Only a beginning
A look at technology used during general conference in April 1950 gives an indication of the desire to disseminate the word to members with the latest advancements of the day. However, it also makes one appreciate the technology available in 1992.Frank S. Wise, director of film productions for Deseret Book Co., recorded the 1950 conference on 16mm sound film by using a periscope device reaching down through the Tabernacle floor into a basement compartment. In the compartment, he photographed the reflection by remote controls, operating the system from the television platform on the south balcony.
An article in the Deseret News Church Section, April 9, 1950, explains that he would photograph the conference with a flashing device turned on by pushing a button. The device allowed him to synchronize film from the two cameras with minimum delay during processing.
Another improvement was made to support the whole optical system from the foundation, making it independent of building vibrations. But Elder Wise found one drawback - the receptacle-like top of the periscope passage resembled a waste paper box. "Even orange peels have been tossed into the box, almost hitting me in the eye," Elder Wise reported with a wry smile, the article stated.
The 16mm motion picture film was recorded to be shown in missions, wards and stakes of the Church, the article explained. More than 700 wards of the Church were equipped to show the 16mm sound film, to be shown in Sunday School classes, firesides and at other meetings.
While the film added to the many materials already provided for members to hear conference messages, it was only a beginning to what is available now. Many members don't think twice today about having conference telecast right in their home on television, or to see conference on the Church satellite system in their local meetinghouse.
And to have conference translated into 16 different languages in a matter of moments for viewers is remarkable. This October's conference marked a first with one session being translated into Hungarian and another into Russian, transmitted via shortwave radio to members in those countries. It's all part of the technology advances of the worldwide Church with more than 8 million members. - Sheridan R. Sheffield
(Another in a series of "Conference Moments." Illustration by Deseret News artist Reed McGregor.)