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Author Topic: MAINFRAME's 3D Popeye
-FP-
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What do POPEYE fans think of this?

Billy west is good as Popeye, and the voice cast is adequate.

Aside from that, I had a generally hostile reaction to this thing. It's completely wrong, from the script to the animation and rendering. Even the music, by the usually excellent Mark Mothersbaugh, is perfunctory and disappointing.

Popeye's face, as designed, textured, and animated in 3D by Mainframe, looks like a big bald scrotum.

I got a long list of stuff that bugs me about this new Popeye, but rather than list it, I'll let the memory fade . . .

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marmax
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I'd like to see some new ideas.
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Eric Hedman
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better to watch "popeye vs. anime" on campchaos.com

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20's-30's music

Come see my Second Life Stuff
http://slurl.com/secondlife/Chilispoon/128/80/39

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cheekydude
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http://www.biganimation.com/magazine/news/anmviewer.asp?a=362

Basic interview with Mainframe on the second page

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Cheeky Dude

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-FP-
IE # 13
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Right now I'm supposed to be doing laundry, so I'll post these frame-grabs instead:

This looks more butt-like than anything else, I suppose. Many years ago, MAD magazine featured a gag panel in which Popeye's butt exactly resembled his face:
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What's this Reboot-looking lady doing in Popeye's universe?:
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Emulating the "rubber hose" look of Olive's arms was an honorable goal - but it looks creepy in 3D! Here is the latest bride of Cthulu:
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These hearts were an attempt to do a classic cartoon gag - but they stay onscreen for about fifteen minutes of Olive shots, and they're really weird in 3D as they float and pop. Maybe they were meant to evoke the old POPEYE videogame, in which Olive's floating hearts played a major part:
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Yow!:
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There are hints of something that could have been a little better here, but it appears that the script was junk, the deadline/budget wouldn't allow rig/animation refinement, and some weird decisions were made, such as the design of the siren. Towards the end, some shots had the classic Fleischer timing, without the all-too-often seen "3D float".

The show unfortunately resembles the MAINFRAME SCARY GODMOTHER special, which also had an unpleasant script, floaty, not-quite-finished looking animation, weird lighting that left the interior of mouths illuminated, and rigs that didn't prevent joint pinching.

I'm guessing these shows have tiny budgets and short deadlines? MAINFRAME has done much better stuff.

...and this post has successfully consumed twenty-five minutes.

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Oh yeah, while I'm thinking about it - -

A while back, I found on Emule an animation file named PIXAR's POPEYE or something like that. That title demanded an immediate download. It appears to be student work, synced to one of the many vintage versions of the Popeye theme song. It's interesting, with some nice textures and rendering, and the usual timing and technical glitches found in entry-level 3D. It's completely uncredited. Many someone at AN knows something about it? The frame grabs:

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EustaceScrubb
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 -

Thanks for posting those frame grabs .

It's interesting to compare and contrast with this :

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(rubber hose arms can be done well !)

These characters just seem to work better as drawings.
The Mainframe version is an example of making things too literal and realistic. Unfortunately with these types of characters it just emphasizes the fact that they are constructed of a series of graphic "cheats". Popeye is a grotesque character design, no doubt, and there are times in the Fleischer cartoons where the characters are drawn downright ugly, but overall the Fleischer cartoons have a charm to them which does not appear to be evident in the Mainframe CG version. As a graphic , cartoony design the Fleischer version works , but the Mainframe just looks weird.
Some people have always disliked the Fleischer cartoons because Popeye ,etc. are "ugly" , and "lacking in appeal" (as defined by the Disney studio) , but I really like the 30's cartoons made at Fleischer Studios.

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Russian Judge
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I agree that Billy West can probably carry the voice acting chores. That may be the only thing that saves this production.

Does anyone remember the show animated for CBS years ago, "Popeye and Son?" Not great in the form of animation, but at least it admitted that time had passed. Olive (married to Popeye) wore jogging suits, indicating that she was physically active and not an anorexic rubber woman. And sure, a "kid version" of characters is a cheap gimmick, but it worked to update Popeye without warping him completely.

