This fascinating and informative 1938 film below, part of the Popular Science series, offers a tour through Fleischer Studios’ newly-built Miami studio during the making of the classic Popeye film Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp.
The state-of-the-art studio space, designed by Max Fleischer himself, was perfect subject matter for Popular Science which, between 1935 and 1949, produced a wide range of short films showcasing progress and recent developments in science, industry and popular culture.
Fleischer Studios' move to Florida, from its original home base in New York, made it possible for the Fleischers to gain substantially more space; something they would need in order to accommodate the huge increase in the staff and machinery needed to undertake their first full-length feature film, Gulliver Travels.
Though this Popular Science film clip is only six and a half minutes long, it offers a wonderful introduction to the world of ‘cel animation.’ The word ‘cel’ refers to the clear celluloid sheets that, when layered together with background artwork, created the images that – painstakingly filmed one frame at a time – could be strung together to create the illusion of fluid movement.
As you can see from this film, by the 1930s the business of making animated films had already become a large and complicated enterprise involving hundreds of people with a broad range of specialized skills, both artistic and technical. During the creation of the Popeye film featured here, the Studio had a staff of over 700 employees holding a variety of titles including: story writers, animators, inkers, paint mixers, cell painters (opaquers), timers, camera operators, musicians, background artists, voice artists and more.
There are only three Popeye films that are longer than the standard one-reel (6-10 minute) cartoon. The three longer, two-reel films, which were in color and each about 20 minutes long are: Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor (1936), Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba’s Forty Theives (1937), and Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp (1939). Interestingly, all three of these longer films take place in exotic settings!