THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
February 21, 2019 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Working with the Animated Films of George Pal and “The Puppetoon Movie 2”

Even though things are incredibly busy with Thunderbean, I love helping on non-Thunderbean projects. This week, I helped to put some of the finishing touches on Tommy Jose Stathes’ beautiful Bobby Bumps set. The quality of the films in this set is a revelation. As small producers have attained better access to high quality digital tools, it has made the workflow on projects like these much easier to afford on the non-large studio budgets we work with. I’m astonished at what Tom and his crew have been able to accomplish on this set, and as it goes into its final tweaking, I’m happy to be a part of helping to put some icing on it.

One of the other major side projects I’ve been working on is digital restoration/ cleanup on the second volume of George Pal’s Puppetoons for independent producer Arnold Liebovit. Arnie, more than any other person I know of, is obsessed with the preservation and presentation of the Pal studios animation, both in Holland and the States. This is an excellent pursuit in that so much of the wonderful work Pal produced is barely visible, even for those seeking out the unique work his studio produced.

Happiness is the main emotional content of many of the Puppetoons over the years, and the cartoony antics are especially fun in many of the early shorts. Most of the shorts I’ve been working on I had never seen (or even heard of) before. This collection is truly unique in this way.

Because the majority of what Pal produced was in color, and because of the nature of how they were shot (often with quite dramatic and varied lighting), prints made in later years often betrayed both the color content and contrast of these films, leaving us with often very muddled impressions of what they looked like. Seeing 35mm Technicolor prints of many of these is just wonderful, and the real benefit of good scans and careful mastering is being able to actually see what the shorts really looked like in theaters.

I was always interested in seeing many more of the Puppetoons, but rarely have found decent prints of them. On occasion, a print would be available in the collector’s market, but almost always these were NTA prints with faded color. Nearly all the shorts I collected were reddish, and when The Puppetoon Movie came out, it was a revelation to me. This new collection spans nearly the entire history of the Puppetoons series as well as Pal’s animation career, from the early to mid-30s cel animation into the late 40s.

Much of what Pal produced in Holland in the 30s were advertising films. Two of his biggest clients were Horlick’s Malted Milk and Phillips Electronics. Some of these films were distributed to the nom movie market in both black and white and Kodachrome prints.

Perhaps the one that fascinates me most is Radio Rohre Revolution (1934) an advertising short for Phillips that looks like a retro version of 30s animation (you could swear it’s footage made for Cuphead rather than an actual 1930s cartoon). This little 4 1/2 minute short has great music, and film damage and mis-color alignment that seems almost purposeful; there’s something really charming about seeing film damaged in this way (and Gaspercolor’s not-so-perfect alignment). The restoration program I’ve been using on this short re-aligns color layers, and I’ve been working manually on this short to try to get the automatic aspects to work well with the system.

There are odd other challenges abound in cleaning these films up. The 2k scans themselves are wonderfully detailed, but are generally scanned from non-wet gated 35mm prints— some in excellent shape, and others with quite a bit of wear. So far, we’ve run an auto clean pass on the 18 films, some with multiple elements, and have finished up several more. It’s so far been a long road to finishing these ones, but we’re getting there. I’m very happy to be a part of helping on this project, making the films look as good as possible. Here’s a set of frames from the films we are working on (click to enlarge):

Leibovit is funding the set personally and through his website. The pre-order/ fundraiser page for The Puppetoon Movie, Volume 2, here.

Have a great week everyone!

24 Comments

  • Jasper Goes Hunting ! ! !

    • “Jasper Goes Hunting” has been restored with the help of ASIFA and hopefully will be included on the release along with other Paramount Puppetoons. They may include: “A Hatful of Dreams” (also with the help of ASIFA), “Gaye Knighties”, “Good Night Rusty”, “The Truck That Flew”, “Jasper’s Derby” all from the Paramount 3 Strip IB Technicolor successive negatives. Further restoration will required of these and others. I have to see how many subjects have so far been restored and where we are with the funding. Your continued donations will greatly help to advance the cause and the number of Puppetoons included.

      For details and contributions:
      https://www.scifistation.com/puppetoon2.html

      Gratefully,
      Arnold Leibovit
      Producer-Director
      talkring@yahoo.com
      http://www.scifistation.com

  • Hey Steve:
    This isn’t really about Puppetoons ,but is your own Popeye in Technicolor set still happening?
    I REALLY enjoy the set Warners put out and I was wondering if your own set is still in the works. You have so much great stuff coming up soon like Flip, and upgraded Noveltoons.
    I hear your also doing a SCREEN SONGS. Is it Fleischer. Famous, or a little bitt of both?
    Please Reply”

    Chris

  • Love the Puppetoons. As soon as this was announced, I kicked in. Thank you, Steve, for helping make this happen!

