As I’m writing this, late on a Wednesday night, I’m trying to get back into classic animation mode after viewing student work all day. I saw some really beautiful things, and I hope that some of these things will have an effect on the direction of the industry and animation in the coming years. I often think about how working on animation and filmmaking as a career is, like any, a way to pay the bills, but as entertainment it has the ability to live much brighter, entertaining people and having meaning well beyond the time and generation they were created for. It’s been said often, but the creators of the old animated shorts would probably be amazed that so many still have a following and are rediscovered.
I feel like the bigger mission of this blog is as a sort of ‘reader’ for further information on creators and films, for the brave few willing to take that deeper dive. I feel like there’s really just a few of us, in the bigger population, that love these old films enough to want to know this information. In a way, we’re all like the masons of the animated film industry, the few that are champions of the keeping the secrets of history’s past to preserve it, both in researching information and making sure the films are seen.
Sometimes I feel a little like a monk working on these things, scrubbing or repairing films both physically and digitally, then onto the next. Earlier today I got up early to spend just a little time looking at the cleanup we did years ago on Pastrytown Wedding and fixing a whole series of little things I wished we had gotten better on the Classics from Van Beuren Blu-ray. A little after, I was working on physically cleaning Spinning Mice. It’s wonderful to see an old print go from being super dirty to shining again; I’m hoping to get a really nice, clean scan out of it. Only the very beginning is rough on that print, then it’s in great shape with absolutely beautiful color. I can’t wait to see what that one looks and sounds like. While not my favorite, some of the animation is really nice – and getting the set to some consistency of quality is the biggest goal right now. I honestly can’t believe how many we’ve got now in 35mm with original titles- a true dream come true for these films.
Recently, I’ve learned that someone or someplace may have just ended up with 35mm nitrate soundtracks on many of the Rainbow Parades I don’t have in 35mm. I’m fascinated by this since it could be a great upgrade to the material I already have- and maybe a lot of other Van Beuren cartoons. Keep your fingers crossed for that! All of the material we have scanned on this project is cleaned up, leaving us now with only the new ones that just arrived and a few others that are getting upgraded.
Rainbow Parades is a little more difficult to get to the finish line that thought it would be. One of the tasks (I think) may involve me flying to Florida, moving a bunch of things out of the way in a storage unit to get to one or two films to borrow. Sigh! In one way I’m glad the set isn’t done since a great find of rare material just happened, but getting access to it is always another story!
It’s been a crazy time in Thunderbean land. I’m going through a bunch of reels of commercials this week as well, for the new Cartoon Commercials set. This particular material is really exciting to me since I haven’t seen almost *all* of the spots on the reels I’ve been through so far. Great stuff. My two other machines are cranking away on cleanups for the Puppetoon set. Those will all be out of our hands within a month or so. Tomorrow I’m skyping to look at master materials on another new project I’m helping with. There’s so many things going on!
I’m very much looking forward to the last few weeks here for the semester; next week are reviews, and then the student show – and that will be followed by a heavy dive into finishing so many things I’ve been planning on. The biggest thing right now is still dubbing and shipping the finished pre-orders. It’s taking forever to get everything out the door, but I hope to catch up with a lot of that this weekend again. It seems (and is) pretty much never ending right now. Thanks for everyone’s patience.
The closest to being all done right now is the Grotesqueries Blu-ray. That project really only requires getting the ‘Ghosts of High Noon’ sequence to pass muster in HD with the associate producer.
Then, there’s Noveltoons! We did manage to get all the films we have here cleaned up for that set as well, but I still wanted to add an extra title. I’m still waiting on that to get here, but in the meantime I tried to go back and thing about what other cartoons I had seen pop up in 35mm. I remembered a cheapo VHS set from years back that had Hep Cat Symphony on it, and I always wondered if I’d see the print they got it from again, Someone has posted that print on Youtube, so here it is!
It’s one of my favorites of the late 40s Noveltoons. Not only does it have a great soundtrack, but lots of the kinds of cat abuse you’ve come to expect from any famous studio short. Plus, some scatting— something you probably won’t see in any other Famous short. I also wonder if this is the only short where Jackson Beck does the voice of the cat albeit one line. The mice in this short are just as persistent as Popeye’s nephews The print itself is pretty battered but watchable here. I do wish it would have shown up for the project in 35mm.
Have a good week everyone!