Author Topic: "Faking" original main titles...your take?  (Read 5306 times)

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vdubdavid

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Re: "Faking" original main titles...your take?
« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2011, 01:25:13 pm »
Amazing how much ware always hung up over title cards I sometimes wonder if many only just watch the titles.

I think for some of us it's the desire to know the unknown. I realize that the body of the cartoon is what we come here for, but I still get a thrill when I'm able to hear music or see artwork that was thought to be lost forever.

Honestly, I think it comes down to a case by case basis. In cases like Disney and the WB Blue Ribbons, where at least some modicum of effort was put into the reissue titles, leave them as they are unless the originals are found. Or, recreate the original titles as a special bonus feature (such as was done with 'The Bashful Buzzard' on the LTGC).

On the other hand, for things like NTA titles, I'd find something else, simply because they're eyesores.

Woody Woodpecker

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Re: "Faking" original main titles...your take?
« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2011, 02:51:13 pm »
I've heard the cartoon "Rugged Bear" originally had a very unique opening title with a variation of the usual Donald head shot.

Yep.

Do you have this in motion?
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eutychus

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Re: "Faking" original main titles...your take?
« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2011, 03:04:01 pm »
Do you have this in motion?

Yes here. Unfortunately, my sound card was not working when I did the video, but you get the gist.

ParamountCartoons

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Re: "Faking" original main titles...your take?
« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2011, 03:31:39 pm »
I don't think it's possible anymore; I believe that the reissue titles were cut into the negatives. For example, even though Pinocchio has the RKO logo now, it still has the late-50s reissue credits; they don't have/couldn't locate elements for the original main titles.

According to David Gerstein, Disney used to have 35mm nitrate and dupe elements with original titles - some shorts that don't have the original RKO titles now, did back in the early 80s when they showed up on the Disney Channel and early video releases. But in the late 80s, most of the studio's nitrate holdings were destroyed (I am assuming this doesn't include the negatives), possibly because management felt it unnecessary or cost-prohibitive to insure and protect them. This included "duplicate" elements that still retained original titles that were no longer on the masters, and were never backed up to safety. Due to this oversight, a lot of the original titles are lost or only survive on privately held prints.



And that is why we'll never see the original titles to "Bambi" or "Cinderella"!


blackmoses

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Re: "Faking" original main titles...your take?
« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2011, 06:24:15 pm »
I agree with the sentiment that new titles should be made if it can be done in the spirit (if not the letter) of the originals.

To make a truly-authentic replacement title card, I think one would need to do the following:

1. Recreate the original background art by consistently referring to an actual print of the film while making the new titles; in order to ensure that colors and other details are accurate. This would entail actually making a new background painting and also creating a new cel with the lettering; taking care to accurately-replicate the particular font(s) used in the original production.

2. Film the new titles using vintage black and white or color camera equipment that has been restored and re-calibrated according to any surviving technical specifications from the studio that produced the film. The only problem with this is that the remainder of the cartoon must be restored as well or else the difference between the newly-filmed titles and the remaining, older footage will be readily-apparent and particularly jarring.

This would be a _truly_ authentic replacement process, but a good graphic designer could make one that looks as good as (if not better, since you can artificially age the look of the footage) an analog recreation using Photoshop, a compositing program, and some film-aging plug-ins.

To answer the main topic, I'm all for recreated titles, if they are done correctly (if it's good enough for major feature DVD releases like "My Fair Lady", it's good enough for a cartoon, right?). At the very least, new titles in the style or spirit of the old could be created, similar to what was done for the earliest entries on the Laurel & Hardy DVDs.

Paul Penna

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Re: "Faking" original main titles...your take?
« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2011, 06:41:06 pm »
Generally, I think of the restoration of original titles as a nice appetizer; the lack doesn't mean the main course won't taste just as good. On the other hand, anything would be better than those god-awful text-only NTA titles and others of that ilk. They're kind of like stepping into a pile of dog excrement on the way into the good restaurant, to continue the metaphor.

Woody Woodpecker

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Re: "Faking" original main titles...your take?
« Reply #21 on: December 12, 2011, 09:08:01 pm »
Do you have this in motion?

Yes here. Unfortunately, my sound card was not working when I did the video, but you get the gist.

I think the sound is not the issue I have heard that  :donald: tune several times.
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J Lee

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Re: "Faking" original main titles...your take?
« Reply #22 on: December 12, 2011, 09:34:46 pm »
...

But if it's a custom intro that's been decimated by NTA's black bars (cf. There's Good Boos Tonight), or completely covered over by generic UM&M titles (Suddenly It's Spring, A-Haunting We Will Go), there's really nothing you can do, unless you actually locate a copy with original titles.

You could probably make a pretty good stab at recreating the titles for"A Haunting We Will Go", since the music used is the same as with "There's Good Boos Tonight". The actual graphic design of the cartoon's title would be the problem, but the other credits can be mimicked.

