May 23, 2019 posted by Steve Stanchfield

A Little Spring Stop Motion

In Thunderbean news, the company’s shipping moved into its new space yesterday, and it’s a happy occasion. I’ll still be working on many aspects of the projects in my little home office, but the packing and shipping are not interrupting progress on various projects as much now. Some restoration and animation work will be done there as well.

On Thunderbean Projects, Grotesqueries is coming right along, as is the cleanup on the Puppetoons 2 set for Arnold Leibovit is going amazingly well as are most of the projects. Flip is still flipping, and the ‘Rainbows’ are still rainbowing.

Nearly every day I get multiple emails asking about one or more of the ‘special’ discs we’ve done over the years. With the new help here taking over Thunderbean shipping, we have time to do some of these, and since we’re finally caught up on the special stuff that’s done, we are offering most of the ‘special’ discs again for a week only, again, here.

On today’s cartoons:

As we’re pulling up the new scans of material for the two Stop Motion Marvels sets, I’ve been enjoying taking a dive back into the Kinex shorts. In the nine years since the original set, more things have turned up that I’ve been able to either buy and borrow, including more of the Kind shorts. In one way, as we update these sets for Blu-ray, I’m less than enthused since it’s ground that seemed already finished. In another way, I know that some people will be seeing these shorts for the first time on Blu-ray, and we’re *much* better at the technical aspects of producing sets at this point. It’s exciting to see how good some of the new scans and cleanups are looking, especially where we were able to upgrade material.

I’ve shown this here before, but I thought I’d post this amazingly primitive and bizarre short that was lent to me for the original Stop Motion Marvels DVD— and another few shorts with some of the same creators involved. I’m not sure if it was made to be released theatrically originally or just for home movies, but it is an excellent look into the formation of the Kinex Studios as well as stop motion in the 20s in general.

I’m guessing that ‘Cinema Novelty Productions’ was Frank Webb’s first company. The later Kinex studios seems to have been a partnership between Webb, Orville Goldner and John Burton.

This film seems to have been produced with the idea of it being an ongoing series; I wonder if any others were made? The often primitive nature of it leads me to believe it was either done quickly or with very little budget, or both. I wonder if the designs are more Golder’s or Burton’s. It seems that it will remain a mystery if they were able to use this film (or some from the same series that were better if others exist) to convince Kodak to hire the studio to produce the Chips, Snaps and Doodlebug shorts.

Despite’s its primitive nature, I like a lot of things about this production. There’s often good use of lighting, and the composition and layout of the scenes is quite impressive, even if the puppets are not so much. You can really see a direct link to the later design of the Kind backgrounds. You can especially see the advanced qualities of this short when compared to some others from the period. Here is The Penwiper (1926) and Green Pastures produced by Plastic Art productions. These two films seemed have survived, but I’m not sure if any others from this series exists. I believe these are part of Rick Prelinger’s collection.

Goldner’s and Burton’s careers are a little easier to document than Frank Webb’s career is. Illustration Professor and artist Stewart McKissick did a wonderful job researching the rare details of the Kinex Studios for the first set as well as Illustrating the cover. I’ll be out at Cinevent tomorrow in Columbus, Ohio and will see him; I’ll attempt to convince him to do the cover for the new set as well so there’s a matching set.

We did an article a while back about the later Kinex short, The Cave of the Wobbly Wizard here. The new scan is much nicer than here, but you can get an idea of where the studio’s work was going. I think we’re down to two or three missing shorts at this point. Of course, the Kind films will remain an interesting sidenote in the history of the medium. I like to be a completionist, so let’s hope the last of the Kinex shorts finally show up before the set is done.

About a year ago, started posting some really cool material from Way Chang’s film archive. Here is a really neat one called Your Dream Home produced by Orville Golden with Animation by Wah Chang. There’s even some footage at the end of Chang animating. Its’ funny how these look like a combination of Pal’s work and (later) animator Art Clokey.

Of course, by the early 20s. the work of Starewicz is breathtaking. Here is Fetiche En Voyage De Noces (1936) starring Duffy the Mascot. Starewicz has a wonderful sense of timing in his animation work, and there is always innovative and unusual effects in every film. This is one I hadn’t seen in many years:

Have a good week everyone!


  • I am looking forward to repurchasing Stop Motion volume 1 (as my original copy had developed a crack) and purchasing volume 2 when it comes out.

  • For more than 20 years I have wondered how the iris effect that closes so many theatrical cartoons is done.
    I don’t think it’s animation, because most of the time the closing circle is soft edged, and I think it would be very hard to draw and animated something like that.

