For some 30 years now, no one has been able to really hear the grand, original, genuine "5-across" Todd-A0 sound mix of the movie "West Side Story". This was a classic mix by legendary mid-century sound mixer, Murray Spivak, created back in 1961, along with the film's director, Robert Wise.

After a very long and painstaking search, the tracks are now in the process of being brought back to life. Shown here are a couple of minutes of the soundtrack audio levels, as displayed by the Dolby DMA-8 device software. In the background, you can more or less actually hear the audio that goes with those levels, except only in luxurious mono (!), along with some projection room noise... The items of particular interest to watch are the bars at the right of the image, and listed as "track 7" and "track 8", which are the playback levels of the long-missing Left Extra and Right Extra tracks. The varying modulation levels prove that the tracks existed, and were a part of the success of the original mix, which was widely admired by many knowledgeable people, and, in fact, won the "Oscar" for Best Sound Mix that year.

This test I photographed was still a somewhat preliminary playback of the final tracks. Now we must wait for MGM to bring it [back] out so we can hear it in its full acoustical glory, played back with a full 70mm print. A full description of the whole restoration project, written by Chace Audio Labs in L.A., can be read here: in70mm.com/news/2010/wss/index.htm

FWIW, seeing these restored audio tracks is the culmination of a small crusade of mine (and a few others) of the last 5 years, more or less. Seeing this 'video' here is a bit of a victory parade for me, because it proves the point I've been making -- the tracks existed. Now (soon), we should be able to really hear them, along with (in a few selected venues) the real 70mm film print!

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