Rankin-Bass Animated Entertainment

From Audiovisual Identity Database

Credits
Editions by
Henrynguye5, CooleyBoy10, LMgamer36 and Michael Kenchington

Background

Rankin-Bass Animated Entertainment was formed in September 1960 by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass as Videocraft International; it was renamed to Rankin-Bass in 1968. In 1971, the company was acquired by Tomorrow Entertainment and distributed by Viacom Enterprises, while Broadway Video acquired the rights to the pre-1974 library in 1988. It was later acquired by Telepictures on January 24, 1983 and then became a subsidiary of Lorimar-Telepictures. The studio closed in 1987 as a result of TV show failures like The Comic Strip, and its partnership was dissolved in 2001 after the production of the studio's last Christmas special Santa, Baby!.

The pre-1974 library is currently owned by NBCUniversal on behalf of DreamWorks Animation through their DreamWorks Classics label, while the post-1974 library is owned by Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. except for The Jackson 5ive, which is distributed by CBS Media Ventures. Rankin-Bass's theatrical film library is currently split amongst different companies. StudioCanal owns The Wacky World of Mother Goose and Mad Monster Party since both movies were released by Embassy Pictures, The Last Unicorn is currently owned by ITV Studios (released by ITC) and Universal Pictures owns Willy McBean and his Magic Machine via DreamWorks Animation and King Kong Returns.

Videocraft International Limited

1st Logo (September 1, 1961-November 24, 1966)

Logo: This superimposed logo features three TV tube-like shapes. One is at the bottom, and the other two are stacked on the left and right corners of the bottom tube, which, when together, resemble Mickey Mouse's head or a water molecule (though it is probably supposed to be a V shape). The company byline appears as "A VIDEOCRAFT INTERNATIONAL PRODUCTION" or "A VIDEOCRAFT PRODUCTION".

Variants:

  • On some productions such as the current version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Ballad of Smokey the Bear, the logo is colored white and the tubes are equal size.
  • On the original 1964 version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the logo is written on one of the packages being delivered by an elf. On current airings, the logo appears over a shot of Santa Claus in his sleigh.

Technique: None.

Music/Sounds: Usually the outro of a TV show or special.

Availability: Uncommon. Since it's an in-credit logo, it's generally preserved on most prints. Can be found on TV shows or specials from the time that used it, such as The New Adventures of Pinocchio, The Tales of the Wizard of Oz, The Ballad of Smokey the Bear, and the 1964 TV Christmas special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

2nd Logo (June 1966-November 23, 1968)

Logo: Over a white background, we see three colorized TV tubes aside each other, as in the infamous "V" design from the previous logo. The name "ARTHUR RANKIN, Jr." pops up in the blue tube on the left, while the name "JULES BASS" pops up in the green tube on the right. The third tube (which is orange) on the bottom has "Production" appear in it and "AN" above the logo, revealing the phrase as "AN ARTHUR RANKIN, Jr.-JULES BASS Production". We pan out to reveal the words "VIDEOCrAFT International Limited" appearing in black underneath the logo.

Trivia: This logo was restored in 1997 by Rankin-Bass historian Rick Goldschmidt and is featured in his book The Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass: A Portfolio.

Technique: Camera-controlled 2D animation.

Music/Sounds: A strum and two horn notes, followed by a 6-note flute tune and a dramatic finish. Bongos play throughout the whole thing. The music was composed by Maury Laws and Jules Bass.

Availability: Extinct. This was last seen on original airings of The King Kong Show, and the 1967 Cricket on the Hearth special. Don't expect this on current TV airings and DVD/Blu-ray releases of both, as they are plastered over with the first Rankin-Bass logo.

Legacy: A simple and not very well-known logo. It is notable for its music however, which would be more infamous when the company became Rankin-Bass.

Rankin-Bass Productions

1st Logo (November 23, 1968-December 10, 1974)

Logo: On a blue background, a large white tube sits flat, resembling a TV screen. A blue rectangle then appears like a door shutting and 2 circles appear separately on top of each other, one blue and the other light blue. The text "A ranKin bass PRODUCTION", each word stacked, appears next to the shapes. The logo itself is supposed to represent an abstract "RB", with the "R" formed up with the darker colored parts and the "B" made up of all the shapes.

Bylines:

  • 1968-1971: "© Videocraft International Limited (year in Roman numerals)"
  • 1971-1974: "A DIVISION OF TOMORROW ENTERTAINMENT, INC."
  • Sometimes, it has no byline.

