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Old July 11 2012, 10:59 PM   #54
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Re: Batman - The 1940s Serials

Kirkman1987 wrote: View Post
I don't want to touch on modern cgi too much, I'll just say I prefer physical effects. I have no real problem with the animation, I just prefer the Captain Marvel stuff. Does anyone have any idea who did the superman animation for this? The serial was made by Columbia, but I don't think Columbia had an animation department.
I did a search, and apparently Columbia did have an in-house animation department that released a series of cartoon shorts in the 1940s, but it closed in 1948, just before the first Superman serial. The director of those cartoons, Howard Swift, had gone on to open his own studio, and he did the special animation effects for the serials.

I don't know how cheap or expensive the animation was. I don't buy the compositing argument. compositing an animated superman onto the frame shouldn't be harder than having to draw layouts and backgrounds for the entire sequence. It's just a matter of photographing a cell over the live action frame. It may have been costly, but let's not pretend this one character being animated is like a Fleischer short or something.
I was comparing the cost to that of live-action film by itself. It's more expensive to animate something on top of a live-action plate than it is just to show the live-action footage by itself.

Still, all the sources do claim that the animated flying sequences were done because of the low budget, which seems odd to me. Maybe animators just weren't paid very well back then?

I prefer the Marvel effects, but I give them kudos for at least having Superman fly. Serials were made so cheaply, they could have just had the flying offscreen or take out that element completely, but they didn't.
Personally I'd rather see Superman turn into a cartoon that can move fluidly and swoop all over the place than see Captain Marvel turn into a rigid dummy gliding in a straight line. Apparently audiences at the time felt more like you do, though, and didn't respond well to the animation.
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