I’m happy to announce that the long-in-progress Blu-ray/DVD combo, Technicolor Dreams and Black and White Nightmares, is finally finished and available on Amazon as of today! The pre-orders will start shipping this week.
This is a project that was slated originally to be our first Blu-ray, before the Gulliver Travels project took a lead. We had originally thought it would be finished at the end of December last year; the trials and tribulations of producing these first two titles had been a real journey, but I’m happy with the results.
It’s been a labor of love to get this collection finished. The films have come from various sources over the years. Some of the films from other collections had been transferred in High Definition, with the idea that they could perhaps be shown in the higher quality format at some point. We wanted our first Blu-ray collection of cartoons to be something special, so the goal was to include films that would be especially beautiful on Blu-ray. It’s been a challenge and a thrill to see the set come together as well as it has. Yesterday I especially enjoyed seeing these projected on the big screen of the College for Creative Studies Auditorium, in Detroit, Michigan.
The goal in doing the digital restoration of the films was (as it was with Gulliver) to keep them looking like film, presenting them as complete and in as good of quality as possible. Special care has been taken to keep the color content / look of the films as close to the original materials as possible, s the framing changes with each film. We’ve cleaned up dust and dirt, but not animation mistakes or cel scratches- those were part of the original film, and I think they should stay that way.
The Snowman presented a particular challenge. The surviving color print is a reissue, with Eshabaugh updating a few scenes. The original was shot with the almost full frame Movietone aperture, with framing of backgrounds that used almost the entire frame for composition. The retakes (including the title sequences) were in the more standard academy aperture. When we attempted to crop the film to Academy throughout to match the smaller aperture, Eshbaugh’s compositions appeared really cropped in many of the scenes, missing the point of the originally designed composition. We decided to keep the around the edges, it allows the viewer to see the shots as close to originally intended as possible.
Eshbaugh is a filmmaker who really should have had more notice; he truly was a pioneer of color in animation, deserving a much more prominent place in animation history. The Disney Studio’s shrewd move in securing the Technicolor Process exclusively for three years is perhaps one of the greatest lessons in securing historical dominance of a medium, so much so that Eshbaugh’s considerable contribution of actually making the first full color animated film (really the first full color film of any kind) is relegated to a foot note. Hopefully, a little less so now.
The set also features a booklet with short essays on some of the films, and a little history behind some of the filmmakers. Special thanks to Mark Kausler, Thad Kommorowski and Bob Jaques for their contributions. John McElwee’s (Greenbriar Picture Shows) help in producing the set was also of great help. His contributions and support were the driving force in moving into the Blu-ray format, so without him, these two sets would not have been produced, at least
not when they were.
There are 15 cartoons on the Blu-ray that are also included on the DVD, restored from original 16mm and 35mm materials. There are additional bonus cartoons on the DVD as well. Here’s the list:
Dolly Doings-A Motoy cartoons 1917
The Wrong Track- Jerry on the Job
Alice Rattled by Rats!- Disney
Playing with Fire- Mutt and Jeff
Goldilocks and the Three Bears- produced for Kodak’s Cinegraph series
Mendelssohn’s Spring Song- Cy Young
The Bandmaster- Oswald
The Snowman- Ted Eshabaugh
A Swiss Trick- Tom and Jerry
The Wizard of Oz- Ted Eshbaugh
Tea Pot Town- Ted Eshbaugh
The Magic Mummy- Tom and Jerry
To Spring- MGM Harman/Ising
The Enchanted Square- Famous Studios
Bonus: Bosko the Talk Ink Kid
The highlights are the set for me are are the 35mm prints of the Ted Eshbaugh films. The Snowman and The Wizard of Oz have been available in various versions, but they’ve never been available *like this*. Seeing The Snowman in color was on my own personal cartoon bucket list, so I’m very happy to make it available on Blu-ray. They look wonderful, as do the rest of the films on the set.
This new collection is available on Amazon. Here is the link
Thanks for everyone’s patience in waiting for this, and everyone’s support on this project. Here is a little sneak preview of the set: