared to 8mm) and it talked! I began show­ing my 16mm films to orga­ni­za­tions and for pri­vate par­ties for mon­ey that I could invest into more 16mm film. By the 1970’s I had amassed a very large 16mm col­lec­tion.

When I was at Glen­dale Col­lege in the ear­ly 1970’s, there was a short­age of funds (some­thing called a tax over ride?).  We had heard that  two teach­ers were going to lose their jobs. A fund rais­er was start­ed. I offered to show films in the audi­to­ri­um with all pro­ceeds going for the teach­ers’ salaries. I ran Lau­rel and Hardy and W.C. Fields films. The pro­gram was a big suc­cess and enough mon­ey was raised, to the best of my rec­ol­lec­tion, from this and all of the oth­er fund rais­ing efforts to save the teach­ers’ jobs. The Glen­dale News Press inter­viewed me about the film shows and my col­lec­tion of film. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the reporter took the lib­er­ty of stat­ing that “Joe loves to show movies at his house and any­one is wel­come to stop by and watch a film!” This was only for my friends but it was too late for a retrac­tion and the phone start­ed ring­ing with peo­ple ask­ing if they might come over for a “Show”! Com­plete strangers would stop by and ring the bell to see when the next show would be! Fend­ing off all of the crazy calls was becom­ing a real problem…until one phone call in which a woman’s voice said:

I under­stand that you have some of my father’s films.”

Now I thought, oh my, anoth­er nut case. What can this be about?  The voice iden­ti­fied her­self as Lois Brooks — Stan Laurel’s daugh­ter! She had seen the arti­cle in the paper and read the part where I men­tioned I had almost every Lau­rel & Hardy film. Since videos were not avail­able, these films could only be seen on TV, in a the­ater, or on 16mm film. Since she found it dif­fi­cult to find any of her father’s films, she asked if she and her hus­band Rand Brooks might come over some­time to watch a Lau­rel & Hardy film! There a great friend­ship began. I brought Lois to her first Lau­rel & Hardy club meet­ing (The Sons Of The Desert). Lat­er I became the film archivist for the Lau­rel fam­i­ly as well as for the local of the Sons Of The Desert chap­ter, the Way Out West tent. I would trav­el with Lois and her new hus­band Tony Hawes for local shows and lec­tures that Lois and Tony would put on. These were very fun times as I got to meet a lot of old actors from the Hal Roach stu­dios as well as show films reg­u­lar­ly at the Masquer’s Club in Hol­ly­wood.  There I had the priv­i­lege to meet a lot of famous peo­ple back at the pro­jec­tor.

Powers CameragraphThe mad­ness gets worse! Com­pared to 35mm I always thought that 16mm was the end all be all for film col­lect­ing. In many ways it is due to the avail­abil­i­ty of so many titles, cost and ease of mov­ing the light weight equip­ment.  But…I always had a fas­ci­na­tion for 35mm hand crank pro­jec­tors. A friend of mine, Dave Feld­man, and I took a road trip to vis­it Mr. George Hall in Tuc­son, Ari­zona. George, who I now con­sid­er my men­tor, had a vast col­lec­tion of ear­ly 35mm pro­jec­tion equip­ment and film. In fact his house was set up as an ear­ly cin­e­ma muse­um. When we were there, George demon­strat­ed his 1905 Power’s mod­el 5 Cam­er­a­graph hand crank pro­jec­tor with a live arc in the lam­p­house! What a thrill to see this! I asked if I could crank a film and he took me back to anoth­er pro­jec­tor (a Sim­plex) which was hard­er to crank — but that didn’t mat­ter. All that I can remem­ber is that I start­ed crank­ing and was so mes­mer­ized by the mag­i­cal image cre­at­ed by crank­ing this won­der­ful machine, I couldn’t stop, and at about 2:00 a.m., after crank­ing some 20,000 feet of film, Dave and George had to pull me away from the pro­jec­tor!

I pur­chased a Power’s mod­el 6A lam­p­house and base from George. I then pur­chased a very nice Power’s mod­el 6B pro­jec­tor head from Mr. Dick Prather in Port­land, Ore­gon. I did a full-on restora­tion and con­vert­ed the lam­p­house to a high inten­si­ty halo­gen light source that is safe for film. I begged and bor­rowed small pieces of 35mm film. I would do demon­stra­tions on the side of my build­ing and on my garage door at home. Wow! What a pic­ture! 35mm rules!

