Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pioneers of Sound - Oscars Past

Oscar time is upon us and it's always interesting to see how history has evolved, who the talent of today are, as well as recognizing the overlooked heavyweights that have paved the way for sound in 20th century cinema.

Ladies and gentlemen, Douglas Shearer and Alfred Newman are two of those heroes.

Douglas Shearer (November 17, 1899 - January 5, 1971)
Born in Westmount, Quebec, a leader of sound desi
gn and technology for motion films started his career in the 1920's. He relocated from Canada to Hollywood when his sister Norma was able to find him a home at MGM. While there, Shearer out of necessity originated the concept of "playback" to eliminate undesirable background noise during sound recording. MGM's 1929 musical "The Broadway Melody" was the first time Shearer attempted to use this technique. It was the top grossing movie of the year and was the first sound picture to be awarded the Academy Award for best picture. He won his first Oscar for "The Big House" in the Best Sound Recording category (1930) and went on to win eleven more through the duration of his career in the categories of Best Sound Recording, Best Special Effects, and Scientific and Technical for such films as; "Naughty Marietta" (1935), "San Francisco" (1936), "Strike Up the Band" (1940), "10 Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" (1944), "Green Dolphin Street" (1947), and "The Great Caruso" (1951). Shearer has worked on more the 900 movies in his career, has been nominated for an Academy Award 21 times, winning 7 times for Sound and Special Effect.

Alfred Newman (March 17, 1900 - February 17, 1970)
If you're not familiar with his work go and grab an
encyclopedia right now. Born in New Haven, Connecticut, U.S on March 17th, 1900 Newman is the most nominated composer in Oscar history and falls second to Walt Disney as individual winner. He was know in his position at Fox to have contributed an extraordinary amount to film as a music composer, arranger, musical director and conductor. Best known for composing music in over 200 films he was also nominated for 45 Academy Awards. You may recognize his memorable scores in "How to Marry A Millionaire" (1953), "The Seven year Itch" (1955), "The King and I" (1956), and "Camelot" (1967) to name a few. In addition, he conducted the orchestra for all Rodgers and Hammersmith musical film adaptions with the exception of "Oklahoma!" and "The Sound of Music". His daughter, nephew ad two sons have played an important role in carrying on the Newman legacy to this day.

The Silver Screen would not have evolved sound wise where it is today without the influence of both of these talented individuals committing each to forty years of passion, innovation and dedication in their field.

This year's 2011 films nominated for both Best Sound Editing and Best Sound include Inception & True Grit. Also, Inception is up for Best Music (Original Score) and just won the BAFTA award for Best Sound in Britain.

Since it's Oscars Eve "everyone" is a winner for now. Enjoy the show!

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