Future-Proofing A Charlie Brown Christmas + a Giveaway!

I am a Peanuts Ambassador, and any opinions expressed are 100% my own and entirely a result of my great love for Charlie Brown and all of his friends.

I know you’ve all been anxiously awaiting the next post in our A Charlie Brown Christmas series, and here it is.  Sorry I kept you waiting so long!  The Peanuts are worth waiting for though, don’t you think?

So far, we’ve learned a little about the Schulz family, the voices behind the characters, and the Peanuts music.  This month we have an interview with Ron Smith, who is bringing us some fascinating insights into the cutting-edge 4K technology that is making our favorite holiday TV classic looking bright and shiny.  Ron has worked on the Peanuts specials in three different jobs: first at CBS, which was airing the Peanuts series at the time; then at Paramount, which was distributing the show at the time; and now at Technicolor, where he and his team work to restore and update the original films.

What does 4K really mean to your favorite Peanuts specials?  The picture quality will be better than you’ve ever seen it on any television screen with a richer image that is closer to the original film than any previous digital version of the special.  Peanuts is at the forefront of this technology, which “future-proofs”A Charlie Brown Christmas and the other Peanuts specials for the day when ultra-high-definition TVs are the standard in every household.  The soundtrack has also been cleaned and restored, so it will sound fabulous on your home theaters.

 

Ron Smith Technicolor

From the viewer’s point of view, what’s the first thing we’ll notice now that the special is in 4K?

That it actually fits on your widescreen television! The picture is now designed for that screen. All the other presentations are designed for the old 4×3 screens.

You’ll also notice the soundtrack and music have been upgraded for modern viewing: it’s in stereo surround 5.1 We’re lucky that the original negative exists for these shows, and all the original soundtracks and magnetic tracks. We were able to go in, separate those tracks, and clean them up, along with the sound effects. You’ll get that nice stereo music in your surround speakers. So the special not only looks better, but sounds more current, too.

Is there any scene in particular where we’ll notice the difference?

When I watch one of the shows at home, everything looks kind of small. Particularly any of the group scenes, the skating in the beginning, the rehearsal scenes for the Christmas play, they all look kind of distant. Now you’ll be able to see it much more clearly.

Where do you start when you’re doing this work? 

Like any good project, you have to start with research. There’s a lot of information to be had out there. I was amazed to find how many websites there are devoted to the show. I found everything from show listings, descriptions, and some downright fanatical—meaning, created by big fans—analyses of each episode.

Some of it was just cataloguing all the shows. Of the 80 or 90 shows that have been done, 55 of the titles contain “Charlie Brown,” and 14 of them start with the word “It’s.” When you’re working on 10 or 20 at the same time—and when the first two you’re working on are Christmas shows—it gets really confusing! So we knew we were going to have to be really careful with the elements.

We have the original film elements on A Charlie Brown Christmas. Since this is priceless and irreplaceable art, we do a film inspection to see if it needs to be repaired. There may be cement splices in it, and when the show is 50 years old, those splices can come loose and appear a little bit jagged. So we make sure the show is completely repaired. We check for any obvious wear and tear, and make sure that the film will hold up going through a scanner. That’s how we digitize it. Each frame becomes a digital data file, and each one needs to be cleaned and color-corrected.

This also happens with the sound. You take the analog or magnetic soundtrack and digitize it. The first thing is we take out the snap, crackle, and pop, and clean up the individual tracks, then recombine them to make the restored version.

The scanner also takes a picture of the surface dirt on each frame, so we can figure out where it is, which makes it easier to clean and restore. And there was a lot of dirt.

What are some of the dos and don’ts of restoring classic animation? Is there a danger that it can it look “too good,” so you lose the charm of the hand-drawn originals?

There are some classic mistakes. It can look too sharp or over-enhanced. With the Charlie Brown stuff, you have to embrace the original look. The picture changes from frame to frame. You’ve got to realize you can’t fix everything. You’ve basically got to take the show as a whole, not nitpick it, then go back and smooth it out.

We were lucky to have the original artwork, the original cels, so we could see what the original colors were for characters and what they wore. Everyone in Peanuts family has been involved in this in some way, and they’ve been very helpful.

How important is it for classic animation to be restored?

