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Tribute to Bob Balser,
Animation Director of the Beatles Yellow Submarine

Above: Bob Balser very proudly holding his infant grandson. Below: Bob Balser at Stonehenge, around the time Yellow Submarine was in production.

In January of 2016 we lost a dear friend who was instrumental in one of the biggest projects of my life. This long posting is an overdue tribute to Bob Balser, a terrific artist and a superior human being, and the key person to my success in tracking down the history of the Beatles' Yellow Submarine. This film has occupied me since 1968, but it was not until 1991 when I met Bob Balser that I really began to understand it. Here's how that all came about.

I founded 21st Century Radio way back in 1988 with the idea of promoting New Paradigm topics such as ancient wisdoms, environmental issues, frontier sciences, health and well being, parapsychology, UFOs and extraterrestrial phenomena, and unexplained phenomena. It has now become the longest running show on these formerly taboo topics, as we approach over three decades of broadcasting.

One of the topics we feature regularly is what we call "cultural issues" or our "heroes and holidays." Under that banner on 21st Century Radio we have produced countless specials featuring interviews about Rocky and Bullwinkle, Walt Kelly's Pogo, J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and, of course, the Beatles Yellow Submarine. In 1991 we first met June Foray, the voice actress who did the voice for Rocky the Squirrel in the Bullwinkle show, and she was the one who introduced us to Bob Balser. Bob Balser was the very first artist we ever interviewed about my favorite film, and he then opened the door for us to go inside the Yellow Submarine.

Do you remember Rocky and Bullwinkle? Here's one fan's recollection of how important June Foray was in the cartoon world of that time.

It's Saturday morning. You rub your eyes awake then realize "NO SCHOOL TODAY!' You race to the kitchen, pour cereal in a bowl, spill milk on the floor, then plop yourself squarely in front of the TV. Heaven — an entire morning of cartoons! Who are you listening to? Probably the voice of JUNE FORAY.

"Bullwinkle, here's something I hope you really like."

That's right, she's the voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel (and Natasha and Tweety Bird's Granny and the Fairy Queen in Thumbelina and more than 100 other cartoon characters). Today her voice appears as Mrs. Wilson on The New Dennis the Menace, as Granny and Witch Hazel in the film Space Jam with Michael Jordan, and in a dozen other shows. Whatever your age, you've heard JUNE. And it all began in the 1940s.

June Foray launched her career at the ripe old age of 12 as a radio actor. She meowed her way onto the movie screen in 1950 as Lucifer the Cat in Walt Disney's Cinderella and recorded more than 35 children's albums. Since then, she's made television history as the First Lady of Animation. Her credits run the gamut of Toon Land from witches and grannies to Ghostbusters and Smurfs.

But June Foray is more than just a magical voice. She is teacher, author and advocate. She supports many environmental organizations and encourages student film makers. As a Governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (the Academy Awards organization) for 16 years, Foray chairs the Student Academy Awards Committee which honors short films by college students throughout the United States and Europe, as well as being Governor of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (the Grammy Awards). June Foray taught voice artistry at the University of Southern California and served as president of the Animated Film Society. It's no wonder that many cities have declared JUNE FORAY DAY's – she loves to encourage and help young people around the world.

I invited June Foray to join us on 21st Century Radio to discuss not only Rocky and Bullwinkle, but also her voice work for Pogo, and her memories about the Yellow Submarine and Lord of the Rings. Later, she invited my family to visit her in her DC hotel room for tea and exchange of gifts. At that time, we awarded her a Rocky and Bullwinkle a Wossamatta U certificate and rare Pogo and Bullwinkle collectibles. When our discussion turned to the creation of the Beatles Yellow Submarine film, which was also one of her favorite films, we discovered that she was a dear friend of Robert Balser and his wife Cima Balser.

Here is her handwritten letter she sent us soon after our meeting, the one that fulfilled her promise to introduce us to Bob and Cima Balser:

To Dr. Bob Hieronimus (no date)

Dear Bob, How can I ever thank you for your generosity? After all you've done and after our conversations, I feel that we've been friends for years with that same compassion for animal, humankind, the environment, etc. And it's so gratifying to me that you have access on the air to others of like attitudes. It's been years since I've seen the Pogo special. So after the receptions this week and the Oscars next, I'll be able to relax and enjoy the tape of it.

I shall certainly send a thank you to Bob Thompson for the Freberg tapes. What terrific people you are! And now, also the Bullwinkle game will be opened and set next to my chess set. Bob Balser, I'm sure, will answer your letters 'cuz he's also a terrific guy.

By the way, I also have a fax machine: [...] Again, dear heart, merci, gracias, arigato, danke. Most gratefully, June Foray.

Here is a list of contents from one of the boxes of goodies we sent to June Foray at this time:

- Rocky Model Toy
- Bullwinkle Model Toy
- Rocky and Bullwinkle Stickers
- Rocky Necklace
- Bullwinkle Pin
- Moosylvania Clicker
- Macy's Rocky ornament
- Sheet of Five Moosylvania Lottery Tickets
- Three Rocky and Bullwinkle greeting cards with envelopes
- Blue Yellow Submarine Sun visor
- Blue medium Yellow Submarine T Shirt
- The Yellow Submarine Hijack Clipping
- Billboard Clipping on Yellow Submarine
- Three Hieronimus & Co Journals vol. 1, no.7, #18-19 and #20
- The Apocalypse mural guide by Robert Hieronimus
- Hopkins Newsclipping on apocalypse mural

Here's another June Foray Thank You letter. This one is typed on stationery of "June Foray Donavan" with no date:

Dear Bob and Zoh: Just a simple thank you is not sufficient to express my gratitude for all of the gifts you sent, and I anticipate many sleepless nights reading and listening. It was a pleasure spending over two productive hours with you. How many talk show hosts delve into the really imperative facts of our lives and society? I am fully convinced that my dogs had already read my mind before I even spoke, my present hyper dog included. What a pity that your program is not heard here in Tinseltown. It would be much appreciated. Again, thanks for the loverly goodies.

Luv, June

June Foray passed on to spirit July 27, 2017 after gracing this planet for 99 years and gifting us the voices of Rocky, Pogo, and so many others, and staunchly defending the environment on the planet she loved. What joy she brought to generations of souls, all of us in need of a good laugh.

Left: June Foray is giddy with delight at having her own "Wossamatta U" diploma, as presented by Dr. Bob Hieronimus during their meeting for tea and present exchange in Washington DC in 1991. Right: Legendary voice actress of over a hundred roles, June Foray hosted the Hieronimus family in her hotel suite during a promotional tour through Washington DC in 1991. Left to right: Zohara Hieronimus, June Foray, Bob Hieronimus and a four-year-old Anna Hieronimus.

Remember, it was June Foray who led the way to Bob Balser, who then led the way to everything I ever learned about the Yellow Submarine. However, that first interview I did with someone who actually worked on the film, was after I had literally spent decades studying it on my own and I sure thought I knew a lot about it! Boy, was I in for a shock. A Big Shock. You see, when I first saw the Yellow Submarine film it was November 1968, and at that time I was fully immersed in studying symbols and their importance. I figured that all the symbols I saw in this colorful film were there on purpose and contained a hidden message. This made perfect sense to me.

— — —

Why and How Symbols are Important

Humanistic psychology suggests that symbols do not originate in the intellect, but rather in the irrational depths of the psyche. Dr. Rollo May concluded that, "the psychological problems in our day are related to the disintegration and loss of symbols and myths around which man finds meaning in his life... The myths of society are what give a person the ability to handle anxiety and to face death and to deal with guilt." Legendary analytic psychologist Dr. Carl Jung believed symbols were carriers of psychic energy and they supplied the psychological and organizational foundations for social life. Joseph Campbell believed that living mythological symbols awaken and give guidance to humanity. Symbols play a central role in the integration of the personality. They direct us to the center of our being and heal and mend our alienation from life, according to Campbell.

I started playing around with symbolic interpretations of the Yellow Submarine and the Beatles and came up with the following possible meanings.


Yellow is considered a symbol for the sun, fire, and spirit or mental activity. It is an active, outer-directed, centrifugal force. A Submarine can be used as a symbol for water, lunar or emotional activity, the material world. It is a passive, intuitive, centripetal force. When combined: a "yellow" (the sun) "submarine" (the moon) can be alchemically read as balance or harmony. A Yellow Submarine can be seen as a coming into focus of the spiritual and the material, the mother and the father. This balance produces a unity or oneness.


There is an ancient Egyptian BEETLE-headed god, named Khepera, who represented the rising or morning sun. To the Egyptians, the beetle or scarab was an all-important symbol of profound meaning. Khepera was among the original creation gods in Egyptian mythology. In the illustration the god Khepera is shown as the "generator" god in the form of a beetle-headed man seated in the phantom or "spirit" boat, like the "Sunboat of Ra", the Egyptian Sun God. Many other deities also had their boats or "spirit" boats. The parallel between The Beatles afloat in a "Yellow Submarine" and the creator god Khepera seated in the spirit boat is an interesting coincidence, but it may be more than that.

Another meaningful interpretation of the Beatles Yellow Submarines is its reflection of the Hero's Journey


The Yellow Submarine storyline can be likened to what Joseph Campbell referred to as the Hero's Journey, or the "Monomyth". There are three stages to the Monomyth that describe the evolution of the hero: separation, initiation and return. During separation, the individual rejects the social order and retreats inward or regresses. He reassesses his beliefs and moves toward the center of his being. The second stage of initiation marks a clarification of his difficulties and the encountering of dark and terrifying forces. The candidate is victorious over them and feels fulfilled, harmonized, and whole. In the third stage of return, the hero is reborn into the physical world and applies the knowledge he has gained to the world he lives in. He rejects his self-serving and self-centering tendencies and shares his "treasure" (new awareness) with the rest of society. The hero has become self-actualized, and he dedicates himself to a task outside of himself, serving society.

Separation: The Yellow Submarine with Fred aboard leaves Pepperland in search of help. It travels to Liverpool, which can be viewed as "the pool of life". It is joined by the four heroes and they embark for Pepperland, completing the separation stage.

Initiation: the heroes must pass through various seas of illusion, symbolizing the selfish desire worlds of sensations, passions, instincts and the beast within. In Nowhere Land they encounter the Boob who fixes the engine and joins the team, bringing the number of heroes up to six, suggesting a reference to humanity's sixth sense.

Return: the Sub returns and brings music and love back to Pepperland, where they transform their enemies into friends. They share their new awareness with the rest of society.

The entire film can be enjoyed in this symbolic light. It's not the overcoming or the defeat of the dark forces (Blue Meanies) by the light (Love and Music), it is transforming the dark by exposing it to the light. Love is used as a force — not to overcome, but to transform evil. Love is considered by the ageless wisdom teachings to be the cohesive force of the universe.

My first reaction after studying the film symbolically was that the Beatles were geniuses. I was deeply impressed by their brilliance! In other words I thought these four lads had intentionally created this masterpiece of art and literature. Obviously I wanted to congratulate them on their accomplishment. I realized that was next to impossible for my letters would ever to be seen by them, but I held out hope that I would eventually meet someone who could make that connection for me, and I could talk to the actual creative geniuses behind this film.

That person turned out to be June Foray, who connected me to Bob Balser, who connected me to Heinz Edelmann and John Coates, and from there to all the others. That very first interview with Bob Balser shattered my long-held illusion that the film was a Beatles project. It took several other people repeating the same recollections for me to come to terms with this truth, but there it was. The four Beatles were geniuses all right, but the Yellow Submarine film is not an expression of their genius. The four lads had nothing to do with the film's creation except their eventual live appearance that was tacked on to the end of the film. Indirectly, their influence was huge, of course, starting with their inspiring music loved by the 220-plus person crew, and of course driving the plot of the film through their songs, though none were written in collaboration with the film's plot in mind, and in face all of which were considered by them as "throw-away songs."