  • The sadness about The Puppetoon Movie is that the original credits were trimmed in that specific film although all the Puppetoons included in the extras are uncut. I’m wondering if Puppetoon 2 will be the same…
    The original Variety Girl segment was presented in Technicolor but I think it’s lost…

    In the 1940 MGM’s musical “Strike Up the Band” M.Rooney and J. Garland there’s a segment done by George Pål at the time he just arrived in Hollywood. He was relatively unknown by American audiences, thus he was uncredited.

    • All the Puppetoons in Volume 2 will be complete
      Thanks
      Arnold

    • MARTIN AF, do we have proof George Pal was responsible for that segment? The models were created/designed by Henry Rox, who was basically known for his fruit characters, and was credited in the opening titles.

  • I wish I could afford to be part of the Kickstarter, but it is too rich for my blood. I know I’m going to miss out on a lot of good stuff.

    • Agreed 100%; $110 is just too much for one combo. $50 would be much more reasonable and on a par with similar Kickstarter film restoration release projects.

  • Will “Jasper and the Haunted House” be from the negative instead of Pal’s personal print, therefore not containing any splices?

    • Should “Jasper & The Haunted House” be included it will likely come from an excellent condition 35mm IB Tech nitrate print that has been restored.

      Arnold

    • Is it not going to be the beaten up print IB Tech print used for the first Blu-ray?

    • To Paramount Cartoons:
      Again should “Jasper and the Haunted House” be included on Vol 2 or further Volumes it will be scanned from a much better nitrate IB Tech print.
      Thanks
      Arnold

  • Has anyone tried compiling a complete up-to-date filmography of what Pal did in Europe prior to emigrating to the US? It’s this period that fascinates me the most, especially the earlier hand-drawn efforts I’ve never even heard of prior to the fundraiser.

  • There really needs to be a $50 option in which you get one Blu-ray/DVD combo without screen credit. That would be on par with most Kickstarters of this type, many of which I’ve contributed to. $110 a pop is too much. I’ll have to wait until it’s released to the general public, I guess.

    • Dear Jeffrey, Ron and others. Unfortunately this is a fund raiser for the project itself, not the purchase of a Blu-ray/DVD. I wish it was so. The costs involved in terms of the literally years of film archeology, rights-clearances from archives around the world, 2K DPX scanning, the time consuming restoration process, Blu-ray/DVD authoring-artwork-packaging-menuing-subtitling and are all frankly astronomical. $100 is a small price to pay for something as labor time intensive as this. All contributors for a Blu-ray/DVD will now receive either a screen or booklet credit. Similar projects coming out of Kino Lorber for instance are in $100 price range. It’s either that or never being able to see something this historic come to fruition. So far I am gratefully to the many friends who have already contributed and continue to do so daily. Hopefully others will see the importance and value of this work and will decide to come onboard. All the best, Arnold

  • Although I wasn’t planning on spending $110 on a Kickstarter campaign when I woke up this morning as soon as I saw Puppetoon Movie 2 I didn’t hesitate. Thank you and thank you, Arnold for continuing to preserve Puppetoons.

    • Thank you for your kindness John!
      All the best,
      Arnold

  • Hi Arnold and thank you for your yesterday’s response about complete Puppetoons Original Credits on the upcoming Part 2.

    I agree with you about the rocketing expenses to put up this fantastic set, so $ 110 to me it’s a fair price even though yesterday you posted a choice in the amount of $ 75 and $ 95.

    Next week you will have my contribution for your and Steve Stanchfield extraordinary efforts in putting this magnificent set up in the hands of collectors. Big Thanks

    • Thanks in advance Martin lending a hand to this very important and historic cause!
      Kindest regards,
      Arnold

  • The more I hear about this project, the more excited I get to snag the final product! Although I obviously cannot fully appreciate the visual on the final product, I’m sure that the sound quality will also be greatly improved, and that is good enough. Some of the titles slated for restoration are among the most fondly remembered of the series from literally seeing the grainy black and white telecasts on early morning TV in the early 1960’s. If it turns out that funding has been more successful than expected and additions to the proposed list of titles is an option, that will just be icing on the delicious cake. Meanwhile, again, thank you to the efforts of all those involved, and I’m sure the ultimate release will be discussed on all important forums! Also, Steve, good luck in also preparing the other grand sets already promised from Thunderbean.

  • This looks like it could be a quite thrilling release. I pushed for the Blu-ray release of the first Puppetoon Movie to be Animated Views’ disc of the year, and it remains one of my favourite discs ever. I wish you the best of luck with the project, and I’ll be happy to support it.

    • Thanks so much Randall. I am grateful for your support!
      Kind regards,
      Arnold

  • i used to watch the old puppetoons when new york’s WABC ch.7 had them in the 60s,i’d love to have a DVD of them.i saw a few on the internet archive website and youtube and it was fabulous!

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