Todd-AO Industry post-production, broadcast media Key people Robert C. Rosenthal
Owner(s) CSS Studios Website www.toddao.com
Todd-AO is a post-production company founded in 1953, providing sound-related services to the motion picture and television industries. The company operates three facilities in the Los Angeles area.
- 1953: Todd-AO formed as a joint venture of Mike Todd and the American Optical Company for the purpose of developing and distributing a large film format presentation system incorporating a wide, curved screen with multi-channel sound.
- 1986: Acquired Glen Glenn Sound.
- 1999: Todd-AO was acquired by Liberty Media Group and became part of its Liberty Livewire entity.
- 2002: Liberty Livewire was re-named Ascent Media Group.
- 2005: Ascent Media Group was spun off from owner, Liberty Media, into Discovery Holding Company.
- 2007: Discovery Holding Company announced a restructuring plan where it intended to spin off its interest in Ascent Media and combine Discovery Communications with Advance/Newhouse Communications into a new holding company . The reorganization was completed on September 17, 2008.
- 2007: The Todd-AO Scoring Stage closed. 
- 2008: What had previously existed as the "Creative Sound Services" division of Ascent Media Group was spun off from Discovery Holding Company to create CSS Studios, LLC, which became a wholly owned subsidiary of Discovery Communications. This transaction included the assets of Todd-AO, Soundelux, Sound One, POP Sound, Modern Music, Soundelux Design Music Group and The Hollywood Edge.
Notable Industry Recognition – Feature Film
Year Award Category Type Title Honorees 2009 Academy Award Best Sound Mixing Nominated Inglourious Basterds Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti,
2007 Academy Award Best Sound Mixing Won The Bourne Ultimatum Scott Millan, David Parker,
2006 Academy Award Best Sound Mixing Won Dreamgirls Michael Minkler, Bob Beemer,
2002 Academy Award Best Sound Won Chicago Michael Minkler, Dominick Tavella,
2001 Academy Award Best Sound Won Black Hawk Down Michael Minkler, Myron Nettinga,
2000 Academy Award Best Sound Won Gladiator Scott Millan, Bob Beemer,
1998 Academy Award Best Sound Won Saving Private Ryan Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson,
Gary Summers, Ronald Judkins
1997 Academy Award Best Sound Nominated L.A. Confidential Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer,
1996 Academy Award Best Sound Nominated Evita Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer,
1995 Academy Award Best Sound Won Apollo 13 Rick Dior, Steve Pederson,
Scott Millan, David MacMillan
1995 Academy Award Best Sound Nominated Braveheart Andy Nelson, Scott Millan,
Anna Behlmer, Brian Simmons
1994 Academy Award Best Sound Nominated Legends of the Fall Paul Massey, David Campbell
Christopher David, Douglas Ganton
1994 Academy Award Best Sound Won Speed Gregg Landaker, Steve Maslow,
Bob Beemer, David R.B. MacMillan
1993 Academy Award Best Sound Nominated Schindler's List Andy Nelson, Steve Pederson,
Scott Millan, Ron Judkins
1992 Academy Award Best Sound Won The Last of the Mohicans Chris Jenkins, Doug Hemphill,
Mark Smith, Simon Kaye
1990 Academy Award Best Sound Nominated Dick Tracy Chris Jenkins, David E. Campbell,
D.M. Hemphill, Thomas Causey
1988 Academy Award Best Sound Nominated Who Framed Roger Rabbit Robert Knudson, John Boyd,
Don Digirolamo, Tony Dawe
1987 Academy Award Best Sound Nominated Empire of the Sun Robert Knudson, Don Digirolamo,
John Boyd, Tony Dawe
1985 Academy Award Best Sound Won Out of Africa Chris Jenkins, Gary Alexander,
Larry Stensvold, Peter Handford
1982 Academy Award Best Sound Won E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Robert Knudson, Robert Glass,
Don Digirolamo, Gene S. Cantamessa
1979 Academy Award Best Sound Nominated 1941 Robert Knudson, Robert J. Glass,
Don MacDougall, Gene S. Cantamessa
