THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
August 22, 2013 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Fleischer Fun, Part 2: “Gulliver’s Travels” and “Modeling” Restored!

Out Of The Inkwell: “Modeling”

Here is the Fleischer cartoon Modeling from 1921. It’s fairly early in the Fleischer Brother’s productions, and features some great early Stop Motion animation as well. This 35mm full frame Nitrate print showed up on Ebay about six or seven years back. I’m currently working on digital restoration of this print for the upcoming Fleischer Classics‘ BluRay (see below for more details about this set).

Here are some stills from the film featuring a Max and a young Roland Crandall, a Fleischer animator who also served as an actor here (click on the thumbnail images to enlarge):

modeling5modelong2modeling3modeling6

Fleischer Classics featuring ‘Gulliver’s Travels’

gulliver_onesheet300Max Fleischer’s Gulliver’s Travels (1939) has always been a favorite film of mine, having seen in multiple times growing up. I remember running home from school more than once to see what I could of the afternoon movie on WGPR, channel 62 in Detroit. They showed the film almost monthly it seemed. I wound up usually catching the scene in the film where the spies haul ‘Gulliver’s Thunder Machine’ up the cliff to shoot Gulliver with his own weapon. More recently I found out that WGPR sometimes broadcast from the old Jam Handy studio for some of their programs!

I was lucky enough to meet animator/ director Myron Waldman and his wife Rosalie in the mid- 90′s. Myron pointed out shots he animated on Gulliver as we watched a VHS tape of it, including pieces of the spies shoving the ‘cannonball’ inside the gun. That copy left a lot to be desired!

You’d think by now there would be an amazing version of Gulliver available since the film in Public Domain and that there are a lot of prints out there. As I went looking, I found lots of acceptable copies over the years, but nothing beyond just ok, and usually only from a 16mm print. Funny enough, last year Jerry Beck sent some of the collectors out to look for the best copy possible of Gulliver (for his TCM broadcast), and this quest led to finding some good material… though sadly too late for the purpose originally needed.

I’ve known collectors who had a 35mm print, and on occasion I was beat to the punch in buying one. I did find half the film a few years back from a collector in 35mm Technicolor- with water damage through much of the reels. It was a thrill to see the film in such clarity, but the reels are basically only good for replacement footage.

I was able to get access to an excellent 35mm print in Technicolor this year, and with a little coaxing from fellow animation fans I did an HD transfer of it. It looks astonishing in HD- but needed LOTS of cleanup for dust, dirt and other damage. It’s extensive cleanup, but worth it in that it looks just beautiful. I’ve supplemented this print with materials from two other prints to complete the splices and other small damage inherent in projected materials. The most amazing thing for me on this project is fully appreciating just how beautiful so much of the background work is on this film, seeing so many details I never saw on 16mm film prints or DVD.

I won’t make any claims that there is more picture showing here than other additions, or that the Fleischer family entrusted only us to do it right or anything like that-it’s just an honest transfer of the original film as it was made, in the correct aspect ratio, with extensive, time consuming digital restoration to remove print defects (and not lines on the characters) but not ‘over’ cleaned up or enhanced beyond what the film looked like. In addition to Gulliver, the set features eight other Fleischer Cartoons, from 35mm and 16mm prints. I’m having a great time working on this set. Right now we’re debating on including a standard def DVD with the set. The package art was recently completed by artist Stewart McKissick. A sneak preview of the cover art is below. Before that, here are some stills from the transfer (pre-restoration) – click thumbnails to enlarge:

gulliver12gulliver11gulliver7gulliver6
gulliver5gulliver9gulliver1gulliver4
gulliver3gulliver2gulliver10gulliver8

Gulliver_box_big2

There are a handful of DVDs/BluRays in the Thunderbean pipeline right now. The Gulliver project is stretching Thunderbean’s small company resources, but it’s chugging right along. John McElwee at Greenbriar Picture Shows has lent a huge hand in mastering the BluRay on the project – something that insured it would get finished sooner than later!


EDITOR’S NOTE: Now its your turn to help Steve finish the project this year. Thunderbean is offering a special pre-order of the set this week to help with the costs of an additional workstation and cleanup on the project. This special offer is available for one week only, and includes the final BluRay when finished as well as a 35mm IB Technicolor strip of 24 frames from the film (taken from non-damaged parts of water damaged reels). The pre-release set is available on Amazon and will vanish after this week. The discs will be sent when the project is finished (we’re hoping before the end of the year). Thanks to Steve for making this exclusive offer to Cartoon Research readers – and for everyone’s support of Thunderbean and these classic animation projects! - Jerry Beck

50 Comments

  • Shut up and take my money!!