As much as I enjoyed that first conversation with Bob Balser in June of 1991, my mind was opened my mind and my hopes were dashed. Not only were the Beatles not responsible for the various levels of meanings found throughout the film, but worse still, there was no conscious intent by the actual film's creators to create any kind of message related to Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey.

At the time of our first interview, Bob was living in Barcelona, Spain, where he and Cima had lived since the Yellow Submarine in 1967-68. He was running his own studio and staying busy creating new animated feature films and commercials. Following are some excerpts from that conversation.

Balser: I have my own studio here in Barcelona now, and do a lot of different kinds of things, TV series, etc. We did a thing called "The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe" which won an Emmy back in 1980, for CBS. We worked on series called Charlie Brown and Snoopy. We did a thing for BBC last year called "Barney" which you'll probably be seeing in the states soon. And I'm now working on a Catalan-American co-production, one of the first originating in Spain.

Hieronimus: Could you briefly give us the storyline of the Yellow Submarine?

Balser: Well, this is very interesting when you say the storyline, because unfortunately, there was never a story line. They had an idea to do a film about a trip in a Yellow Submarine, certainly because of the Beatles Yellow Submarine song. And when I got there, there was really no concrete story. And this is, I think this is probably one of the most interesting aspects to it, it's [that] this film was created as we went along. And it was a fantastic experience. It's something that could never happen again, you could never gather the kind of people we had together. And probably the most important person in the film was Heinz Edelmann who came up with the concept of the Blue Meanies. Because that didn't exist when the film started. And we also had a very famous English poet, Roger McGough, who you may know from his humorous and very serious poetry. He wrote a lot of the dialogue. The Beatles were never happy with the former productions of the Beatles [TV cartoon] series that had been made, which was done by the same people [King Featues and Al Brodax]. And so they didn't want to have anything to do with the film. We had actors who took the part of the Beatles. When you say what's the story about? It started out as a trip in a Yellow Submarine, and then it little by little evolved into a situation with the forces of good and evil. Don't forget that was a time of flower power in the world... and it just evolved.

Hieronimus: From my perspective, here's how I saw the story line for those of our listeners who may not have seen it: Pepperland is a kind of a utopia that lives in harmony because its philosophy is "All you need is love." Music promotes this theme. It is attacked by Blue Meanies who despise both music and love. Under siege, help is sent for with the Yellow Submarine and Young Fred sails to Liverpool and entices the Beatles to help. The Beatles return through a series of Seas (Science, Monsters, Phrenology, Holes) and finally to the Sea of Green. They unite Pepperland with their music and "love" philosophy and transform the bad guys into good guys. This is what I found very interesting: they did not kill the Blue Meanies, there are no deaths throughout this entire movie.

Balser: That was a marvelous part. The film was finished at one point, and it had several endings. This was a big problem, the film had never had a real storyline or a real script which we followed. It was just, as I say, just evolving, even the songs were. We just knew that we had certain songs and we you know we just sort of as you said earlier on, many times artists do things that they don't really realize what they're doing. We just were having fun. And at the end though, you see, everybody realized that the film had to have an end, so we worked very hard to come up with an end. And I'm very happy with that end, where Max turns, where the music comes and he, the chief Blue Meanie, gets covered up with flowers and they can no longer be blue and mean, and so they join Pepperland. I think it's a, very simplistic maybe, statement of what people would like, but I think it was a positive influence and a positive message.

Hieronimus: No doubt about it. It's a story of self-transformation, and I think that especially today, we need that kind of a story. Rather than going to war and allegedly winning it.

Balser: I would agree with you.

Hieronimus: Now one of the things, again that we were touching on a minute ago, deals with the way the Beatles transform the Blue Meanies. They didn't have to kill them, they didn't have to annihilate them, and this is why I think this is the beginning of an important contribution to world mythology. Joseph Campbell, if he were alive would agree. And listeners, take note: we're going to have Dr. Rollo May come on the show in the coming months to discuss the mythologies. I think that is where we're headed in the world if we're going to have a One World. What do you think of that Bob?

Balser: Well, I definitely agree with you, but the problem is that the philosophy and the belief is one thing, and making it into a reality is another thing.

Hieronimus: How did you become involved with the Yellow Submarine project?

Balser: Well, the thing is that I was working here in Spain. And I was freelancing and having worked in Europe, you know, you get a little bit of certain opportunities, or in those days, you had an opportunity to send films to festivals, and so forth, it was just a different kind of life here. And I'd won a few prizes at some of the festivals. When you win a prize here or there, you get to be known. And they called me from London and asked me whether I'd be willing to come in and be one of their unit directors on the Yellow Submarine. They just said a Beatles' film at that time. And I went up to London, got there, I found out they didn't have any units. It was just two of us, Jack Stokes and myself, who ended up directing the film. And it was one of those serendipitous experiences.

Hieronimus: What was it like working on this project?

Balser: It was a marvelous project. As I say, this was a project that sort of just developed. Basically what happened on the Yellow Submarine was the fact that the rights to use the Beatle music for film were running out. And so before they ran out, King Features/United Artists wanted to make a feature film to be able to capitalize on the rights that they had. George Dunning, who was the director of the film, was one of the great geniuses of animation. He was a very, very profound thinker and a marvelous designer. When it came to doing the film, he decided that he would put together a good crew of people and we would have all the freedom to make that film. So we had two groups working. Jack Stokes, the other animation director, and myself divided the film in half, and we had about two hundred people, two hundred twenty people working on the film. They rented some big office space, and we put up a lot of chairs and tables and animation discs and so forth, and it was a great, great deal of fun. It was like a big family. Everybody was enjoying what they were doing.

We had Heinz Edelmann, who was the designer of the characters of the Yellow Submarine, who knew nothing about animation. He was very concerned about the fact that he was looking at drawings, animation drawings, and they weren't as good as his original drawings. I had to convince him that we would take care of that, and it would look exactly like his designs when it came out on the film. We had a very mixed crew. We had all kinds of people from all over the British Commonwealth, we had Australians and Canadians, and French and Dutch, and a lot of very famous filmmakers today that worked with me on the Yellow Submarine. It took about a year. It was a one year project. It had to be done by a certain date. And everybody just pushed on to reach that date.

After the film came out, Time Magazine did an article on it. The Time reporters called and they were talking to everybody who had worked on the Yellow Submarine. They asked what did you do to create a new animation style and so forth. I had to say to them that, no, we didn't create anything, what we did really was just, for the first time, be able to use all the kind of experimental art/film techniques and things that many people have been doing for many, many years on the animation festival circuit. Since nobody really cared what we were doing — and this is probably one of the marvelous things about it — they didn't care about what we were doing because they figured, with the Beatles name, it didn't matter what we did, they would make money. That gave us the tremendous freedom to just really, really have fun. One of the other important things about that film was that it was never made for children. It was never made for adults. It was just made because we were having fun doing it.

Hieronimus: What was your actual job on the film?

Balser: My job was really to act as a co-director of the film. Because we had no script, everybody just sort of plunged in. My part of the film was fairly easy because I directed the film from the beginning to the part where the Beatles returned to Pepperland, and that meant all of the trip through the Sea of Holes, through Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, all of that part, the Sea of Time, which is my very favorite sequence. And Jack Stokes took the part at the end of the film when the Beatles come back and conquer the Blue Meanies. That was the real problem, since in my part anything could go, it made my life fairly easy and a lot of fun. Jack had some very big problems because there was no way of reaching resolution, since the conflict hadn't been well established. We sort of worked the film both ends against the middle. As a matter of fact, the beginning of the film, the title sequence of the film, that was done after the film was finished. That was done so that we could explain everything that we had done while we were making the film. It was a very complex and confusing situation.

Hieronimus: Many people I talk to thought Peter Max did all the artwork. Have you ever heard that claim before?

Balser: Well, that's very interesting, because you know, when I started to talk about the techniques and so forth, we would have thought that the Yellow Submarine would have started a whole new thing in terms of animated film. As it is, the film sort of put an end to it. I mean there were an awful lot of things that came out of it, and Peter Max was one of the big things that came out of the technique. There were lots of TV commercials, there were a lot of things that were done. But Peter Max had nothing to do with the Yellow Submarine. He was a very good designer though, and I enjoyed his things.

Hieronimus: I would like to explain how I have matched the great mythologist Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey with the story found in Yellow Submarine and get your reaction. Campbell basically says that to apply any knowledge about a mythology, there are three very important stages that together are called the Hero's Journey. In my opinion, this is what we have in the Yellow Subamrne. There are three stages to a hero's journey: Separation, Initiation and Return. Separation in our film, of course, is when the Yellow Sub leaves Pepperland to get help. The Initiation is when the help is found in the form of the Beatles, they must struggle to return. Their adventure through the various seas transforms them into heroes as they overcome big problems especially in the Sea of Monsters. The last stage is the Return, and that's when the Yellow Submarine returns to Pepperland and does battle with the Blue Meanies. Importantly, the Blue Meanies are transformed with love and music and they become allies.

Balser: You see, it works on so many levels. I mean, just what you're talking about in terms of the mythology and in terms of it somehow seemed to have evolved into what it is. It was probably because it was a synergy between all of these creative people coming together. It's something I never really thought about until this moment when you were mentioning it to me.

Hieronimus: Let me give you another translation and run this by you just the word the term Yellow Submarine itself. You know, I taught a 2-credit course in this particular area, not that I know everything about symbology, but it was just one interpretation. It goes kind of like this: Yellow is the symbol for the Sun, it's a symbol for expansion, it's a symbol for intelligence and mind. Submarine, of course, is underwater or the subconscious mind. Water, of course, is linked to the mother of life and the origins of the physical world and all living things on this planet. Therefore the Yellow Submarine is a combination of the sun or solar, masculine principle with the mother, emotion and water. So what you have is a kind of a balance, the Yellow Submarine is not necessarily just masculine or not necessarily feminine, it's a balance of the male-female principle. What do you think of that idea?

Balser: I think it's incredible. I think that we should get together and sort of do a real job on this thing.

Hieronimus: At this time in history we need things like the Yellow Submarine film to unite people rather than blow each other up. We're headed for some very hard times and if force and violence is our solution the more difficult it becomes and will continue to affect us for generations to come. Another symbolic example is the Beatles name. There was an ancient Egyptian god called Khepera. He was a scarab beetle, and a symbols for the act of creation. The Beatles were very much involved in many acts of creation, they were very creative folks.

Balser: Many times it's very interesting when somebody does something, and they have somebody else look at it, and freely see or analyze it. Because I can tell you that really I don't think that the Beatles really thought anything about it when they called themselves the Beatles. They must have had some subconscious influence.

Hieronimus: Oh for certain. I'm certain that it had something to do with the "beat" as the pulse you know when you're playing the drums or strumming the guitar. I think I read where they talked about that. But the interesting thing about symbols and mythologies is there are many levels of interpretation that are very rich, needless to say. Like the colors. The colors in the Yellow Submarine are multi-layered. Like in the Sea of Monsters, was there trial and error in developing that technique or did it just come out all at once?

Balser: I don't know, it just came. It was a thing where the people who painted the background just did the colors from a natural sense of their feeling about color. It was a time when things, as they say—it was the flower time, it was a psychedelic time. A lot of people make references to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and LSD. The colors just sort of reflected the feelings of all the people who were working on the film.

Hieronimus: I think it was Paul who said that the Yellow Submarine song was a children's song, however, as you noted the Yellow Submarine movie was not a children's movie. Is that right?

Balser: Well, the thing is that it was never made for children, we just made it for ourselves and had a lot of fun. But I have never seen a child who has seen the film who hasn't loved it and gotten a lot out of it.

Hieronimus: Well, my daughter is 4 years old, and we watch the Yellow Submarine at least once a month.

Balser: Well, I know that a lot of little kids look at it and just love it. It's interesting that in the title sequence of the film, you'll see that there must be about 10 people listed as writer on the Yellow Submarine. And the reason for that is that when the project was first thought up a lot of different people made contributions and wrote scripts. Some of those scripts were turned into comic books and so forth, but the final script for the film was really done sitting up all night with a bottle of whiskey one time. We started at 10 at night and finished at 6 in the morning, and then went to a presentation at 8 with all the drawings that we made all night long. And it was an interesting way to put it into work. That was the night that the Blue Meanies were created.

