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Rankin/Bass

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Recordings Hobbit Animated Characters Cover
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Biography

Rankin/Bass Productions, Inc. (formerly Videocraft International, Ltd.), also known as Rankin/Bass Animated Entertainment, was an American stop-motion production company, known for its seasonal television specials. With few exceptions, their library is currently owned by Entertainment Rights/Classic Media (for the pre-1974 material) and Warner Bros. (for the post-1974 material).

The company was founded by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass in the early 1960s as Videocraft International. One of Videocraft’s first projects was an independently produced series based on the character Pinocchio. It was done using “Animagic”, a stop motion animation process using figurines (a process already pioneered by George Pal’s “Puppetoons” and Art Clokey’s Gumby and Davey and Goliath). This was followed by another independently produced series using more traditional cel animation and based on already established characters, Tales of the Wizard of Oz in 1961.

In 1964, the company produced a special for NBC and sponsor (and later owner of NBC) General Electric. It was a stop-motion animated adaptation of the Johnny Marks song Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (which had been made into a Max Fleischer traditional animated short almost two decades before).

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