For every film that gets restored, there are 1,000 that haven’t been restored. There’s always an underlying race-the-clock mentality that’s associated with preservation. So many films have been lost and so many are at risk. Particularly with shows like this, we want our kids and our kids’ kids to experience the same things we did.

Separate from your professional experience, are you personally a fan of Peanuts and A Charlie Brown Christmas?

Coincidentally, I am. I know I’m not alone. It’s probably my favorite Christmas show, no doubt. If the Linus scene doesn’t get you all choked up, then nothing will. My kids like it, and my daughter has a child who just turned 5, and she loves it. I’ll take her for a ride in my car and play the soundtrack, and when the picture comes up on the player, she’s in heaven. It just makes it that much more special that I can re-experience it through their eyes.

One of the things that really struck me when we started working on it here at Technicolor was that I discovered I wasn’t the only one with special relationship to the material. The colorists here, grown men and women, were fighting over the project. That’s how fondly it’s remembered by so many people.

******

This might be my favorite interview of the series thus far.  Nothing makes me happier than knowing the best people are working on keeping the Peanuts films in the best condition.  And you could hear in Ron’s voice how much working on this project means to him.  It was touching.  Okay; I’m going to go grab a tissue, but you should get started entering this month’s giveaway.  It’s a fun one!

Peanuts inflatables from Gemmy are an easy and charming way to decorate your home or yard for the holidays. The inflatables feature Snoopy in a variety of fun-filled Christmas poses and settings—all guaranteed to set the mood for your annual festivities! (Styles vary and will be distributed randomly.)

Your yard needs this, and your neighbors will be jealous!  Giveaway is open to US residents who are 18 and older.  Ends 11/28/14.  Good luck!

Snoopy Gemmy Inflatable [Read more...]


Letters From Santa Review

Letters From Santa Review | Game On Mom

Would your child love to get a letter from Santa in the mail?  Whose child wouldn’t?!  Now, it’s possible!  With Letters From Santa your child will receive a customized letter from the big guy.  :-)  This would make a wonderful pre-Christmas gift for your child.

Letters From Santa is proud to have the distinction of delivering Christmas magic to children throughout North America and beyond with this great service.  Not only do they do Santa letters, but they also do customized greeting cards.  They have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Plum District, Stroller Traffic, and Scooter Traffic.

Letters From Santa Review | Game On Mom

Usually the mail comes right after Riley gets home from school.  This past week, Riley got a nice surprise to a letter with her name on it from the North Pole!  She couldn’t wait to open it up.  Inside was Santa’s Magic Key, a Nice List ID Card, and a 100% personalized letter from Santa!
Letters From Santa Review | Game On Mom

Reading Riley’s letter from Santa to her was so much fun.  Her face lit up when Santa brought up her being in preschool and named two of her friends from school.

The process was very simple to create a letter.  You just pick what package you want, and then they have several drafts to pick from and you fill in the blanks.  It’s super easy and took me less than 15 minutes from start to finish.  Letters From Santa has several packages to choose from -

Original Letter From Santa:

  • 100% Personalized Letter From Santa
  • North Pole Postmark
  • Free Wax Seal

Nice List ID Card Package – Everything in the above package, plus:

  • Nice List ID Card

Santa’s Magic Key Package – Everything in the Original Letter From Santa Package, plus:

  • Santa’s Magic Key

The North Pole Package – Everything in the Original Letter From Santa package, plus:

  • Nice List ID Card
  • Santa’s Magic Key

If you order now, letters will be mailed the day after Thanksgiving.  And, they always offer FREE standard shipping to the United States and Canada.

The prices for the packages are very affordable.  And I have a 15% off coupon code to share with you!  GAMEON2014 This code expires November 20, 2014.

Do you think your child would love to get their own letter from Santa in the mail?

Follow Letters From Santa Online:
Website | Facebook


Save Up to 70% Select Games at the SimplyFun Friends & Family Sale!

Are you familiar with SimplyFun?  If not, you should be!