Variants:

  • The logo appears to have varying speeds when it comes to the circles appearing, as well as slight differences in the lettering's shape.
  • When it debuted in 1968, the logo was slightly different. The most notable difference is that the TV monitor isn't present, but there are also a number of smaller differences. The rectangle's animation is slightly different, the circles appear slower and with part of "ranKin bass" as well alongside them, and the text appears to be a bit cleaner. The copyright date also uses Arabic numerals rather than Roman numerals. This has first appeared on the rare 1968 special The Mouse on the Mayflower, but can usually be seen on The Little Drummer Boy and Frosty the Snowman.
  • On The Smokey Bear Show, an amalgamation of the early and later variants is used, having the animation of the later variant, but lacks the TV tube shape and uses Arabic numerals like the early variant. Its also in a shade of blue.
  • On later reprints of Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town, the logo has a slight orange tint to it.
  • On The Year Without a Santa Claus, the screen starts off white before fading to the logo, in which it appears to hang around until the flute starts to play.
  • Starting in the 2010s, the logo has been stretched to 16:9 and it can be seen only in later airings of Santa Claus is Comin' To Town.

Technique: Traditional animation.

Music/Sounds: Same as the 1966 Videocraft International logo. Sometimes, it is silent. Recent prints of Frosty the Snowman have it either with the film's closing theme or silence, while original prints and FHE releases have the music.

Music/Sounds Variants:

  • There is a variant in which the bongos come in early.
  • The Mouse on the Mayflower had some of the tune come in earlier than beforehand.
  • Starting in 1998, ABC airings of Santa Claus is Comin' To Town had the generic theme or voiceover.

Availability: Common, especially around the Christmas season.

  • It appears on most of Rankin-Bass's Christmas output when aired by CBS, Freeform, AMC and other channels, as well as on DVD and most VHS releases.
  • Strangely enough, on one airing of The Little Drummer Boy, this logo was replaced with the 1975 "Blues" logo.
  • The variant with the "Tomorrow Entertainment" byline was seen on early 70's prints of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It was probably last seen in the 2000's on the Canadian channel YTV.
  • It was plastered by the 1984 WBTV shield on the 2000 DVD of The Year Without a Santa Claus, but on the 2007 "Deluxe Edition" DVD, the logo is intact, while older FOX/ABC Family (now Freeform) airings plastered this logo with the 1990 WBTD and 1994 WBTV Domestic Pay TV logos due to split screen credits.

Legacy: Simple, but decent for 1968. It's also a beloved and nostalgic logo by many, particularly during the Christmas season.

2nd Logo (September 11, 1971-September 1, 1973)

Logo: Superimposed over the middle of the Motown Productions logo's animation are the words "Rankin/Bass" in a script font superimposed onto it with the text "IN ASSOCIATION WITH". The logo then fades out and the Motown logo animates as usual.

Technique: None.

Music/Sounds: Same as the 1971 Motown Productions logo.

Availability: Uncommon. It was only seen on The Jackson 5ive. It is retained on the DVD and Blu-Ray release of the show.

3rd Logo (December 19, 1975-July 5, 1987)

Logo: The screen flashes three different shades of blue, with the effect that they're getting sucked inwards, into a rectangle at the left edge of the screen. Every time they go through a shade, that's what the color of the rectangle is, until all three have been done and the screen is white. Then the circles appear to complete the stylized "RB", except instead of just appearing, layers of the circles zoom in until they fill the outline – they sort of "grow" in their places. To the right of the logo appear the words "A ranKin bass PRODUCTION" as usual, with "ranKin bass" wiping in with the circles before the rest appear. It looks like the first logo without the TV monitor.

Variants:

  • On The Flight of Dragons, it appears in a widescreen format, appearing to be zoomed-in.
  • On earlier prints of The Hobbit, it's silent and the background is carrot orange, while on Nestor the Christmas Donkey, the music is sped-up and the background is orange-gold (though both of these could be from film deterioration).
    • On the Xenon VHS release and 2014 Remastered WB DVD of the former, the music is intact and the background is brighter with a slight pink tint (possibly from film deterioration as well).
  • On certain airings of Rankin-Bass specials, the logo fades out after the animation is finished to make way for either the 1972 WBTV "Distributed By" logo, or the 1998 WBTV "75 Years" logo.

Technique: Cel animation.

