The Actual Fate of the Pre-1951 MGM Cartoon Negatives - Forum.
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Jason Todd  
#1 Posted : Tuesday, November 14, 2017 1:52:30 PM(UTC)
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I've been told many times that many of the original camera negatives for the MGM cartoons released prior to 1951 were destroyed in the infamous 1967 vault fire. However, I've been led to believe that not all of those fell in the hands of such a cruel fate. How many pre-1951 MGM shorts still exist with their camera negatives still intact?

Furthermore, what's the difference between an "original camera negative" and an "original nitrate print"?

Could one suspect that WB restored Blitz Wolf and Hatch Up Your Troubles from their negatives? I doubt it, but it sure is fun to imagine such things...
Toadette  
#2 Posted : Tuesday, November 14, 2017 8:30:30 PM(UTC)
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Blitz Wolf and cartoons like Hatch Up Your Troubles and Ventriloquist Cat that got Cinemascope remakes survive with original titles because they were never reissued to begin with.

An original camera negative is *the* original print from which all prints of a film, including nitrate prints (for films originating in the period in which those were made), originate.
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PopKorn Kat on 11/14/2017(UTC)
User is suspended until 10/18/2045 7:30:21 AM(UTC) ParamountCartoons  
#3 Posted : Wednesday, November 15, 2017 12:38:03 AM(UTC)
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I know the difference between a negative and a print thanks to going to a graphic design class with all pre- requisites attended in High School. (And it wasn't just a textbook, me and my class developed film in those classes).

To the original poster- if you're in High School, I recommend taking Graphic Design classes but only if your class has a darkroom.
Cool_Cat  
#4 Posted : Wednesday, November 15, 2017 3:30:34 AM(UTC)
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From what I noticed the pre 51 MGM cartoons on the Academy Awards DVDs are a lot dirtier than the WB ones most of the time.

I also noticed in the Golden Collection Blu Ray they had to heavily use digital tools to get rid of the dirt, and it ended up negatively affecting the picture.

I do have a feeling they actually found the original nitrate for Little Quacker as, original titles aside, the picture looks incredibily good.
Jason Todd  
#5 Posted : Wednesday, November 15, 2017 4:40:05 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Cool_Cat Go to Quoted Post
From what I noticed the pre 51 MGM cartoons on the Academy Awards DVDs are a lot dirtier than the WB ones most of the time.

I also noticed in the Golden Collection Blu Ray they had to heavily use digital tools to get rid of the dirt, and it ended up negatively affecting the picture.

I do have a feeling they actually found the original nitrate for Little Quacker as, original titles aside, the picture looks incredibily good.


Have you any idea of what sources were used for those restorations?
User is suspended until 6/14/2292 4:56:53 PM(UTC) LuckyToon  
#6 Posted : Wednesday, November 15, 2017 11:00:12 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Jason Todd Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: Cool_Cat Go to Quoted Post
From what I noticed the pre 51 MGM cartoons on the Academy Awards DVDs are a lot dirtier than the WB ones most of the time.

I also noticed in the Golden Collection Blu Ray they had to heavily use digital tools to get rid of the dirt, and it ended up negatively affecting the picture.

I do have a feeling they actually found the original nitrate for Little Quacker as, original titles aside, the picture looks incredibily good.


Have you any idea of what sources were used for those restorations?


I do know that some of the sources WB used to remaster the T&J cartoons for DVD and Blu Ray releases are 1960's reissue prints with the early 60's MGM logo. The remastered copy of Puss Gets the Boot is a 60's reissue copy since the MGM cartoon title card (which was remade) has no translation and just jump cuts to the remaining opening titles.
Cool_Cat  
#7 Posted : Wednesday, November 15, 2017 3:50:53 PM(UTC)
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Considering how the color correction and digital restoration is usually very painstaking, I wonder why during the process they didn't realize they were remastering a bad source.

Jason Todd  
#8 Posted : Wednesday, November 15, 2017 4:32:58 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Cool_Cat Go to Quoted Post
Considering how the color correction and digital restoration is usually very painstaking, I wonder why during the process they didn't realize they were remastering a bad source.



Good question...

