Toho recording equipment in the 50s-70s? Why no stereo?

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Toho recording equipment in the 50s-70s? Why no stereo?

Postby GodzFire » Sun Jul 03, 2016 8:34 pm

I had attempted similar threads like this in the past without much luck with responses. Since it's been a number of years since the last one, I'd thought I'd try again to see if more information has since come to light:

---------------------------

Taken from SciFi Japan's 'Godzilla 50th Anniversary Pressbook'

The optical recording equipment had only four audio tracks, and of those, one was used for the principal dialogue, one for background chatter, ambient noise, and the sounds of tanks and planes and one for Godzilla’s roar and footsteps.

Unbelievable as it sounds today, the musical score and the foley (mechanical) sound effects of Godzilla’s final, wanton rampage through Tokyo were recorded live, at the same time. At the recording session, Ifukube conducted the NHK Philharmonic orchestra while a foley artist watched Godzilla’s attack projected on a movie screen, using pieces of tin, concrete debris, wood, and other materials to simulate the sounds of the monster walking through buildings.


From the first paragraph, to me, it sounds like Toho had a 4 track recording machine. Even if it was maybe 2, 2 track ones, why wouldn't they have recorded the music or something other than a single mic? It makes no sense to me.

Moreover, I could see not having access to a multi-track recorder in the 50s, but still to this day, I don't understand how NOTHING (Save KK Vs G) was in stereo until The Return Of Godzilla in 1984. Motown had an 8 track system in 1964, you can't tell me Toho couldn't at least have gotten a 4 track machine one by then? The notable and curious exception is of course Godzilla Vs King Kong in 1962, which boasted a beautiful stereo soundtrack. Even more strange is why it was the only film to do so, unless it was due to the partnership with the owners of King Kong, thus allowing for a more expensive film budget. However, on some 'Best Of Godzilla' compilations, there are songs sung from the 70s movies that ARE in stereo, (Miyarabi's Prayer or Godzilla Of Monster Island).

Do we know what # of 'tracks' recording equipment Toho and Akira Iifukube had to work with? Does Toho still have the original masters? When did they first utilize stereo equipment? Does anyone have any information of this, or do some digging? I'd love if some of the folks who have done commentary on the DVD releases would chime in, as they I'm sure learned a lot while working on those features.
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Re: Toho recording equipment in the 50s-70s? Why no stereo?

Postby Benjamin Haines » Sun Jul 03, 2016 10:39 pm

GodzFire wrote:I had attempted similar threads like this in the past without much luck with responses.


July 2006 - Why didn't Toho utilize stereo soundtracks before G 84?
May 2007 - What was Toho's audio recording ability/resources in films?
May 2009 - Toho recording equipment in the 50s, 60s? Why no stereo?
January 2012 - Toho recording equipment in the 50s-70s? Why no stereo?
July 2016 - Toho recording equipment in the 50s-70s? Why no stereo?



Highlights:

07/22/2006 - Joseph Goodman wrote:As far as Toho spfx films go, "King Kong Vs. Godzilla", "Mothra", and "Gorath" were presented in four track magnetic stereo; this involved striping the prints with magnetic strips (audio tape, basically) which carried the sound. It was a rather expensive & time consuming process, as each print would have to be recorded in real time.. Inexpensive stereo from the standard optical track on film didn't become useable until the late 70's, when there weren't any Godzilla movies being made.


05/09/2007 - GFan wrote:KING KONG VS. GODZILLA featured a full 4-track stereo soundtrack, so Toho had the technology by then. I think it more had to do with what set ups most theaters had (same with the US, where mono was still the norm even in the 70's for movies). Only a few big theaters had stereo/surround setups (kind of like the surround mixes for STAR WARS, etc..).

While I couldn't guess how many tracks they had, I'm sure multitrack had been available to film soundtrack recording for awhile (to combine dialoge, sound effects and music on to the final track).

I plan on going to college for audio production, so maybe I'll learn the full answer then. :wink:


05/31/2009 - kent wrote:The answer to this question could have several answers to it...

It could be that Toho studios only owned one, or a few, of these sets and they just so happened to not be available for some of the Godzilla projects. The other answer could be that Toho was never expecting these scores to be available for home use as your first available Godzilla music didn't become available on records until the 70s. So to them it may not have mattered as long as it actually worked with the film.


11/30/2012 - H-Man wrote:Every Toho tokusatsu film from 1958 through 1962 had stereo sound.

It's possible that enough theaters weren't equipped for stereo and it would have been too expensive to refit them. According to Wikipedia, it was still common for films with stereophonic soundtracks to be released with monaural sound in US theaters as late as 1975.

Also from Wikipedia:

"Today, virtually all films are released in stereophonic sound as the Westrex Stereo Variable-Area system developed in 1977 for Star Wars is no more expensive to manufacture than mono."


11/30/2012 - SeaHawk wrote:I'm not sure about the specifics, but most of Toho's tokusatsu from '57 to '62 was released in Perspecta Stereophonic Sound, which utilizes various tones in order to pull off the effect of stereo using the mono mix, so it should be distinguished from real stereo.

I know KKvsG was released in true, magnetic stereo, although I see it always written that it was released in Perspecta. That could be true, as a mono mix was also created and Toho could have distributed Perspecta-encoded prints of that, but I have no evidence to prove that happened. The film doesn't have a Perspecta logo in the corner of its the title card, so I'm guessing the most likely scenario is they released it in magnetic and mono only.


Hopefully this thread will yield even more informative responses along with the next thread in 2021.
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Re: Toho recording equipment in the 50s-70s? Why no stereo?

Postby Rodanex » Tue Aug 23, 2016 11:13 pm

Unbelievable as it sounds today, the musical score and the foley (mechanical) sound effects of Godzilla’s final, wanton rampage through Tokyo were recorded live, at the same time. At the recording session, Ifukube conducted the NHK Philharmonic orchestra while a foley artist watched Godzilla’s attack projected on a movie screen, using pieces of tin, concrete debris, wood, and other materials to simulate the sounds of the monster walking through buildings.


That's pretty amazing.
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Re: Toho recording equipment in the 50s-70s? Why no stereo?

Postby lhb412 » Thu Aug 25, 2016 12:39 am

^Amazing? It's completely insane!
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