Bugs Bunny -- Unformatted

I’ve noticed on the opening credits of some classic cartoon characters (most notably Tom & Jerry) that the black letterbox bars are at the top and bottom of the screen. Then once the cartoon starts, it’s formatted for the TV screen. I know that this is because these cartoons were originally produced as shorts to be shown at theaters.

I want to know if “letterbox” editions of these cartoons (particularly Warner Bros. and MGM) are available. Do they still exist? Who could I contact about getting copies? Is there a God? (Oops, sorry. Wrong thread.)

Carpe hoc!

I believe TV mimics the same screen dimensions that prevailed in motion pictures at the time of its introduction (mid-40s). It wasn’t until the 50s that most films became more rectangular (wider).

I’ve seen many WB cartoons from the 40s and 50s on the big screen and they are projected with dimentions similar to those on TV.

I wouldn’t be suprised if one of two studios experimented with the wider format. MGM in particular always prided itself on technical inovations. I think the letterboxed cartoons you’ve seen are probably more the exception than the rule.

I would suggest you look at some catalogs of animation cells. I think the physical size of the cells should be listed. That would tell you precisely what the width to length ratio is for any given cartoon.

Good ol’ PapaBear! Thanks! Now, how do I get ahold of letterbox copies of the (possibly) few that were done?

The animation cel is not the entire frame, IIRC, but simple the pieces of cellulite. For example, if you buy a cel from a Disney cartoon, it’s probably just one character on it, no background, and so wouldn’t tell you anything about screen ratio.

And, of course, the “cels” being sold today are often not the originals at all, but are facsimile paintings on cellulite and sold for ridiculous prices. These may be hand painted, and may be quite nice in their own right, but they have no relationship to the original animation.

Sam is correct about cels not being “Cinemascope”. Most original cels did not cover the entire animation frame, but only the characters themselves. I’m not sure about Warners, but Disney did some experimentation with CScope back in the 50’s. Both “Lady and the Tramp” and “Sleeping Beauty” were originally filmed that way. They also did a few shorts around 1954-55, among which was the Donald Duck short “Grand Canyonscope.” However, beacuse not all theaters were equipped with CScope projectors back then, the films had to be shot twice; once for CScope and again for standard projection ratios. For the most part, the only things that had to change were the backgrounds, as the animation cels themsleves could simply be maneuvered closer together.For a major feature like “Sleeping Beauty” it was worth the cost, but for a smaller one reel short, it was a major nuisance and was probably a contributing reason why Disney closed down the shorts program at the end of 1956.

As far as Disney is concerned, none of the Cinemascoped shorts have ever been released on video, or shown on TV as far as I know, although the features have shown up on video.

Saint Eutychus

I think PapaBear has interesting possibilities as a geometer:

Or maybe a lexicologist in charge of all comparatives. (Never mind what the definition of the basic word was in the first place.) Hey, ‘more pregnant’ could also mean ‘wider’.

Ray (less square)

CDexter–I have to point out that animated cartoons are drawn on pieces of celluloid, not cellulite. Drawing on cellulite would be a disgusting process. Though it could be a new idea for Richard Simmons: “Animate Your Fat!”