Found! My lost Sesame Street film
When helping my old mentor John Haugse move from his painting studio, I was lucky enough to come across a transfer of one of my lost Sesame Street films done in 1998!
I worked with John in my 20′s, when he had a small animation company called Animakers. I introduced him to animation on the computer, and we did our first few projects on the only computer that could play animation at 720×480 resolution in real time: The Amiga! John would draw everything on paper, using his animation desk / disc / light table, on paper that I’d punch for him. ( I inherited the desk / disc and punch )
When John got the chance to do a few animations for Sesame Street, I led him through scanning the images into Deluxe Paint in the Amiga, using a security camera! Black and white images were pulled into Deluxe Paint for compositing & pulling cel animation tricks. Then it was all drop fill colored, and then the files sent over a null-modem cable, and brought into a Mac (Quadra I believe, because the Amiga couldn’t do rich 32 bit color), and the individual images were loaded into Fractal Design Painter for added color and nuance the Amiga couldn’t handle. The Amiga was the perfect animation playback / test machine, where we combined “cels” digitally. Something the Mac couldn’t do. I think I remember making quicktime movies on the Mac, and still having trouble playing them back, unless we spent a ton of time making little quarter resolution movies.
We wanted to add features to Fractal Painter, and John actually got in touch with the developers. When he told them we were making animated films with it, they looked at him like he was crazy, as it was really only meant for animated gifs.
After we finished the first two, John gave me the honor of letting me do the third film. My first animation for Sesame Street, drawn all by myself. It was quite a thing, because I was so inexperienced, but I had been cartooning my whole life. It was sort of a fight or flight situation, and I remember being really under the gun. Drew the whole thing on paper, and inked it with my brush pen. Same method of colorization as above. I think I still have the original drawings in a box nearby.
I never received a copy of this animation, (and I went on to do five more for Sesame Street) because at the time it was recorded to BetaSP tape, and it just got lost in the shuffle of life. I’ve seen it air a few times, and contacted Sesame Street about the film, but never been able to get them to find a copy from their vaults.
So in going out to Hood River, to see John and his paintings, I ended up finding a copy of my lost film in an old box of VHS tapes. Something I thought I’d never see again.