This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.
This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.
Check Out The Crazy Contraption That Made the Music for Silent Movies
This morning, our friends at HiddenLA pointed out a great Huell Howser video of an old contraption called a "fotoplayer" that was used to soundtrack silent movies, and we couldn't help but share it. You'll recognize the sound from carousels, old cartoons and other zany soundtracks.
There are only 12 of these left in playable shape, according to Joe Rinaudo, who's the guy playing it in the video above. Rinaudo's website says:
The fotoplayer (“foto” from photoplay and “player” from player piano) is a wonderful contraption that was built to provide music and sound effects for silent movies. These machines appeared around 1912 and were used in medium sized theaters. Fotoplayers were inexpensive to operate because you didn’t have to be a musician to play them as they were also playable by way of player piano rolls. The fotoplayer used a fascinating combination of piano, organ pipes, drums, and various sound effects designed to narrate the action of any silent film.
Pedals, levers, switches, buttons, and pull cords were all used to turn on the xylophone, beat a drum, ring a bell, create the sound of thunder, or chirp like a bird.
When sound films came into being in the late 1920’s, the fotoplayer became passé.
Of the thousands of American fotoplayers made during their heyday, sadly less than 50 survive, and of those only 12 are known to be in playing condition.
Donald Trump was a fading TV presence when the WGA strike put a dent in network schedules.
Pickets are being held outside at movie and TV studios across the city
For some critics, this feels less like a momentous departure and more like a footnote.
Disneyland's famous "Fantasmic!" show came to a sudden end when its 45-foot animatronic dragon — Maleficent — burst into flames.
Leads Ali Wong and Steven Yeun issue a joint statement along with show creator Lee Sung Jin.
Every two years, Desert X presents site-specific outdoor installations throughout the Coachella Valley. Two Los Angeles artists have new work on display.