  • Pre-ordered. Dying to see the results. THANK YOU!

  • Finally. Also pre-orderded. Thank you for all the great work Thunderbean is doing.

    Ironically, the Koch Vision blu-ray version of “Gulliver’s” is still on sale at Amazon as well — for 65¢ more.

    • Collector’s item, for all wrong reasons.

  • This is only limited?

  • Wow… just wow!

    Incredible work, Steve.

  • Definitely ordering this no matter what, but it would be nice to know what other cartoons are included. I don’t see them here or on the Amazon page – ? Or is that still being decided?

    • I kind of like a surprise :)

      Some are already decided, but so far for sure are: Modeling (35mm Nitrate transfer), Ding Dong Doggie (Pudgy), one of the Gabby shorts, In My Merry Oldsmobile (35mm Nitrate), and a color classic (35mm).

    • Ding Dong Doggie? Oooh! I was wondering if you were going to put that on this set. I assume you’re using that print with most of the original opening titles intact that you put on one of your past IAD Forums special discs. I’m interested in how the restoration of that one will turn out, since the aforementioned print is missing the Paramount logos and the “Adolph Zukor Presents a Max Fleischer Cartoon” title. The unique transitions in the original titles are really cool!

      The other stuff sounds really cool. This set will be awesome.

  • Thunderbean comes through again! This is GREAT news, and I’ve placed my order. Can’t wait to see it. Thanks!

  • Finally a Fleischer Studios masterpiece it’s coming the way it should be viewing it!….I hope Mr. Bugs its Coming to Town with original Paramount Credits is next….

    • Paramount still owns Mr. Bug FYI.

  • Just Pre ordered! Thanks!

  • Does anyone know if the funds will be taken directly or if they will wait until the product is shipped, like most pre-orders? I’d rather it be taken right away so I’m not “reminded” of it later on down the road.

  • Please include a stanard-def disc, or make a standard-def version available separately. At the moment, DVD is a lot less inaccessible and cumbersome than Blu-Ray.

    • I’m at about 90% sure that we’ll have a standard def disc with it. It’s under a dollar to include it with the package.

    • Thanks Steve, as there are certainly many folks on DVD (with some not planning to change).

  • “Gulliver’s Travels” is one of my favorite animated movies. I’m glad this is coming out!

    Steve, when you release this on Blu-ray, please release it on regular DVD too. I don’t have a Blu-ray player. Thanks.

    BTW, thanks for giving this movie the proper treatment and the respect it deserves.

  • Uh guys…they are including a DVD in the package too. There will also be a digital copy for devices and computers.

    I was just blown away by the short, Modeling…the humor and the skill is just mindboggling. The Fleischers were geniuses. I must buy this. Thanks for taking the time and trouble to do it justice. Now if only the Betty Boops could get this kind of treatment.

  • Ordered and waiting! Any chance we could see a sample of the transfer in action? Grabs are nice, but a little motion would be better.

  • Stewart McKissick was my illustration teacher at CCAD!!
    Nice cover Stew!!

    I will be buying this set right away. I would love to see other Blu-ray releases from you Steve. Your sets in my opinion are the only must have classic cartoon sets on the market right now.

    • Yeah, that’s an excellent cover, Stewart. Nice job!

  • Saw this posted over at Bluray.com This is fantastic. Putting in a pre-order.

  • Pre-ordered Gulliver and the Walter Lantz rarities as well. Buy Steve’s stuff already.

  • Seeing Gulliver restored will be a real treat, but if Steve wishes to reveal, what will be the other eight shorts? I see Popeye and Betty Boop as well as Koko on the cover, so we know that Popeye will make his blu-ray debut; take that Warner Bros. Too bad Olive beat Steve to the punch when it came to Betty Boop though. I’m sure it will have Paramount titles though.

  • Just ordered my copy. Thank you for doing this!

  • Ooh, I can’t wait to get a copy of this, and I don’t mind the extra cartoons being a surprise, although I would hazard a guess that most of ‘em would be the related GABBY cartoons, some of which I like and remember being in heavy rotation on our local channel 11, back then WPIX. And, yes, I’d love it, too, if this turned out to be a blu-ray/DVD combo or something like that.