Tom Stathes

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Re: "Faking" original main titles...your take?
« Reply #23 on: December 13, 2011, 01:42:46 am »
Thank you all for your insightful comments and opinions. I'd like to respond to some specific offerings:

Mac: "Reissue titles are still part of the history of a cartoon, so I usually find them more interesting than a guess at what the originals looked like...When we don't know for sure what the original titles looked like, fake original titles do seem somewhat dishonest."

This is my personal feeling as well. I feel there should be some distinction made between today's "orphan films", such as most silent series and sound subjects such as Van Beuren; and bodies of works that are still owned and redistributed today by the original studios that produced them such as Warner Bros. and Disney. The latter are the original studios that created the films, and I feel that while it is definitely misleading (and an eyesore, personally) to "fake" new 'original' title cards, they more or less have the artistic freedom to do so. This is basically what studios did decades ago for their old stock when using them on TV, etc. However, for "orphan films" that are no longer owned by their original studios (most of which are long defunct), I feel those works should be regarded purely as artifacts. What this means is that historians and distributors today who "fiddle" with any aspect of the surviving elements by adding something new are unfairly representing someone else's work. For Disney to tack on a new "original" title card on an old Disney cartoon is one thing, but for Mr. Historian-Collector-Distributor to tack on a new "original" title card onto an old public domain orphan film is another thing altogether. It's totally fine and legal to do, but not my preference. Just my opinion.

Craig D.: "As you know, I've created my own bogus title cards over the last few years.  These have been for my own DVD copies that have had practically no "distribution" whatsoever.  ("Silent Frolics Vol. 1" notwithstanding.  ;))
My take on it is, if it's "OK" for Stewart Films to slice off and then tack on their own titles, then who should care if I replace THOSE bogus titles with my own?"


As Steve said, your "bogus" title cards are pretty cool! I've enjoyed them as well. As I've kind of hinted in my last blurb, there is a distinction between Stuart Prod. and yourself, though. Stuart bought the distribution rights to the films and thus owned them as commercial product. Stuart was distributing them as television air time filler-fodder, not necessarily because they were pivotal early animated films that begged watching for any historical or academic purpose. This kind of handling is part of the films' distribution history, and believe it or not, I actually prefer their title cards to faked originals on the ethical basis that they were added to the films before the films became subjects of archival importance. What folks like you and I are doing with the films is also an important part of their history, but my feeling is now we're in a position to present them as archival items rather than "funny kiddie fodder", in which case our new "creative" artistic titles really have nothing to do with the actual history of the films...they're simply not real.  ;)

I don't mean to sound like these cartoons should be treated like boring old museum pieces. However, I think it's always been the case that I felt true enjoyment of their entertainment value has been a secondary "bonus" whereas the films' true value lies within their historical context. My take is contemporary distributors who add "faked" original titles to old films are simply catering to a fan base that is perhaps rightfully obsessed with the originality of a film presentation, but unhealthily in my opinion when a fake is considered better than an old reissue. Perhaps the issue lies with the fan base rather than the contemporary producers who are simply reacting to the voices of the fan base. This is an economic necessity, but I don't feel that it's historically or archivally correct.

Steve Stanchfield: "...for especially early animation I tend to think of the cards as still being original if it's a reissue from the same studio- perhaps not original from the first release, but if it's matching the look and feel of the film and from the original studio I would leave it before doing any kind a recreation- so,  if I have a film that was made in 1928 but reissued in 1930 and I have a print with the 1930 title cards, I'll 100% use the 1930 cards before making a recreation version."

Completely agreed on this point. This is more or less how I plan to treat the Bray cartoons in future distributions of them. You can imagine the array of title card styles that might be present in a collection of one cartoon series from the studio by having a look at this title card gallery: http://brayanimation.weebly.com/title-card-gallery.html

Regarding the Famous cartoons, I'd still much rather see UM&M/NTA cards rather than any kind of a faked original. But that's just me...if the fans want recreations, give them as much. I don't plan to do this to silent animation and I hope viewers would understand my choices as a preservationist and not as an artist. The "art" relating to these films was produced so long ago in my eyes that there's no need to add any new kind of art to them, aside from new packaging and DVD menus and that sort of thing.

To sign off...

Yowp: "So long as there's a notation somewhere they've been re-created."