Also, aside from the recreated '60s title card used in the Golden Collection print of Puss Gets the Boot abruptly cutting to the credit sequence, did anyone else notice a slight jump splice in the scene where Tom (Jasper) prances after Jerry (just before using the ink jar to fool the mouse into thinking he's running into his mouse hole)? Though the restoration looks nothing short of amazing, it should be noted that Warner chose a pretty splicey print to work with, which is unfortunate.
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LuckyToon on 11/15/2017(UTC)
User is suspended until 6/14/2292 4:56:53 PM(UTC) LuckyToon  
#9 Posted : Wednesday, November 15, 2017 5:11:27 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Jason Todd Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: Cool_Cat Go to Quoted Post
Considering how the color correction and digital restoration is usually very painstaking, I wonder why during the process they didn't realize they were remastering a bad source.



Good question...

Also, aside from the recreated '60s title card used in the Golden Collection print of Puss Gets the Boot abruptly cutting to the credit sequence, did anyone else notice a slight jump splice in the scene where Tom (Jasper) prances after Jerry (just before using the ink jar to fool the mouse into thinking he's running into his mouse hole)? Though the restoration looks nothing short of amazing, it should be noted that Warner chose a pretty splicey print to work with, which is unfortunate.


Wow, I didn't noticed that. It reminds me of the 2 similar slight jump splices in the remastered prints of "The Film Fan" (Porky Pig 1939) which is seen when the "Starring Porky" title fades to the cartoon, and "Pancho's Hideaway" (Speedy Gonzales Yosemite Sam 1964) on the closing title.
dbear  
#10 Posted : Wednesday, November 15, 2017 8:25:02 PM(UTC)
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Honestly, there is no way of answering your first question on a public forum. Your best bet is to either contact someone at WB like George Feltenstein or get in touch with an archivist at UCLA or LoC, who essentially safeguard all remaining nitrate elements owned by the major studios.

One thing to note that MGM were fairly diligent in creating high-quality preservation masters before any other studio in the 60s and 70s. By the time of the fire they had struck safety fine-grains and negs off many of their original nitrate elements. This is why Blu-rays of titles lost in the fire such as "Singing in the Rain", "Ninotchka" and "Father of the Bride" still manage to look stunning.

If you pick up a copy of "The Dawn of Technicolor", there's an extensively research filmography included which lists all the known archival holdings of every known two-strip Technicolor feature, short and cartoon including the 13 two-strip Happy Harmonies.

With regards to those titles, I can provide a greater breakdown if you want, but essentially none of the camera negs to the 13 listed in the book appear to survive but nitrate elements for several exist in LoC and UCLA. These include original dye transfer prints (either kept as a studio copy or possibly prints that were projected in theaters way back when), b&w separation maters and soundtrack elements. Two even have nitrate "work prints" whatever that means. Warner Bros do possess at least 2 sets of safety CRI negs for all but 1 or 2 which oddly have none.

tl;dr having no original neg does not mean you can't get a good HD restoration, best to get in touch with someone who has researched studio archival holdings

Edited by user Wednesday, November 15, 2017 8:25:43 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

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Cool_Cat  
#11 Posted : Wednesday, November 15, 2017 11:15:04 PM(UTC)
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Probably the worst remaster of the first Golden Collection is The Million Dollar Cat.

On the scene where Tom finds out Jerry is sleeping on the same bed you can clearly see heavy use of digital tools which ended up reducing the ink lines, which means they must have used a print in really bad condition.

All the masters of The Million Dollar Cat have generally looked pretty bad (except one), but still better than the Blu Ray one.

The only version which looks acceptable to me is the one released on the Cartoon Moviestars VHS series (not sure if you got it in the US), which has the original lion opening.

UserPostedImage

But again, considering how much work they had to put to clean that mess, I wonder why they didn't realize in time they were dealing with a poor source.

P.S. Thanks dbear for the info
Jason Todd  
#12 Posted : Wednesday, November 15, 2017 11:31:25 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Cool_Cat Go to Quoted Post

The only version which looks acceptable to me is the one released on the Cartoon Moviestars VHS series (not sure if you got it in the US), which has the original lion opening.


The original lion opening? Does that print have the original title sequence? Or am I mistaken?

Also, I never got a copy of the Cartoon Moviestars tapes. Those were released before my time, but that's beside the point.

