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  • 1906 Market Street – With Sound!

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    Historic pre-earthquake San Francisco, 1906, with full sound design.

    Background:
    Shot on April 14, 1906, four days before the San Francisco earthquake and fire, to which the negative was nearly lost. It was produced by moving picture photographers the Miles brothers: Harry, Herbert, Earle and Joe. Harry J. Miles cranked the Bell & Howell camera which was placed on the front of a streetcar during filming from Market Street from 8th, in front of the Miles Studios, to the Ferry building. A few days later the Miles brothers were en route to New York when they heard news of the earthquake. The sent the negative to NY and returned to San Francisco to discover that their studios were destroyed.

    The film was long thought to have been shot in September of 1905, after being dated as such by the Library of Congress based on the state of construction of several buildings. However, in 2009 and 2010, film historian David Kiehn, co-founder of Niles Film Museum in Niles, California, dated the film to the spring of 1906 from automobile registrations and weather records. Kiehn and eventually found promotional materials from the film’s original release and dated the film to April 14th, 1906.

    Technical Aspects:

    Film:
    Sound mix: Silent
    Color: B&W
    Aspect Ratio; 1.33 : 1
    Negative Format: 35 mm
    Printed Format: 35 mm
    Cinematographic Process: Spherical
    Camera: Hand-cranked Bell & Howell

    Video:
    HDTV 1080I (1920 x 1080)
    Pixel Aspect: Square
    Editing Timebase 29.97
    Compressor : H.264

    Audio:
    28 tracks, stereo. (without panning)

    Restoration:
    This version was transferred from a new 35mm print made from a restored 35mm negative, taken from the 1906-era 35mm print owned by the Prelinger Archives. This version does not appear to have any digital restoration, except minimal contrast and brightness adjustments.

    Post Effects:
    This version of the film has been digitally stabilized to remove jitter.

    Resources:
    Sounddogs, Youtube, Horseless.com, Wikipedia, Archive.org, Streetcar.org, earlyamericalautomobiles.com, Prelinger Archives.

    Accuracy:
    Automobiles sounds are all either Ford Model T or Model A, which came out later, but the engines are quite similarly designed and sound quite close to the various cars show in the film. The horns are slightly inaccurate as mostly bulb horns were used at the time, but were substituted by the far more recognizable electric “oogaa” horns, which came out a couple years later. The streetcar sounds are actual San Francisco streetcars. Doppler effect was used to align the sounds.

    Produced by:
    The Miles Brothers

    Photographed by:
    Harry J Miles

    Sound Design by:
    Mike Upchurch

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