This was Bob Balser's first ever radio interview on the Yellow Submarine, and on a subsequent interview with Cima Balser, she added her memories of that all-nighter that resulted in the final script for the film.

An accurate script for Yellow Sub, which followed the action as it finally appeared on screen, never actually existed until after the July 17, 1968 premiere. This is the closest there was to a working script for the animators that matched what they were trying to do with the film. It is a photocopy of the 143-page version of a script cobbled together and storyboarded by Heinz and Anna Edelmann and Bob and Cima Balser, courtesy of Bob Balser. We compared this script with other scripts submitted by Lee Minoff, Erich Segal, Jack Mendelsohn, and Liverpool poet Roger McGough. Al Brodax says he submitted five other scripts to Brian Epstein, which were rejected out of hand. Reports in media have claimed there were a total of 14 scripts. Erich Segal claimed there were at least 40 writers on the project. Most of these scripts have been lost, but we trolled the collectors market in the 1980s and 90s and purchased several of them, sometimes paying up to $3000 for a rare copy.

Cima Balser: We belong to the group who swears there really was no production script. Bob and Jack [Stokes] were storyboarding as they went along, and Erich Segal appeared long after production started. The actors recorded pieces of dialogue as they went along — impossible to have done with The Beatles. Possibly the most important person in the film was Heinz Edelmann, who came up with the concept of the Blue Meanies that didn't exist when the film started. It started out as a trip in a Yellow Submarine, and then it evolved into a situation with the forces of good and evil.

Cima Balser: We went to Heinz and Anna's [Edelmann] apartment with a bottle of whiskey and sat there until 4 or 5 in the morning, and that's when Bob and Heinz really did the major part of the script. I don't know whoever could contradict that, because there were only four of us there. We storyboarded the whole beginning because there had been no beginning shape. We showed it to them in the morning and they said okay. That was actually the real start of having a coherent script. We started at 10 at night and finished at 6 in the morning, and then went to a presentation at 8 with all the drawings that we made all night long."

Hieronimus: You said there were about 220 artists working on the film at one point, with about 10 people who were really the creative drivers behind it. What about the rumor that the Yellow Submarine was supposed to symbolize a drug or a pill capsule?

Balser: No way! I know that there were a lot of people that thought that but I can tell you something really and truly: There was nobody within the creative bunch of people who were on drugs while we made the Yellow Submarine. We probably had a lot of [copy, trace and paint] artists who were smoking pot or whatnot. But the people who really were making the creative decisions were not on any kind of drugs. I can guarantee it.

Hieronimus: I don't see how they could.

Balser: Well, you can't. You really can't because your mind has got to be clear in order to be able to let the truth come out.

Hieronimus: Absolutely, and I think that's enormously important for people to remember that creation is an act of a balance between the left and the right hemisphere of the brain, and that's a very difficult thing to do under any type of a drug experience.

— — —

I first met Bob Balser in 1991, and throughout the 1990s his connections led me to all the other surviving co-creators on this film. Remember, this was in the days before the Internet, and when all the thousands of Yellow Sub merchandise produced in 1968 were all long gone, or going for exorbitant prices on the collector's market, which was done all by mail order and through fanzines, and by shopping flea markets and antique shops for lucky finds. I had always been a fan of the Corgi diecast model of the Yellow Submarine that had little wheels on it like a Matchbox car. The periscope rotated as the wheels moved, and two hatches opened to reveal the four Beatle characters popping out. These toys sold for around $6 when they were first released in 1968, but by the 1990s, they were so rare, I was buying them whenever I saw them for hundreds of dollars a piece. Mint in box was the holy grail, but were priced well over a thousand dollars.

In talking to Bob Balser for the first time, I was shocked to learn that none of the hundreds of companies producing Yellow Sub merchandise for the original film had donated samples of their wares to the actual production team of artists. When I described my love for the Corgis and my mission to collect them, Bob's reaction was "I'm sick that I never got one!" That started my new mission: I determined to provide as perfect a Corgi as I could to every co-creator I met. This started right away after concluding this first interview with Bob Balser, when I followed up with a thank you box including a Corgi Yellow Submarine, as well as a Rocky and Bullwinkle role-playing game, and a Pogo book.

When I asked Bob if that would be okay to send him, he replied: "Fantastic! I'd like to keep the relationship going." Which we did for the next quarter of a century until his death.

In 2002, Balser wrote a special introduction to our book Inside the Yellow Submarine that he entitled, "Notes on Some Design Problems in Yellow Submarine." Here are some excerpts:

...in the late '60s, where so many of the centuries-old social barriers were being broken down. The Beatles' music, original, joyful, philosophical, was an inspiration for all of us, and along with the ingenious designs of Heinz Edelmann, made my work both exhilarating and difficult.

One of the major problems in creating the Yellow Submarine, a departure from the normal Disney animated feature film, was to adapt the brilliant, but quite different characters that Heinz Edelmann produced for us to use. Although there had been many experiments and new developments in animation since Disney and UPA, the Yellow Submarine was the first to break with traditional design and technique on an extensive and expensive commercial project.

...no one had any experience in moving these wildly beautiful and strange creatures. Edelmann had never worked on a film before, so he was not conditioned, nor was it his style to draw funny, fat, round or pin-legged characters. It was challenging for all of us. Heinz was dismayed at seeing the sometimes sloppy renderings of his meticulously drawn models. He at first wanted to personally correct each drawing.

Nevertheless, we all wanted to reproduce his vibrant colors and designs as closely as possible, so each group of artists had a set of "model sheets," in which Heinz gave a full art lesson on each of his characters (he started his career as an art teacher in Dusseldorf). These drawings showed all the possible details and positions of each character in order to help the animator make it move.

So we set up a very efficient cleanup control department and every single scene passed through the hands of a small group of excellent artists (not animators), who adjusted and corrected small details to bring drawings closer to the Edelmann originals, as well as maintain a consistency of line and technique. It was the director's job to make sure that the cleanup department knew which drawings would remain on the screen the longest and needed the most attention.

In the end we all felt that we had indeed created a new and fresh approach, both to animation and to the animated feature film, which to me is the most exciting of the graphic arts!

— — —

Bob Balser sent us many sketches and model sheets so that we could study both the images as well as some of Heinz's meticulous professor-like directions on how to move his creations.

Left: Model Sheet for the Assistant Chief Blue Meanie showing Heinz Edelmann’s exacting professorial directions and IMPORTANT NOTES. Bob Balser remembers having to calm Edelmann down and reassure him that his animation crew would be able to clean up Edelmann’s designs to his satisfaction, but that animating them would necessarily change them. Right: Model Sheet for Chief Blue Meanie with notes from Heinz Edelmann on how to do it right. Courtesy of Bob Balser.

Left: Model Sheet for George Harrison’s Head. Courtesy of Bob Balser.
Right: Model Sheet for Ringo Starr’s Head. Courtesy of Bob Balser.

One of the test model sheets for Yellow Submarine courtesy of Bob Balser. This one shows a "32" character from the Sea of Time sequence, one of Bob Balser’s favorite scenes.

From a notebook of originals of the Yellow Submarine model sheets, the 1, 2, 3, and 4 from the Sea of Time.

A Flying Shoe Model Sheet by Heinz Edelmann. Courtesy of Bob Balser.

Our next and all subsequent interviews we did with Bob Balser included his wife and partner Cima Balser. Not only did Cima possess superior story-telling skills, but she kept details journal diaries of events as they were happening on the set of the Yellow Submarine. Her travelogues and annual year-end reports sent out to dozens of family and friends were so entertaining they were later turned into a book.

Since we'd last talked to them, the Balsers had spent time in Egypt and in Turkey, which is where we caught up with them in May of 1997. Bob had accepted a position working with the International Executive Service Corp (IEFC), a program supported by the U.S. State Department. "What they do is they send out experts in all different professions," said Bob, the goal being to teach developing nations new skills to boost their economies. "A friend of mind had done it. He had been in Nepal and had helped clean up a film laboratory. He said, 'Would you be interested?' He sent me the papers, and I filled them out. The next day I got a call, would I be interested in going and helping setting up an animation studio in Egypt? I figured there can't be many people who want an animation studio, so I said yes I would go. I went to Egypt for a couple of months and had a wonderful time.

"The way this organization works is you don't get paid. It's a voluntary thing. You get per diem, and you fly first class, and they put you up in a good hotel. We were at the Ramses Hilton. We lived in the lap of luxury. Didn't make any money but we had a lot of fun and met a lot of wonderful people.

"Since I've talked to you I've done a marvelous TV series called 'The Triplets' which I think Home Box Office has bought for U.S. distribution, but I know it will be coming out soon here. It's a very, very lovely thing, really nice. It's the story of three little girls and their relationship with sort of a 'has-been' witch. It's quite nice. I've been doing some consulting. I was in Egypt last year. I was in Turkey last year also."

Hieronimus: We are working up a special party next year at the BBC with a live radio broadcast of The Zoh Hieronimus show back to Baltimore in honor of the film's 30th anniversary. I know this will not be the first time that most of the crew has seen one another since the film was made in 1968 because there was an earlier reunion just five years ago. Tell us about the 25th anniversary reunion that was organized by John Coates and TVC?

Bob Balser: TVC sent out invitations to everybody who had worked on the film, and we all got together in London and had a wonderful time. They put together the two versions of the film, one American and the other British... They had all the material in one sort of chopped up copy... We watched the film and had dinner together. It was a really, really lovely time.

Bob Balser together with the Bob Hieronimus in 1997 at our tour of TVC to meet the crew.

Cima Balser: Everyone kept saying, "No, you haven't changed, you haven't changed." But Bob said it was just that after 25 years your eyes are getting dimmer.

Hieronimus: We did an interview with the film's producer Al Brodax who described the special effects "magic" bench invented by key artist Charlie Jenkins who directed the special sequences in the film like the Eleanor Rigby sequence. What more can you tell us about this bench?

Bob Balser: Jenkins invented a bench to combine all kinds of film. It was a real incredible... We're talking years before computers came in. He really was a genius with special effects. I think he's somewhere in South America now.

Hieronimus: Brodax also described a political rift between various factions on the set of Yellow Submarine. He called it a kind of Anglo/American division. Bob, you were one of the few Americans surrounded by mostly Brits. Was there a division?

Bob Balser: Not between all the people that were working on the film. Naturally, there may have been some resentment, I don't know, from where they're bringing people in from outside and so forth, but my memories are that it was a very smooth-running situation and that the political machinations were going on at the top between Al Brodax and George Dunning [the film's overall director].

Hieronimus: Yes, it's unfortunate that Geoge Dunning died before we could interview him. We have learned some wonderful things about the accomplishments of this individual.

Bob Balser: He was a genius.

Hieronimus: That seems to be what the general opinion is. Al Brodax was real hard on him during the interview. I was puzzled and asked him if there was some division going on there and he said, yes, that there was this kind of Anglo/American thing. Perhaps it was projection on his part.

Bob Balser: There was no love lost between George Dunning and Al Brodax.

Hieronimus: What do you think the major rub was?

Bob Balser: There was a real personality clash. Al Brodax was a typical New York producer kind of person and George Dunning was a sensitive Canadian artist.

Cima Balser: They couldn't stand to be in the same room together. It was just really painful. But as we've always said, it was great, because they were so busy arguing that the production didn't go on as it should have.

Bob Balser with one of the Key Animators, Mike Stuart, at the 25th reunion in 1993.

Hieronimus: Was George ill at some point during the production?

Bob Balser: Yes, the whole time. Three to six months he was off at some sort of clinic being treated and so forth. He had a big drinking problem.

Cima Balser: It was his liver.

Bob Balser: And he had one lung. He was not in tip-top shape, but from a creative standpoint, the man was a genius.

