In brief Thunderbean news, most of the team is working on nitty gritty detail stuff at this point; improving some cleanup, deflickering and editing together the best shots from different prints of films, approving and finishing completed cleanups. I hope to gather folks at the office late this week to review where we’re at with various aspects on the projects most on deck at the moment. Packing finished things continues. In other news, The Noveltoons Blu-ray may be back from replication this week, so we’ll chat about it a little next week! We’re excited to get the set finally released.
Over the weekend I started going through the prints of many of the scans I have here for the two Stop Motion Marvels sets. A lot of things are already through clean up, while some other things have yet to be scanned. Since the DVD version of the set (finished in 2010), we’ve been lucky enough to find more of the Kinex shorts, nearly completing the series. Now, if only the last few would show up…
The Early Bird and the Worm (1928) was one of the hardest to find of the Kinex films. Happily, a print was located in time for the first release. The film stars a very rotund bird (who is seen in several of the other shorts in the series) and an especially creative worm.
It seems like the Kinex studios’ small staff managed to see some of the work of master stop-motion animator Ladislas Sterewicz, who often utilized the innovative technique of motion blur in his shorts, using several different techniques. In this film, both the landing and spinning of the bird have been photographed with the puppet in motion while shooting, creating a motion blur in the frame that better matches the blur of a moving live action object being filmed.
They also combined drawn animation with the stop motion for several effects in the film, making this particular short even more unusual.
Another interesting thing is the use of supports around the bird character during its walk. There’s been an attempt to scratch these out, frame by frame, from the film, with some success at times. There’s an attempt to do the same on the later sound short Pepper the Pup (1931) as well.
My guess is that we’re looking at the animation work on John Burton, at least in part, through the film. There is a real attempt to raise the bar a bit here in this otherwise low budget series. While still somewhat primitive next to Sterevich’s advanced techniques, it’s still a lot of fun and an interesting step in the right direction. I especially love the ‘tank’ gag near the end, bringing this film closest to emulating its drawn counterparts gag-driven stories.
Have a good week everyone!