First, in Thunderbean news:
• The Blu-rays stock on More Stop Motion Marvels is on its way here right now, and we’ll be packing and sending them along with some of the special sets that just finished. Instead of waiting to have all the sets this month going together, we’re sending what is done right now and will send the others as they’re finished.
• The final animation for the titles of Rainbow Parades, volume 1 was just turned in Wednesday morning. The final color corrected version of all the shorts on the set was finaled last week, and I think they’re lovely. I’m hoping to finish the completed Blu-ray master over the weekend and send it on its way to replication. Then it’s nearly full time on finishing Flip the Frog and supervising scans and cleanup for other new sets.
• We’re hoping to have the ‘scanning’ road trip soon when the weather clears. While it’s been a challenging week here health-wise, my confidence gets a significant bump as each project rounds their various corners.
I’m looking forward to doing a pretty deep dive into *exactly* where we are in terms of the Flip the Frog project. Many pieces are coming together and many others floating around in my head. Since I’m writing tonight, I thought I’d talk a little about some of the pieces that a project like this required and how it has been coming together.
Here’s what one of the current project folder looks like. We color code as things get closer. The Flip set is backed up on three drives, and the scans are all backup up additional times on the scanning drives.
Let’s look at a few of them (click to enlarge):
Here’s a still from Puddle Pranks. The first is a 1936 picture-only master positive from Celebrity Productions. The second is from MGM’s 35mm release (in 1931). One of the things that was important to me was to look carefully and scan the most complete version of each negative. In this case, the Movietone aspect ratio sound prints had less picture than the sound-on-disc versions, and often the OCNs (original camera negatives) were missing for many of the titles- but, luckily, other material (usually master positives) were left behind from one or more of the releases. I discovered that some of the full-frame negs had been used to make a master positive for silent versions of the films to be released on 16mm, giving us a much more complete picture for some of the films. See the difference here:
Puddle Pranks was a title that had *lots* of elements at UCLA, and I looked at every darn one of them. One of the hopes was to find ‘the other side’ of the film that would be the ‘other’ color record to combine with this one, producing a color print. Sadly, that didn’t happen.
Cuckoo Murder Case was one of the films that had a full frame and a Movietone aspect framed version. The one Full-frame OCN had ‘Official Films’ titles on it from the 40s. It was a master positive that appeared to have been made on regular print stock. Other than missing the original titles, it was the most complete version of the film in that it is full frame.
Original titles for the films have come together better than I thought they would. Still, there’s some missing and, I think, they still stay missing at this point. We’ll put those films together using the Celebrity ‘Hobo’ titles, but will do our best to guess the correct MGM Flip title to use since the music is there. The last two versions of Flip playing the piano have at least one film out of order in terms of the chronology of the titles, changing from old Frog-like-Flip to newer Flip and back again– and back again!
Something I especially like is all the different opening fanfares. I think we’ve found all the ones that exist at this point. There’s one film that has two different versions of the MGM Lion- one with the only roar I’ve heard with the music, the other without, as the rest. The one with the roar was *only* the title sequence of the film’s soundtrack. I wonder how that particular track happened if it doesn’t seem to show up in any actual release print. Was it an experiment?
The project has been one of definite ‘yes’ votes on one piece of material, and other times it’s very much debatable. One film (Pale-Face) has a somewhat beat up 35mm print, and Blackhawk’s excellent quality 16mm printing neg, directly from a 35mm master positive. The 16mm is actually as good of quality as the 35mm print picture and much cleaner– and not missing any footage I think– although the sound track appears to be currently missing. We’ve purchased 2 16mm prints hoping for a more complete track. The hardest thing about many of these films is that there’s sometimes four different versions of them in terms of small edits to excise this or that depending on the distributor.
Funny Face got a new scan last week, and it was my favorite happy moment. A 35mm master positive has been located in nearly mint condition, with the full MGM titles. Easily the best known material in existence on this film. I couldn’t be happier with this beautiful scan.
That’s all for this week folks– wishing everyone the best and good Toon-keeping. Stay properly dressed and wear googles no matter how foggy they get!