May 10, 2018 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Re-assembling ‘Rainbows’ for Blu-ray

Here’s a sort of half progress report and some idea of how the little details of one of the Thunderbean sets come together….

It’s late on Wednesday night as I write this..but chances are as you’re looking at this I’ll be working on the final ‘hard’ day of this school year at the College for Creative Studies. We’ve been putting together the student show this whole week, and Friday – FINALLY – is a day of rest from that, and a day of a different kind of work, back on the two sets we’ve been working on the most. One of the big goals right now is to gather together all the early cartoons in Van Beuren’s Rainbow Parades series for scanning, and on the ones that we don’t have in 35mm are what I’m working on most right now.

Tommy Stathes, a good friend and animation collector hero, was nice enough to send some of his Rainbow Parades my way this week, arriving earlier today. The print of Bird Scouts is a lovely 1945 Cinecolor print in what appears to be very good condition. The prints he sent of Rag Dog and Scotty Finds a Home were mine at some point in the past and were used to help reassemble both those titles for the DVD Thunderbean released back in 2009. The print of Rag Dog dates from 1946, while the print of Scotty Finds a Home is on unmarked stock, but probably from the 40s or early 50s. If I’m remembering correctly, I used the majority of each of these particular prints for the first set, supplementing them with material from prints in not quite as good of shape to fix a few problem areas. The prints vary in density, but even more than that, the 16mm prints are really hit or miss on the alignment of the two colors, sometimes doubling or jittering on a shot. The cool thing is that if you have several prints, you can often find ‘good’ shots from different prints and then just color correct to match the density and color saturation from the best print.

The sound on the 16mm Gutlohn prints generally leaves a lot to be desired, so I’ve been trying to track down clean 16mm ‘Official Films’ prints of those six titles just for the sound. I had done the same for the earlier Rainbow Parade set back in 2009, so now it’s just a matter of filling in the gaps on the prints that had a splice here or there in the sound that needs improvements.

I wish I had some information about the kids that appear in the “Toddle Tales” cartoons. It’s likely that they were from New York or course, and I have to wonder if there were any newspaper stories from back then that might mention who these kids were. I don’t think they ever appeared in any other films, so I have to wonder if somehow they were related to people that worked on the films themselves. Any slithers want to take this task on?

We cleaned up a fairly nice 16mm print of one of the Toddle Tales, A Little Bird Told Me (1934) for the TCM Van Beuren show a while back, and I’m hoping the prints we scan of the other two are as clean as that print was.

On other notes, two of the ‘Flip the Frogs’ that were missing in 35mm showed up this past week, thanks to a lucky picture and some sleuthing by friends. One more still remains at large in 35mm…

The most common digital versions of The Rag Dog (and others) seem to all sprout from the version we did for the DVD we did years back. I’m going to scan the same material in HD in the coming weeks, and I’m very much looking forward to cleaning them up and seeing how they look. I’ll post some pictures next week .

Here’s the version we had on Rag Dog nine years back:

…and the best I had on Bird Scouts for many years back then as well. This telecine scan in actually from 1991! You can see back then on both these titles we didn’t have access to what the original titles looked like, so we replaced the Gutlohn titles with Technicolor Rainbow Parade titles from later in the series.

Fleischer Rarities should finally be back next week, finally!

Have a good week everyone!


  • Hi Steve,
    Will this Rainbow Parade set include the toddle tales as well?
    As you did include the 3 cartoon series in the dvd from 2009.

    • Yes, it will. You can still see the pre-order picture at the Thunderbean website.

  • Oh, do I wish I knew the identities of the live action children in “A LITTLE BIRD TOLD ME”, but I, too, would assume that the kids were related to animators working on the cartoon. Yet, they knew how to act on a minor level, and they knew how to react well in the animated world, so they could have been part of that large influx of children whose parents were eager to have them appear in something in showbiz. It was interesting that you should note that you judge the color scheme of a specific film by the best possible print existing on the film as colors were seen on film far differently during that time, not only because of two color Technicolor, but because real colors did not always photograph as thus on celluloid that far back.

    I remember when I could draw with pastels, and I liked that medium because I could shade, say, Tom of Tom and Jerry fame as near the exact grays, dark and light, that you would see on film, and remember, sometimes you’d watch a TOM AND JERRY cartoon and the gray would be anywhere from gun metal to gray with a hint of blue or brown; that’s the way they looked in theaters and that is the way the TV prints looked when the theatricals aired on TV for the first time on network Saturday mornings.

    • “…and remember, sometimes you’d watch a TOM AND JERRY cartoon and the gray would be anywhere from gun metal to gray with a hint of blue or brown; that’s the way they looked in theaters and that is the way the TV prints looked when the theatricals aired on TV for the first time on network Saturday mornings.”

      Uhhh… are you really sure the gray would vary that much IN THEATERS? From all accounts I’ve heard, the remasters on the Tom and Jerry Golden Collection Vol. 1 set (except for the ten inferior-looking cartoons) are VERY close to how the original Technicolor prints looked in theaters, and Tom’s fur is generally a very stable (and beautiful) gray there.

