Things I’ve Done

Pp1That big piece of equipment in the picture is a Harrison Systems PP-1 post production console. This particular unit is serial number 1 which was delivered to Disney Studios in Burbank in 1979.

Post production audio consoles are used to add the soundtracks to film and television shows. The dialog, special effects, and music all come from diverse recorded sources and are mixed to produce the final product. Note that there are four operator positions at the console. Disney uses a separate engineer to handle the dialog and effects and two to handle music. One guy on music is more common.

One problem that studios faced before console automation was how to handle multiple language releases. It was complicated and expensive to remix a movie from the ground up just to change the dialog. The PP-1 was the first automated console available to the industry. It was an analog console with its main functions such as signal level and routing digitally controlled, and it had a data base system that memorized operator inputs 30 times per second. With the effects and music under computer control, redubbing dialog is much simpler. 35 years later, this level of automation is commonly available on a Mac or PC.

I was one of the engineers who designed the PP-1. My main contributions were the 3-/5-channel plus surround panning circuits, the monitor system, the low-noise processor master clocking system (there are over 50 microprocessors running in sync), and the Autograph. The Autograph was a fully automated reverse engineering job of the industry-standard Cinema Engineering passive graphic equalizer.

Our team started working the initial design of the PP-1 in November, 1978. Serial Number 1 was delivered to Disney in May, 1979, and commissioned over the next couple of months. The first feature film to use it was The Black Hole.

14 thoughts on “Things I’ve Done

  1. Wow, so according to your antagonist, group accomplishments mean nothing? Even when you state, pretty clearly, what your INDIVIDUAL accomplishments are within them?

    I guess in his mind, writers, poets and comedians have more value than scientists and engineers. Most of the time, even if someone has a breakthrough moment, it takes a team to find the best way to produce and utilize something…

  2. Excellent work!
    Teamwork multiplies and amplifies individual efforts.
    Those who don’t understand that truth will often cast themselves as “rugged individualists” [our favorite lies are those we tell ourselves], and are quite often surprised and dismayed at their continued failure to produce results.

  3. Neil Armstrong? What a poser! Worked with a group (NASA). No individual achievements.

    And neither Watson nor Crick could manage that DNA identification without the other. Losers!

    Gilbert and Sullivan? Same deal.

    Cabin Boy Bill managed to pen the timeless Essay on Forced Anal Sex, alone! With one hand!

    • I have to make sure not to be drinking a beverage when I read your tweets or comments. They often end up going out my nose.

  4. I just purchased a Harrison PP1 console that came out of Warner Brothers. It’s a smaller (sidecar?) 22x16x2 with 2 auxes. I’m planning on recapping it, possibly throwing in some National LME49720NA quad opamp in place of the 535’s and 5532’s per the advice of Mr. Jim Williams. Any advice you could offer on this console, or how to properly restore her would be GREATLY appreciated! I’ve been looking everywhere for schematics, but I’m guessing they’ll be nearly impossible to find.

  5. I just purchased a Harrison PP1 console that came out of Warner Brothers. It is a 22x16x2 configuration with 2 auxes and appears to be a smaller sidecar. It’ll need a good recapping, and I may try putting some National LME49720NA quad opamp in place of the 535’s and 5532’s per the advice of Mr Jim Williams. Anyway, thank you VERY MUCH for your post about this awesome console! There is very little info out there about these consoles, finding schematics has been a dead end. Any advice/info you can offer me about this gorgeous console, or how to go about properly restoring it would be GREATLY appreciated! Thanks again!

  6. Sending readers your pervert emails, Hoggy? “This is one I wrote to a 10-year old girl. Oh how my weewee stood tall!”

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