Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Cartoon Historian Lesson 24-B: Filmation Part 2

And now the Conclusion.

Filmation produced a live-action series called The Ghost Busters in 1975 starring Larry Storch and Forrest Tucker and noted science-fiction fan and collector Bob Burns as "Tracy the Gorilla". The characters worked as paranormal investigators, working for an unseen "Chief" who delivered their "Shost Busting assignments" in whimsical disguised recording devices ala Mission Impossible.

For more on Filmation's Ghostbusters check out my Lesson about it Here

Filmation also ventured into the feature film business. In fact, one of Filmation's first projects was Journey Back To Oz, an animated sequel to the hit 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.

Started in 1964, the project was held back for eight years when Filmation did not have enough money to finish the film. It was only after its successes with their other series that the company was profitable enough to complete "Journey" for theatrical release in 1972.

In their final years, Filmation produced feature films of both He-Man and She-Ra. They also produced unofficial cult animated sequels to other established films such as Happily Ever After.

Like a lot of animation studios, Filmation had its stock company of voice-over actors. Some of the most famous included Larry Storch, Dallas McKennon,Adam West and Burt Ward,Jane Webb,Ed Asner,Linda Gary,John Erwin,Alan Oppenheimer,Ted Knight, George DiCenzo,Melendy Britt, Pat Fraley, Charlie Adler, Ed Gilbert, Susan Blu, Erika Scheimer,and even Lou Scheimer himself (either uncredited, or under the pseudonym of "Erik (sometimes "Eric") Gunden").

For the company's 1960s superhero efforts composer John Gart (under the stage name John Marion) and music supervisor Gordon Zahler created strong themes and backing cues using a large orchestra until 1968's Batman entry, which used sparser production and jazzier themes.

Legendary composer Ray Ellis had produced the background music for most Filmation series. Much of Ellis' background music in the early 70's had a distinct, richly orchestrated sound not found on many other made-for-TV cartoon series of that period; though as time went on, it became more synthesized. Ellis' work at the studio lasted from 1968 to 1982.

Haim Saban and Shuki Levy composed and produced the studio's music for He-Man and She-Ra (during 1983-1986), along with the other studios they produced music scores for. Frank W. Becker provided the music for Filmation's final animated series, Bravestarr.

The Filmation studio was owned by The TelePrompTer Company in the early 1970s, then by Westinghouse in 1982.

In 1988 Filmation was purchased by the L'Oréal cosmetics company. L'Oréal promptly closed the studio on February 3,1989 and ended Filmation's legacy. As a result, most of the staff was terminated on that same day.

This happened a day before a new law went into practice requiring companies to give employees 60 days notice before a mass termination, which is presumably why they did it so quickly.

Filmation's last production was the feature film Happily Ever After (a sequel to the story of Snow White), released to theaters in 1993. Also, at the time of the closing, two new animated TV shows, Bugzburg and Bravo (a spinoff of Bravestarr), were beginning production.

Since then, most of the Filmation back catalog had come under the ownership of Hallmark Cards,through their Hallmark Entertainment subsidiary. However,since a large amount of Filmation's shows and movies were based on licensed characters, many of it's titles are under the control of other studios (such as Paramount and Warner Bros.).

In March 2004, ownership of the Filmation back catalog was sold to a British company called Entertainment Rights. Entertainment Rights have since made the revelation that when Hallmark converted all of their Filmation shows to digital format in the 1990s, only PAL-format copies were made,with the original film prints apparently discarded.

This was due to Hallmark's previously un-stated short-sighted policy of only distributing Filmation shows outside of the United States. As a result, many of Entertainment Rights' DVD releases are based on the international versions.

Because they were taken from PAL-based transfers these releases exhibit the so-called "PAL speedup" effect in which the soundtrack plays 4% too fast resulting in the pitch being a half-step higher than it was originally.

PAL-NTSC conversion also include softness and ghosting. The exception appears to be four titles from ER's library: Groovie Goolies, Ark II, and both the live-action and animated "Ghostbusters" series.

On April 1 of last year,it was announced that Entertainment Rights would be acquired by Boomerang Media and on May of last year,it was announced that the subsidiaries and offices of Entertainment Rights would be absorbed under the name,Classic Media.

Well that was interesting. Filmation may be gone,but it'll never be forgotten. Thanks Filmation for all the memories.

See Ya Next Time on the Cartoon Historian. Stay Gold,guys.

[fade to black. credits roll as the cartoon historian closing theme plays]

1 comment:

KingsSideCastle said...

Nice bit of history Stefan. ^_^