Simply Fun Logo

SimplyFun is a great way to find amazing and fun learning games and tools for children.  In fact, their slogan is “We build smarter kids & stronger families through the amazing power of play!”  They really do, and they have something for everyone, no matter what needs your family may have.  SimplyFun provides games and products that have been independently reviewed to identify key skills to match US national and state core standards, Head Start domains, and suitability for special needs children with modified accessibility.  Every child can benefit from SimplyFun’s inventory, and they have more than 100 award-winning products.  SimplyFun is perfect for parents and families, but they’re also great for educators and therapists. AnnualSaleReminder_Med

SimplyFun will be hosting their Annual Friends & Family Sale on November 18 and 19, 2014.  You can snag many of their best products at prices up to 70% off!  With the holidays approaching, this is the perfect time to get some terrific educational gifts at a bargain.

Take a look at the SimplyFun Annual Friends & Family Sale flyer for a sneak peek of their sale items and prices:

2014AnnualSale_WEB

Those are some awesome deals!  I am particularly excited about the Kahootz! and Take Your Pick II games.  I already know exactly who would love those games, and they will be perfect holiday gifts for them–and at a bargain, which I know you love as much as I do!

To learn more about SimplyFun, take a look at their website.  You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to learn more and stay up-to-date on sales and events!  You may be interested to know that you can host a SimplyFun party in your home and even become a consultant for SimplyFun products.  All the information you need to get started can be found on their website.  And don’t forget – the Annual Friends & Family Sale runs for only two days: November 18 and 19, 2014.  Don’t be late!


Discover the Benefits of Solar Power & Enter to Win a $16.5K Solar Power System! #WinSolar

This post is brought to you by SunPower.  All opinions are 100% my own.

As you know, the Game on Mom blog is a big supporter of anything environment-friendly, especially when it’s also wallet-friendly, so today we’re excited to talk to you about solar power.

SunPower

If you live in the states of California, New York, Colorado, Hawaii, or Arizona, and you pay more than $100 a month in electricity costs, and have a household income of at least $100,000, you’ll definitely want to look into solar power options provided by SunPower.

We’ll come back to the incredible solar options from SunPower in a second, but let’s talk first about solar energy in general, and how it can benefit you.

  • Solar power systems will deliver significant savings on your utility bills right away, and will help keep costs down as utility rates continue to rise.
  • When you purchase a solar power system, you may be eligible for Federal Investment Tax Credits up to 30%, not to mention State and local solar power incentives.
  • In many states, homeowners with solar power systems may be eligible for net energy metering programs that provide financial credits from utility companies.
  • Generating your own emission-free solar power reduces your carbon footprint as well as your reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Solar power can increase the value of your home.
  • With solar panels on the roof of your home, owners of electric vehicles can offset increased electricity costs with emission-free fuel from the sun.
  • Solar systems are reliable and typically warranted for around 25 years, and there is very little maintenance required.
  • Solar systems can be purchased outright or through a lease program.
  • Solar systems are installed in the US every 3.2 seconds, and are great for employment: it’s one of the fastest growing industries in the country, and provides around 150,000 jobs today.

Those are some huge incentives, and that’s only a short list!  Learn more about saving with SunPower.

Now that we’ve had a quick review of solar energy and the benefits it can provide, let’s talk about SunPower.  Not all solar panels are created equal, and you can count on SunPower to provide the best.

  • SunPower panels are the most efficient on the market, which means SunPower systems require fewer panels.  This is great if you have limited space on your roof, and it also means SunPower panels will generate more power and more savings over the life of the system.
  • SunPower’s Maxeon ® solar cells are fundamentally different from conventional solar panels, resulting in superior performance, reliability, quality, and aesthetics (which are important, let’s face it).
  • SunPower has been around nearly 30 years, and has manufactured more than one billion solar cells (not to mention they’ve installed more than 4.5 gigawatts of solar around the world – that’s enough to power Paris for an entire year!).
  • SunPower has received praise from labs around the world for their reliability and long-term performance.
  • SunPower’s systems are industry-leading, and have a 25-year power and product warranty.  Your panels will be guaranteed to provide more power over their life than conventional ones.

In other words, SunPower is the crème de la crème.  To learn more about the company, make sure to check out their informational website.  You can also check out the SunPower Communities page to see questions, answers, and discussions with actual SunPower customers.