1978 Academy Award Best Sound Nominated Hooper Robert Knudson, Robert J. Glass,
Don MacDougall, Jack Solomon
1977 Academy Award Best Sound Nominated Sorcerer Robert Knudson, Robert J. Glass,
Richard Tyler, Jean-Louis Ducarme
1977 Academy Award Best Sound Nominated Close Encounters of the Third Kind Robert Knudson, Robert J. Glass,
Don MacDougall, Gene S. Cantamessa
1976 Academy Award Best Sound Nominated A Star is Born Robert Knudson, Dan Wallin,
Robert Glass, Tom Overton
1973 Academy Award Best Sound Won The Exorcist Robert Knudson, Chris Newman 1972 Academy Award Best Sound Won Cabaret Robert Knudson and David Hildyard 1965 Academy Award Best Sound Won The Sound of Music Todd-AO Sound Department 1963 Academy Award Best Sound Nominated Cleopatra Todd-AO Sound Department 1961 Academy Award Best Sound Won West Side Story Todd-AO Sound Department 1960 Academy Award Best Sound Won The Alamo Tod-AO Sound Department 1959 Academy Award Best Sound Nominated Porgy and Bess Todd-AO Sound Department 1958 Academy Award Best Sound Won South Pacific Todd-AO Sound Department 1957 Academy Award Academy Scientific and Technical Award Won Todd-AO System Todd-AO Corp
1955 Academy Award Best Sound Recording Won Oklahoma Todd-AO Sound Department
Notable Industry Recognition – Television
Year Award Category Type Title Honorees 2011 Emmy Award Sound Mixing – Comedy or Drama Win Family Guy, Road To The North Pole James F. Fitzpatrick, Patrick Clark 2011 Emmy Award Sound Mixing – Comedy or Drama Nomination Mad Men, The Suitcase Ken Teaney, Todd Orr,
2011 Emmy Award Sound Editing – Series Nomination Nikita, Pandora George Haddad, Dale Chaloukian,
Ruth Adelman, Chad J. Hughes
Ashley Revell, James Bailey,
Joseph T. Sabella
2011 Emmy Award Sound Editing – Series Nomination CSI: NY, Life Sentence Mark Relyea, Edmund Lachmann,
David Barbee, Ruth Adelman,
Kevin McCullough, Joshua Winget,
Joseph T. Sabella, James M. Bailey
2010 Emmy Award Sound Mixing – Miniseries or Movie Win The Pacific, Part Two Michael Minkler, Daniel Leahy,
2010 Emmy Award Sound Mixing – Miniseries or Movie Nomination The Pacific, Part Five Michael Minkler, Daniel Leahy,
Craig Mann, Andrew Ramage
2010 Emmy Award Sound Mixing – Miniseries or Movie Nomination The Pacific, Part Eight Michael Minkler, Daniel Leahy,
Marc Fishman, Gary Wilkins
2010 Emmy Award Sound Mixing – Miniseries or Movie Nomination The Pacific, Part Nine Michael Minkler, Daniel Leahy,
2010 Emmy Award Sound Mixing – Comedy or Drama Series Win Entourage, Part Eight Tom Stasinis CAS, Dennis Kirk, Alec St. John
2009 Emmy Award Sound Mixing – Comedy or Drama Win Entourage Tom Stasinis CAS, Dennis Kirk and Bill Jackson 2009 Emmy Award Sound Editing – Series Nomination CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Mace Matiosian, Ruth Adelman,
Jivan Tahmizian, David Van Slyke,
Joseph Sabella, James Bailey.
2008 Emmy Award Sound Mixing, Miniseries or Movie Win John Adams Marc Fishman and Tony Lamberti 2008 Emmy Award Sound Mixing, Miniseries or Movie Nomination John Adams Michael Minkler and Bob Beemer 2008 Emmy Award Sound Editing – Series Nomination CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Mace Matiosian, Ruth Adelman,
Jivan Tahmizian, David Van Slyke,
Chad Hughes, Joseph Sabella, Zane Bruce.
2008 Emmy Award Sound Mixing – Comedy or Drama Nomination Entourage Dennis Kirk and Bill Jackson
It was co-developed by Mike Todd, a Broadway producer, with American Optical Company in Buffalo, New York. It was memorably characterized by its creator as "Cinerama outa one hole". Unlike Cinerama, the process required only a single camera and lens. Four lens options (in focal lengths of 35 mm to 56 mm, 63 mm, 65 mm, or 70 mm) covered a 128, 64, 48 or 37 degree field of view. Films were shot on 65 mm negative and the images printed onto 70 mm print stock (5mm larger to accommodate sound tracks) for projection. The aspect ratio of this format was 2.20:1.
