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Early sound days at Roach
#1
[Image: vit-123-roach-projector.jpg]
Elmer Raguse at work, with Hal Roach looking on.

Whatever else Hal Roach was, he was an astute businessman and knew the importance of keeping up with changing times. Nothing better illustrated that than the move into features later in the studio's life and everything that happened as the result. The arrival of sound technology was as cathartic, though more mysterious.
In one of the documentaries Hal Roach remembers that sound was very new and unknown to them and the background noise needed to be controlled. He was the worst offender, shouting comments and instructions during filming, forgetting it was all being recorded. It's said that the early Roach sound films were silent films with sound and that the proven techniques were still used. Roach's pioneering sound engineer was Elmer Raguse, who had worked at the Victor company and was hired to run the new sound department. It's thought that Roach's first sound movie was Hurdy-Gurdy, a Max Davidson film with Thelma Todd, and the first Roach Laurel and Hardy sound movie was, fittingly, Unaccustomed As We Are. The transition to sound at Roach meant serious restructuring, as in the silent days a number of sets could run side by side without worrying about noise. With everything being recorded, sets had to be separated by distance and a new kind of discipline had to be instigated on the production lot. As so often, Roach was lucky, because most of his stars were as entertaining with sound as without it, and most could make the transition, even Stan's thin voice, which had been a worry.  In time, "vocal gags" as well as visual gags were part of the Roach system, and writers more used to snappy title cards now had to come up with dialogue. It was a whole new ball game.
 
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#2
[quote pid='1327' dateline='1472625656']
Whatever else Hal Roach was, he was an astute businessman and knew the importance of keeping up with changing times. Nothing better illustrated that than the move into features later in the studio's life and everything that happened as the result. The arrival of sound technology was as cathartic, though more mysterious.
In one of the documentaries Hal Roach remembers that sound was very new and unknown to them and the background noise needed to be controlled. He was the worst offender, shouting comments and instructions during filming, forgetting it was all being recorded. It's said that the early Roach sound films were silent films with sound and that the proven techniques were still used. Roach's pioneering sound engineer was Elmer Raguse, who had worked at the Victor company and was hired to run the new sound department. It's thought that Roach's first sound movie was Hurdy-Gurdy, a Max Davidson film with Thelma Todd, and the first Roach Laurel and Hardy sound movie was, fittingly, Unaccustomed As We Are. The transition to sound at Roach meant serious restructuring, as in the silent days a number of sets could run side by side without worrying about noise. With everything being recorded, sets had to be separated by distance and a new kind of discipline had to be instigated on the production lot. As so often, Roach was lucky, because most of his stars were as entertaining with sound as without it, and most could make the transition, even Stan's thin voice, which had been a worry.  In time, "vocal gags" as well as visual gags were part of the Roach system, and writers more used to snappy title cards now had to come up with dialogue. It was a whole new ball game.
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And it was a good thing the L&H silents were already natural speed without all that flying around..
 
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