Cima Balser: He and Charlie Jenkins, really, were insisting on the crew that they had and the approach they had, and the quality. It was what they wanted to do. I can't say whether Al Brodax, certainly, I don't think, had any vision. I don't know but whether they were still trying to bring in just the cheap cinema version of the series. Absolutely certainly, George Dunning is responsible for the vision and pushing through the idea that this was going to be a quality film.

Bob Balser: I think that I've told you before that the Beatles didn't want to have anything to do with the film because they didn't like the TV series. George really had the vision. He said we're going to do something very good. And I do really think they were trying to do it. The film cost $995,000. It's something you can never repeat again.

Hieronimus: What kind of relationship did George have with the Beatles? Did he have any?

Bob Balser: George had a good relationship with the Beatles. They joked around a lot. There was no problem between him and the Beatles.

Hieronimus: It seems that that wasn't necessarily so with Al Brodax? Is that correct?

Cima Balser: Who knows? Al loves to think that they were all the best of friends. We never saw them together. We can't tell, but according to Al they were just chums.

Hieronimus: In some of his accounts of how this came about he mentions that they brought in Lee Minoff [as a new scriptwriter] because the Beatles had related to Al that they thought he was too old to understand what the heck they where trying to do. That's what Al himself said.

Bob Balser: The biggest thing that I remember is the fact that King Features and Al Brodax had bought the rights to the Beatle music for animation for $25,000. The contract was running out, as I remember, and this was sort of a swan song of those rights and they were going to try to capitalize on it. And that's why we're talking about the quality. I think they just meant to get a quickie out and make some money. It was really George Dunning who said he's going to do something worthwhile. It may have been the Beatles' influence because I know the Beatles hated the TV series.

Hieronimus: Yes, they did. Al Brodax really bristles at that, but from all other sources it indicates that they did not like it at all.

Bob Balser: This is the reason why they refused to cooperate with the feature film. They didn't want to know about it. We finally had to get actors to do all of the voices.

Hieronimus: After seeing what Lee Minoff had written, John Lennon is to have said, "This is the bloody Flintstones. We don't want to have anything to do with this."

Bob Balser: I'm sure that's an absolute quote. When I came on to Yellow Submarine, we were doing songs. They didn't even know what the hell they were going to do with the film. It was just rampant confusion.

Cima Balser: There was no script when you got to it.

Bob Balser: There was NO script, nothing. I started out to keep everybody busy, we knew we had to have a song, so I started out with "Nowhere Man." As things started to fall in, there were all kinds of things that had been produced, and there was no way you could stop it. The night that Heinz and I were together we were saying, "Okay how do we pull this all together? There's the Blue Meanies, there's the ball that falls on top of the Beatles, all kinds of stuff. We fabricated that entire introduction to Pepperland and the battle between the Blue Meanies and Pepperland. That was the storyboard that we made. It took us all the way up to one of the first songs. That was never in any script, and that I'm sure I can get other people to verify.

Hieronimus: Al Brodax to this day still says there was a script from the beginning. No one on the Yellow Sub crew that we talked to agreed with that. Say, we're still trying to locate Charlie Jenkins to invite him to this 30th anniversary reunion. What more can you tell us about him?

Cima Balser: He is the key person. He's the one that brought in Heinz Edelmann. He's the one that brought in Bob [Balser]. He's the one that did so much of the work himself. He's really &mdash along with George — I would say, the major mover. He's one of the very key people and he was with it till the end. Afterwards he tried to develop another project immediately afterwards, but of course no one was able to do it.

Hieronimus: When we last talked you mentioned how disappointed you were in the Time Magazine review of Yellow Submarine. It took us forever, but we finally tracked down a copy of that first review (the "Bad Trip" review November 22, 1968) and then discovered they wrote a second review, dated December 27, 1968, in which they revised their opinion considerably, calling it a "new magic in animation." What I think happened was the first reviewer hadn't actually seen the film! He referred to some scenes that made it to the comic book version but that never made it to the film. I didn't actually fully understand this until I compared the "official" paperback next to the "official" comic book next to the several "official" inside stories that were published to promote the film. NONE of them matched the film exactly!

Bob Balser: Yeah, of course, I have a feeling the guy never even saw it because he talked about a lot of things that weren't in the film. Then later it became sort of a big success and they did a huge three or four page article about the Yellow Sub.

In our book Inside the Yellow Submarine published in 2002, we analyzed all these sources that each alleged to tell the story of the film. They were all prepared many months before the final Balser-Edelmann script was available and therefore contain scenes that were never animated. We compare the paperback authored by Max Wilk and published by New American Library, a fully illustrated 127 pages; The Beatle's Yellow Submarine Nothing Is Real, a full color booklet; "The Official Beatles Yellow Submarine Magazine" featuring a scene with a mermaid who turns into a metermaid; "The Inside Story of the Yellow Submarine" featuring drawings clearly not done by Heinz Edelmann and in sepia tone.

There is no question the first unnamed Time Magazine reviewer was influenced by one or more of these publications. He started the rumor that the film and its title were "a sly euphemism for a drug inspired freakout" and that the "movie ends up as a curious case of artistic schizophrenia." The animation was too square for hippies and too hip for squares. He incorrectly identified Heinz Edelmann as West German (he was Czechoslovakian) and described Edelmann's unique creations as "the upholstered monsters of comic strips," and then had the audacity to compare Edelmann's work with that of Peter Max. Thanks a lot, Time Magazine.

Earlier in 1997, my family took a research trip to London, where we got to meet John Coates and tour the TVC studios. Coates arranged for us to meet with about 10 of the co-creators of the Yellow Sub film, and we all had a grand old time over a long dinner with many bottles of wine. This was the first time I started hearing the shocking stories about how big that struggle really was between Al Brodax and the rest of the crew on the film. As we related in Inside the Yellow Submarine, there is a fantastic story about how some of the artists, led by George Dunning and Charlie Jenkins, decided to sneak into the vaults one night and steal the negatives and artwork of what had been accomplished up to that point in the film. It was their way of declaring a strike in protest of Brodax's financial actions to take over the animation company.

But much more fun for us was the timing of Corgi International's decision to release a remake of their diecast Yellow Submarine model. It was to be part of a line of Beatles vehicles including a Magical Mystery Bus and a Newspaper Taxi. I worked very hard convincing Reeve International to donate a small supply of these collectible toys for us to distribute to the crew of Yellow Submarine during this trip. With the original 1968 Corgi Yellow Subs now selling for upwards of $850 in mint condition with box, we were thrilled that we could now purchase the remakes, which are exact replicas, for a much more affordable $70.

At the end of our 1997 interview Bob Balser threw me an explosive offer. He asked how I was doing collecting illustrations for our book, and then offered to send me copies of the draft sketches he had on file.

Bob Balser: I'll get some really good copies and send them to you. I've got some really nice sketches, some storyboard sketches, and some of the preliminary designs and stuff like that. It's easy enough with the quality, they can reproduce it today. I'll try to get that stuff to you so you can have it for your book.

Hieronimus: Oh, that would be great, Bob. I really appreciate it. It feels like I've known you guys for decades.

Bob Balser: You've known us for a long time. Maybe we were together in a former life.

Hieronimus: I'm certain that's probably true!

A man of his word, by July 1997, we had received a substantial package of images from Bob Balser. We of course reciprocated with thank you gifts of our own based on materials we collected for our 21st Century Radio program. We had discovered the Balsers shared our curiosity about the world's mysteries, and this list of items from a 1997 gift package represents many over the years that we supplied them with.

- UFOS and the New World Order booklet by Michael Lindemann and the 2020 group
- ABC Beatles Anthology Hieronimus & Co T-shirt
- Beatles baseball cap
- A set of 10 Beatles anthology promo buttons
- Beatles CDs: The Anthology #3, Talk Down Under, and 10 song promo CD for Anthology #2
- Several packs of the Beatles trading cards by Sports Time
- Audio cassette singles of Free as a Bird and Real Love
- Cloisonné pin sets of four Beatles, Yellow Sub, and four ABC Beatles cartoon Sgt. Pepper cloisonné pins
- A complete set of the Beatles collection trading cards by the River Group
- A complete set of the Beatles trading cards by Sports Time
- Skywriting by Word of Mouth by John Lennon, HarperCollins
- With a Little Help from My Friends by George Martin, Little Brown
- Video: UFOs and the Global Situation, Michael Lindemann
- Video: Centures of Contact, John Carpenter
- Video: Hoagland's Mars, vol. 2
- Video: Pine Bush, NY UFOs, Dr. Bruce Cornet
- UFOs are Real Bruce Maccabee and Ed Walters, Avon
- UFOs and the Psychic Factor, Ida Kannenberg, Wild Flower
- Cosmic Voyage, Dr. Courtney Brown, Dutton
- Goldmine '95 special Beatles issue
- Beatles '97 calendar
- Beatlefest '96 catalogue
- Beatlefan Anthology video issue
- the Hieronimus & Co newsletter, #7 and 11
- Collectible Beatles postage stamps, International Collectors Society
- paper: Double Abduction Case: Correlation of Hypnosis Data by John S. Carpenter
- paper: The Significance of Multiple Participant Abductions by John S. Carpenter
- UF Newsclipping Service, Dec. '96 and March '97
- UFO Magazine from the UK, March '96
- UFOs Qs and As from CUFOS
- Invisible Signals newsletter
- Nexus magazine, April '97
- UFO magazine US, March '97

Left:"From Bob Balser, to Bob and Zoh. What a great box!! How can I thank you?? This was better than X-mas. You will be receiving Beatle stuff from France Tell number: ... will be there from June 1-8.. Enclosed is LA times article. Thanks, Bob Balser." Right: In 1999 one of the gifts we received in return from Bob and Cima Balser, a gorgeous collector Primavera spring platter which we originally set next to our beloved Yellow Sub cookie jar.

After meeting Bob and Cima Balser in person again in 1999 in Liverpool for the world premiere of the 1999 renovated Yellow Submarine, I was overwhelmed with this gift: one of the rarest of Yellow Sub items, an actual sheet of the legendary Letraset of the Yellow Sub from multiple angles and sizes which the crew used to speed up production, just selecting which stickers they needed at any given time. Bob even signed and dated it for me. These Letraset subs were, in fact, the only original invention created just for this film -- all other seeming innovations having been used in at least one other experimental art house film beforehand.

It was at this same event in 1999 in Liverpool when I finally got to meet Neil Aspinall in person. Aspinall was the notoriously hard to reach head of Apple Corps, and in charge of everything related to the Yellow Submarine. I had tried over and over again for the past two decades to communicate with Apple about the book I wanted to write about this extraordinary film. It appeared that Aspinall had no interest in documenting the actual history of the Yellow Submarine or in celebrating its co-creators for the upcoming anniversaries. He avoided me at every turn. We really put on the full court press leading up to 1998, believing Apple should acknowledge the 30th anniversary of the Yellow Submarine. The one and only VHS release of the film had long since gone out of print in 1987, and at this time the only way anyone could ever see the film again was to find a copy on the collector's market for hundreds of dollars. If this neglect continued we knew that the film would eventually become unavailable and be forgotten. It appeared that Apple would rather see it die than have the myth exploded that the Beatles didn't make it all by themselves.

That's when we decided to take matters into our own hands. If Apple didn't want to recognize the Yellow Sub's 30th birthday, we would do it for them. We joined up with TVC of London and 21st Century Radio to throw our own party at the BBC Maida Vale Studios in London in October 1998. The costs for this endeavor eventually neared $100,000, but my wife Zohara arranged for her daily radio show on WCBM 680 AM in Baltimore to be aired live from the BBC, and managed to scrape together all the funding necessary to host this historic event. We couldn't have done it without her incredible generosity.

