Silhouette Fantasies (lost silent animated series; 1916)

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Sfantasy2.jpg

A decomposing frame from the lost Silhouette Fantasies installment "Haunts for Rent" (1916).

Status: Lost

Silhouette Fantasies was an early animated short series by the Bray Animation studio in collaboration with the famous illustrator Charles Allan Gilbert (Mainly known for his famous picture All is Vanity) , it was one of the earliest animated series animated using a shadow puppet style technique where instead of drawing a character shadow puppets would be cut out and manipulated to portray the stories (A surviving example of this film technique would be The Original Film (1922) from the Tony Sarg series) though it also incorporated selective amounts of live action segments and animation, Created in a dedicated studio in 5th avenue the building was modified heavily so that strong shadows would be easy to produce for filming the mixed media series with the produced shorts mainly being centered on myths and adventure stories.

Destruction

The Bray studio was in severe financial trouble when the 1940s came around and the studio eventually disintegrated, some of it's series such as Bobby Bumps and Jerry On The Job found resale value and eventually ended up repeated on the emerging television markets that was just starting to emerge Silhouette Fantasies was not so lucky and the original master prints for the series were among many hundreds of films that ended up getting discarded or destroyed.

Preservation

No surviving prints from the series have ever been located, In some print media, a few still images and frame reprints used in promotional material at the time have been found and preserved. Of the shorts themselves only one damaged film print has been found, This one being discovered located in the Library of Congress by the silent cartoon historian Tommy José Stathes and it being a copy of the second installment in the series titled "Haunts for Rent", Unfortunately the print was in the final stages of nitrate decomposition so only a few images of the film were legible with the rest of it having deteriorated beyond salvation.[1]

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