While the 70 mm film width had been used before, most notably in the Fox Grandeur process in 1929–1930, earlier processes are not compatible with Todd-AO due to differences in frame dimensions, perforations and type of soundtrack. Todd-AO actually combined the idea of 65 mm photography with frames 5 sprocket holes tall (also a process with a history extending back to the silent era) with 70 mm wide prints and the magnetic sound that first appeared with CinemaScope, although improved with 6 channels and much better fidelity. The 70 mm print adds 2.5 mm extra down each edge to accommodate some of the soundtracks. Thus the print actually carried 65 mm perforations and the 65 mm negative was contact printed directly to the 70 mm print stock, as the sprocket holes aligned.
As the production and exhibition markets became saturated with Todd-AO System hardware, the focus of the company began to narrow down to the audio post-production side of the business, and Todd-AO became an independent sound mixing facility for commercial motion picture films and television after acquiring Glen Glenn Sound in 1986.
65 mm photography and 70 mm printing became a standard adopted by others. Super Panavision 70 (essentially the Panavision company's version of Todd-AO) and Ultra Panavision 70 (the same mechanically but with a slight 1.25:1 anamorphic squeeze to accommodate extremely wide aspect ratio images) are both 65/70 processes. Other processes creating 70 mm prints conform to the Todd-AO print format.
The Soviet film industry also copied Todd-AO with their own Sovscope 70 process, identical except that both the camera and print stock were 70 mm wide.
The original version of the Todd-AO process used a frame rate of 30 per second, slightly faster than the 24 frames per second that was (and is) the standard. The difference does not seem great, but the sensitivity of the human eye to flickering declines steeply with frame rate and the small adjustment gave the film noticeably less flicker, and made it steadier and smoother than standard processes. The original system generated an image that was "almost twice as intense as any ever seen onscreen before, and so hot that the film has to be refrigerated as it passes through the Todd-AO projector."
Only the first two Todd-AO films, Oklahoma! and Around the World in Eighty Days, employed 30 frame/s photography. Because of the need for a conventional 24 frame/s version the former was shot simultaneously in 35 mm CinemaScope. The latter was shot in a simultaneous 2nd Todd-AO version at 24 frame/s. All subsequent Todd-AO films have been 24 frame/s. About 16 feature films were shot in Todd-AO.
Todd-AO was developed and tested in Buffalo, New York at the Regent Theatre. (The Regent was originally constructed by theater pioneer Mitchell Mark and is still standing and in use as a church.) Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II went there to see Todd-AO test footage, which led them to approve its use for Oklahoma!
The Todd-AO Company (which has since evolved into a sound mixing and audio post-production company) also offered a 35 mm anamorphic process technically similar to 35 mm Panavision or CinemaScope. This may cause some confusion if a Todd-AO credit (not necessarily the more specific Todd-AO 35 credit) appears in some widescreen films made in the 1970s and 1980s. It becomes even more confusing as 70 mm prints were made for films which, unlike earlier pictures made in the process, were shown in multiplexes, like Dune and Logan's Run.
During the late 1970s through the early 1990s 65 mm photography such as that used in processes like Todd-AO or Super Panavision became rare. However, some major films had 70 mm prints made by blowup from 35 mm negatives mostly for the benefit of 6-track sound. These prints would typically play only in a few theatres in a few large cities while everyone else viewed the film in 35 mm. The advent of multichannel digital sound in the 1990s obviated the need for these very expensive prints. "Blow-up" 70 mm prints also followed the Todd-AO layout, although in the case of films made with a 1.85 : 1 aspect ratio, it was retained in the 70 mm version, with the sides of the 70 mm frame left black.
Curved screen vs. flat
While Todd-AO was intended to be "Cinerama out of one hole", the extreme wide angle photography and projection onto a very deeply curved screen (which is what that would imply) saw little use. Most Todd-AO theatre installations had only moderately curved screens and the extreme wide angle camera lenses were used only on a few shots here and there. Todd-AO films made after 1958 used a conventional flat widescreen, and resembled ordinary films except for their greater clarity and 6-track stereo sound. A variation on Todd-AO called Dimension 150 did, however, make use of Cinerama-like deeply curved screens. Only two films were made in Dimension 150 – The Bible: In the Beginning, directed by John Huston, and Patton, starring George C. Scott. In some venues, however, Todd-AO and Dimension 150 films received their first run in Cinerama theatres in order that they be shown on a deeply curved screen – such as the first Atlanta, Georgia showings of The Sound of Music.
