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A sound film is a motion picture with synchronized sound, or sound technologically coupled to image, as opposed to a silent film.
The first known public exhibition of projected sound films took place in Paris in 1900, but decades passed before sound motion pictures were made commercially practical.
Beginning in 1914, The Photo-Drama of Creation, promoting Jehovah's Witnesses' conception of mankind's genesis, was screened around the United States: eight hours worth of projected visuals involving both slides and live action were synchronized with separately recorded lectures and musical performances played back on phonograph.
Meanwhile, innovations continued on another significant front.
By the early 1930s, the talkies were a global phenomenon.
In the United States, they helped secure Hollywood's position as one of the world's most powerful cultural/commercial centers of influence (see Cinema of the United States).
On February 27, 1888, a couple of days after photographic pioneer Eadweard Muybridge gave a lecture not far from the laboratory of Thomas Edison, the two inventors privately met.
Muybridge later claimed that on this occasion, six years before the first commercial motion picture exhibition, he proposed a scheme for sound cinema that would combine his image-casting zoopraxiscope with Edison's recorded-sound technology.
The two devices were brought together as the Kinetophone in 1895, but individual, cabinet viewing of motion pictures was soon to be outmoded by successes in film projection.
In 1899, a projected sound-film system known as Cinemacrophonograph or Phonorama, based primarily on the work of Swiss-born inventor François Dussaud, was exhibited in Paris; similar to the Kinetophone, the system required individual use of earphones.
An improved cylinder-based system, Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre, was developed by Clément-Maurice Gratioulet and Henri Lioret of France, allowing short films of theater, opera, and ballet excerpts to be presented at the Paris Exposition in 1900.
Reliable synchronization was difficult to achieve with the early sound-on-disc systems, and amplification and recording quality were also inadequate.
Innovations in sound-on-film led to the first commercial screening of short motion pictures using the technology, which took place in 1923.