Rankin/Bass Productions, Inc. (formerly Videocraft International, Ltd.) was an American production company seasonal television specials stop-motion animation. The pre-1974 library is owned by DreamWorks Classics (formerly Classic Media, now a subsidiary of DreamWorks Pictures and the post-1974 library is owned by Warner Bros.). Rankin/Bass stop-motion features are recognizable by their visual style of doll-like characters with spheroid body parts, and ubiquitous powdery snow using an animation technique called "Animagic." Often, traditional cel animation scenes of falling snow would be projected over the action to create the effect of a snowfall.
The company was founded by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass in the early 1960s as Videocraft International. The majority of Rankin/Bass' work, including all of their "Animagic" stop-motion productions, were created in Japan. Throughout the 1960s, the Animagic productions were headed by Japanese stop-motion animator Tadahito Mochinaga.</p>
Their traditionally cel-animated works were animated by Toei Animation, Crawley Films and Mushi Production, and since the 1970s, they were animated by the Japanese studioTopcraft, which was formed in 1972 as an offshoot of Toei Animation. Many Topcraft staffers, including the studio's founder Toru Hara (who was credited in some of Rankin/Bass' specials), would go on to join its successor Studio Ghibli and work on Hayao Miyazaki's feature films, including Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and My Neighbor Totoro.</p>
In addition to the 'name' talent that provided the narration for the specials, Rankin/Bass had its own company of voice actors. For the studio's early work, this group was based inToronto, Ontario, where recording was supervised by veteran CBC announcer Bernard Cowan. This group included actors such as Paul Soles, Larry D. Mann, and Paul Kligman.
Later, the most notable voice was Paul Frees, who provided the voices for, among many others, the three wise men (The Little Drummer Boy), Burgermeister Meisterburger (Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town), the traffic cop (Frosty The Snowman), Jack Frost (Frosty's Winter Wonderland), and even Santa Claus himself (both Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph's Shiny New Year). Other Rankin/Bass voice actors have included Andy Griffith, Burl Ives, Casey Kasem, Frank Gorshin, Fred Astaire, Red Skelton, Danny Kaye, Boris Karloff, Jimmy Durante, Danny Thomas, Ethel Merman, Vincent Price, Bob McFadden, Robie Lester, Linda Gary, Mickey Rooney, Morey Amsterdam,Legends Of Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer Marlo Thomas, Greer Garson, Angela Lansbury,June Foray, Don Messick, Jackie Vernon, Allen Swift, Robert Morse, Mia Farrow, Shirley Booth, Dick Shawn, and Shelley Winters. Outside of the holiday specials, Larry Kenney had been with Rankin/Bass for years, doing characters on ThunderCats (notably as Lion-O) and SilverHawks.
Maury Laws has served as musical director for almost all of the animated films. Romeo Muller was another consistent contributor, serving as screenwriter for many of Rankin/Bass's best-known productions including Rudolph, The Little Drummer Boy, and Frosty the Snowman.
Low to Medium. The dramatic music may unnerve some, However, probably helped by having only the tail end of the animation shown nowadays in a silent version, it is a favorite of many.