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1954-55 Theatre Catalog, 12th Edition, Page 16 (xvi)

1954-55 Theatre Catalog, 12th Edition
1954-55 Theatre Catalog
1954-55 Theatre Catalog, 12th Edition, Page 16
Page 16

1954-55 Theatre Catalog, 12th Edition, Page 16

its early economic development is actually a technical one-the basic element

of interchangeability. American railroads surpass the railroads of Europe primarily because our standardized rail gauges encouraged rapid nationwwide expansion-so do motion pictures owe their commercial success largely to the fact that critical dimensions of film, the industryis common denominator, were early standardized. As a result, films made in the United States perform properly on cameras in Italy, South Africa or India and films manufactured in foreign countries according to our standards fit projectors in America. Since the Society started out to help the industry put its houSe in order more than 80 standards have been established and published by the Society, with the cooperation of the Motion Picture Research Council. These standards have all been validated by the American Standards Association.


Herbert Barnett, President of the Society, has given some rather precise indications of what SMPTE considers to be its position: "The SMPTE never standardizes anything merely for the sake of standardizing. The Society recommends standards only when an analysis of the facts makes it evident that standardization will (a) result in important economies all along the line; (b) simplify and clarify operation; and (c) promote the interests of all instead of one or a few individuals and come panics. . . . The day standards are em; ploycd to curb the initiative and pioneering spirit of exhibitors and producers, that day the motion picture will start on the downgrade to mediocrity and obscurity?

Technical matters of this kind are fundamental to future growth; they are the veins and arteries of Americas supremacy in the motion-picture world and require that an international clear ing house for cooperative engineering, one that is neutral but enthusiastic, continue to serve the technical interests of the industry. The SMPTE has done this job with competence for 38 years.

Creative Plus Cooperative

Manufacturers of film eiiuipment maintain basic research and engineering laboratories to deal with specialized problems of their own products. Similarly, major studios maintain engineering departments which make efficient application of materials and equipment they buy, and develop new techniques and tools as a solution 'to local problems. The SMPTE does not duplicate this work but instead serves to correlate the work of such companies and studios to the best advantage of all. This ethical exchange of ideas. plans, suggestions and criticisms, shared by all who are interested, accrues to the benefit of exhibitor, producer and manufacturer alike. Engineering standards, committee reports and recommended practices which result from the work are dividends which mean lower production costs, more efficient distribution and greater profits to all.

Engineering in other industries is closely allied to fundamental research and the development of new basic concepts, with projects expensive to conduct and uncertain of outcome undertaken regularly in a continuing eifort to produce new products or improve old ones. But motion-picture engineering is different. This is, technically, an application industry, one that has for a period of many years found specialized uses for tools and ideas develo ed initially elsewhere. The arts and sciences closely allied have been the hunting ground from which came many a motion-picture technical improvement. Because it did not have to support an extensive research program and because the coordination provided by the Society was not only effective, but particularly efiicient, the industry has been able to prosper by investing only modest amounts directly

THE FIRST MOTION pictures with sound resulted 1mm Edison's 1895 Peephole Kinofoscopo equipped with stethoscope-like tubes to hear the sound.

in engineering projects. So long as business was good there appeared no incentive to do otherwise. There was no reason to alter the economy that gave large short-term returns on investment.

Increased competition from newer entertainment media together with other factors not surely known have begun to change this picture. Engineering is receiving greater attention. More vigorous efforts than ever before are being made to hnd and to apply developments currently available from outside the ins dustry. But the use, at second hand, of the products of research sponsored by other industries is a custom that must eventually give way and even now appears to be yielding ever so slightly to a new policy of direct investment in technical research, specifically and exclusively for motion pictures.

Such a change has long been in the minds of the engineers who are the Society. Its appearance in fact will be

1954-55 Theatre Catalog, 12th Edition, Page 16