May 26, 2016 posted by

A Smattering of Spots! A Reel of John Hubley’s Storyboard, Inc Commercials


FIRST– some Thunderbean Updates:
I’ve had my own head buried for weeks in 20s and 30s animation, plus some other stuff working on helping to get two projects to the finish line this week (!), plus working on fixing up a a house for rental while files are rendering! Chances are, while you’re reading this, a master will be burning while I’m demolishing a bathroom, then watching the master for issues, then tearing out a toilet or perhaps attempting to turn the water off as the house fills to my knees.

What are your summer projects?

cubby125On CUBBY BEAR:
On the Cubby hero’s list this week are Mark Kausler and Ralph Celentano. Mark provided the best elements I’ve seen on three Cubby Bear cartoons: a beautiful Fresh Ham with all the original titles, a mint, mint 1948 printdown of Bubbles and Troubles and a very sharply focused World Flight– much better than the one we’ve already cleaned up for the set. Fresh Ham was done too, but Mark’s print is just so much better. Ralph Celentano found his super-rare print of Gay Gaucho with original titles. It arrives here tomorrow, and I’m absolutely thrilled. I’ve been too busy to even look at the Cubbys for a handful of days, but my small team helping on the project say they’re looking really great.

flip-100ON FLIP: When there’s been a few off moments, I’ve been examining camera negs in the clean room on some of the Flip the Frog cartoons as well as the master positives. More are coming at the beginning of the month from UCLA if all goes as planned. I need to get back out to LA to look at the Comi-Colors, and touch base about at least 3 other possible projects (one inspired strongly by everyone’s suggestions). On Flip, those poor negatives got beat to death over the years, but the master positives that MGM made in the 30s are basically mint. Many of the 35mm elements on Flip the Frog are wonderfully preserved, but not all, and the real challenge are the ones that were made in color – more of them in color than any of us knew about (more on that soon…). I hope to get out to New York to scan some of this material soon.

abbott-costelloAbbott and Costello is basically done on my end at the moment, waiting for other elements to be organized and come together. I’ll post a link here when that project is getting closer with some information about it. I really like the set, and there’s quite a bit of really cool footage on there that you’ve never seen before.

The last few days I’ve been in almost continuous contact (over the phone) with Tom Stathes and Dave Gerstein, working on many of the technical ‘finishing touches’ on Tom’s Bray Studios Blu-ray/DVD set. It’s looking really fantastic, and we’ve all been working around the clock to bring it to fruition. I’ll let Tom speak for it rather than elaborate too much here, but it’s a must have, and will be off to replication in the coming handful of days.

I’m hoping to scan the additional elements for Bunin’s Alice in Wonderland in the coming month or so.

I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about what to present here today. Time has been short, but I’m looking forward to writing more about the other projects once I get my head around them (and have these current ones off the plate).

hublery-storyboard-250After working with 20s and 30s materials for many weeks, sometimes it’s nice to take a little diversion and look at something else, so that’s exactly what is being presented today.

In the 50s through the 70s, if you were an animation studio presenting your work to an ad agency, chances are you’d be presenting them on 16mm film. I’ve come across a few of these reels over the years, but this particular one is neat in that it has an opening title sequence (that actually names the talent involved in the productions!). This showreel is from Storyboard, Inc, John Hubley’s studio. It’s a wonderful reel, showcasing a wide variety of animation and talent. I can see some of Hubley work in layout/ direction throughout. I’m not the king at identifying animators, but I recognize the work of some here, including Bill Littlejohn and Emery Hawkins. My favorite here is probably the simple but fun Bank of America spot animated by Rod Scribner. I’ll bet Mike Kazaleh could identify the animators on most all of these. Some of the spots were likely produced in color. Interestingly, the famous Maypo spots are not featured at all- that makes me think this reel may date from the late 50s or early 60s, even through a few of the spots likely date further back.

baby_hubleyThis reel was given to me by Tom Stathes, and it was suffering from the middle stages of Vinegar Syndrome- curling up and stinging your eyes when you opened the can! On the Telecine, the film was so warped that it kept flying off the spindles- so I had to nurse it along, stopping every now and then.