Once the planning was all in place, we were surprised to receive a phone call two days after my birthday, on September 18, 1998. It was from a producer working with Apple Corps asking if they might be invited to attend out party. They had heard we have arranged for the majority of the film's co-creators to attend, and could they send a film crew along to get some interviews? It was Chips Chipperfield who first contact me with this request, starting out with, "It's an honor to talk to you." This confused me since for so many years I'd been getting the cold shoulder from Apple. Chipperfield explained, "Well, it is, because you really essentially saved me a lot of hassle. I've been pitching Neil — I work for Apple and I work with Neil, basically as a freelance consultant since the Anthology. I do other projects. I've been trying to get him to do a movie on the making of the Yellow Subamarine, and your faxes to him about the 14th of October have focused him admirably. He wants me to do interviews with the relevant people."

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

Beatlefan Magazine reported on our upcoming event in their Extra! edition announcing, "Apple to Film at Yellow Submarine Reunion: Bob Hieronimus, who is writing a book on the film Yellow Submarine and helped the animation company TVC London organize a reunion of the people involved in the movie Oct. 14 at the BBC's Maida Vale studios in London, reports that Apple productions will have a film crew there doing interviews with guests for inclusion in an EPK to accompany the Yellow Submarine relaunch next year and for possible use in a documentary on the film that Apple is contemplating. Apple also plans on interviewing other film principals. Apparently it was receiving his invitation to the party that prompted Apple boss Neil Aspinall to move ahead with the documentary idea, which he'd shown little interest in beforehand."

This request from Apple actually put me in a kind of bind, however, and once again Bob and Cima Balser came to my rescue. There had been a long history of antagonism between Apple and the co-creators especially the top 10 key artists. The artists didn't trust Apple, and for good reason, based on past experiences dealing with legal issues and ownership of artwork in the years after film. Some said I was foolish and naïve to allow Apple in to get interviews during our party. They warned that we would be taken advantage of in one way or another. I asked Bob and Cima what we should do, and they said invite them! So we did!

— — —

The October 14, 1998 party at the BBC for the 30th year reunion of the Yellow Sub crew was a great success. We were very proud to help push Apple to restore and re-release the film the following year, especially the interviews with the crew they included as Special Features on the DVD. The interviews they captured at our party and would never have obtained without our mediation between the crew and Apple. We like to think it was our continued pressure on Apple over many years that resulted in a rerelease of a much better edition of the Yellow Sub film meaning we millions of fans could now purchase a copy for around $20.

Not terribly surprising that whoever warned us that Apple would take advantage of our kindness turned out to be correct. Not even a thank you acknowledgement in the special features credits for where and how they got those interviews. No recognition to TVC or 21st Century Radio for opening the doors for Apple and saving them tens of thousands of dollars in interviewing the key artists for their new DVD.

Although both Chips Chipperfield and Jonathan Clyde have made it abundantly clear in person that they appreciated our efforts, Neil Aspinall himself remained aloof. So on that one day in 1999 when I finally found myself face to face with him, I wasn't sure how I would react. It was Yellow Submarine Day in Liverpool, and thousands of people had turned out to celebrate. I think I annoyed him when the first thing I said to him was it was easier for me to talk to the President of the United States than it was to talk with the president of Apple. That was literally true as I had personally met two presidents and one vice president by this time. Nevertheless, he did agree to autograph my Yellow Sub ballcap, which also boasts autographs of Sir Geoge Martin and Heinz Edelmann.

Bob and Cima at AWN Oscar Party, February 22, 2012. Photo courtesy of Dan Sarto.

Under the new CEO of Apple, Jeff Jones, attention to the Yellow Submarine has been making up for lost time. Jonathan Clyde arranged for a second restoration to the film that was released in 2012, this time orchestrated by film restoration specialist Paul Rutan, Jr. Clyde put us in touch with Rutan for an interview, and when we learned that Bob and Cima Balser had been called in to assist Rutan and crew with their clean up job, we invited them for a four-way interview. This May 8, 2012 interview was our last radio interview with the Balsers, revealed what a good decision Apple made this time by inviting them along with John Coates and other co-creators to be involved in this new restoration.

We present here an unedited transcript of that entire interview, portions of which will be featured in our forthcoming volume two of our history book about the making of the Beatles Yellow Submarine.

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21st Century Radio Interview
Paul Rutan, Jr. with Bob and Cima Balser
Transcription by Joseph Ford

Paul Rutan, Jr.

DR. BOB HIERONIMUS: Paul, please tell us the difference between what you and your team have done to the "Yellow Submarine" and what was done to it for the release of the DVD in 1999?

PAUL RUTAN, JR.: We had different tools than they had in 1999, and if you compare the DVDs, you can clearly see the difference. We were able to do a high resolution scan on it, number one, where in 1999 they did a normal NTSC US standard scan. 4K gives us more latitude and more information to work with and what we did was we went through and first we cleaned up all the dirt that was left, that's one thing. We photochemically restored the show before we scanned it, so that was one thing they didn't do in 1999. They scanned off of a 1968 or 1969 IP [Interpositive] and a lot of those defects are prevalent in the 1999 DVD. I can get really technical is the problem. The 1999 DVD is very over-saturated and kind of crunchy. Ours is very bright and very smooth and very clean. And the colors, since this is for Blu-ray and not an archival reference, the colors are really vibrant now, far more than they have ever been.

H: By the way, what is the difference in the meanings of refurbish, restore, and renovate? I get those kind of mixed up here.

PR: Yeah, a lot of people get those mixed up. Basically, I have my own opinion, which everybody has their own opinions, and I'm an old photochemical hack, I've been doing it for 38 years, photochemically. Preservation is to take the original film element and create a photochemical copy or a photochemical restored, meaning that all the bits and pieces are put back in that are missing, the tears are fixed, and you have a photochemical element to put in your library for a hundred years. The digital is called restoration and in this case it is a restoration but it's basically a remastering and the reason I say that is the digital is not a permanent archival element, either if you put it on a hard drive or a LT05 which is the current flavors. And also, what do you call a film that looks better than it did when it first came out? It's certainly not a restoration, you're not restoring it to how it was because you're making it look better. So, I like to call it a remastering. We restored and remastered it.

H: Now I have a better understanding of these, which I didn't in the beginning.

PR: That's my opinion.

H: Okay. Well, Bob and Cima, it was just thirteen years ago that the "Yellow Submarine" was last restored. What was your first reaction when you heard it was going to be restored again and re-released?

BOB BALSER: We got so excited. They called from London and it was news to us because we hadn't heard anything. They called me from London and said that Paul was restoring the film and would I go up and see what they were doing, sort of give my opinion on the results, and I said, of course, naturally I would. During the process we were up to his studio two or three times to see what was going on. And when you see the comparison, because they showed me the 1999 DVD next to this new version and it's like day and night. You can't believe how brilliant, beautiful the colors are, it's absolutely spectacular. So, that's when they called me in and I got involved. Jonathan Clyde [of Apple Corps] came over and we looked at it together and then we looked at the final bits that were put together and gave it the okay. And I had no idea that they were going to do a cinema release because they kept talking about on the 23rd of May, this BAFTA showing and they wanted me to be there for that. And then in California they're having, at the Grammy Museum, they're having a showing and I think that's going to be the release for the Blu-ray. So, I'm pretty sure that the Blu-ray will come out on the 23rd in England and on the 29th in Los Angeles, so it will soon be available.

CIMA BALSER: But I was so impressed, well, we both were, with the care that these guys were taking with it. They were absolutely passionate about it and so tender and apologizing or explaining they wouldn't go too far because they wanted the original brushstrokes to show. And that was really very, very exciting and especially gratifying. The tenderness and the love that they were putting into this, it really was remarkable.

H: I guess you were aware that Paul and his group had restored "Help!" and "A Hard Day's Night."

BB: Well, we found out about that afterwards.

H: As soon as I saw some of that information I realized how fortunate they were able to do this in this kind of way. That's what excited me more than anything. Because, obviously, they felt "Help!" and "A Hard Day's Night" were much improved, then there is every good reason to expect this to be. And again I think we also mentioned what was happening in trying to get a copy of the "Yellow Submarine," you had to pay a lot more than you paid before because they were sold out, at least we were always told, and I had a friend who actually had to pay as much as $100.

BB: I can't understand why they didn't keep releasing it. They did clear the rights to it, there was a big problem before the 1999 version because Michael Jackson owned the music rights to a lot of the stuff, it was very complicated but they did clear it and they did eventually release the film for a short cinema release in 1999 and they did have the DVDs available. I've got a couple of American copies and I've got a couple of PAL copies. So, I'm surprised they didn't keep available it in the market.

H: So were we, so were we. Well, obviously, Paul didn't do this all by himself. Paul, tell us about your team and sister companies who worked on this project. You called them superb and talented and nothing less than the best.

PR: Right. We have an artist that I work with on site named Randy Walker.

CB: He's great!

PR: Yes, well, when he first got started he didn't realize that this was an important film historically, as well as, well, the Beatles. And once he got into it he got passionate about it. And also, we worked with a team in India, through Eque is the name of the company, and they had forty artists. And K.J. is the leader of that group and we sent him copious notes and he followed them to the letter and did a superb job. There are forty artists in India and all those guys in India did was pick dirt out and the problem with "Yellow Submarine" of course is because it was hand-painted you have to be sure not to pick out what was intended. A good example is the "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" sequence. You have to make sure not to pick out what was intended to be there and what needs to be there and they did a really great job with that.

H: Well, Bob and Cima, were you surprised that this needed to be restored at all? I mean, I didn't know that digitally it would have to be redone after a certain period of time. Paul mentioned it's not necessarily permanent, is that right, Paul?

PR: Correct.

H: So, I thought finally we had something in 1999 that would be the standard.

BB: We saw it together in 1999, Bob, and I was tremendously impressed with it and they did a remix, because you have to think back to '68 where soundtracks were 4-track, magnetic 4-track, so you had a music track, an effects track, a dialogue track, and a mix on the fourth track. But in 1999 when they redid it they were now into digital sound so they could have 50 or 100 tracks and they remixed the music. And the Beatles, I had heard, said they had never heard their music sound so good. So, the 1999 version was certainly an exciting thing for me. But this new one is ten steps above. We're into a new world.

H: A brave new world.

PR: Brave new world.

H: Cima, do you have anything you would like to add to that?

CB: Only that they were talking mostly about the effects and originally they were limited to having either a little bit more of this or a little bit of that and so they were limited to the number of effects they could have. And in that remastered 1999 version of course they had all these recordings, but they were not used, so in the 1999 version they went back and picked up a lot of the effects that were now in the film, which made a big difference.

H: It certainly did. Paul, much is made in the press release about the frame-by-frame nature of your work. As time consuming as that must have been, why was that considered necessary for this film?

PR: Well, we tried to use automated clean-up, which is called DRS, and it was the strangest thing because we would put DRS on and line-work would disappear. So, what it was doing was it wasn't differentiating automatically between the drawings, basically, and the dirt. It was impossible to use that without losing really pertinent information. For instance, in "Nowhere Man" there is a sequence where they walk off of a hill just before they go into the rainbow and they're on a line, the boys, and the line disappeared. So that was that: it was impossible to do any kind of automatic clean-up on that because it was degrading and artifacting the image.

H: I see. Good heavens.

PR: The problem with any kind of high resolution digital project is that sometimes to get rid of certain defects you have to trade off with digital artifacts. Digital is not—I consider it a tool, a good tool—but it is not the end to beat all. Sometimes you can do stuff and think the picture looks great on one hand, and then on the other hand you will pick up artifacting. The lines are aliasing or there is all kinds of stuff, a strangeness that happens.

H: I assume this is more labor intensive than your average film restoration. How long did it take and with how many people?

PR: Well, we had forty people in India and it took about two months, we put it on the fast track, as usually a project like this will take six to seven months. But we put it on a fast track and the guys in India really did a good job cleaning it up. Especially since I had a last minute debacle that was pointed out to me. In the "Bulldog" sequence, it goes back at the very last shot to the American version and we had to rescan it and cut it in and that was cleaned up here in this country because we didn't have time.

