Well I think I should make a start on this, so here is the first production company I have chosen to look at..
Also known as Videocraft International, the company was founded by Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass in 1960 (a long long time ago!)
The company was best known for their animated TV specials, especially ones for the holiday period. Most notably was their stop motion Christmas special of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which was released in 1964.
(Ain't they cute?)
This was the first of many animated TV specials the company produced that are still popular and well known to this day. Many of the holiday specials are still broadcast every year, especially in the US. This includes the 2D animated special of Frosty the Snowman that was released in 1969 and also the sequel to the previous Rudolph special titled Rudolph's Shiny New Year, which was released 12 years after the original in 1976.
(Which includes a cute baby with massive ears I thought I'd mention that :P)
Strangely enough, while researching the company I learnt that all the stop motion specials were animated in Japan. Just a fun fact for you!
As said before, although the company was known for their holiday specials, they also produced traditional animated features as well which include animated versions of J R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and Return of the King. But two of my personal favourites are animated adaptions of Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn -
and also Peter Dickison's Flight of Dragons -
(Had to include this couldn't resist)
Now what I love most about this company when it comes to their stop motion productions, is the distinctive and unique style to the puppets and sets. They all have a handmade quality to them that I admire so much. Due to my chosen style of working, I love puppets that have a unusual texture that just makes you want to pick them up and touch them. Its all well and good puppets being smooth and polished, but with this look and feel to them you can see and FEEEEEEL the craftsmanship that went into making these characters, even if the style of them appears outdated compared to today's standards.
Aren't they all so lovely? :3
Anyway moving on, another reason I love this companies work so much is the intricate and complex detail that has gone into some of their traditional animated features. I am all for simplicity. It is my own personal preference to design character's that are simple in design. But, I have to give credit to the artists and animators that worked hard to create such wonderful detailed work such as this -
Although both shots are from different source material, the distinct style of animation is there. One thing I believe Rankin/Bass do so well with their traditional animation is creating atmosphere with use of lighting on the characters, and even the backgrounds they are situated in. This is one of the many qualities as to why I their work so much.
Sad to say though but the company shut down it's production way back in 1987 as both founders split to pursue different things on their own. But despite this, their work in animation is still recognized and held in high regards to this very day and I feel this company deserves a good old mention on my blog for you all to see.
Til the next post... CHEEEEEEROOOOO!