Trying to reproduce Popeye as Segar created him, as if half a century of progress hasn't happened, is just not workable. And the one thing that's still enjoyable about the old Popeye cartoons - characters grabbing whatever happened to be nearby and warping it into some completely different purpose - will probably be forgotten.

The scary part is, Billy West records contemporary music. Somewhere along the line, I know he is going to do a hip-hop song using Popeye's voice. I think even Doctor Demento would be weirded out by that.

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-FP-
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Hey, Russ -

Nothing "saves" the MAINFRAME production. Rent or download it. You'll see.

POPEYE AND SON was among the worst Popeye series ever. Putting Olive in a jogging suit, giving Popeye a Hawaiian shirt, eliminating the violence, and introducing a Hanna Barbera generic kid who grew Popeye arms occasionally did not make for an appealing treatment. This show was even worse than the earlier Hanna Barbera Popeye Saturday morning series.

Popeye's appeal can remain both true to his Segar/Fleischer roots and be contemporary - but when that was done very well by Bobby London, he got fired over it because of some puritanical objections to a semi-abortion-related continuity.

The end theme to the MAINFRAME Popeye is a rap version of the traditional Popeye theme, featuring Mark Mothersbaugh, one of my favorite rock and film composers, at a level of inspiration he has, in the past, exceeded. Check THIS out:
POPEYE RAP
At the beginning of this excerpt, you can hear some of the MAINFRAME soundtrack, with its shoe-horned Christmas sentiment and lame Casio-quality synth patches that make it sound as if it was recorded fifteen years ago.

The best recent animated treatment of Popeye I can remember was that controversial, hilarious orange juice commercial in which Popeye and Bluto were presented as a gay couple, and Olive was all pissed about it and stuff.

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dermot
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Egad......is that the best stuff they got ?

( Looks kind of "low budget" to me ! )

Here's a question.....can anyone give me an idea of how much time or $ is spent on preproduction / production design and art direction before modelling starts ?

I know very well what went into the Carebears thing..and I was just asked to quote on a concept pitch for Mainframe ; 2 weeks don't sound like much time to explore anything !

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Russian Judge
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Of course "Popeye and Son" wasn't all that good...one season indicates that...but at least it was some attempt to bring the characters into the latter half of the 20th Century. The live-action Popeye showed that putting everything into a strange, retro enclave like Sweethaven was a mistake. (So is hiring Randy Newman to do the songs.)

Yeah, and the "elimination of violence" was part of that sad, misshapen decade. It crippled nearly every animated project.

I get the feeling that every time some company buys the Popeye franchise to do a new project, everyone sits around the table, looks at the collected Popeye works from Segar's strips to contemporary comics, shakes their heads and says, "How do we make today's kids care about this stuff?"

He am what he am, and that's all that he am, and making him into something else doesn't really work. But neither have the attempts to do Popeye as he is. So what do you do?

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See the new, updated TOON Magazine Online
at http://www.toonmag.com

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tstevens
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I rented it this weekend and most of my feelings are similar to the above.

-For the most part the animation was OK although inconsistent at points. Some scenes felt pretty nice while others had the standard "liteness" associated with 3D.

-Olive Oils arms were definately creepy.

-the siren/sea hag animation was bad at best.

-Overall the pacing and action felt real flat. The story was something that could have been handled in 7 minutes. Stretching it out for nearly an hour didn't work.

It's decent enough to rent but I wouldn't spend the money to buy it.

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Todd
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quote:
The live-action Popeye showed that putting everything into a strange, retro enclave like Sweethaven was a mistake. (So is hiring Randy Newman to do the songs.)

Just for the record, those were Harry Nilsson's songs. Probably one of the most underappreciated music scores of all time.

One of the tunes from Altman's "Popeye" ("He Needs Me") was reused to great effect in P.T. Anderson's "Punch Drunk Love."

Hijack over.

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anderman70
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re Russian Judge;The 'ONE' thing enjoyable about the old Popeye cartoons?? And 'Popeye and Son" was good????

