June 28, 2018 posted by Steve Stanchfield

‘George Washington in Clay’ gets Saved!

Thunderbean projects update!

It’s late on Wednesday night as I write this; I stopped by the school on the way back from Toronto. I did a scanning session there for all sorts of things, including some more Rainbow Parades. I owe everyone a much longer post than this and will try this next week to be a little ahead of the curve! There’s much more to tell and show….

One of the Rainbow Parade films today was stunning to see in the raw scan in terms of the color and registration. Cinecolor’s consistency was clearly an issue in the 30s into the 40s; print quality (especially in registration) is all over the place— sometimes really good, much of the time not so much. It is important to note that most surviving prints of these films in 16mm are not in the greatest shape, but I’ve been lucky enough to borrow some that are better than anything I’ve ever seen. At least we’ll get the best of what we know exists, but the hunt is still on in getting the best 16mm prints, or combining versions for some of the titles.

More nitrate is on its way here on the Rainbows, along with the very last Flips to do from LA. This leaves a few stragglers that have shown up recently in 35mm. I have 16mm versions of those two cleaned up, but am happy we’re getting an upgrade.

‘Flip’ is coming out absolutely beautiful. As we get closer to the finish line I’ll be showing more materials. At some point in the next week or so everyone will be working exclusively on this project for a bit, pushing it closer to the finish line on the film side of things.

We’re working to get the titles *almost* out the door out right now; my goal is to have the next four weeks produce final masters on four titles.

It’s been an incredibly busy period here, both in orders, managing freelancers doing cleanup and working on getting some new folks set up on digital cleanup work, with complete workstations. These are good growing pains in some ways in that with more hands more can happen. I’ll be working on a more complete update this week for next week’s post, along with some release news!

And.. today’s film— again. This is a brief overview of some of the challenges of these materials. Of course, most films don’t have this exact issue— but nearly all have some issues that require some sort of work.

The coolest thing from today was being able to get a decent scan on George Washington in Clay. I did a short article last year about this film here, along with some scant information about Virginia May. Look in the comments below the article for some great information that J. Lewis uncovered about her.

I’m not sure if any other prints survive of George Washington in Clay, but back in 2007 or so when we scanned the print (from Chris Buchman’s archive) it was starting the warp and show signs on deterioration/ Vinegar Syndrome. When I opened the can a handful of weeks back I thought it was a complete gonner. After some soaking in Film-Guard and some other secret sauces, I managed to get it at least flexible, and was able to wipe most of the surface deterioration of the stock off (it has developed in a white, sticky powder on the surface). I had dealt with this before on other prints that are going from around this vintage— but was glad to be able to get it on the rewinds without it breaking or curling so bad that it wouldn’t scan. We had some difficulty getting a clean scan at first, so we eventually wond it backwards and upside down— and it scanned pretty good and in focus that way.

I thought it might be fun to show the scan raw as it was done. First, here’s what the print looked like on the first Stop Motion Marvels set (released in 2010):

And here is the raw scan from today, backwards and upside down! The coolest thing about the Laser Graphics Scanner is the ability to handle film that otherwise wouldn’t be able to get an image off. It’s sprocket less and gentle, but more importantly it can manage to register sprocket holes in really shrunken and messed up film. This scan was done in 2k, so we would be able to do a film print out since the scan is to the quality of the original print.

We’ll work digitally to clean this up and steady it. Let’s hope some other Virginia May shorts show up. She is an artist and animator that really should be documented further. I hope to add a few things to the forthcoming More Stop Motion Marvels Blu-ray.

Have a good week everyone!


  • “We’re working to get the titles *almost* out the door out right now; my goal is to have the next four weeks produce final masters on four titles.”

    Which titles are these? I need to prepare my wallet 🙂

  • Thanks for showing the second film backwards because I believe that let me in on Virginia May’s trick — which was to complete the relief then film herself destroying it. Then she would project it backwards so it looks like she is creating it instead! She definitely had me fooled when I watched it “forward” at first! You should put it both ways on the new disk!

    • Hey Dan….

      Exactly. !!!!!

    • I think Art Clokey did some of that reverse clay animation in GUMBASIA.

  • And I just looked at your old post with the video of her creating a T-Rex — which I’m pretty sure is backwards footage of her destroying it instead!

  • So when will the Blu-Ray Reissue of Stop Motion Marvels be complete ?

  • it does show you what expertise and experience can do; very nicely done archival work.

  • Awww… thanks for the shout out. Yet it is all a matter of finding the right vintage issues of Film Daily, Motion Picture Herald and so forth to get crumbs of information on these long-lost artists. I think I stumbled on this stuff when gathering completely different information relating to FitzPatrick Traveltalks.

    I wonder how long her little studio with Alexander Hall a.k.a. “Hall Studios” lasted. I have a feeling they also supplied the claymation for CAPERS IN CLAY (1933) as well. After all, who else was specializing on this type of work? This one is featured as an extra in the Alpha DVD “Fantastic World of William Cameron Menzies”. It was a part of a decade long series called “Hodge Podge” that often blended animation with travel footage which I feebly attempted to list on the TCM forum, along with other short subject series done by Educational and Fox: The whole point of making silly lists online like these is so that passionate researchers like Steve Stanchfield can help dig up these nuggets so that they are no longer just titles-in-a-list.

  • I’m completely at a loss to figure out which titles ARE out and which are ALMOST out and which ones I have MISSED and which ones I need to ORDER. I pre-ordered Ub Iwerks Comi-Color Volume 1 on May 3, 2018…for $23.45. So is that one even OUT? Did I get missed? I’m having trouble figuring out your release schedule! HELP! Please advise.

    • to me it seems like the rainbow parade and flip sets are almost completed but i need that clarified, comi-color is still in the works but idk if its near finishing 😐 at least it’s getting a great official release now 😀

    • Comi-Color is very much in progress, so not missed as of yet! I’ll be publishing a list of *all* the titles and what are in pre-order on as well as the revamped Thunderbean website.

    • Glen, for the sets that ARE officially out, you might wanna check Thunderbean’s store:

  • I know what you mean on some titles showing up constantly as splicy and scratchy. As the years go by, it becomes harder and harder to even find titles that, just a few years or a decade back, were very much available in decent quality. I am excited about the releases coming up, including the FLIP cartoons, the ComiColor shorts, the Van Buren cartoons with original title sequences, etc. The next few weeks should be exciting, despite the hours seeming overly-busy for you and your dilligent staff. Hey, by the way, I’d love to know where you get the music cues to add to the silent films. They sound like music cues that could be heard on early sound comedy shorts. Good luck in the coming weeks.

  • Really excited for all this progress! Can’t wait to pick up all these sets!

  • A big part of Cinecolor’s registration issue was that they made all their prints on 35mm stock. (2 prints parallel of 16mm, 4 prints parallel of 8mm, with 3mm of waste film sheared off in either case when the prints were split for packaging.

    Off-registration that might look OK on a comparatively large 35mm frame would be exaggerated by the smaller proportions (less than 1/4 the image size) on a 16mm print. By the time they got down to tiny 8mm, the results sometimes looked like a failed anaglyph 3-D image.

    Nevertheless, the Cinecolor “look” still has a charm all its own.

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