Pat, my telecine guy, said we should give up on this one, but we soldiered on and managed to get the whole reel transferred, although the focus shifted quite a bit along the way. The reel appears on the Thunderbean ‘Mid Century Modern 2’ DVD. We mastered and cleaned that whole set up in HD, so in theory someday that may be a Blu-ray. Here it is, in HD.

Have a good week everyone!


  • Steve:
    A great post this week! The Smattering of Spots reel from Storyboard,Inc. was superb! An ideal example of modern animation design! It was fascinating to watch! Thanks for sharing!

  • I own dat reel on Mid Century Modern Vol. 2, and it’s a hoot! I seem to remember some of the Playhouse Pictures stuff that Mike Kazaleh posted here were from one of these reels…

  • This is an interesting reel of commercials; I still enjoy your first and only disk of classic animated TV commercials. I especially liked the Prudential ad reinventing the story of the lion and the mouse. The scoring is fantastic, and that is the other interesting point about stylized animation–the scores are also uniquely selective since it was no longer an economically sound option to use a full orchestra. That kind of sparse scoring served the Terrytoons Studios well during that latter period when cinemascope was tried. I’m glad you were able to save this reel, and I’ll have to run that MID-CENTURY MODERN disk again to see how many did actually show up thereon.

    Re: the FLIP THE FROG cartoons, well, what more can I add to this than you have an immediate customer here. It is *THE* set that I’m eagerly awaiting since receiving my WILLIE WHOPPER set which is incredible. Now, on those, there are some interesting scores, so I hope that those UCLA prints have real clean soundtracks.

    Oh and good luck on fixing up that house!

  • In the early 80s I saw Art Babbit’s demo reel through Sheridan College after some saw him in person at NFB in Montreal. A few of these made it onto his reel.
    Oh I love these. They are so direct and clear. Perhaps some would say the narrative style of some is pedestrian by today’s standards but most commercial animation today is flashy and hyper. We could use simpler storytelling, there is an art to be able to pull that off.

    Disposable barbecue ? Really? I wonder how many fires started from premature disposal before they stopped manufacturing them? 🙂

    • I wish we went back to that too (not the disposable barbeque mind you).

  • Good god, man, don’t kill yourself. That Flip the Frog one looks really interesting. I would love to break into the UCLA archive just to know what all they have hidden away in dusty vaults. Complete Screen Songs? Good luck, and take care of yourself.

    • I, too, favor for a Complete Screen Songs!

  • The Bank of America narrator sounds like WOR veteran Roger Bower. I might be wrong, but it sounds alot like him.
    More on Mr. Bower here:;jsessionid=06AD6777CD0F4D13093792B7965B649C?source=MdU.ead.lab.0021.xml&style=ead
    and here:

  • Hello Steve,

    If you’re coming out here to check on HOPPITY/MR. BUG GOES TO TOWN be prepared to be disappointed. Paramount claims that they still own it and that it is not in the public domain. A few years ago they performed a photochemical restoration from what they said was the best material (a 35mm SC camera original)?

    Years ago I saw a 35mm Technicolor nitrate print from the original release which was not so sharp, too grainy, muted color with muddy audio (no highs, no lows, lots of mid-range). The new 35mm restoration looked and sounded the same.

    But maybe they screwed something up and you might be able to fix it? You never know.

    • YES! 😉

    • Well maybe someday Paramount would be nice and let Steve handle such a release himself if they don’t let Olive have it.

  • Can’t resist:



    Yes, I remember reading something here (?) some time ago (I think) that Paramount still owns “Mr. Bug Goes to Town”.

    Looking forward to the Cubbys. That info about the color Flippies is inriguing!

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