April 30, 2020 posted by Steve Stanchfield

A Thunderbean ‘Fireside Chat’ (without the fire since nitrate is involved)

As the Quarantine continues here and classes are coming closer to an end (next week is the last) I’ve been attempting to get organized as much as I can on various Thunderbean projects, although I have to admit I feel like I’m moving along slower than I should be! Even though, in the current situation, some projects are partially ham-stringed with scanning places and archives closed, I have been able to move forward with many other aspects on various projects. One good thing is that a lot of my freelancers are cracking through films at a pretty good pace, so quite a few of these projects are getting a lot of cleanup finished much sooner than I expected. I’ve decided to concentrate on just two at a time for now since I can get some faster to the door that way.

Wednesdays have been the busiest day here this semester. I teach until 10pm, write my article here and have to prep for an animation history class on Thursday morning. Instead of writing this week’s post, instead here’s a ‘Fireside Chat’ with a very tired version of me shot late Wednesday night.

The ‘chat’ is about digital cleanup, film prints of animated shorts, including some nitrate, variations on the theme of Vinegar Syndrome, and even a little 9.5mm and 28mm thrown in for good measure. I owe a much more in-depth dive into a *finished* project; let’s see if we can manage to get there next week. I promise to be properly dressed for the occasion in the next video.

Wishing all of you a good and safe week!


  • That Eastman print to me looks like a Hector Heathcote…

  • Why are you apologising for the way you’re dressed? I have a shirt just like yours, only mine has more spots on it.

    • I’ve heard that being properly dressed for the occasion is an important thing, and being improperly dressed for an occasion will be remembered and discussed eight years after any given event by some cartoon researchers. I still think semi- formal means a jacket and perhaps a tie rather than a full tuxedo 🙂

    • Fair enough, Steve. I also have a $1200 suit, but I don’t wear it if I’m handling smelly chemicals. Maybe a lab coat is the thing for you — scholarly, yet practical. Or a hazmat suit….

  • This is a fascinating look at the restoration process. I am so glad that you appreciate the cartoons not only in their finished form, but that you care enough to devote time and energy, plus valuable equipment, to their restoration. Such work can only be done right by someone who has a passion for the original films in their original condition. So major kudos to you and your team.

    My very first Thunderbean was a DVD that I purchased at Best Buy, back when DVDs proliferated among many shelves in stores. (Today it requires a magnifying glass or microscope to discover the DVD section if it exists at all.) This was “Attack of the 30’s Characters” and it provided me with hours of enjoyment. I was impressed then, as I am now, with the dedication toward preserving these classic treasures.

    Is there anywhere a comprehensive list of all Thunderbearn projects, past and present? I would be very interested to see it. Also, a list of what is currently available.

    Thanks for the informative video. You may have been tired, but your passion for the work shows through. I feel privileged to get this inside look. I’m sure there are others who feel the same.

  • Best of luck with your on-going sleep depravation experiements!

    And, as always, keep up the good work.

  • Thanks Steve.

    It may be small consolation, but you dress better than I do, haha.

    This is a VERY enjoyable behind-the-scenes video. I had no idea there was a 9.5 or 28mm option. Please consider doing these ‘firesides’ on an infrequent basis!

  • Hey, I would love it if you did every Thunderbean Thursday as a video blog! I find them infinitely fascinating!

  • Hi Steve,
    Two questions, WHY do you leave deteriorating VS prints on reels in cans? They need to have access to oxygen to outgass properly, don’t they? They should be put out in the barn or in the garage to keep them away from good condition safety prints.
    Question two, what is that beautiful black cat’s NAME? I loved that shot where your cat is purring as you continue to pontificate from the editing bench.
    Thanks for this interesting “chat”!

    • Hi back Mark,

      That’s Oscar, and he’s a wonderful and substantial cat! He got a lot of pets just after we finished.
      On the VS prints: I drill a hole (or two) in the lids of these to help release the gas. I didn’t yet on Jerry’s print, but it’s getting scanned and leaving. They *do* live in the barn, away from all the films in my basement- brought them inside to show. I haven’t removed the Marty Monk cartoon from the reel because I don’t think I *can* without it falling entirely apart. There’s really no hope for it sadly. Don’t worry- the other films are all safe from the ravaging VS!

  • Very enjoyable peek behind the curtain at Thunderbean. Looking forward to your next release. See you in Culpeper!

  • Hey Steve How Can We Help Doing This Restoration And The Other Restorations Your Gonna Do?
    And How Can I Do Restorations On Films What Program Do You Use To Restore These Films?

  • Man those projectors made in complete little Lulu’s over the years

  • Keep up the good work.

  • Hi Steve! Are you going to put the little lulu and Marty the monk cartoons on dvd?

  • Hey Steve im excited to see more fireside chats in the future. You and your blog have opened my mind up to the vast ocean of classic animation and restoration. And I love seeing peeks at the processes you go through to get a film preserved and ready to ship on home media. Keep up the good work.

  • Wow, thanks Steve and everyone at Thundebean for your historic work!

    My copy of the Snafu collection you released some years back recently proved an invaluable resource on a job where the client mentioned Sanfu specifically as reference for what they wanted.

    Any word on when we might see that restored Sindbad cartoon? One of my all-time favourites and YouTube copies leave me wanting.

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