Friday, July 07, 2006
the state of (suspended) animation
Amid Amidi over at Cartoon Brew, as expected, is on top of it. As Amid points out the reason some of these shorts were on YouTube is because fans won't find them in quality prints on DVD.
"It's important to look at the root cause of why so many classic shorts are appearing online in the first place. It's because they aren't available anywhere else for legal purchase. If these cartoons were available for purchase on dvd or available for download online, there's no way that anybody in their right mind could justify these lo-res versions that are appearing on YouTube. Disney, for example, has been doing a commendable job of releasing their animation library onto dvd, in their Treasures collections, and relatively few of those cartoons show up on video hosting/sharing sites. Disney has also taken another positive step forward by releasing individual shorts onto iTunes. Other media conglomerates, however, neither care about nor respect the classic animation in their vaults, and corrupt "copyright protection" laws have allowed these companies to withhold the cartoons from the public for far too long."
(Amid Amidi, 7-7-06)
Amid also links to a great article by animator Mark Mayerson on the controversy.
John Kricfalusi (Creator of Ren and Stimpy) recently pointed out on his blog, all kinds of stuff, the folly of what some companies, like Warner Brothers, are doing when they make YouTube remove these cartoons off their site:
These cartoon clips I post do nothing but promote Warner Bros. (and other cartoons). They don't compete with Warners. People who discover the cartoons on my and other fan sites will want to run out and buy high rez copies of them on DVD. Warner Bros. even advertises on my site to sell Bugs Bunny and Looney Tunes related merchandise! My blog and the blogs I link to are the best advertisements for old cartoons in the world.While Warner Bros. stops promoting their own great properties by taking the cartoons off of the TV networks, the only way left for young fans to discover these classic films is through Youtube and our fan blogs.
(John K., 7-6-06)
I posted those Tex Avery shorts here, precisely because I couldn't tell you- "Hey Shelfers, go run out and pick up the Tex Avery Collection Volume I out on DVD! On it you'll find one of my favorite cartoons!" I was able to find Tex's The First Bad Man on YouTube, after not having seen it in over 15 or more years. I can't find it on old video, I can't find it on DVD. If I could - I would own it, trust me. I own a well-worn copy of Droopy shorts. I would love to have them all on DVD. And why not? I own the Complete Pink Panther shorts. I bought some other MGM, now Warners, properties on DVD as well- Tom and Jerry. I own all of the Disney Treasures series, and am very happy to- because of the care that went into releasing them and the amount of extras, shorts, and material that is in them. The Disney Treasures series is perhaps one of the best Home Video products Disney has ever put out. The fans know it and Disney knows it. And they continue to bring out some great stuff for fans that they haven't seen in decades, and won't likely see outside of the DVDs. And you can thank Leonard Maltin for the wonderful part he plays as consultant and host to the series. Thanks Mr. Maltin. Can anyone get to work on the Jiminy Cricket shorts and Song of the South?
That being said, I think Disney and Warners are some of the few doing some things right. I love Warner Brothers' products- I own all of the Looney Tunes: Golden Collections and my kids and I watch them often. Even the casual Shelf readers knows of our affection for the Warner's classic films and their great DVD releases. However, the absence of some properties on DVD baffle me. Why won't Sony, Viacom, or Paramount or Universal for that matter, release classic animation in their control on DVD. We're talking about stuff like Woody Woodpecker, Terrytoons, and other great properties. The animation will continue to thrive and live as new fans discover it. I just hope that they and other studios that own the rights to these classic shorts and pieces of our cultural heritage, realize that the need to let new generations discover them.
I also hope they do not follow Cartoon Network as a model. A channel that had so much promise, and for a while, really built on it's intentions and provided fans with a place to find great animation, is now surviving on anime and Adult Swim. Now, I enjoy episodes of The Venture Brothers and repeats of Futurama and Family Guy as much as the next guy, but now it seems that CN is trying real hard to bring live action onto the network. This is what has happened to the channel where we used to watch the great Toon Heads show or The Tex Avery Show or even a month long marathon of June Bugs. In other words, down the crapper.
With the omnipresence of terrible CGI films, the YouTube fiasco, the CN decline, and dearth of some classic animation properties on DVD you would think that the state of animation is almost in a state of suspended animation (you wondered how I was going to work that in, weren't you?). However, it is not completely so- for you see, every time I read or hear about the above situations I just think about the excitement that is in the faces of my kids or even my nieces and nephews when they hear that familiar Looney Tunes theme coming across the television. Or when Christmas comes around and my son tells me that he really hopes Santa Claus brings him an art easel and a cartooning book. Or when presented with a plethora of DVD titles to choose from, my kids ask to watch The Pink Panther, again. Or when I talk to my nephew on the phone, pretending to be Mickey Mouse, and I hear him say "I love you Mickey Mouse, can I talk to Donald?" - I know that there is great hope. You see CBS-Paramount, Sony, NBC-Universal, and and all of the rest of you that refuse to release any of the greats on DVD- the characters will live on, because of the love and fun the animators put into the creation, and the love and the fun the fans get out of them. The bottom line will take care of itself, trust me.
So, while we're on the subject, how about those Tex Avery DVDs?
Any Shelfers have any comments or thoughts on the subject? Sound off in the comments section!