Now that you know about solar energy and SunPower’s superior products, guess what?  There is amazing sweepstakes in which one Grand Prize winner will get a 3kW solar power system (including installation) for their home!  This Grand Prize is valued at $16,500 (wow!!).  Again, if you live in the states of California, New York, Hawaii, Arizona, or Colorado and are interested in adding a solar power system to your solar-suitable home, you will DEFINITELY want to enter this incredible sweepstakes!

To enter the sweepstakes, just visit the SunPower Sweepstakes Page and fill out the form!  To learn more about the contest, take a look at the SunPower Sweepstakes FAQ page.

You can also keep up with SunPower via their Facebook and Twitter pages.

The SUNPOWER Mark is a registered trademark of the SunPower Corporation and used herein under license.


It’s Time for the Ultimate Online Baby Shower! #UOBS

Get excited, everyone.  It’s time for another Ultimate Online Baby Shower!

Ultimate Online Baby Shower

If you’ve never taken part in the #UOBS, you are seriously in for a real treat.  There are giveaways and events galore, and this is your personal invitation!  This virtual shower will run from Friday, November 14 until Friday, November 21.

First things first:  you’ll definitely want to “RSVP” for the Ultimate Online Baby Shower.

Your RSVP will earn you an entry for the gift basket giveaway (this year there are two baskets worth more than $400 each)!  An RSVP will also get you access to the full event calendar, so you’ll know exactly when all the fun giveaways will be taking place!

UOBS RSVP Flyer

What’s in the gift basket?  So much stuff!  In addition to a few last minute additions, you’ll have the chance to win a basket packed with awesome items like these:

  • Hyland’s Baby Gas Drops
  • Thinkbaby Sunscreen & Shampoo
  • Born Free Sippy Cup
  • My True Nature Bubble Bath
  • Baby K’tan Hat
  • Baby K’tan Carrier
  • Tadpoles Play Mat
  • Tadpoles Organic Layette
  • Wee Can Too Tempera Paint Set
  • Wee Nurture Milkmade Nursing Cover
  • Bobo Buddy
  • LooHoo Deluxe Starter Kit
  • Bamboosa Wash Cloth Pack
  • Lucy Darling Holiday Sticker Pack
  • Lucy Darling You Are Loved Print
  • HABA Upsala Baby Gift Set
  • Born Free 3 pack Glass Bottles
  • Born Free 2 pack Sippy Cups
  • Mabel’s Labels Baby Combo Pack

To RSVP, you just need to visit the Game on Mom Facebook page and fill out the RSVP form between Nov. 14th and Nov. 21st at 5 PM.  That will enter you into the gift basket contest and you’ll get exclusive access to the full event calendar, so you won’t miss a single Flash Giveaway from the #UOBS bloggers.  (Go ahead, RSVP now.  We’ll wait.)

Speaking of the Flash Giveaways:  You’ll have plenty of chances to win fabulous prizes every day!

After you gain exclusive calendar access, you’ll be able to keep up with the time and day for every single Flash Giveaway–which will happen EVERY DAY, and sometimes multiple times a day!  Much like a flash sale, the items will be a surprise until the Flash Giveaway begins, and you have 2 hours to enter.  I can only give you a hint right now, but you’ll see items from brands like Neat Cheeks, Lucy Darling, and Wee Can Too, among many more.  How exciting!

Last of all, you can take part in the Sampling Events!

Like all showers, the Ultimate Online Baby Shower is even better when you’re with a friend, so grab a pal and get ready for this one!  The folks at Sampler will host sampling events every day from November 18-21.  To take part, you can make a “Wish For It” list of samples you’d like to receive, and during the Sampler events, you and your friends can send each other samples from your wish lists!

Sampler FAQs

Buddy up and get ready, because you’ll have the chance to score awesome samples from these brands:

How cool is that?!  There are so many awesome brands and bloggers participating, and I’m so excited to take part.  I hope you’ll join us!  Maybe a sneak peek of some of the fabulous products these brands are offering will convince you…

UOBS

I know you want the details on all of these wonderful items, and I’ve put them all together for you, because that’s just how much I love you guys.  But you’ll have to go HERE to get them.  Get more product information on the amazing things you can get and give as part of this huge event, complete with photos.  Lots of photos.

Don’t forget, the first step to taking part in the #UOBS is to RSVP at this link.  We can’t wait to see you!