      When it comes to the old TV prints, my impression is that the transfer from film to broadcast video masters did this… as in, what NTSC video is often jokingly referred to: Never Twice the Same Color. That, or the color could be warped by the CRI negatives which the TV prints were transferred from (see Thad Komorowski’s explanation here:

    • Too often the way I watched Tom and Jerry on TV in the 80’s, it could fluctuate based on any number of differences between print quality and age, Tom could be grey in one cartoon and slightly blue-ish the next. It didn’t help in the filmchain days when stations could do all sorts of added tricks to alter the colors a bit in case they print was already into it’s faded stage. The way things are these days, the colors have not become very uniform on these shorts and I’m glad not to have to go through the old tapes I had in my collection where colors always shifted.

  • So what happened to the Lou Bunin Alice in Wonderland Set ?

    • I’d like to know that, too. There was a great deal of talk from Steve about both the Bunin ALICE and the Fleischers’ MR. BUG GOES TO TOWN, but in the last few months, not a word about either project.

    • ALICE continues– the details of that whole thing to be discussed asthings are all worked out! I’m attempting to add elements to that project that are owned by a major archive.

    • I don’t recall Steve discussing it here on Cartoon Research, but over at the Internet Animation Database he gave the status of the Bunin ALICE IN WONDERLAND set as “on hold indefinitely.” Thunderbean currently can’t afford to pay the required access fees the owners of the original materials are asking. I imagine that MR. BUG GOES TO TOWN is caught up in a similar situation.

      I used to work in music licensing for a couple of different CD reissue labels, and though we’re talking different media–music versus movies–there’s some common ground in that licensing materials from large corporations doesn’t come cheap. Their terms are their terms and either you agree to them or you don’t. Makes them no difference. People always argue that these companies should want to see the material in their vaults licensed out and reissued by anybody who can do it right, just to get it out there. You’ll often find individuals working within companies who feel that way, and they can be very valuable allies, but the companies as a whole–no. You pay their fees and you agree to their terms or you don’t. If you can, you get the license to distribute the movie or music in question. If you can’t, you don’t. The corporations are perfectly okay with this stuff staying in the vaults. They’re just assets on paper to the bean counters.

      One thing I will say, I never worked for a reissue label whose standard policy wasn’t to wait and announce licensed releases only after everything was signed and official. That way, you avoid a lot of disappointment, frustration and anger when a project you’ve announced falls through or gets moved to the back burner for however knows long.

    • Jon (and J.T.): Actually, we KNOW what the status is on the “Mr. Bug Goes to Town” Blu-ray. Right now it’s on hold indefinitely, because Paramount wants a bigger monetary guarantee from Thunderbean. Steve wrote about this in the “Thunderbean Thursday” post for January 4, 2018: Here is the relevant quote in full:

      “The project that is in limbo at the the moment is Mr. Bug Goes to Town. We have a tentative license deal that got muddied up in the business office. Until “Thunderbean” is a bit bigger (and can offer more substantial guarantee money) it looks like this project is staying in a holding pattern. One of the reasons to have so many titles in a short period of time is to get “Hoppity” further along. Let’s see what happens…”

    • What you wrote was interesting, Jon. Nice to hear some insight from somebody who had actual working experience with the reissue world even if it was with music rather than with movies. I guess I’m naive because I thought exactly what you said isn’t true: that the companies who own these movies and recordings are anxious to see them reissued and would be eager to work with labels like Thunderbean, who are looking to put things out that nobody else would do. I guess the problem is that Thunderbean is still a small company and doesn’t have the resources that the big reissue labels have, especially in an era when DVDs and Blu-Rays aren’t selling the way they used to. I try to talk up Thunderbean as much as I can to anyone I know who expresses any interest in classic animation. Part of what i like about Thunderbean is that they do things that nobody else would ever do. I mean, I think I have just about every Thunderbean DVD that’s been released. On the other hand, it’s hard when you try to steer people toward the company and you get a reaction like, “Cubby Bear? Willie Whopper? Van Beuren Studios? Never heard of ’em.” In an era when Warner has trouble selling Bugs Bunny DVDs, it’s understandable why Thunderbean remains a small specialty label. And again, I don’t mean that as criticism. And I admit that it is purely fantasy, but I still have this dream where whoever owns the Max Fleischer library calls up Thunderbean and says, “Hey, listen, we’ve got all these Fleischer cartoons sitting in the vaults that we’re never gonna reissue. If you guys want to put them out, that’d be great with us.” Thanks again for your interesting comments.

  • Steve, which is the Flip cartoon missing in 35mm? And which ones in the Rainbow Parades? Thank you.

    • I’m not Steve, but I’d wager a guess the following Rainbow Parades are still MIA in 35mm:

      RAG DOG

      Since a (complete?) nitrate print of COO COO THE MAGICIAN exists at LoC (, I’m guessing the still missing 35mm Flip is CIRCUS?

    • Oops got my archive shows mixed, this actually is from the George Eastman Museum Nitrate Picture Show!

    • Yes. The Village Barber has a 35mm element, but it’s got some nitrate damage that’s been removed, so at the moment that title (like the Willie Whooper cartoon ‘Play Ball’) will be from combined elements.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *