I was hoping that I’d have Stop Motion Marvels on its way to the replicator at this moment. It’s not quite there yet, but almost- just waiting for the last commentaries. I’ll devote this space to the title when its actually finished and on its way. I have no complaints since I’m very happy with how the project looks.
As of today, it appears that the animation is finished for the Rainbow Parade titles- the very last thing needed to complete that master.
I’m slowly organizing the next projects to be finished- and enjoying putting files from the master scan hard drives into the project hard drives. Right now, my Aesop’s Fables project hard drive is called Those Ugly, Badly Produced Cartoons – a charge leveled firmly at the studio by another producer of DVDs and Blu-rays. The Van Beuren Studio will always and forever be underdogs of the early sound era, but their bizarre brand of humor and funny New York cartoony drawing has its merits. I will always enjoy these merry films, even when I’m not properly dressed for the occasion.
I think one of the coolest things about getting to do a lot of these projects is being able to scan 35mm prints of some really rare things. Collector and Loonic Video owner Lory Ringette really did me a solid by putting out so many Van Beuren cartoons on VHS in the 80s as well as teaching me a little bit about print downs versus 16mm prints made from another 16mm neg. He made it possible to see things I had no other way to see since it was even hard to see *any* of the Van Beuren cartoons without actually buying a print. Finding them and releasing the best versions I could became an early goal back in the ‘Snappy Video’ days. Now, finding that 35mm prints where we can is especially exciting— but not just for the improved picture- for the soundtracks too.
RCA’s Photophone System was truly incredible for its time; perhaps the best sound reproduction of any for film in the early 30s. An interesting part is that the history of the type of track used is literally a case-by-case—it’s not consistently done one way. There appears to be a lot of experimentation in the early 30s, and this is the earliest example of a linear track that I’ve seen I think- and unusual looking at that (although not unique). It’s clear from this print that RCA was already experimenting with high contrast linear soundtracks as early as 1930 (as opposed to the much more common variable density tracks). The track here (as seen in this HD transfer) is crisp and has a wide rage— sounding great for a 1930 recording- 90 years ago!
This scan of Office Boy is from a rare 35mm print that showed up on Ebay in the mid-2000s. it was in fine shape, and on Kodak 1930 stock. It is post digital cleanup here but before final crop and contrast. It’s pretty decent looking with its Movietone aspect ratio fully on display.
I’ve grabbed this copy from the ‘main’ scan. The titles went out of frame at the beginning and I scanned them separate, so you’ll notice this is out of frame at first. Looking at the overall visual quality, I wonder if the prints were made from the camera negative rather than making a fine grain and a dupe neg. This is a print I wish I would have kept!
Of course, this is one of the cartoons Disney cited in his lawsuit against Van Beuren. I wish we had 35mm on every Van Beuren of course, if only for these crisp soundtracks. Fortunately there are some that have survived.
Have a good week everyone!