Monday, March 13, 2017

A Rather Mysterious Hunk of Tape (and a Few Bonuses)

I have, on several occasions, here and at WFMU late, lamented blog, offered up samples of a huge batch of tapes that I bought many years ago, featuring recordings of various productions, from TV and movies (mostly TV), which were in various stages of completeness. This has included everything from sound effects and foley reels, to soundstage recordings, to completed interview shows, and many other similar items.

Here's one of those tapes, one which is, I strongly suspect, one of those soundstage recordings, but other than that supposition, it remains pretty much a mystery to me, and I'd love to hear any explanations that those of you out there, perhaps with more experience in the field, could share.

What confuses me here is not the scene being recorded - it's pretty clearly a couple, who discussing a job offer the young woman has received, which will unexpectedly take her out of town. But what on earth is the deal with every single piece of dialogue being said twice, once through what sounds like a white-noise generator (even a line as simple as "oh" receives this treatment.

It's sort of hypnotically fascinating, and equally annoying, at the same time.

By the way, near the end (the last three minutes or so), the same tape goes into a completely different recording session (probably something which was being erased by the first segment heard. That segment does not contain the same weird repeated dialogue. It does, however, sound like a more interesting script - does one person refer to it as "Pot Party Poetry" at one point?

There are also a couple of breakdowns, and resulting cursing, for those of you who enjoy such things.

Download: Unknown - Raw Takes from an Unknown Production

And now, a few little bonuses, which at least some of you may enjoy more than the feature attraction.

First, here are three commercials for something called "Domestic Pure Shortening", which seems to have been a Canadian product. The second of these three ads is VERY remarkable for the ridiculous amount of information (about a contest the company was running), contained in a rapid-fire one minute ad. It cracks me up.

Download: Unknown - Three Domestic Pure Shortening Ads

And finally, two comical, quite over-the-top ads, one for Corina "Lark" Cigars, one for Aurelia "Biltmore" cigars (I'm guessing the two were related). Each tells the story of "Ralph Ridehome". These are heard on the tape, complete with studio intros. I accidentally labeled the entire file as being two Corina Lark ads.

Download: Unknown - Two 'Corina Lark' Ads


  1. The phrase "fly TCA" in the "Domestic Pure Shortening" commercial indicates that it had to be made before 1965. TCA ("Trans-Canada Air Lines") was officially renamed to "Air Canada" on January 1, 1965.

  2. I'd guess they're recording a conversion that's happening as a phone call. They need teledistorted and undistorted versions of each line so they can pick who're they're showing on screen when editing -- if you're showing Alice on screen, then Bob should sound like he's coming over the phone line, and vice versa.

  3. Or they're revoicing bits of existing dialogue from a noisy location recording -- they play the noisy version back first, then the actor tries to say the line the same way. Repeat until they get something that's close enough to replace the original line in dubbing.

  4. As was illuded to, what you're hearing is a dub job, hence the roll with the guy saying "speed" before. The "fuzzy" part of the audio is the scratch track, and the in-studio audio is the loop, hence the two different playbacks... one for reference and one is for performance.