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Preserving the Sundown Editorial Sound Results Library from the USC Archive

Preserving the Sundown Editorial Sound Results Library from the USC Archive

2023-04-10 08:37:50

[Guest blog post by Craig Smith]

The “SSE” sound results come from the Sundown Editorial assortment which was donated to USC Cinema in 1990. Sundown Editorial had a low-key historical past in Hollywood. Not loads is thought about them. It is because their credit in movies have been normally simply “Sound Results — Sundown Editorial”. The corporate was energetic from about 1964 to 1987. They primarily did episodic tv reveals like “Bewitched”, “I Dream of Jeanie”, “The Partridge Household”, and “The Waltons.”  They’ve 569 credit on IMDB! Lots of the Nineteen Sixties enhancing was accomplished by Fred Brown. They have been owned within the ’70s/’80s by sound editor Gene Corso.    

Sundown Editorial was a quite simple operation. They solely edited sound — no mixing. And so they labored on a good price range. Sound editors got here and went. There wasn’t a lot cash obtainable for creating new results, in order that they trusted results that sound editors had been utilizing for many years. Freelance editors introduced their very own collections, after which copied results to take as they went on to their subsequent job.

Their sound results assortment consisted of dozens of cardboard containers crammed with small rolls of 35mm magnetic movie. Every had a slip of paper round it describing the sound.

The rolls have been clear 35mm acetate movie with two magnetic stripes. One stripe contained the sound, and the opposite was simply to maintain the movie’s thickness even from edge to edge. In any other case it will wind erratically onto a reel.

35mm stripe magnetic movie

 At USC Cinema, the sounds have been transferred from 35mm magazine to 1/4” full observe tape. The work was accomplished principally by Sound Division T.A.s Cormac Funge and Tim Maloney in 1990. I really tracked them down and was happy to be taught that they’re each nonetheless movie sound designers!  

35mm dubber taking part in a Sound impact loop 
The completed 1990 transfers

Cormac & Tim’s reminiscences of this venture weren’t precisely completely happy ones. There have been about 1,200 rolls of movie. With all of the dealing with, it took them about six months to switch a complete of 21 hours of sounds. However they did an excellent job. 

I obtained the SSE tapes from the USC Archive in 2016. It was instantly clear that these tapes had a giant drawback. They have been recorded onto used Ampex tape from the Nineteen Eighties. Tape producers modified their formulations within the early ’80s, and it turned out these new tapes have been very unstable. They began to show what grew to become referred to as Sticky Shed Syndrome.” (Google it.) When this occurs, the glue that binds the magnetic oxide to the plastic base turns into sticky, and separates. This makes the tapes just about unplayable.  

Happily, there’s a short lived repair. Tapes might be baked for a number of hours at a low temperature in an oven. In order that’s what I did. Every tape was baked at 150ºF for 4  hours, then cooled for 4 hours.

This made the tapes secure sufficient to switch utilizing my Nagra 4.2 full observe recorder. 

The excellent news is that that is an extremely various and wealthy assortment. The dangerous information is that a whole lot of these analog 35mm magazine parts have been copies of copies of copies. So they’d a good quantity of noise and distortion. Due to this, I did far more restoration on these sounds than traditional. I used iZotope’s RX 10 software program. Most sounds cleaned up properly, however I did eradicate about 20% of them. 

Right here’s a really annoying however typical instance of the restoration:  

Earlier than:


The ensuing 1,022 sound results are fairly good. There are a whole lot of superb sounds right here starting from the Nineteen Thirties into the early ’80s. Take a look at the ambiances. Even when a sound appears slightly odd to you, attempt layering it with different sounds to create one thing distinctive. They’ll make nice sweeteners! To get you began, right here’s an extremely uncommon recording of all the Wilhelm Scream recording session:

I couldn’t have accomplished this my self. I need to thank Dino Everett, Ben Burtt, Andrew Kim, everybody at Soundly, Frederic Font, and Lynn Becker.

See Also

– Craig Smith


Craig Smith has been recording and manipulating sound since 1964. After graduating from USC’s College of Cinematic Arts, he labored as a sound editor and manufacturing mixer in Hollywood, specializing in noisy action-adventure movies which can be blamed for the downfall of society. He left that world in 1986 to show sound within the College of Movie/Video at California Institute of the Arts, the place he’s now Tutorial Sound Coordinator.

Craig’s personal work experiments with implied narrative and unintended sound design, placing collectively sounds & pictures that don’t have anything to do with one another to create sudden tales.

Craig is a member of the Society of Movement Image and Tv Engineers, and the Audio Engineering Society.

You may test different posts within the Freesound weblog by Craig Smith right here:

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