Music/Sounds: Same as the previous logo, but in a slightly lower tone. In later years, the theme was re-arranged to a majestic orchestral version.

Music/Sound Variants:

  • On the 1983 TV special The Coneheads, the jingle was mixed with the drum roll and end chime of the Telepictures logo that followed.
  • On the WB DVD release of The First Easter Rabbit, the film deteriorated variant uses the fanfare from the 1986 Lorimar-Telepictures logo. This is likely another case of sloppy reverse plastering.
  • ABC airings of Rudolph's Shiny New Year in early to mid 2000s had the generic theme playing over that logo.

Availability: Same as the previous logo.

  • Retained on most Rankin-Bass holiday specials from this period on DVD releases and reruns on Freeform and AMC.
  • The Warner Bros. variant is preserved in credits pushback on Freeform airings of Rudolph's Shiny New Year and Nestor the Christmas Donkey during the 24 Days of Christmas Marathon.
  • The last special with this logo was The Wind in the Willows in 1987.

Legacy: While still fairly simple, it's a bit more advanced than before. Another memorable logo during the Christmas season, though it isn't as notable as the 1st logo. Some have been rattled by this logo due to its music and fast-paced animation.

Rankin-Bass Animated Entertainment

1st Logo (January 23, 1985)

Logo: On a black background, the 1975 logo plays, without the "A" and "PRODUCTION" above and below the now-white "ranKin bass" words, respectively. The word "animated" in a script-like font flashes and appears. The words "entertainment from" then slides in. We then cut to a sped-up version of the Telepictures "Linecoaster" logo.

Technique: Traditional animation.

Music/Sounds: A jazzy drum break is heard, followed by an abridged version of Cheetara's leitmotif (a triumphant horn fanfare, with a funk flair to it). When the Telepictures logo appears, we hear an abridged version of the drum roll and a ding from the said logo.

Music/Sounds Variant: On one print of S4EP5 of ThunderCats, this had the music from the next logo with the 1986 Lorimar-Telepictures "Crashing Comets" logo in a high pitch (likely due to NTSC to PAL conversion).

Availability: This was a prototype/placeholder logo, and only appeared on the broadcast pilot for ThunderCats (Exodus and The Unholy Alliance). It was then plastered by the next logo when repeated on the show's fall premiere on that same year. This logo survived on the PAL DVD prints of the show, plastering the next logo on all the episodes.

2nd Logo (September 9, 1985-December 5, 1989, December 7, 2001)

Logo: We see the classic Rankin-Bass logo, except made completely three-dimensional, with the text in royal blue and in the corporate font of then-current parent company Telepictures. A white line forms under the logo, and that line "springs" into a cursive "Animated Entertainment". Then, the "RB" zooms up, and the shapes slide apart as they come closer to the screen, revealing a white "from". As the "O" overtakes the screen, we see the animation of either Telepictures (1985-86) or Lorimar-Telepictures (1986-89), which eventually fills the entire screen.

Variants:

  • A shortened version exists that ends after the company name forming. This was due to the 1984 WBTD logo plastering the Telepictures logo. This was spotted on a later Russian print of the ThunderCats S1 episode "Return to Thundera".
  • Another shortened version exists in which the logo fades out just as the "RB" begins to zoom up. This was due to the 2003 WBTVD logo plastering the Telepictures logo. This was spotted on AMC's prints of the special The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus.
  • On their last production before they closed, Santa, Baby!, the logo is much smaller and flatter, flipped around vertically at the beginning of the logo, and has the line animation play out much slower. It also doesn't follow up with the transition animation. There is a video of this variant from the YouTuber Broken Saw that can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Re7hOe36n1A

Technique: Simple cel animation, possibly combined with computer animation for the zooming.

Music/Sounds: A bouncy, synthesized oboe theme (composed by Bernard Hoffer), with a "spring" sound effect when the line morphs into the "Animated Entertainment" theme. On the first season of ThunderCats, the music segues into a custom fanfare for the Telepictures logo (also by Hoffer) and from 1986 onward, it segues into the end of the Lorimar-Telepictures theme when the logo appears.

Music/Sounds Variants:

  • A low tone variant exists.
  • On a post-1989 Russian print of ThunderCats S1 episode "Return to Thundera", the logo is silent.

Availability: Appears on 1980s Rankin-Bass productions, including ThunderCats and SilverHawks. It also appeared on some '80s prints of older R-B specials, typically plastering the older logos.

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