Indeed, this is *very* important in my opinion. Thank you.

jaboschen

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Re: "Faking" original main titles...your take?
« Reply #24 on: December 13, 2011, 09:05:35 am »
I guess what it come down to is how good the re-creations are.  Steve Stanchfield does an excellent job recreating the original titles on his collections and I honestly really do appreciate the hard work he has put into recreating the Van Beuren opening credits.  On Jerry Beck's Somewhere in Dreamland DVD, I  liked seeing the Paramount logos re-instated and those miserable NTA bars removed (I must say though I do kind of like the NTA film reel logo though, it's presents doesn't bother me too much).  I honestly would have liked to have seen the titles to the two Tom and Jerry cartoons "the Midnight Snack" and "Zoot Cat" recreated for the recent T&J DVD as a complete set of photos of the original credits do exist on the internet.
However in the case of some of the DVD's Disney has released, the re-creations they do are so poorly done that it honestly drives me nuts.  You guys are going to think that I am crazy, but I find the two Mickey Mouse in Black & white DVD's and the Chronological Donald Duck Volume 4 DVD to be almost un-watchable because of how historically inaccurate and sloppy the recreated opening credits are. (On the last Donald Duck DVD they screwed up the RKO logos big time as well as removed the RKO fanfare music on every cartoon that originally had it).   That's my take on it.
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Craig D

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Re: "Faking" original main titles...your take?
« Reply #25 on: December 13, 2011, 12:10:08 pm »
Stuart bought the distribution rights to the films and thus owned them as commercial product. Stuart was distributing them as television air time filler-fodder, not necessarily because they were pivotal early animated films that begged watching for any historical or academic purpose. This kind of handling is part of the films' distribution history, and believe it or not, I actually prefer their title cards to faked originals on the ethical basis that they were added to the films before the films became subjects of archival importance. What folks like you and I are doing with the films is also an important part of their history, but my feeling is now we're in a position to present them as archival items rather than "funny kiddie fodder", in which case our new "creative" artistic titles really have nothing to do with the actual history of the films...they're simply not real.  ;)

I don't mean to sound like these cartoons should be treated like boring old museum pieces. However, I think it's always been the case that I felt true enjoyment of their entertainment value has been a secondary "bonus" whereas the films' true value lies within their historical context. My take is contemporary distributors who add "faked" original titles to old films are simply catering to a fan base that is perhaps rightfully obsessed with the originality of a film presentation, but unhealthily in my opinion when a fake is considered better than an old reissue. Perhaps the issue lies with the fan base rather than the contemporary producers who are simply reacting to the voices of the fan base. This is an economic necessity, but I don't feel that it's historically or archivally correct.

I can see your point if we're talking about "preserving" an altered version of a TV print.  Stuart also hacked out all the title cards with dialog and inserted generic Van Buren music. "Preserving" a Stuart print isn't the same as "restoring" a cartoon to its original-issue version.  But it is an honest representation of what the TV print was.

And then there are the foreign versions of cartoons with their own title cards. 

I will readily cede that a cartoon nerd, like myself, fiddling with a cartoon by using his home computer is about as far away from an honest, acadmeic "restoration" as you can get.

(Is Ray yet a member here?  I wonder what his opinion would be..?)

As always, keep up the good work, Tom!

Cap'n Craig

vdubdavid

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Re: "Faking" original main titles...your take?
« Reply #26 on: December 13, 2011, 01:05:47 pm »
I don't think it's possible anymore; I believe that the reissue titles were cut into the negatives. For example, even though Pinocchio has the RKO logo now, it still has the late-50s reissue credits; they don't have/couldn't locate elements for the original main titles.

According to David Gerstein, Disney used to have 35mm nitrate and dupe elements with original titles - some shorts that don't have the original RKO titles now, did back in the early 80s when they showed up on the Disney Channel and early video releases. But in the late 80s, most of the studio's nitrate holdings were destroyed (I am assuming this doesn't include the negatives), possibly because management felt it unnecessary or cost-prohibitive to insure and protect them. This included "duplicate" elements that still retained original titles that were no longer on the masters, and were never backed up to safety. Due to this oversight, a lot of the original titles are lost or only survive on privately held prints.



And that is why we'll never see the original titles to "Bambi" or "Cinderella"!

Not so fast. The originals (or at least the opening RKO title slate) for those two were used on their Laserdisc releases. Why they weren't reinstated on subsequent DVD releases (unlike with 'Alice in Wonderland', 'Peter Pan' and the package features), I don't know.

zavkram

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Re: "Faking" original main titles...your take?
« Reply #27 on: December 13, 2011, 09:15:31 pm »
With regard to Bambi... I thought it was stated in the accompanying documentary on the making of the film that the original nitrate elements were in varying states of decomposition; which might explain why they had to do their restoration on a Buena Vista reissue version. I have my copy of the Platinum Edition here with me; I'll have to watch the documentary again over the holidays to make sure I had heard correctly.

I saw Steve's restoration of the "Lamb in a Jam" title-card and thought he did an admirable job. When I watch old cartoons, I want to try and see them in as close to their original theatrical release appearance as is humanly possible. I don't care very much if a title has to be recreated... if it's done with respect for the original creator's intention and with taste and skill I'll readily accept it.

For me, though, it's always preferable if the actual original titles can be located, refurbished, and then edited into the cartoon proper.