    Therefore it must be some kind of camera trick. Maybe it’s done with a lens effect, or some kind of electronic device.
    I want to know what you think.
    (I’m sending a copy of this message to Kevin Wollenweber
    Write back

    • A soft edged Iris was and IS possible in animation because the matte is (was) above the animation level. placing it out of focus. There were two ways of doing this, 1) in camera matte plate, 2) advancing toward or receding from the lens using the shadow board, which could be adjusts for distances for certain types of “shadow mattes.” This would include key hole, periscope, and binocular effects.

  • That Kodachrome Dream house film is incredible!
    BTW, next time we get together Steve, I’ll have to show you some of my ‘stop-motion’ films I did in High School with my fathers digital camera and Microsoft PowerPoint….

    • It looks like some scenes were films simultaneously from two different angles as they were being animated. That’s a pretty cool idea!

  • I always assumed that the “iris” that closes many films (including the WB Cartoons) was simply an animated series of circles that was filmed out-of-focus to achieve the fuzzy edges, and then added to the film in the optical printer, when creating the interpositive.

    • In television animation, at least up until everything went digital, the iris-in and iris-out soft edged effects were accomplished by either using a stop motion diaphragm set up close to the camera lens so that it would be deliberately out of focus and opened or closed sequentially, to be exposed at one frame for each change OR by slipping several small cards into a matte box which was also situated close to the camera lens, one card at a time, each black card with a circular opening slightly smaller (or larger, depending on their order of shooting) than the previous card. If a hard-edged iris was called for, the iris animation itself would be drawn and painted onto cels and exposed on a level atop everything else. In digital production, a great many options are presumably available to produce an iris-in or iris-out effect.

  • Thanks for making the special sets available again! I missed out on some of the more recent ones. I ordered a bunch of the older ones the last time they were offered…are those among the ones that you said are done too?

  • Will this set be available on Saturday at this year’s Cinevent in Columbus, Ohio? I’ll be there for their animation show.

  • Well, I’m confused. “Available again”? I ordered and paid for ScreenSongs on 5/12/17 and I’m still waiting for it. I’m waiting for a whole bunch of sets, including the Lantz/Terry Special Set from last July. I’m hesitant to order any more special sets, not knowing if they’re coming in the next two years or what.

    • I’m afraid I have to agree with Cliff. I have several titles ordered that still have not shown up at my house. It’s very frustrating to keep spending money on these things and to keep seeing the list of titles I’m waiting for get longer and longer when nothing ever seems to get completed and sent out to me. No offense, Steve, but I’m really feeling like I shouldn’t be putting any more of my hard earned money into Thunderbean until I start seeing some evidence that the stuff I’ve already ordered is actually going to show up.

    • The Lantz/ Terry/. Famous set is coming right along. Screen Songs have now all been sent and should arrive soon. A lot of these have long been in progress, longer than I had wanted; I hope they’re worth it and are enjoyable.

  • Wait, wait, wait. SCREEN SONGS is on your list of special sets as being available AGAIN? According to my PalPal account, I pre-ordered that on May 13, 2017 and still have not gotten it from the first time around. What gives? I’m still waiting for NOVELTOONS, too. Should I be concerned that I haven’t gotten that, either?

    • The Screen Songs set was finally completed recently, and they’ve been getting sent in the last few weeks to everyone.

  • …well…well…i see that i’m not the only one in the long…long…waiting pre-ordered sets. All of us a truly loyal thunderbean supporters…As of today May 24, 2019 nothing showed up in my mail box, no ofense, Steve!, but from now on i’ll wait until you publish the future sets on which is 100% reliable and trustworthy.
    As always, best regards, Martin

  • EUREKA, Steve!!…Late today I received the Screen Song and other one containing among other ones “The Ragtime Bear”(UPA)…more technicolor set (???)
    As always all the best to you and yours;

    • That set is ‘Cartoon Paradise’…

  • We’ve been working hard to get and and all the finished special sets ordered to everyone right now. If there are any sets that didn’t make it to you, please send an email to *and* to My shipping folks will make sure they get to you.

  • I’m really looking forward to buying both these Stop Motion Marvels sets on BluRay.
    One of my favorite Stop Motion shorts is: “It’s A Bird” which I have on Laserdisc somewhere.
    Any chance this will be on one of your sets, Steve?
    It’s a great one!
    You can see an excerpt here:

  • Steve,
    Did you get my own payment for the SCREEN SONGS set?

  • Thank you, Steve. I’ll check it out my paypal account.
    Have a great long weekend (Memorial Day)
    All the best; Martin
    PS I enjoy very much your updates…Take your time, I know it’s expensive and time consuming. Most important in my case are the Flips and Pal’s Puppetoons!

  • My experience with Thunderbean has been positive. Yes, the discs take along time in coming; but, I have always gotten mine.

  • Wah Chang created creatures and props for Star Trek. I never knew he’d been an animator!

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