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):
Fleischer Classics featuring ‘Gulliver’s Travels’
Max 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:
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