H: We're going to touch back on that "Hey, Bulldog" sequence because it seems to have gone through many different problems and reborn time and time again, right Bob and Cima?

BB: Yeah. You know people don't realize there are three versions of the film. The first version is the English version and that has "Hey, Bulldog" and they felt that there was too many endings and so forth and they wanted to change the ending. I redirected the end of the film and in the American version we cut out "Hey, Bulldog" and added a lot of material. It's been so long I can't remember what scenes were cut out and what we put in there. So, there were two versions, an English version and an American version. And then when they restored it in 1999, they found the interpositives and so forth and they just put everything together. Well, the film had become such an iconic thing at that point that it really didn't matter any more whether it was 20 endings or 30 endings. The music is there, the color is there, the Beatles are there. So, that was the third version and now we have the fourth version, which is I would hope the definitive.

H: Again, back to digital mastery, I thought we had hit the top of technology there and obviously it's kind of shocking, because in our radio shows everything is dealt with that, that means that everything we do is only kind of temporary, but then again we were always taught that CDs were kind of permanent too.

BB: A little bit frightening, the fact that CDs and even DVDs are starting to disappear.

CB: Cassettes, what about all those? they're long gone.

H: Well, that's why they're selling new cassette players because a lot of people who had thrown out VCRs and VHSs and little audio cassette players, they're buying them again. My old-time radio collection, which I listen to all of the time, if I didn't have them on cassette they would have been lost on CD. CDs just died left and right.

PR: I collect music pre-1936, and this goes all the way into the '60s, it's really a tragedy that when they eliminated vinyl, they only selected, let's say you had an album in vinyl of let's say "The Blue Baron" and they would only select one or two songs to go onto a CD or none. So, the CDs virtually created an elimination of so much vinyl, so much material, I think Bob you'll agree with me, that I have it all, I have LPs and I have cassettes that I recorded off of radio shows because the music doesn't exist on CD.

H: Well, Paul, can you tell us which sequences in the "Yellow Submarine" posed the greatest challenges to work on?

PR: My favorite section. The "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" was definitely the hardest, because of the splashes of color and what color was intended, what splashes were intended and what splashes were not intended. And the decision was made that anything that flowed with the imagery was intended and because of that, I don't know how to say it, avant-garde artwork on that sequence, that posed the biggest challenge: not to eliminate stuff that was supposed to be there. It's my favorite section too, by the way. I like John Lennon, even though it's a cartoon and the Beatles weren't involved, he seems genuinely happy and then he goes into this part where he becomes a dancer which is interesting with the Beatles because there is also a dancing sequence with ballroom dancers in "Magical Mystery Tour" which was really interesting.

H: I've always wanted to ask you this question, Bob and Cima, of all the different sequences in the work, Paul enjoyed "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" sequence and obviously I enjoyed that as well, but what about you guys? What do you think?

BB: I've been asked that question so many times and I love the "Sea of Time" and I love "Nowhere Man" and I'm so close to it all that I really can't say I have one favorite. Each one has its story of what happened and how it came about, including "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," so I'm too close to it to be able to say this is my very favorite moment because I'm looking at the film as a whole.

H: What about you, Cima?

CB: It's hard for me, too. The "Sea of Monsters" is really great and I think if I really had to choose that would be it. There is so many little tricky things in there, it's all good, I won't go into stories.

H: It really is all good. What do you think, we've been in communication with Anna Edelmann, do you know, Paul, if Anna Edelmann was told anything about this release or sent anything?

PR: I don't know.

H: Okay. That's Heinz Edelmann's widow.

BB: That's a really, really good question. I would hope that somebody had communicated with her because Heinz is really one of the guiding lights behind this film and it would be a crime if she is not included in terms of acknowledgement.

H: I agree. What do you think, you're going to be speaking for Heinz now, Bob and Cima, what do you think his favorite areas of the "Yellow Submarine" were? We know what his least favorite ones were, but what about his favorite ones?

BB: You know, I can't think of any favorite.

CB: Oh, well, probably "When I'm Sixty-Four."

BB: Yeah, "When I'm Sixty-Four" because we ran out of money as you know and Heinz said, "I've got an idea where we can do one minute of film very cheaply." And that's "When I'm Sixty-Four" with one minute of just numbers and it's a beautiful sequence, it's a gorgeous sequence. However, that said, once it was storyboarded and once it was planned it probably was the most expensive minute in the film. So, in order to get the results you try to put your best effort forward and you do what you have to do in order to make it work.

H: Paul, let's talk about the cleaning and brightening of the artwork now. I understand with film restoration a common approach is to balance for flesh-tones and let everything else fall into place based on that, am I accurate in saying that?

PR: For live action I would say yes, for this particular project no.

H: But the color concept in "Yellow Submarine" has no relationship to reality so everyone's flesh-tones are quite different from one another.

PR: Exactly, and they change from shot to shot.

H: So, how can you tell whether the colors are correct? What's a reliable reference point?

PR: Well, I have actually the photochemical answer print that we made when we preserved it photochemically that was approved by Apple and the artists in England and I used that as a guide. And then I remembered that they had talked about certain things that they wanted to see, like one of Paul's shoulders is brown in his jacket and George's skin had a little bit yellow. You know, basically it turned out to be really subjective between Randy and I, the color palette and using that photochemical print. The other prints that were made in 1968 were very faded and were impossible to use as a guide. We even used the 1999 version DVD as a reference as well. I like using references because I like being accurate. I'm not the filmmaker, and basically if I can get a reference then I have more of an idea of what the filmmakers were getting at when they were shooting the film.

H: Let's go back to the "Hey, Bulldog" sequence. It was cut from the original 1968 theatrical release, then restored in the 1999 DVD, and your version matches the 1999 version in this regard, is that correct?

PR: That's correct.

H: So, let me ask Bob and Cima to comment a little bit here because the "Hey, Bulldog" area was one in which Heinz Edelmann was very unhappy about because he felt as you noted earlier we had six or seven different endings here, so that's what kind of disturbed him so much about that. Why do you think he thought those things?

BB: The Beatles were supposed to give us four songs and "Hey, Bulldog" came in right at the end and so it was sort of shoehorned into the film and even though Heinz did some designs for it and so forth, the bulldog, he really disliked the sequence and he disliked it interrupting the flow of the film. So, he was probably one of the major voices saying we have to change the ending of the film. But it was Heinz, even Al Brodax, even George Dunning at the time felt that, but everybody loves the song, it's a beautiful song, but being done the way it was done it was certainly not in the same style as the rest of the film.

CB: And not with the quality, it was just crude, it's not anything comparable to what the rest of the film was.

H: Is that you think because it was so rushed?

BB: That's part of it. You could sit down and write a book about the things, if I had all the notes of what went on at the time. It was rushed, certainly, but everything was rushed. The film had its delivery date, the premiere was July 17, 1968, and they had the cinema reserved. And the print came out the morning of the show. So, whatever happened was sheer miracle. We talked about this before. The fact that it came out the way it did is a miracle.

H: And that's why a film needs to be done literally on the creation of this film. People need to understand just really what went into it. My words in a book are words but to know and actually hear someone say just before the show we snuck in there, it tells you a lot about the love that you guys had in getting this thing together at an impossible time for a ridiculous amount of money and with little or no help from the Beatles. Were you surprised at that, Bob?

BB: No, you know, they hated the TV series of the Beatles, the TV series that was made by King Features has never been shown in England, it was made by TVC but it was never shown on English television. The Beatles just wouldn't allow it, they didn't like the voices, Americans imitating English voices and so they really felt that if we're going to do this "Yellow Submarine" thing it was going to be more of the same so they really didn't want to have anything to do with us. And it wasn't until way into the film when they started to see the results that they suddenly said, hey, we want to be involved. But by then it was too late and there was no money left.

H: That's really an important story.

BB: I'll just add one thing. I re-read your book every once and a while, Bob, and it is such a great thing that you have preserved so much, so many of the people's opinions, and so much of the story. I don't know anything more could be done than you've done to put that forward.

H: Thank you, thank you very much. But I'd like to see that acted out because it was a real thrill for me to have learned those things first hand from all of you guys, I talked to over 45 of you folks involved, and you know the struggles we had with Al Brodax on this who came out with his own book and it was, in my opinion, it could have been a lot better, that's about as nice as I can say.

BB: You are so kind, you are so kind.

H: And what he charged poor John Coates and everybody else with was unbelievable, it was unbelievable. I had better calm down here. We don't want to draw you into this controversy, Paul, because it was quite extraordinary.

PR: I'm aware of it.

H: Oh, you are aware of it? And it was half a year ago in which you have a person Ron Campbell coming out say he did basically everything and nobody challenged him, and all because Al Brodax said, here is the man, and that really was hell as far as I'm concerned.

CB: And once it gets on Wikipedia or whatever it is then that becomes the law.

H: That's the law. [Laughs]

PR: See, you just have to believe everything you read on the Internet.

H: Now, Paul, back to restoring "Hey, Bulldog" because this is a major part of this history. What kind of work was done restoring these "Hey, Bulldog" revised parts of the film?

PR: We had to re-edit it because 99.9% of the picture was scanned from my brand new interpositive that we made on the American version, so it had to be re-edited. We had to re-edit the "Bulldog" sequence which was from 1968 back into the picture and what I discovered was that it started a lot sooner than I thought. I thought it was just a chunk that they put in and then took out and it turned out there are sequences were there are shots that are shorter or different shots. It was quite a bit more detailed than I thought. But we were able to edit it all in. And I agree with Bob, I don't know if I should say this, because I asked the representative from Apple about it, it doesn't flow with the continuity of the picture and Jonathan said if we left that out we would be killed by the Beatles' fans.

H: Well, that was certainly one of those things that was looked forward to by them. By the way, are there plans to include the substituted filler footage from the '68 version as a bonus track on the DVD or wasn't the bonus tracks touched in regards to this process?

PR: No, I sent them all the extras that were taken out and there is a song in there that they would have problems with rights and so they weren't able to add that as filler, it's funny they have rights problems with their own songs.

H: What song is that?

PR: I don't remember. Bob, do you remember?

BB: No, I don't.

H: Cima, do you remember?

CB: I don't even know what you're talking about, an extra song that was in the American version?

PR: It was a part, it was a snippet of another song from another album.

H: "Beautiful People" was that it?

PR: I'll have to screen it again to see. They had problems, they told me they wouldn't be able to use that as an extra in the new package.

H: I see, well, the "Yellow Submarine" audience out there is enormous, enormous in the film world especially. You know I've only watched this film 422 times but there are some out there that I am certain have watched it close into the thousands. The guy from Disney/Pixar, John Lasseter, that is his favoritest film in the whole world and I'm amazed at all the things he's done that he considers it such. One last thing in regards to this "Hey, Bulldog" thing because a lot of people are going to be talking about it no matter what they're going to be looking for it, I know Jack Stokes is going to be happy, very happy to see this work further restored, but I have to ask this question, did you notice any difference, Bob and Cima, in the 1999 and 2012 versions of "Hey, Bulldog?" Does it work any better than the earlier versions?

Bob and Cima inside DreamWorks “Hidden Lounge,” February 24, 2012. Photo courtesy of Dan Sarto.

BB: No, no, I mean the color when you look at it side by side is more brilliant, but the action, you can't change the animation, you can't change the timing and the timing of the song, so, no. But that said, Bob, the audiences that love the Beatles' music are going to love "Hey, Bulldog" and they are going to sit and sing with it and enjoy it and so you can't take that away from them.

H: No, you shouldn't. Now, Paul, other than the original animation director and we talk about the greatness of this man, Bob Balser. Bob, you were the very first person I talked to in this book, 1991, and it was such a thrill to talk with you and knowing now how close you and Cima worked together it was like talking to a team.

BB: We are a team.

H: That's what I love about that aspect of it. Paul, other than the original animation director Bob Balser and his wife Cima who were called in by Apple to view and approve the direction, did anyone else from the crew get to preview it?

PR: Yes, in England and I don't know who they were.