    Steve, when will projects like this get so good that the big studios will let you lift the films from their fast-decaying libraries for your collections? Yeah, imagine Warner Brothers allowing Steve to come in and lift some of those cherished 1930′s cartoons that they keep overlooking. Surely, *THEY* don’t want to do this, so why not allow a dedicated animation historian like Steve? It’s a labor of love for people like him! I’d put myself in there if I had the abilities and facilities to do such jobs!! Bravo, as always, Steve, and thanks.

    • It may be a labor of love to Steve, but for the major studios it all comes down to money. If they license at all–and some of them don’t–it’s all dollars and cents, not a burning need to make this material available. “This is how much it’ll cost you to license these titles. Too expensive? Whatever. The stuff can sit in the vaults.” Oh, there are individuals at these companies who would love to see this stuff released by anyone who’d give it the TLC it deserves, but unfortunately, the bean counters have the final say.

  • Besides the 8 cartoons,
    What bonus features are included on this blu-ray?
    (still galleries, theatrical trailers & commentaries, etc)

  • *SIGH* Between Cavalcade and my utilities this month, pre-ordering this isn’t an option this month. I’ll just have to wait for the release itself. Looks beautiful! Another worthy effort from Thunderbean.

  • Preordered mine!! Best no-brainer purchase, ever!!!

  • I have “Modeling” on one of the Popeye sets from Warner Bros. This print here looks WAY better. I can see the details in everything, including the chunk of clay that Max throws at Koko.

  • Pre-ordered! Looking forward to this and the final product! ^_^

  • A Xmas short, like “Christmas Comes But Once A Year,” would be great! Looking forward to this.

  • Pre-ordered on Amazon! Take your time, Steve. I know the result will be EXCELLENT! :-) Leave the mono sound in uncompressed PCM…

  • Pre-order completed; now if only I knew someone with a Blu-ray player and TV to match in order to appreciate this restoration in all its glory… As for the bonus cartoons, I’m willing to be surprised, though I hope the Gabby short is “King for a Day”, by far my favorite of that series.

  • A correction: Most PD releases of Gulliver don’t come from 16mm. The majority of them come from a 35mm source – a nitrate IB Tech print with Paramount titles. (And I would not be surprised if most of the cheapo releases are ripped straight from the Image Entertainment laserdisc.)

    • Though also, there were earlier releases that did come from horrible copies. The absolute worst I’ve seen was the Kartes “Video Film Classics” release, which did indeed come from an “NTA Red” 16mm print.

  • I’m definitely in it for IN MY MERRY OLDSMOBILE, but I think I might know what the Color Classic is… :)

  • pre-ordered. It was the news of Steve’s announcement of his first blu-ray titles that got me to buy a blu-ray player.

    Looking forward to seeing this, and his Technicolor Dreams and Black and White Nightmares set as well. :)

  • Ordered! I can’t wait for this! :)

  • Must be sold out. It just told me it’s currently unavailable.

  • The pre-release sold more copies than I thought it would! Thanks to everyone. I’ve listed more pre-release copies now.

  • This will definitely be strong candidate for “Animation DVD Set of the Year.”

  • Any progress updates to report?

  • Since some of Fleischer’s works are in the process of restoration, what possibility might there be of a scoop up of the Superman shorts produced by Fleischer and Famous Studios? The PD releases are from pretty worn looking sources and are oftentimes chopped up/tinkered with/altered in sometimes peculiar ways. The Warner Bros dvd set looks like it was sourced from better materials than the typical PD releases, but that set has its own moments (prints not cleaned up too much as far as scratches and other distractions, wrong music tacked on in places) – I’d love some transfers from 35 mm Tech prints where the visual and audio quality are given the Thunderbean treatment…

  • Dear Mr. Stanchfield,

    I can’t express how happy and impressed I am by the job you’re doing to this film! I’m moved by it!
    Seeing your work I wish Disney had you in charge of the restoration of its animation films!
    This is how a restoration should be done:
    -no cropping of aspect ratios
    -no enhancements, grain removal etc.
    -no change of colors

    I wish you had done the restoration of “Beauty and the Beast”, because it’s my favourite film of all time, and the Bluray had radical changes of colors (although most people praise the release as one of the best).
    Anyway, I’m so glad we will be seeing Gulliver’s Travels the way we should !
    THANK YOU very much, and I can’t express my gratitude on your devotion!

  • Got my strips of film from Gulliver’s Travels the other day – thanks, Steve!

  • How do I order this Gulliver’s Travels?

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