Gobo, Oscar, Canaries, Baffle Blankets (1931)
Bapopik at AOL.COM
Bapopik at AOL.COM
Mon Sep 29 07:37:12 UTC 2003
The RHHDAS has "canary" from 1937-41 Mencken AMERICAN LANGUAGE.
Obviously, Lighter didn't see this publication. It's interesting, perhaps, also for
2 January 1931, HELENA INDEPENDENT (Helena, Montana), pg. 2, col. 5:
_LANGUAGE OF ITS_
_OWN GROWING UP_
_IN MOVIE WORLD_
By ROBIN COONS
Hollywood, Calif., Jan. 1.--(AP_--"The baby is lost but doesn't want
mother, and apples and dollies alike are subjects of indifference to it."
You probably won't hear any movie technicians uttering a sentence like
that, but if you linger around a busy talkie set in a studio here you'll
certainly hear exclamations quite as puzzling--all now officially sanctioned by the
dignified Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, through its technical
bureau which today issued a "selected glossary for the motion picture
The sentence given above, by the way, if utter nonsense, is still
For the glossary reveals "baby" as a "small spotlight, arc or
incandescent;" "lost" is colloquial for "not functioning;" and "mother" is the impression
of the sound record matrix obtained by electroplating. "Apple" is colloquial
for audio-frequency vacuum tube, and a "dolly" is any small rolling
platform--often used to permit or recede from a scene being photographed.
The new compilation is complete with its list of technical terms such as
"aeolight," "H and D curve" and "potentiometer"--we won't go into those--but
includes also the picturesque slang and colloquialism of the sets. For
_Baffle Blankets_--Felt, muslin-covered sheets hung about a set to absorb
_Bug_--An insect that flies across the set during a take, usually spoiling
_Butterlfy_--SIlk cloth on frame used to soft light when making exterior
_Canaries_--Unidentified, high frequency noises in the recording system.
_Dynamite_--An open connection box into which the studio lamps are
plugged--dangerous if stepped on.
_Eagle_--Same as "bug"--but also (probably from the golf term) "a perfect
_Gaffer_--Electrician in charge of a group of electrical workers.
_Gobo_--Portable wall covered with sound-absorbing material, not intended
to be photographed.
_High Hat--A very low camera stand.
_Mike Stew_--Undesired sounds heard by the sound "mixer." (The mixer's
the high mogul of recording, who sits in his sound-proof booth away from the set
and twists dials and screws to assure perfect recording.
_Oscar_--Slang for oscillations.
_Sing_--Undesirable high-frequency oscillations in the recording circuit.
_Spider_--Portable electric switch and contact.
_Whiskers_--A type of pulsation of intensity in reproduced sound. Other
types are known as "flutters" and "gargles."
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