Monday, July 16, 2012

Dr. Film Needs Your Help!

In certain fields, there are important figures whose work tends to be under-celebrated. This is absolutely the case for film historians and preservationists. While some have achieved relative fame and recognition in our circles, for every well known film historian there are probably dozens who enjoy only slight recognition while they are doing very important work for our film heritage. Eric Grayson, also known as Dr. Film, is one such historian and preservationist who has been working in this niche for years and it's my pleasure to help spread the word about a couple projects he is working on.

At this current time, Eric is looking to do a specific kind of restoration on one chapter of King of the Kongo. Now, most of you know my specialty is early animation though I do enjoy and appreciate other silent films and early sound films as well. However, I'm not terribly familiar with serials, and I'm fascinated to know that King of the Kongo was the first serial to be released with sound. Eric explains more about its historical significance here.

As it turns out, Eric has a complete silent print of the entire feature in 16mm. Ron Hutchinson of the famed Vitaphone Project has now located some sound discs from the serial and these elements combined provide sufficient materials to fully restore Chapter 5 of the serial to its original sound form. By way of Kickstarter, Eric is looking to raise funds so that a proper 2K digital scan can be made from his film print and a new 16mm negative can be made so that the picture and sound elements can be reunited in new 16mm prints. We may live in a digital age but Eric is looking to do the right thing, here...I believe there is nothing better than preserving film on film. I highly recommend that anyone who is interested in helping preserve film history help Eric by giving a contribution (and you can get some cool stuff in exchange!). Please check it out--there are only several days left to contribute!

I'll be reporting a bit more on Eric Grayson's work in the future but that's that for now. Please have a look at the fundraiser and consider helping Dr. Film!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July from the Bray Animation Project

It's time to celebrate Independence Day 2012 with an early cartoon probably not seen publicly since the 1950s. That would be Bobby Bumps' Fourth (1917) directed by Earl Hurd at the Bray Studios.
This is probably the first 4th of July-themed comedy cartoon.

This is Bray's circa 1949 TV version of the cartoon. Looks like J.R. used at least two different sources for footage in compiling this version.

Sadly, many of Bray's own nitrate masters (and those elements he called back from home movie distributors like Keystone Mfg.) that were sought to be used in compiling the TV package were already "melted" and suffering from other condition problems by the late 1940s. Thankfully, several dozen titles still made the cut.

For further reading about the distribution history of Bray cartoons, please see this page on the Bray Animation Project website.