Soundies are three-minute American musical films, produced between 1940 and 1947, each displaying a song, dance, and/or band or orchestral number. Produced professionally on 35 mm black-and-white film, like theatrical motion pictures, they were printed on the more portable and economical 16 mm film.
The films were shown in a coin-operated "movie jukebox" named the Panoram, manufactured by the Mills Novelty Company of Chicago. Each Panoram housed a 16 mm RCA film projector, with eight Soundies films threaded in an endless-loop arrangement. A system of mirrors flashed the image from the lower half of the cabinet onto a front-facing screen in the top half. Each film cost 10 cents to play, with no choice of song; the patron saw whatever film was next in the queue. Panorams could be found in public amusement centers, nightclubs, taverns, restaurants, and factory lounges, and the films were changed weekly. The completed Soundies were generally made available within a few weeks of their filming, by the Soundies Distributing Corporation of America.
Several production companies filmed the Soundies shorts in New York City, Hollywood, and Chicago: James Roosevelt's Globe Productions (1940–41), Cinemasters (1940–41), Minoco Productions (owned by Mills Novelty, 1941–43), RCM Productions (1941–46), LOL Productions (1943), Glamourettes (1943), Filmcraft Productions (1943–46), and Alexander Productions (1946) led by William D. Alexander). The performers recorded the music in advance, and mimed to the soundtrack during filming.