H: Maybe Jack Stokes, Bob?

BB: He probably did but I do know that John Coates saw it with Jonathan Clyde and they gave me feedback as well.

H: And they gave you the same kind of feedback you're giving me, is that right?

BB: They asked me to let them know what I thought and I told them I thought it was terrific. Paul sent whatever work they had to London, they looked at it in London, agreed that it was terrific and then came back with a few comments and I told them I had seen the stuff and comments that I had made on the work that was in work and being cleaned up, so there was nothing to worry about, it was in good hands.

H: Paul, is your new restoration work going to be what is released on Blu-ray release or is the Blu-ray the same restoration that was issued in 1999?

PR: No, the Blu-ray is my restoration. And they're going to release the Blu-Ray and NTSC versions for those of us who don't have Blu-ray in the same package.

H: Do you have Blu-ray?

PR: No.

H: You don't? You're one of the most advanced in the field. What's the reason why you don't want to have a Blu-ray?

PR: Because I have 4K projection at work, I can look at any of that stuff in the highest resolution possible. Plus, I have an old Sony TV, a big tube TV. I'm a big fan of CRTs as opposed to plasmas and LED TVs, and it's a high-def TV but it has to up-res with Blu-Ray, I have to get a converter box for it. But if I want to look at Blu-ray I can look at it at work.

H: Well, I guess that's the reason why some people who are into music have told me time and time again LPs are key to their heart rather than any of the other technology. Is it true that the sound on an LP is a warmer sound?

PR: Oh, definitely.

H: It is a warmer sound, I never knew what that meant.

PR: For me, that just means that it's more realistic and the bass tones and the middle tones give you really good feelings if you like the music and where the MP3s are compressed so they are lacking information that on somebody that doesn't care can't, like who is going to watch "Yellow Submarine" on a telephone, they don't know the difference, but I know the difference, Bob and you know the difference.

BB: I was saying I was looking forward to seeing it on a telephone. [Laughter]

H: Yeah, me too. I want one of those watches, a 3/4" image, I can see all the detail there.

CB: And after that we'll get "Lawrence of Arabia." [Laughter]

H: "Lawrence of Arabia" would be great, Cinemascope, but those watches are a little bit bigger as I understand it.

PR: I have one thing to say about "Bulldog" which is interesting that I just recently found out is that "Hey, Bulldog" was the very last song that Paul and John collaborated on. After that it was either a John song or a Paul song. That was the very last song they actually collaborated on from beginning to end.

H: Well, Bob, Cima, and Paul, have you heard of any new plans on a live action remake of "Yellow Submarine" in the alleged Zemeckis and Disney production.

BB: No, that's been called off. They had everything pretty well prepared, they had picked the actors, they had gotten the rights to all of the music, they were in planning stage. I have mixed feelings about it. I can't imagine what the hell they would have done with it, that would be my only interest is what the hell they would have done with it.

PR: The last rumor that I heard was that they were going to do it in 3D.

H: In 3D?

PR: A brand new version.

H: What do you think of that idea, Bob?

BB: Well, you know that is a big difference between remaking the film and going into a 3D version. I would be looking forward to what the effect would be, I think it might be very exciting because there is a lot of beautiful stuff there that might work beautifully in 3D. "All Together Now," the fish floating through the sea, and the "Sea of Monsters," there is plenty of open spaces, flying through the "Sea of Holes," there is some wonderful things that would be very, very effective. So, I would be looking forward to seeing what it would look like.

H: Cima, do you have anything to say on this?

CB: Well, you're talking about the actual animated film, you're not talking about...

BB: Yeah, animated.

PR: Zemeckis is talking about remaking it.

H: So, it has all of your support?

BB: My support.

H: So, all three of you are supportive of that? Okay.

CB: Well, we're curious more than anything.

H: Well, that's good enough. Paul, Bob, and Cima, again this is a question for all three, after laboring with care on either an original or restored film, what do you think when your work is then cropped to match HDTV or letterbox format?

BB: I like to see the film in its original format but there are other formats and if they have to do something in order for it to be seen I would rather it be seen than not cropped. Naturally, with any kind of cropping, the person who is doing it, it's their decision as to how it is going to look so it's not the same film that I made.

H: It's true. Paul, what do you think?

PR: I'm against it. I prepared this in its original aspect ratio from beginning to end. The HDCAM SR is in 1.66, the DVDs are in 1.66, and if Blu-rays come out in 16:9, like "Help!" did, I'm not going to be very happy because we have a process called "Tilt and Scan" and it's okay for some films but what that is, is you can go up and down to capture image that is lost because you've cropped it, because if you cropped it crop is crop and you lose some of the image. So, we did not do a "Tilt and Scan" version of that because Apple told us that they were going to retain the original aspect ratio which is the English widescreen 1.66, so there should be little black bars on the sides of the frame, then that would indicate 1.66, if the Blu-ray doesn't I'm not going to be happy about that because you're going to lose information top and bottom.

H: You certainly will and a lot of heads are cut off and a lot of other things.

PR: Well, one thing I can think of in particular because we talked about this when we were working on it is when they come out from the rainbow, it's one of my favorite parts too, the Nowhere Man, when they come out from the rainbow they're on a black line and that will be gone if they crop it, and that black line is a record, when they spin around with the Boob, with Nowhere Man they are actually on a record, an LP, and that would be cut off and I think that is a pertinent part of the action, and it's just a line, but it would be cut off.

H: Paul, was this restoration as difficult as you thought it would be?

PR: Uhh, no. It was, considering we started it in 2008 and the photochemical part was very, very difficult because I had to track down a bunch of materials because one of the problems with a company like Deluxe or something like that is that after the show is finished the material is just left to languish. It had to be all gathered up and inspected and I had all kinds of "ng" pieces of film and good pieces of film and takes and all kinds of stuff. So, photochemically it was a challenge to put it all back together and to find the replacements I needed for damage that had happened over the last 40 years to the original negative. But the result of that was when we scanned it I had everything in place, so the scanning, except for the stupid mistake I made in "Bulldog," the scanning was easy. And it was a much easier remastering than it would have been if we were starting from scratch.

H: Will the "Yellow Submarine" film need to be restored again in the future?

PR: Well, it may have to be remastered in the future. One of the things Apple wanted was 4K because in case some other kind of technology came out that provided higher resolution they would have the highest resolution in 4K, LTO, or hard drive. That may change as well. In five years there may no longer be the same technology that there is now, there has been so many changes already in the last two years. But I'm restoring films, I'll give you an example, "Help!" was done on, I restored that photochemically so that's all taken care of, but then that was transferred to high-def, well high-def is not Blu-ray so it is not Blu-ray compatible, and that was delivered in a D5 hi-def file and it's not compatible with Blu-ray so in order to do Blu-ray that would have to be rescanned, so it would have to be redone. "A Hard Day's Night" was never done in high-def, it was always done in NTSC and PAL, so the fiftieth anniversary of that is coming up in a couple of years and they need, the owners, which is The Beatles and Bruce Carson, they to think about that because that is only available on DVD and it is not available on Blu-ray or a higher resolution so that may very well have to be restored again. And with "Yellow Submarine" there isn't any reason for me to think that in the next ten years, just like the last one was 1998 and you thought it was the end all to beat all, and it wasn't, so I have no reason to think that someday that is going to have to be redone again.

H: So, those of us who are used to buying the Beatles on 45s, 33s, cassettes, CDs, digital, whatever, have something to look forward to, we're going to have to buy them all again for another reason.

Paul, you said that refurbishing film is becoming a lost art and science. What are some of the difficulties in saving films that are 40, 50, 60 years old?

PR: That basically has to do with the look that people need to understand, the look of film and how it looked when it was released. And like I said, I've been doing this since 1974 and that's all I've done is work on old films and I have an idea what the look should be. But, I got a book called, "All My Friends Are Dead" just recently that was supposed to be funny and it was very funny, the bottom line is that all the people that I learned from that taught me and whose brains I picked have passed on, and a new generation of kids are coming up that don't have a clue on how the ethics of the era, which is what I call it, which I speak about, is ethically, how do you want this material to look? Ethically, you want it to look like it looked when it first came out and that is going away because the colleges are no longer presenting the history, you know, showing films that show the history of filmmaking, and the kids that are getting in and working on it don't understand what it's supposed to look like. Which is why I'm glad I got "Yellow Submarine," because it could have gone to someplace and they could have turned it into Nickelodeon or something like that.

CB: Or Japanese anime.

PR: Yeah, exactly. I have a really strong feeling about that. My son is involved in the work as well, and he's been doing it now for 12 years and I hope he continues because he has an idea. We do work that goes all the way back to the early 1900s, late 1800s, and we know how the material is supposed to look and unfortunately it is a dying art.

H: Yes, it seems to be so many areas of knowledge where that is happening.

The last question I have for all three of you is this, and give it some consideration and thought. About two months ago, I had no idea this was going on. All of a sudden it happens and it's like a whole brave new world, especially in my thinking and making sure this film would live on and on. Throughout this entire process of trying to see the history of the film and the co-creating because the film was not created by just one person, there were so many co-creators, would you agree with that, Bob?

BB: Definitely.

H: And so many great minds, Heinz, Charlie Jenkins, or George Dunning, and Jack Stokes, when you look at the growth of something that I believe touches the heart, this film touches the heart of generations upon generations and I think this is one of the reasons why people in Apple before had decided not to put time and energy into it and now it looks like they're forced to because it is something that is needed like for this particular time. So, what do you think of this process, why has such a film like this become so important in regards to three, four, and maybe five generations? Paul?

PR: It's a good story and the animation is unique, extremely unique. It's a story that adults will enjoy because it will remind them of the days when they would take acid and go to the theaters. And the children will enjoy it because it's a good children's story. It's just a good movie, I enjoy watching it and I've seen it hundreds of times by now and I enjoy it. I enjoy the music, I enjoy the way that Bob and his crew animated the musical numbers. A lot of it I laugh still and enjoy it. It's a cartoon that is basically right alongside of Disney, maybe even moreso because it's still relative to this society, it's not passé. It's something that the kids can enjoy and understand and the adults can enjoy and understand as well. And it's got good music in it and it could introduce a lot of kids to the Beatles.

H: Well, it certainly is doing that. I mean, I know children, because I put DVDs in their hands, two and three years old, and it is the one thing they watch almost every night before they go to bed. It's thrilling to see it from that perspective. What do you think Bob and Cima?

BB: I agree with Paul. I think the film functions on so many levels and I think you did such a marvelous job of analyzing that in your book. But my biggest pleasure is seeing little two and three year old kids loving the film. And as you talked about it was a team effort and nobody working on the film said we're going to do an iconic film, we're going to do a great film, we had a lot of fun and I think that comes across on so many different levels. I think it's going to be a film that is going to live forever.

CB: Basically though you never said you were going to do a children's film so you're not talking down to the children and I think they realize that. But mostly it's just that the music is wonderful, the color is gorgeous, and you feel good, it's a feel-good movie. All you need is love.

H: I think you said the right word there, love, according to the works of Joseph Campbell or Abraham Maslow or Carl Jung, they look at it and some have defined it as love is the cohesive force of the universe.

BB: Here, here!

H: When I first started working on this book in 1969 and going through all kinds of crazy theories and ideas, I was looking at it from a symbolic perspective. I was well aware of the work of Joseph Campbell and the Hero's Journey, and I thought for sure there was some smart Beatle, who went to the group and said, "Hey, we want to do a film about the cultural hero, the aspect of growing through myths and meaning of life." Like the work of Victor Frankl, as soon as we have meaning in life and your own personal myth, you can grow and develop in such other ways that you feel love. Now, of course all of those ideas were not conscious, isn't that right Bob?

BOB BALSER: It certainly wasn't. Nothing.

H: That's a great myth that I just proposed there, but in reality I was kind of disappointed that I couldn't find anybody that said any of those things. But in a certain sense maybe it was good that it wasn't laid out that way. Maybe because of the intuitive way it came together with so many brilliant minds, and there were multiple geniuses working on this film, and when you get a group of geniuses working together you are bound to do something that is so deep and profound that it can change whole ideas and philosophies. So that's my bias and I'm sticking to it.

