It’s been an overly busy time through these last few weeks here, especially in putting the finishing touches (read: fixes) on the Flip the Frog Blu-ray masters and sending it out the door. It’s been the longest and hardest project we’ve done at Thunderbean, with lots of lessons learned. In the end, I hope, all the work isn’t showing, just the great work the Iwerks studio did in making these films. Disc two is building again tonight, and I have that feeling that I always get about this point that we have our final masters on it. It’s a major moment here, and I always get a little philosophic while going through postpartum on these things. The funny thing is, none of the other projects in progress have as many pickles and production nightmares as this one did – but perhaps I’m just momentarily delusional. Blame it on the frog legs.
Across the room, on archive drive 17, 64 and 67, the Tom and Jerry Blu-ray is reaching its last stages, with five films getting a revision in cleanup, then, collectively, onto a visit and away from here to Devon Baxter for some additional TLC. Having one from the negative (Piano Tooners) just makes me wish we could find all of them from the negatives, but they’re likely not on the planet any more, and have been gone since before I was born. At least we have the best copies we know to exist on most if not all of them.
These next handful of weeks are full steam ahead on several other projects, with the Technicolor Rainbow Parades taking the lead at the moment here, along with supervising and cleaning up films for the Fleischer project. A large amount of scanning is happening in July, with the stack of things I’ve been gathering here and larger projects at archives. A second volume of Technicolor Dreams has finally had an approval to scan a whole bunch of things I’ve been trying to scan *for years*. The Iwerks Comi-Color negs are continuing be be scanned, and that’s a whole other very fine kettle of fish. It’s lovely to be able to work with master materials, and really spoils you since they’re often so good looking despite lots of dust and dirt to contend with and other odd factors. I’m working on the Bunin Alice set as well, and really like what I’m seeing, finally. These are what is taking center stage.
For each of these projects and the many pieces involved, I think about how hard they are to get going or work on until they’re not— and that’s the oddity of this particular pursuit. Often, the much needed lever to make this or that happen is stuck behind some additional thing that needs to happen first, and after nearly 20 years now running the DVD and Blu-ray version of Thunderbean, I’ve come to the conclusion that my concentration now needs to be on what levers to attempt to pull and when rather than running in a circle and pulling some of them, then puling back, then pulling another. It’s all sort of like that giant panel in Koko’s Earth Control with the million knobs and levers. I also feel like there’s an urgency to accomplish the things that need to happen and to pursue stridently the ones that already have had those levers pulled- and fast. It’s all a little too overwhelming at times, but gratifying as well. I’ve been so lucky to have been able to even do the stuff we’ve been able to do, and I feel all of these projects are such collective efforts that, in the end, they belong to everyone in that the films are now available in at least as decent of quality as we’re able to make them currently.
The rest of the year is about getting things off our plate and one new big thing added, all with the help of the small and overworked Thunderbean staff. Watching things fall into place this week for quite a few of the projects keeps me pretty optimistic for the other pursuits. There are several projects I won’t be talking about at all, but others I will, including showing stills and process as we go, per usual.
We’ve all keeping these animated films alive by caring about them, showing them, sharing them, and I’ve been really lucky to be in a position to work on so many of these restoration projects for Thunderbean and others. Teamwork is perhaps the most important thing at this moment in the preservation of so many films, especially with many films, especially in private collections, succumbing to Vinegar Syndrome (really acetate deterioration). All these wonderful films are worth the effort to keep them sticking around.
Getting the biggest projects well on their way is the giant goal here right now. Thanks to everyone for helping us get there. I’ll let you pick the cartoon this week- and wishing you all a good upcoming week!