Yesterday was a film transfer day, taking up the late morning into early afternoon. They’re some of my favorite experiences in putting together the DVD (and now Blu-ray) sets because you never know what you’re going to see really- at least I don’t!
I’ve made it a habit to never run a print of any borrowed for transfer film on a projector, usually. With nitrate prints of course that’s a given, but I usually will borrow something with the idea that when I first see the film it’s in the actual transfer session. There were things that made me smile all the way through the session- and three hours of smiling is never a bad thing these days.
One of the projects I’ve been working on for over three years, and there’s almost ALWAYS some element I’m transferring from this specific series. We’ve been getting materials from around the world on that project; sometimes two or more prints are used to make a complete version. Sometimes the film looks better projected, other times you can do some adjustments and get a much nicer transfer than the print actually was. This time around I didn’t get to the reels with this on them, but will try next week. That project is in a holding pattern, at least for the moment. All the nitrate is at least transferred that needed to be and it can go happily home- where it belongs!Today’s films for transfer were mostly Black and White and silent, with a few exceptions. This film, Hector the Pup, was one of the exceptions. It’s a recent find in 35mm nitrate, and I was thrilled to be able to borrow it- since it will be a while before it shows up on any Thunderbean release, I thought I’d share it here, still hot from the transfer session (I’m actually GLAD the Telecine room is cool since we’re doing nitrate films).
I won a fairly beat up 16mm print of this on Ebay many years back. I remember showing this at Cinevent in Columbus Ohio, and watching that very warped 16mm print barely make it through the projector, curling up behind the projector as it came out, creating a huge mess! That print was so warped that I used another’s collector’s copy for the body of the film on Stop Motion Marvels. The set features many of the somewhat rare silent ‘Kinex films’ shorts, produced in Hollywood from 1928 through 1930.
This film was made in 1935 and appears to be the last of the stop motion shorts that John Burton animated. It shares a kinship with the earlier films he worked on at Kinex as well as having basically the same character in it that his earlier film, Pepper the Pup (1931) has. His animation and techniques were improving as evidenced in this short. Burton was hired as a production manager at Schlesinger’s in 1936, eventually rising to head of production at Warner Brothers. This and other independent animated shorts were distributed by the small Screen Attractions Corporation, including Les Elton’s Monkey Doodle and the lesser seen Hobo Hero.
Years back, Seamus Walsh and Mark Cabellero of the Stop Motion Studio Screen Novelties were kind enough to do a commentary for this short on the DVD. I can’t wait to hear what they think of this better print….
Seeing a now at least decent print of the film allows us to see just how good Burton’s Stop Motion animation was, and how nice many of the techniques are as well. Had he continued, I think he would have started to master better posing, weight and timing even more- it’s sort of a hint as to what this particular animator could be capable of.
If you look at the credits, you’ll notice the music is by Arch B. Fritz. The score is really by Carl Stalling, who used this same identity in at least one other cartoon..
It was great seeing it today in such better quality- look closely (and make sure to turn on the HD in the settings on youtube!) to get some indication of how Burton accomplished some of the tricks – many of them holdovers from the Kinex ways of doing things, now improved. Enjoy.