CB: I'm sure they're saying "Oh, Is that what we did?"

PAUL RUTAN, JR.: The Beatles were trendsetters on that. When they did that "All You Need Is Love" for the first worldwide transmission you know we had enemies in Eastern Europe that heard "All You Need Is Love" and it was like, well, these people are supposed to be evil, not the Beatles but the West, and maybe they're not evil, maybe they're not if they're singing about love. And "Yellow Submarine," I don't know if that has ever been released in Eastern Europe and I'd really look forward to that because I'm sure that is one of their markets now.

H: I think now we might see it and it's all because of you, Paul. You and Jonathan Clyde.

PR: Jonathan Clyde and Jeff Jones, he's the CEO now of Apple and a nice man.

H: I was wondering whose idea was this, to redo it at this particular time.

PR: I had talked to Jonathan about it and he said there is a hole, because they had come out with the book again and they had a thing going on with iTunes with Yellow Submarine, where you can get a free book if you buy whatever, and they said there is a hole because "Yellow Submarine" is not available on DVD or Blu-ray and we need to fill that hole. Now, when I first talked to Jonathan it was going to be just a small project, they were going to not be in theaters and they were just going to maybe do a couple of festivals, and then just slip it on the market. And I think that what's happened with the cultural phenomena of this coming out again, now all of a sudden it's going to be in 200 theaters and I'm getting calls, which in not my department, but I'm getting calls and e-mails from theaters that don't have the digital equipment that are asking we want to run the film. Jonathan wanted one DCP, that's a digital cinema package, he wanted one. And they've made over 200 of them now. And now, of course, we have it being released on the 10th [of May] all over the country. And I don't know what the reaction was when it was released, the premiere was actually in Austin about a month ago, then it was in New York on the 5th, and then of course it's going to be released on the 10th in 200 cities. That's insane.

H: Well, I believe it's certainly going to lift the planet's consciousness. I know how corny this sounds, I know, I know, but this kind of thing about unconditional love and assisting and helping other people, which we seem to have forgotten a great deal about in this country in the last 8 to 10 years, is really the key for us coming together.

H: Where was this material kept all these years and how was it delivered to you?

PR: They sent some of the stuff from England, and some of it was kept in a Protech-vault... in L.A.

H: In a Protech-vault can they still fade and become non-operable?

PR: Oh yeah, yes, they can. Modern stocks are supposed to be far better. They are supposed to last for at least a hundred years in correct climatic conditions, so the photochemical material I made should last for hundreds of years, the film.

And if we don't do it soon, as we all know, global warming is a hoax, right? [laughs], things are falling apart all over the place, temperatures are rising but it's a hoax. And unfortunately, what we have in the world today, in the old days when I would fight the fundamentalists 40 some years ago and they destroyed my murals and they destroyed my paintings and they destroyed my work literally, I kept warning people that you'd better look out for these fundamentalists because indeed they believe that this country is a Christian country and that's it, anybody else that's in it should get the hell out because they're in the way and Jesus Christ is coming back in a couple of months or a couple of years or something like that.

PR: What difference does it make if we destroy the planet, right?

H: Well, to them it's no difference at all because they're looking forward to Jesus coming back. They've got it made. This is all right. During the Reagan administration this came out again, people really got an insight as to what the influences on Reagan were and who has now been turned into a demigod, so whatever.

But a film like this can bring people together and we really need that on this planet. And I think that mythology that is hidden within it that wasn't consciously done was part of it. I think that Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung and Maslow and all those other guys knew what they were talking about.

I want to thank you guys for joining us. I never expected two months ago to be talking about this again because I never realized that it was going to be redone.

CIMA BALSER: It's resurfacing again.

H: The "Yellow Submarine" is resurfacing.

It's time for final comments. Any last comments there, Cima?

CB: Oh yes, thank you so much.

H: It's a joy and a pleasure. Paul, do you have one last word to say?

PR: Yes, I just want to thank you for inviting me, being just a technician.

H: Oh, come on Paul.

PR: I think this film, I hope it's watched. I hope people go and see it and I hope they bring their kids. Which disturbs me that it's being released on a Thursday at 8 o'clock so you know they're not going to be able to bring their little children. And I hope that when they release this Blu-ray that it's reasonably priced, that people will be able to afford it in this economy.

H: What's a reasonable price now, Paul?

PR: Oh, I don't know. I would imagine with what they're doing, I would say a reasonable price is $19 to $20.

H: That's reasonable all right.

PR: I'm afraid it's going to be more and are the parents going to buy "Yellow Submarine" for their kids or are they going to buy "Transformers" or some violent thing, "Batman" or the like.

But I just hope it gets watched.

H: Well, we're going to be watching it on the 10th here in Owings Mills, Maryland, in the country, the rural area of the city of Baltimore so even us bumpkins out here can get another shot at this.

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The following is from the 12/27/17 version of the Bob Balser Wikipedia Page, retrieved 12-30-17.

Robert Edward "Bob" Balser (March 25, 1927 – January 4, 2016) was an American animator and animation director. Balser, together with co-director Jack Stokes, are best known as the animation directors for the 1968 film, Yellow Submarine, which was inspired by the music of the Beatles. He also directed the animated "Den" sequence of the 1981 film, Heavy Metal.

Early life
Robert Balser was born on March 25, 1927 in Rochester, New York. He moved to Los Angeles with his parents, where he attended high school and enrolled in classes at the Chouinard Art Institute. He served in the United States Navy's Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.) Office of Research and Inventions in New York City from 1945 to 1946 during the eve of World War II.

Following the war, Balser, using the G.I. Bill, studied at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he majored in advertising art and earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1950. During his senior year at UCLA, Balser signed up for his final required course, an animation class taught by Bill Shull, an animator for the Walt Disney Company, which sparked his interest in a career in animation. He decided to take additional animation classes and created three films as part of his course work: Old King Cole, Richard Corey, and I Like to See It Lap the Miles. His three films were later released by the theater arts department of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

Balser also met his wife, Cima, while attending UCLA. Bob and Cima Balser married on June 25, 1950, just one week after graduating from UCLA.

Balser's career spanned more than five decades. He began as a freelance animator, working on television commercials and documentaries. He worked as a layout artist for Norman Wright Productions during the 1950s. Balser also worked under Saul Bass, a graphic designer, to help create Bass' seven minute animated title sequence for the film, Around the World in 80 Days, released in 1956.

In 1959, Balser and his wife left Los Angeles for a six month work sabbatical. They purchased two one-way tickets for the SS Maasdam ocean liner from New York City to Le Havre, France. While in Europe, the Balsers obtained press passes to the Cannes, Moscow, and the Venice Film Festivals, where they wrote film reviews for Film Quarterly, a UCLA film journal. The couple ran out of income after five months, but Balser was offered a job with Laterna Films in Copenhagen, Denmark. He relocated to Finland one year later, where he founded the animation department at the now-defunct Fennada-Filmi. Several of Balser's films at Fennada-Filmi won awards. He traveled to West Germany and Italy before returning to Copenhagen.

In 1964, Balser directed El Sombrero, an animated short film written by Alan Shean, for Estudios Moro, a Spanish production company.

He is perhaps best known for his work on the 1968 British animated film, Yellow Submarine, which was Balser's first feature film. Balser, who was one of the only American animators to be hired for the film, served as the animation director of Yellow Submarine with Jack Stokes. Balser and Stokes oversaw a staff of more than 100 artists and animators, who hand-drew the film's animation over the course of eleven months. They also co-directed and created the storyboards for the animated sequences of the film. The total budget for the Yellow Submarine was less than one million dollars.

Following the success of Yellow Submarine, Balser founded a production company, Pegbar Productions, headquartered in Barcelona, Spain, where he produced animated television shows and films. Balser produced ABC's The Jackson 5ive, a Saturday morning cartoon which aired for one season from 1971 to 1972; the 1979 animated television movie The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the BBC's children's series Barney, as well as several episodes of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show, which aired on CBS during the mid-1980s. He also directed more than 175 television commercials and documentaries, which were aired throughout Europe, as well as countries as far away from Barcelona as Iran.

Balser served on the board of directors for the International Animated Film Association (ASIFA) from 1978 to 1994, and helped to establish ASIFA-Spain in 1980. In 1986, Balser and his wife, Cima, joined with four other couples to establish the Benjamin Franklin International School in Barcelona. Their school now has more than 500 students, as of 2016.

In 1993, Balser closed Pegbar Productions, his production company in Barcelona. He then directed The Triplets, a Catalan animated series for Cromosoma Productions. Balser left Spain in 1996. Next, Balser lived in Cairo, Egypt, for several months, where he worked as an animation consultant for the International Executive Service Corporation. He then moved to Ankara, Turkey, for two years, where he directed television series that aired in Germany and the United States.

In 1999, Robert and Balser retired to Marina del Rey, California, a coastal suburb of Los Angeles. He became a consultant and lecturer. Balser also served on the "Short films and Animation Feature Branch" of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and remained an active member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).

Balser was hospitalized for respiratory failure during mid-December 2015. He died from complications of respiratory failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, on January 4, 2016, at the age of 88. Balser was survived by his wife of 65 years, Cima Balser, and their son, Trevel. His memorial service was held at the Marina City Club in Marina del Rey, California, on January 16, 2016.

The moving image collection of Bob Balser is held at the Academy Film Archive.

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The following is the cut and paste from the Animation World Magazine Obit of Bob Balser, retrieved 12-27-17.

'Yellow Submarine' Animation Director Robert Balser Passes at 88
By Jennifer Wolfe, Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Best-known for his work as animation director alongside Jack Stokes on the groundbreaking animated feature, ‘Yellow Submarine,’ Balser also directed the “Den” sequence in ‘Heavy Metal.’

Very sad news for fans of classic animation. AWN has learned that Robert Balser, the animation director for The Beatles’ 1968 feature, Yellow Submarine, has died at the age of 88. According to his widow, Cima Balser, Bob -- as he was known to friends and colleagues -- was hospitalized at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles with respiratory failure in mid-December, and passed away due to complications on January 4th.

With a career spanning more than 50 years, Balser was perhaps best-known for his work as animation director alongside Jack Stokes on the groundbreaking animated feature, Yellow Submarine. One of the few American artists on the Yellow Submarine team, Balser directed and storyboarded all the scenes that were pre- and post- Pepperland, including Liverpool, the travel sequences through the various seas, and the return.

Though Yellow Submarine was Balser’s first feature-length film, he had previously worked on a number of award-winning commercials. Most notable among his early achievements is his work with revolutionary graphic designer Saul Bass on the innovative (and nearly seven-minute long) animated title sequence for the 1956 film Around the World in 80 Days. Balser also directed El Sombrero, or The Hat as it was known in English, in 1964 for Spanish production company Estudios Moro. Written and designed by Alan Shean, the short film follows the story of a social outcast and his troubles with a talking hat, symbolizing his inability to master a status symbol[.]

After Yellow Submarine, Balser opened his own production company in Barcelona, Spain where he produced TV series such as The Jackson 5, and The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, as well as Peanuts for CBS, Barney for BBC, The Triplets for HBO, and many others. He also directed the “Den” segment on the classic 1981 animated feature, Heavy Metal. In addition to running a production studio and school in Barcelona for decades, Balser also served as a board member for ASIFA International from 1978 through 1994, and helped launch ASIFA-Spain in 1980.

Balser and his wife, Cima, have both been longtime friends of AWN, contributing numerous articles and on-the-ground festival reports over the years, and he will be sincerely missed. Plans for a memorial celebration are currently underway, and friends and well-wishers should save January 15th as an anticipated date. AWN is also busy gathering tributes from Balser’s colleagues from over the years, which will be posted as a separate feature later in the year. Please contact editor@awn.com if you worked with Bob and would like to contribute.

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