To each his own, I guess.I could only wish that many current cartoons displayed half of the charm and inventiveness of the best Fleischer Popeye's.

Just my two cents after picking my jaw up off the floor.

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Graphiteman
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I, like you guys, consider myself a big Popeye fan with a very modest collection. I've been critical too on some forums of particularily the stills.
But you know, lest I "blaspheme in the temple"....
It was actually good. Not even "not bad" but good.
As a Holiday special it was fun...I certainly wasn't bored. The animation was very good imo despite obvious problems with...I don't know what you'd call it..the way some joints and deformations would buckle and pinch. But some of those walk cycles and acting particualirly were great. The story was less Fleishcer but more Segar or Sagnedorf's serial strips.
Everyone's affection for Popeye from writing to music to animation was pretty evident to me.
I think the problems it did have are problems the rest of the non-pixar 3d world seems to have. That is (imo) that just because it is 3d doesn't mean the camera should go everywhere and anywhere.
And Popey's face looked dreadful anything other than 3/4 but then again it looked dreadful anything other than 3/4 in his other medium. Maybe they could have limited angles to his best side all the time...but lacking the 3d experience I don't know if or how they could do this. When his head was tilted slightly 3/4 he looked appealing as his drwings usually do. His face could've used the wing/septum on his nostrils as he should have and a crease from his wing/septum/nostril to the corner of his mouth. I found his eyes a little ambiguous. An understanding classical animation, as in treating that the eye as if the whites existed and the brows radiate and move on that invisble orbit, would've helped.
But ya know, when I'm not being such a drawing fundamentalist, I went away impressed with what they did accomplish which was alot.
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fishmorg3
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Good Lord, what a hootin' stinkeroo this CGI Poeye looks like -- it's even worse than POPEYE AND SON. (And a rap theme for Popeye? Puh-lease...) [puke]

Why the heck make Popeye characters into 3D horrors, anyway? To make them more "real"? How foolish. So many decades ago, The Fleischer Studio got it right on the money, using the 2D animation technology of the 1930s, yet.

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cpdavison
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Popeye's head construction has been problematic through the years.

Going back to Segar's original inspiration and character design, Popeye was based on a creaky ol' feller that not only had lost his right eye, but also was bereft of teeth. The lack of teeth, of course, causes the chin to jut out and brings it up close to the nose. Ever see pictures of human Popeye imitators? They are invariably toothless old men.

Ok, so now the nose is practically touching the chin. This causes the mouth to be dissected by the nose. Add an ever-present pipe dangling out of the left side of his chops and you have someone speaking out of the right corner of his mouth. (As I child, I couldn't figure out why Popeye's pipe stuck out of the side of his nose and used to draw him that way.)

What's interesting is that as Popeye became a more and more vital character his jawline became stronger and stronger which is appropriate for a heroic character. Some folks have pointed out that Sagendorf took this jawline to an extreme.

The frame grabs from the CGI special show that the head construction isn't really based on anything other than the idea that Popeye has a funny-shaped noggin, IMO. Gosh, they even gave him a full set of gleaming white teeth!

Of course, stills don't always tell the whole story. You could find hideous-looking frames in the Fleischer shorts as well. Check out the scene where Popeye sings, "What Can I Do For You" in the Aladdin two-reeler. Pay attention to his mouth on the word "you" as he rolls coins down his arm. Look familiar?

In the ineterest of full disclosure, I'll say that I haven't seen the Mainframe Popeye special, just the endless posts of frame-grabs.

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Graphiteman
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I understand if people don't like this. I just don't get the almost blind hostility.
It IS better than the HB incarnations. It was better than the Altman film (which had great charcaterizations) .
As a kid I enjoyed Popeye in all his appearances...even the KFS Tv ones....Which to this day has some very good limited animation (done by vets depending on which studio animated them). But yes, Fleishcer stuff was at the tops even then with the famous ones in a close second place (btw evolved into NOTHING like Max's and Dave's nor its contemporary strip).