Edited by user Wednesday, November 15, 2017 11:35:03 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

Toadette  
#13 Posted : Wednesday, November 15, 2017 11:46:04 PM(UTC)
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The faded-looking Metrocolor prints on the first Golden Collection, including The Million Dollar Cat, Puttin' on the Dog, Mouse Trouble, and Quiet Please!, have the opening MGM logo replaced by the one seen on the Gene Deitch Tom and Jerry cartoons. (There was no expectation of those prints looking anything like the cartoons' original Technicolor, hence the removal of any references to it when they were struck.)
Cool_Cat  
#14 Posted : Thursday, November 16, 2017 2:07:18 AM(UTC)
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No, I meant the normal reissue title.

A lot of these non Technicolor versions were used for the Italian dubs in the late 70s, where they literally spliced a translated title card into the film, and they were aired here by FTA networks. I have a lot of them and they all share the same issues in terms of picture quality.

The Night Before Christmas was also one of these and it had the same fake MGM card as the remastered version of Puss Gets the Boot.

Speaking of the Cartoon Moviestars series, they had really good remasters (except the first two volumes), pretty much what you would expect from a very well done remaster in the late 80s. Most of the times they beat the later remasters Turner did in the 90s (released on the Spotlight Collection), but in any case I find both better than the majority of the GC2 remasters.

For an example I find the Cartoon Moviestars version of Puttin On the Dog the best one, which means good quality sources do exist.
Jason Todd  
#15 Posted : Thursday, November 16, 2017 6:57:06 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Cool_Cat Go to Quoted Post
No, I meant the normal reissue title.


Got it. That logo also appears on the Turner print of The Million Dollar Cat, as we all know.

Who exactly had access to the prints used for the Cartoon Moviestars tapes? And why didn't Turner Entertainment simply use those masters for TV syndication? In my honest opinion, even Warner's remastering of the Golden Collection prints for Sufferin' Cats, The Zoot Cat, etc, look miles better than the Turner prints--which generally look faded as shit.

Edited by user Thursday, November 16, 2017 7:04:10 AM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

Cool_Cat  
#16 Posted : Thursday, November 16, 2017 7:29:05 PM(UTC)
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Those Cartoon Moviestars versions come from the 80s, that was during the analog era. Considering how most of them were taken from good source material, they look pretty much like most of the post 48 Looney Tunes versions you see on TV.

The Turner versions were also taken from good material, but in some cases they have a very poor color correction, like for an example the color balance on Sleepy Time Tom being way too blue.

I should also mention many of the Turner versions (mostly Harman Ising shorts but also some T&J and Tex Avery) have DVNR. I'm pretty sure WB has the same transfer without DVNR, but they never bother to find the right version for DVD specials.

With this said, I'm not even looking forward for a Tex Avery set if it's going to get the same treatment as the Tom and Jerry ones.
DevonB  
#17 Posted : Thursday, November 16, 2017 10:52:58 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: dbear Go to Quoted Post
Two even have nitrate "work prints" whatever that means.


A work print is the rough version of the film, usually during the editing process, so it would technically be the first positive print of a film.
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nickramer  
#18 Posted : Friday, November 17, 2017 1:22:01 AM(UTC)
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And yet I heard no complaints about the dark print of "Mouse Cleaning" that was included on one of Steve's exclusive bonus Blu-Ray discs (which were the screenshots used on this site's film page).
Jason Todd  
#19 Posted : Friday, November 17, 2017 3:21:07 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: nickramer Go to Quoted Post
And yet I heard no complaints about the dark print of "Mouse Cleaning" that was included on one of Steve's exclusive bonus Blu-Ray discs (which were the screenshots used on this site's film page).


That's because it's a miracle that Mr. Stanchfield managed to put out a set that included Mouse Cleaning on it without getting in a shit-load of trouble. I wouldn't complain there.

Side note: I wish I had that set...
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PopKorn Kat on 11/17/2017(UTC)
dbear  
#20 Posted : Friday, November 17, 2017 3:32:07 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: nickramer Go to Quoted Post
And yet I heard no complaints about the dark print of "Mouse Cleaning" that was included on one of Steve's exclusive bonus Blu-Ray discs (which were the screenshots used on this site's film page).


I'd hardly call it a dark print.
http://www.intanibase.co...lution.aspx?shortID=3486

Minor digression: If I'm allowed to nitpick, I've seen a Super 8 LPP print from the 80s with a nicer colour balance than Steve's transfer but I don't claim to know which best represents the original. (don't own the print and didn't take any screenshots, I think Stu Shostak owns one from the same source)

Edited by user Friday, November 17, 2017 3:40:37 AM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

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