THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
January 15, 2015 posted by

‘2K’ or Not To ‘K’… That Is The Question!

2k or not to ‘K’… that is the question of the week. The Willie Whopper fine grains arrive!

Willie_masters-600

Things are starting to move right along on the new projects!

In addition to ‘Flip the Frog‘, there will be also be a Willie Whopper Blu-ray from Thunderbean, gathering all the Willie Whopper cartoons for the first time on any home video format. Some of the Willie Whopper material has arrived for transfer, and we hope to have the first batch transferred in the next week or so. In the batch are 35mm fine grain composite masters of 4 cartoons, plus a 35mm color print of another and a 16mm of one. Some of these seem to only exist in these 35mm safety elements. Several of them also have Nitrate materials that exists, so we hope to transfer these and compare to the nitrate elements as well to use the best of the material. I’m especially excited to see Willie being introduced by Leo the Lion in color.

Willie will likely be done and available before the Flip set. There are 14 cartoons in the series, and we plan some bonus cartoons for the set as well. MGM tried to give the series a push in publicity. (click thumbnails below to see Willie Whopper publicity images)

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Original drawing from "The Caveman" (1934)

Original drawing from “The Caveman” (1934)

The big choice this week is *how* to start scanning the material. There’s all sorts of options, and since the undertaking is a bigger project, it makes some sense financially the do HD transfers for everything. There is also the option of transferring this material in a higher resolution, such at 2k or even 4k. 2k nearly doubles the resolution of HD, therefore making it easier in some ways to do the digital cleanup work. It’s more expensive and doesn’t allow any adjustment in transfer beyond setting a basic light (with adjustments being done later). If we had huge budgets here I’d really like to do everything 4k (four thousand pixels), since this would be scanning at the full resolution of 35mm film (and it could be imaged back to 35mm film). 4k currently adds a huge expense to the process, and right now I can’t digitally clean up anything over 2k. We’ve had quite a few things transferred at 2k, and they look fantastic. We may end up doing 4k on a few elements that need to be preserved sooner than later so that they can be restored and imaged back to 35mm as well.

We’ll post stills as the films come back from transfer.

While Flip the Frog was merchandised, there seems to be very little evidence of much in the way of surviving Willie Whopper merchandise beyond this pencil case. If anyone has found any other things or has them in their collections, we’re hoping to use them in the bonus features if you’re kind enough to lend them.

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Since it’s Cartoon Research, it’s nice if once in a while we have a cartoon! Here for now is a black and white print of Willie in Davy Jone’s Locker (1934). It will appear in color on the set. This cartoon features Leo the Lion introducing Willie, who hasn’t missed a meal. I have to admit, I would really have liked to see a series of cartoons starring this version of Leo the Lion!

Willie was redesigned after a handful of cartoons. The first in the series The Air Race (1933) was rejected for release by MGM. Iwerks revamped the short and the plot in Spite Flight (also 1933). Play Ball and Stratos Fear (with Willie’s new design) appeared before Davy Jones’ Locker. All of these exist in excellent 35mm material as well.

14 Comments

  • Can’t wait!

  • Very excited to see that Color elements exist for Davy Jones’ Locker! Looking forward to seeing it!

  • More exciting news! Congratulations. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Willie Whopper cartoon. (And I haven’t watched the one above, yet.)

    I read an article in December that predicted in a couple of years 4K TV’s will be as cheap as regular HD TV’s are now, and that 720 and 1080 HD will probably stop being sold . If I were you I’d scan everything at the 4K level if at all possible. Surely there will be ways to make adjustments to 4K scans soon!

  • Thanks Steve. WW is a must-have in this house.

    I prefer Spherical Willie too. The revamp isn’t especially distinguishable from Buddy. Not a good thing.

  • Hi, Steve-
    Congratulations on your on- going work. Your place in Cartoon Heaven is assured.
    I have that same pencil case in blue if that’s any help to you.

  • If you’ll only ever have one crack at these, I’d say go for the most bestest transfer you can afford. (Not my money on the line, so I’m feeling generous!) If they end up looking as good as your initial slate of Blu-Rays, well, no complaints on this end.

    And, as always, keep up the good work!

  • That funny-looking fish that Willie accidentally kisses toward the end is in another cartoon – Sinbad the Sailor, perhaps?

  • A lean cartoon Leo in a tux frequently appeared in MGM promotional materials, although he wasn’t quite the same design as here.

    In the 50s another Leo turned up in an oddball animated trailer for the live-action “Scaramouche”:
    https://archive.org/details/ScaramoucheTrailers_140

    Other studios’ cartoon often parodied Leo, but I think the Willie Whopper bit and the trailer are the only times MGM made him a character on film. And while other studios would allow comedies to mess with their logos , believe the furthest MGM ever went was to let Chuck Jones put Tom in Leo’s place.

    • Leo also appeared animated in a trailer for No More Ladies in 1936, voiced by Billy Bletcher. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=chWBbVzFxSw “OH B-OOYY!..”

    • Whoops I just realized that clip cuts Leo’s parts out! He is there though, with animation by Bill Nolan. The full trailer used to be online but I can’t seem to find it. As for the WW transfers, 2K will do fine, especially for the budget. Perhaps 4K could be used for the 2 color shorts. It’ll be a must by no matter what. Fantastic work, Steve.

    • http://tinyurl.com/n5akf3q

    • http://tinyurl.com/n5akf3q

      I find those labels all the time. It’s nice to think even in the 60’s they were still finding use for that design.

    • In the 50s another Leo turned up in an oddball animated trailer for the live-action “Scaramouche”:
      https://archive.org/details/ScaramoucheTrailers_140

      At least it gave the animators something to do besides another T&J or Droopy cartoon.

      Other studios’ cartoon often parodied Leo, but I think the Willie Whopper bit and the trailer are the only times MGM made him a character on film. And while other studios would allow comedies to mess with their logos , believe the furthest MGM ever went was to let Chuck Jones put Tom in Leo’s place.

      Not counting of course the late 90’s effort in giving a completely different Leo (made to be the son of the original) his own family in a series of singalong videos and a 13 episode TV show.
      http://www.videodetective.com/movies/mgm-sing-along-songs/847743

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igPPU8Maum0

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