So when I take off my anal-retentive, cartoon fundamentalist's hat and turn off the frame by frame microscope, the kid in me really enjoys this.....as I suspect the public for whom this was made will also.

No, I don't work for mainframe, don't necessarily want to and probably never can nor will. Strangley enough though, agian I find myself alone from time to time unable to see the "crimes against humanity" in some caroon that others just passionately hate.

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Graphiteman
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quote:
The frame grabs from the CGI special show that the head construction isn't really based on anything other than the idea that Popeye has a funny-shaped noggin,
Good reply, CP.
I do think the construction is modelled after the style sheets provided by KFS and taken way too literal...or even misinterpreted. ANd we don't know if alternatives were tried and some suit from KFS said "that's the one!" to what we fianlly see. However they could have used 2d artist's or even film buff's input. I can think of 2 local ANimtors who are absolute crazy about Popeye and one of them can draw a kick-ass Famous version in his sleep. That said, to me the facial model is a minor.

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fishmorg3
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No, this foul CGI Popeye is not being rejected because of "almost blind hostility"... folks who reject it are not "anal-retentive, cartoon fundamentalists." (No need for name-calling; look to your OWN hostility.) No, people reject this stuff because they can see it all too clearly.

When the characters are/were done in 2D, they register as characters... when they are tricked-up with CGI, they register more as "special effects"... as "things."

Some people rush to defend the darndest things... some few even defended Myers's CAT IN THE HAT.

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Graphiteman
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quote:
No, this foul CGI Popeye is not being rejected because of "almost blind hostility"... folks who reject it are not "anal-retentive, cartoon fundamentalists." (No need for name-calling; look to your OWN hostility.)
[funny] LOL!
I did use my own hostilty as an example. I said,"So when I take off MY anal-retentive, cartoon fundamentalist's hat and turn off the frame by frame microscope, the kid in me really enjoys this.....". That's just it. I wouldn't name-call over much...especially a cartoon. Not a battlefield I care to die on yet we all have an affection for the character.... including those, I believe after viewing, those behind this production.
As a cartoonist, believe me, I have a sense of ownership and protectionism over this icon...but he is not mine....he belongs to everyone.

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-FP-
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Hey, this is on FOX in a short while.

Odd - the DVD was 44 minutes, but this showing is in a half-hour slot. That leaves 22 minutes after commercials, so half of it will be missing.

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droosan
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Either that, or it'll be aired at 2x speed .. [funny]
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livingfruitvirus
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Looks like only half of it aired.

Anyway, I thought it was alright. A lot of the big differences between this and the original cartoons just had to do with the difference between 2D and 3D. Sometimes the animation felt a little tight. One thing I've noticed about the old cartoons was the animation itself was pretty slow, but not lumpy. This had a lot of quick animation. But at least it wasn't boring.

Billy West did a good job as Popeye (and I think he was the only US actor out of a handful of Canadians). The one voice I didn't like as much was Olive's, who didn't sound as whiny or nasal enough as the old Olive. She didn't have that same shriekyness to her voice.

Also....

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Ravenshoe
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I watched the show with my daughter. We were both entertained. Was it as good as the origianl Fleischer Popeye's? No. Was it half-way entertaining? Yes. Would I like to see more? Yes.

My 2 cents.

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dermot
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Y'know......I just saw a picture recently of a Popeye look-a-like in a Christmas parade here lately . I think it might even have been in my local Oakville paper.......and I have to say.....if anyone ever wanted my 2 cents I would cast a 60 yr old Newfie as Popeye in a live-action version . The grizzled wrinkled look makes sense and fits the notion of a guy who can still call on his muscles to take on a younger bully ( with the help of a healthy diet ! )

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J. J. Hunsecker
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quote:
Does anyone remember the show animated for CBS years ago, "Popeye and Son?" Not great in the form of animation, but at least it admitted that time had passed. Olive (married to Popeye) wore jogging suits, indicating that she was physically active and not an anorexic rubber woman. And sure, a "kid version" of characters is a cheap gimmick, but it worked to update Popeye without warping him completely.