Restored-by-Joe-RinaudoI start­ed doing out­door demon­stra­tions with any film that I could find. I nev­er thought that I would be able to afford a real 35mm film, let alone a silent. My good friend Mr. David Shep­ard asked me if I would do a show for him at the Silent Movie The­ater in Los Ange­les. He said that this year (2002) was the 100th anniver­sary of Georges Melies’s A Trip To The Moon.  Mr. Bob Mitchell would be play­ing the music and David Shep­ard would be read­ing the spo­ken text.  We would have to do two shows. He kind­ly offered to let me make a new print off of his neg­a­tive in return for crank­ing the shows! To do my first pub­lic per­for­mance with such impor­tant and won­der­ful peo­ple as Bob Mitchell and David Shep­ard at the Silent Movie The­ater with CNN in attendance…heck, I would have paid David to do the shows! So with my able assis­tant, Mr. Gary Gib­son, both of us dressed like itin­er­ant pro­jec­tion­ists from the ear­ly 1900’s, both shows went over well to full hous­es and great reviews.

Professor RinaudoSince that time I have worked with The Library of Con­gress in the restora­tion of silent film, as well as doing reg­u­lar hand crank shows for the Acad­e­my of Motion Pic­ture Arts and Sci­ences’ 100 Years of Film series. With Mr. Dean Mora  and Mr. Gary Gib­son we have done and reg­u­lar­ly do re-cre­ation turn-of-the-last-cen­tu­ry itin­er­ant motion pic­ture shows for The Hand­ford Fox The­ater, The Visalia Fox The­ater, The Bal­boa The­ater, The Peter­son Car Muse­um, The Turn­er Clas­sic Film Fes­ti­val, The San Rafael The­ater, six shows a year at the Nether­cutt Muse­um (boast­ing the third largest the­ater organ in the world) and numer­ous col­leges, schools, and oth­er venues.

Look­ing back to my 8mm days, I would have nev­er thought in my wildest dreams that I would have end­ed up pro­ject­ing 35mm — with a crank, no less!”


I am very proud of my friend Joe for accomplishing his dream of founding the Silent Cinema Society to preserve the art and technology of silent cinema. I am also honored he employs my talent to restore the titles for his films…

A Golden Opportunity

BC-FRONT-WEB-lowActu­al­ly, this was a Black-and-White Oppor­tu­ni­ty: Joe asked me a few years ago if I’d be inter­est­ed in restor­ing the title cards for his films and cre­ate new ones when the orig­i­nals are lost to time. Who knew two best friends would be so valu­able to each oth­er near­ly fifty years after meet­ing in sev­enth grade — my restor­ing the miss­ing parts to his films and he restor­ing my pas­sion for let­ter­ing and typog­ra­phy? I have enjoyed ren­der­ing titles for Joe for sev­er­al years now, and I even get to see them pro­ject­ed on the sil­ver screen in silent come­dies and dra­mas accom­pa­nied by the Mighty Wurl­itzer. (Twice a year Joe brings his itin­er­ant show to the Nether­cutt Muse­um in Syl­mar, Cal­i­for­nia. A cal­en­der of events and details about the shows are on their web­site.)

Silent…with Sound

Fotoplayer Model 20 modifiedJoe is all about silent film, but he also loves sound. Loud sound! Not the dia­log and music that pass­es through the pro­jec­tor that is print­ed on the film. Oh no, Joe’s silent films are accom­pa­nied by an ear-shat­ter­ing, robust “sym­pho­ny” cre­at­ed by one per­son sit­ting at one machine: The Foto­play­er. This resem­bles a play­er piano, but with two rolls for chang­ing music for dif­fer­ent scenes; an assort­ment of pull cords, levers, but­tons and stops con­nect­ed to a side cab­i­net con­tain­ing organ pipes, per­cus­sion, brass, sound effects, and lit­er­al­ly bells and whis­tles. The pianist usu­al­ly lets the rolls play the music while he selects the instru­ment stops and cre­ates the sound effects. He’s watch­ing the film, of course, all at the same time.

Joe has one of these machines. He acquired his Amer­i­can Foto­play­er Style 20 while he was 21 years old and spent the next three years restor­ing it to brand-new con­di­tion. it’s the cen­ter­piece in his liv­ing room. This thing is loud! It’s amaz­ing Joe has any neigh­bors left, unless they’re all hard of hear­ing. Joe recent­ly com­plet­ed the restora­tion of a Style 41 Amer­i­can Foto­play­er for the Acad­e­my of Motion Pic­ture Arts and Sci­ences (remem­ber, the Oscar peo­ple).

Learn more about the Foto­play­er on Joe’s Foto­play­er Page.

See the cal­en­dar of Pro­fes­sor Rinaudo’s Itin­er­ant Shows under “COMING ATTRACTIONS” and treat your­self to some com­e­dy, sus­pense, or pathos of the gold­en — er, black and white — era of silent cin­e­ma.

The End