Lumière in Lyon and Gaumont in Paris are industrialists of the photography. This market is growing significantly since the release in the United States in 1888 of the film camera, obsoleting the glass plates: the Kodak. Edison, also in the United States, is able since 1891 to produce motion pictures with perforated film.
For shooting his movies, Léon Gaumont operates the Chronophotographe of Demeny who himself had been the assistant of Marey, the physiologist who studied the movements by taking successive views onto a single plate. From 1911 in Paris, the Gaumont Palace welcomes 3200 spectators.
The first movies are short sequences. The projections are often accompanied by a musician or a singer. In 1907 Gaumont publishes a catalog of "phonoscènes" which are a kit including separately the film for the projection and the record disc for the phonograph. The first titles are songs from the music hall and the opera.
Gaumont attempts the synchronization of picture and sound both in recording and performing. His Chronomégaphone requires two operators connected by telephone to identify the time drifts between image and sound that are offset by a monitoring equipment named the chef d'orchestre.
One of these devices was purchased in 1912 by a young man who was planning to make a fortune in Mexico with his demonstrations of sound cinema.
After a promising start, the experience is interrupted. The low number of available sequences did not allow to maintain a permanent theater and the installation in a tour, which was tempted, was too difficult. The hardware, films, records and even the posters came back to France in 1913 in their four huge original Gaumont containers.
This Chronomégaphone is now surfacing like a time capsule. It is estimated € 1M for sale by Rouillac in the château d'Artigny near Tours on June 7, lot 35. Here is the link to the website of the auction house.
I invite you to watch the video shared by the auction house, including the introduction of the set and one of the 24 films sold within this lot. The film lasts four minutes and thirty seconds with a sound quality which is great for that early time. The digitization was performed by Lobster Films in Paris.