Trying to reproduce Popeye as Segar created him, as if half a century of progress hasn't happened, is just not workable. And the one thing that's still enjoyable about the old Popeye cartoons - characters grabbing whatever happened to be nearby and warping it into some completely different purpose - will probably be forgotten.

There is no need to update a classic cartoon character. I never realised the age of the Bugs Bunny cartoons when I watched them as a child on TV. They seemed fresh and new to me then as they do to the children I know who watch them today.

There is nothing in the basic formula of the Fleischer versions of the Popeye cartoons that would date them today. Basically it's two sailors fighting over a woman. Pretty simple and it works in any era. It's only the props, like candlestick phones or cars with rumble seats, that would need updating.

It is the characterization that is important, not the external props or period setting. People like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Popeye, Woody Woodpecker, Donald Duck, etc., because of their behavior and attitudes (and the full, slick animation sure helps). So it would follow that changing their characters in order to "update" them would be a mistake.

But this is exactly what happens all the time to classic cartoon characters in some mistaken belief that this will make them "contemporary" to today's audiences. Let's see, people like the Popeye cartoons because he is a single, grizzled sailor who beats people up over his fickle love interest Olive. So if we "update" them as a dull married couple and add a son that would win over a whole new audience of fans. We have to make sure he never fights -- even though that was his raison d'etre -- 'cause we want to get the approval of the PTA crowd. Of course, the original character was a sailor so let's put him in a Hawaiian shirt. Yeah, makes perfect sense.

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dermot
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so true J.J.

But......we're "only" artists right ? Only a producer could make those kind of decisions .

OK enough sarcasm......but I always get a sick feeling when I attempt to voice a concern and I'm told "no-one likes a critic" . I especially hate to see wonderful books get "updated" into almost entirely new characters with cel-phones and daytimers ; like THAT is going to be something kids relate to . .. . .well.....someone in management must have thought it was funny I guess .

I can't believe a professional comedian would worry so much that his/her jokes might offend someone that they would edit them completely from their routine .

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Ravenshoe
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Hiya Dermot,
Good points about updating, however, my kids (ages 10 & 14) like many others, have a lot of difficulty accepting "old technology". For example, my daughter got turned off of Nancy Drew because in one story, Nancy sent a letter and had to wait for the reply.

"Why didn't she just e-mail?"

Or the Hardy Boys go looking for a phone booth.

"Don't they have cell phones?"

In many cases, it isn't the fault of the often-bashed "Oh-so-evil Producer". The audience doesn't accept old technology or black & white movies, or funny, out of date clothes, or...

Kids today have a very narrow frame of reference. Broadcasters know this and if you want to sell a show, you have to conform with the dumbing down of society.

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heckboy
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Hmmm... well, Olive looks great, Bluto is OK and Popeye's face has always looked like a butt, no more or less in CGI. The green girl looks like she was designed for another show. The question for me is, who cares about Popeye?
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Graphiteman
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Fleischers are not the only source for Popeye's "formulas". I have some serial Sagnedorf strips compiled in paperbacks. Olive oYl becomes a prize fighter. Popeye discovers a source of feul called spincoal. Pop has to deal with clones from the 5th Dimension. Poepye and gang go west....

These are funny and very much in character.
I liken the special to one of his ongoing adventure strips.
I think also thumbs up have to be given to KFS for the style sheets and new art used in merchandising etc that is based on Fleischers rounder (3D!), less flat drawings than those of the strips.

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J. J. Hunsecker
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quote:
Good points about updating, however, my kids (ages 10 & 14) like many others, have a lot of difficulty accepting "old technology". For example, my daughter got turned off of Nancy Drew because in one story, Nancy sent a letter and had to wait for the reply.

"Why didn't she just e-mail?"

Or the Hardy Boys go looking for a phone booth.

"Don't they have cell phones?"

In many cases, it isn't the fault of the often-bashed "Oh-so-evil Producer". The audience doesn't accept old technology or black & white movies, or funny, out of date clothes, or...

Kids today have a very narrow frame of reference. Broadcasters know this and if you want to sell a show, you have to conform with the dumbing down of society.

