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Disney Technicolor Shorts

Robert Harris

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#1 of 5 Lord Dalek

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Posted October 10 2010 - 03:03 PM

Just recently I went through the rather exhaustive Hyperion Studios documentary on the Snow White blu-ray, and I was surprised to see that Disney had included in remastered 1080p several of their old shorts from the 20s and 30s. They were both stunning and disappointing at the same time. Stunning in that those black and white shorts (especially Playful Pluto) look like they could have been filmed yesterday. They were so sharp and the greyscale was pretty immaculate for stuff made in the 20's.


What was disapointing was that all the old 3-Strip Silly Symphonies were sourced from I guess dye transfer interpositives from who knows when (The Old Mill at least is a 1940s reissue print), and because they were so old a lot of the alignment in those prints were pretty bad. I mean stuff like bleeding colors, image out of focus, all the things Warner's tried to rectify over the years with their digital YCM combinations. Its the kind of stuff you would never see on a standard tv like when the Disney Channel used to show old shorts in the early hours of the morning back in the day, but when blown up 1080p, sticks out like a sore thumb,


Did Disney keep their negs from the 30s? I know there a lot of old shorts that have as of late only available in reissue prints (namely nearly all the black and white Silly Symphonies and the first few color Mickeys), but surely a man like Walt who was pretty hellbent on maintaining all his old tapes and everything would keep the best quality elements intact, right?



#2 of 5 Mark-P

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Posted October 10 2010 - 04:27 PM



Originally Posted by Lord Dalek 


Did Disney keep their negs from the 30s?

Obviously you haven't read a lot about the Disney studio. They save, archive and vault EVERYTHING. That is one of the reasons they are able to do such spectacular restorations on their old films when they put the effort into it.


#3 of 5 Lord Dalek

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Posted October 10 2010 - 04:47 PM



Originally Posted by Mark-P 



Obviously you haven't read a lot about the Disney studio. They save, archive and vault EVERYTHING. That is one of the reasons they are able to do such spectacular restorations on their old films when they put the effort into it.


Actually I was aware that the Disney vaults retain just about everything. I'm just surprised that they would simply transfer lower quality prints in 1080 without any real sense of restoration.


I'm sure there's an answer for it, but as it stands its annoying.



#4 of 5 bigshot

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Posted October 11 2010 - 05:05 PM

It ain't cheap to do a film to digital transfer from three strip original camera negatives. It's easier for supplemental material to transfer existing tech prints. Although they might not be as sharp, the color accuracy is probably much better.

#5 of 5 Richard--W

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Posted November 05 2010 - 12:56 AM

Sounds like a frame-by-frame registration problem. I've seen that happen in The Walt Disney Treasures compilations. Disney routinely releases inferior prints to DVD. I have 150 Disney DVDs reflecting their back-catalogue circa 1926 - 1970. You never know what you're getting. A fully restored documentary on The True Life Adventures compilation will be accompanied by a dirty print of another documentary. A popular classic like Darby O'Gill and the Little People will be issued full-frame instead of widescreen while the relatively obscure The Great Locomotive Chase is widescreen and anamorphic. Disney Home Video has a consistent problem with aspect ratios. The black level and color timing on The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh is so off it reverses day-for-night shots. The cartoon compilations in The Walt Disney Treasures series are mainly photochemical restorations from the 1990s and earlier, and they look fine to me even though a digital restoration would get more juice out of them. You just never know which film or short is going to be clean up and which isn't.







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