Todd-AO and roadshows
Todd-AO films were closely associated with what was called roadshow exhibition. At the time, before multiplex theatres became common, most films opened at a large single screen theatre in the downtown area of each large city before eventually moving on to neighborhood theatres. With the roadshow concept, a film would play, often in 70 mm at a movie palace downtown theatre exclusively, sometimes for a year or more. Often a "hard ticket" policy was in effect, with tickets sold for specific numbered seats, and limited showings per day. Most Todd-AO films through the late 1960s, including Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines and The Sound of Music, were initially shown on a roadshow basis.
In some US cities, individual theaters were converted for use in the 1950s as dedicated Todd-AO "Cinestage" showplaces. These theaters showed exclusive roadshow engagements of Todd-AO and other 70mm films on large, deeply curved screens. They included the Rivoli Theatre in New York City, the Cinestage Theatre in Chicago, and Hunt's Cinestage Theatre in Columbus, Ohio.
The roadshow era ended in the early 1970s.
Todd-AO attempts 35 mm widescreen
In the 1970s, under the leadership of Dr. Richard Vetter, Todd-AO made an attempt to compete with Panavision in the 35mm motion picture camera rental market. The company built a series of anamorphic lenses in the 2.35:1 scope format, and owned a handful of camera bodies, Mitchell and Arriflex, that they would rent out with the lens package.
By the 1980s, the venture was not growing and was abandoned. Eventually all of the Todd-AO cameras and lenses, both 35mm and 65mm (70mm), were sold to Cinema Products in Los Angeles. Cinema Products is now out of business.
Films produced in 70 mm Todd-AO
The following films were produced in the 70 mm Todd-AO format. (This list does not include films photographed in Todd-AO 35 (see above)).
- Oklahoma! (1955) – 30 frame/s (also photographed in Cinemascope)
- Around the World in Eighty Days (1956) – 30 frame/s
- The Miracle of Todd-AO (1956) – 30 frame/s; short subject
- South Pacific (1958)
- The March of Todd-AO (1958) – short subject
- Porgy and Bess (1959)
- Can-Can (1960)
- The Alamo (1960)
- Cleopatra (1963)
- Man in the 5th Dimension (1964) – NYC World's Fair short subject
- The Sound of Music (1965)
- Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965)
- The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)
- The Bible: In the Beginning (1966) – Dimension 150 variant
- Doctor Dolittle (1967)
- Star! (1968)
- Hello, Dolly! (1969)
- Krakatoa, East of Java (1969) – presented in 70 mm Cinerama
- Airport (1970)
- Patton (1970) – Dimension 150 variant
- The Last Valley (1971)
- Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)
- Baraka (1992)
- 70 mm film
- Glen Glenn Sound
- List of 70 mm films
- List of film formats
- Super Panavision 70
- Super Technirama 70
- Ultra Panavision 70
- ^ "Cinema: The New Pictures". Time. October 29, 1956. http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,867209,00.html. Retrieved 2010-10-01.
- ^ Cinema Treasures | Atlanta Theatre
- ^ "Rivoli Theatre". Cinema Treasures. http://cinematreasures.org/theater/555/. Retrieved 2009-06-02.
- ^ "Cinestage Theatre". Cinema Treasures. http://cinematreasures.org/theater/1202/. Retrieved 2009-06-02.
- ^ "Hunt's Cinestage Theatre". Cinema Treasures. http://cinematreasures.org/theater/6901/. Retrieved 2009-06-02.
- Internet Movie Database listing of films shot in Todd-AO
- Todd-AO information from in70 mm.com
- WideScreen Museum history of Todd-AO
- Todd: "Cinerama outa one hole"
- Journal of Film Preservation N° 56 on page 19:
- The history of the Todd-AO projector, known as the DP70
Motion picture film formats Film gauges Film formats35 mm70 mmTodd-AO (1953) · IMAX (1970)35 mm × 3 Aspect ratio standards Video framing issues
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