Ravenshoe,

Does this mean that your children can never understand any stories in a period setting? That would exclude just about all classic childrens literature. Do you explain to them that once upon a time there were no cell phones, walkmans or gameboys? I don't think that is too difficult for a child to understand and they may even learn something about history.

About blaming the "evil" producers: many of todays film and television executives would gladly do away with any reference to the past. They're all about today's modern technology. A movie like "The Incredibles", which takes place in a time before email and cellphones, is anathema to them. Yet the movie is popular with adults and children. It must baffle today's executives.

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Ravenshoe
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No. They understand period pieces, fantasy, etc. It's just people who look, talk and dress like them don't have up to date technology, it frustrates them.
They think that encyclopedias are hilarious.

quote:
About blaming the "evil" producers: many of todays film and television executives would gladly do away with any reference to the past. They're all about today's modern technology. A movie like "The Incredibles", which takes place in a time before email and cellphones, is anathema to them. Yet the movie is popular with adults and children. It must baffle today's executives.
You're speaking in generalities. I'd argue the point, but what's the point? The people I deal with are very smart and they're the exception to the rule.
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Toonimator
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I caught the tail-end of this Christmas special the other night, and had an offensive reaction to it as well. The modeling, at a glance, felt fine, much like the Popeye action figures from a couple years ago. But the acting, the staging, was TERRIBLE. They didn't MOVE like Popeye characters. They moved like your average generic TV-show CG character.

...and how about that cheat at the end with the Christmas Tree? Popeye lifts Sweetpea up to place the star atop the tree, but can't QUITE reach it, only a few inches away... then Popeye suddenly rises those few inches, and looks down. Cut to a wide shot of Pappy... lifting Popeye SEVERAL FEET in the air! How'd Popeye get so high up in the closeup, then, if Pappy only added an extra 6-12 inches in height? There were no ladders or stools nearby. He didn't climb anything before. Guess he was levitating!

I know that's a VERY common type of cheat, though, especially in TV where nobody's expected to notice or care. But it really bugged! Not a very well thought-out show, even from the 5 minutes I saw.

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The video is currently $1.99 at BIG LOTS. I just saw it there when I went in to buy herring snacks in termater sauce. They also had Queen of the Damned in Spanish for 99 cents.
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Ha.
Funny that you brought this back up. That special was on my mind a while back.

I did get a chance to watch the televised version when it aired. The 3D was a bit much however it was still entertaining.

The Christmas theme aside, did anyone else notice that parts of the story seemed to be directly adapted from the Segar strips? It seemed like two seperate arcs were put together to form the story.

And, wasn't the comedian Paul Reiser a producer on it? Maybe even one of the writers? If not, cool. Maybe I'm wrong on that part.

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The TV version is about half as long as the video release. I can't remember if the TV edit had the atrocious siren song, sung by (gasp) Kathy Bates.

The only standout thing about the show was Billy West's Popeye voice. Mainframe was the wrong studio for this. Although I like some of its work, it seems its animation is increasingly hurried, and it deals mostly in churned-out piles of cross-promoted toy-based video for addled tots. I don't think Reiser's involvement was a big help, either. He may revere Popeye, but this show didn't "feel" right. It was almost as messed up as that awful Altman Popeye movie.

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gergley
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The choice of Billy West was a really good one. He did good.

iMBD's entry on the DVD

I should have looked for it there before asking.

There is a trailer linked on the page.

After watching it, and remembered more of the TV version, I guess I was more enamored with figuring out if the story was cribbed, in part, from the Segar strips. That's probably why it is entertainig to me. Someday, I should scope out some collections to see if the movie is close to the strips I'm thinking of. Not that it matters much.

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Wow, I just got an email from Jeremy Sabo, an associate of the guy who did the unidentified POPEYE animation, from which screenshots appear above. The animator's name is Sylvain Huard. The Popeye thing is one of his student demo reels, and can be seen HERE, along with other work.

Meanwhile, the Mainframe Popeye hasn't exactly become a cherished, high-priced collectible.

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