Filmation Associates was a production company that produced animation and live-action programming for television from 1963 to 1989. Located in Reseda, California, the animation studio was founded in 1962. Filmation's founders and principal producers were Lou Scheimer, Hal Sutherland and Norm Prescott.
Lou Scheimer and Filmation's main director Hal Sutherland met while working at Larry Harmon Pictures on the made-for-TV Bozo and Popeye cartoons. Eventually Larry Harmon closed the studio. Scheimer and Sutherland went to work at a small company called True Line, one of whose owners was Marcus Lipsky, who then owned Reddi-whip whipped cream. SIB Productions, a Japanese firm with U.S. offices in Chicago, approached them about producing a cartoon called Rod Rocket. The two agreed to take on the work and also took on a project for Family Films, owned by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, for ten short animated films based on the life of Christ. Paramount Pictures soon purchased SIB Productions, and True Line's staff increased; including the arrival of former radio disc jockey Norm Prescott, who became a partner in the firm. He had already been working on the animated feature Pinocchio in Outer Space which was primarily produced by Belvision Studios.
They eventually left True line, and Lou began working on commercials, including for Gilette and others, which began what became Filmation. He met lawyer Ira Epstein, who had worked for Harmon but left the firm, and now put together the new corporation with Lou and Hal. It officially became Filmation associates as of September 1962, so named because "We were working on film, but doing animation"; so putting them together yielded "Filmation".
Both Rod Rocket and the Life of Christ series credited "Filmation Associates" with "Production Design" in addition to Scheimer and Sutherland as directors. (SIB Productions, whose logo bore a resemblance to the original Filmation logo designed by Ted Littlefield, would soon go on to become "Sib-Tower 12 Productions" and produce the first few of Chuck Jones' Tom and Jerry films for MGM, until becoming MGM Animation/Visual Arts for the remainder of the films).
Norm Prescott brought in Filmation's first major project, Journey Back to Oz, an animated sequel to the 1939 MGM classic The Wizard of Oz. Begun in 1962, storyboarding, voice recording, and most of the music scoring and animation had been completed when financial challenges caused the project to be put on hold for nearly eight years.
In the meantime, during the interim, the new Filmation studio turned their attention to a more successful medium, network television. For the next few years make TV commercials, and some other projects for other companies, and tried to develop an original series The Adventures of Stanley Stoutheart (later renamed Yank and Doodle) about a boy and a dog, which they were never able to sell, and almost closed down; until approached by DC Comics editor Mort Weisinger to do a Superman cartoon. This premiered in 1966, and was followed by several of the other DC super heroes, and then in 1968, the first Archie Show. Both series greatly helped Filmation's popularity to increase, into the 1970s, when it really scored big with several of its shows.
Looney Tunes/Groovie Goolies crossoverEdit
Also of note is Daffy Duck and Porky Pig Meet the Groovie Goolies, a special featuring several of Warner Bros.' Looney Tunes stars (paired with Filmation's own Groovie Goolies, a group of classic monsters). Written by Len Janson and Chuck Menville (who played themselves in a live-action sequence), this aired on The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie in 1972. While most of the Warner Brothers characters were drawn well (veteran Warners animator Virgil Ross was working there at the time, along with other animators that had worked for Warner Bros. Animation in the late 1960s, such as Laverne Harding and Ed Solomon), and voiced by veteran voice actor Mel Blanc, the special is not liked by many fans of classic Warner Bros. animation because of its limited animation, as well as a weak storyline.
This was not Filmation's last dalliance with classic cartoon characters; in the late 1970s the company produced new series based on the characters from the Terrytoons archive (Mighty Mouse and Heckle and Jeckle) and a new Tom and Jerry series as well.
The Filmation studio was purchased by the TelePrompTer Corporation in 1969. Westinghouse Electric Corporation, through its Group W Productions division, acquired Filmation along with its purchase of TelePrompTer's cable and entertainment properties in 1981. In 1989, Westinghouse sold Filmation to an investment consortium led by the L'Oréal cosmetics company, Paravision International. Before that sale was complete, Westinghouse shuttered the film studio on February 3, 1989, which left L'Oreal with the Filmation library only. This happened a day before a new law went into practice requiring companies to give employees 60 days notice before a mass termination.
Since then, the studio's intellectual property assets have changed hands on a number of occasions. The in-house productions (Archie, Fat Albert, etc.) which form a majority of the Filmation back catalog, were sold to Hallmark Cards in 1995, and managed by its Hallmark Entertainment subsidiary. However, since the rest of Filmation's output was based on characters licensed from other companies, such titles were actually (and still are) under the control of other studios.
In March 2004, ownership of the Filmation in-house library, which was under the ownership of Hallmark, was sold to Entertainment Rights. Entertainment Rights has since made the revelation that when Hallmark converted all of its 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 (but long suspected) short-sighted policy of only distributing Filmation shows outside of the United States. As a result, many of Entertainment Rights' DVD releases (distributed by BCI Eclipse in the United States prior to the latter company's folding) were based on the international versions (which have PAL prints).
Because they were taken from PAL-based transfers, without correction, these releases exhibit the so-called "576i speedup" effect in which the soundtrack plays 4% too fast resulting in the pitch being a half-step higher than it was originally (see PAL and Telecine for more information). PAL-NTSC conversion artefacts also include softness and ghosting. The exception appears to be at least four titles from ER's library: Groovie Goolies, Ark II, and the animated Ghostbusters series. These series appear to have been sourced from original NTSC transfers for their U.S. release by BCI. Another exception, Star Trek: The Animated Series which was owned by CBS Television Distribution, is also in the NTSC format.
On April 1, 2009 it was announced that Entertainment Rights would be acquired by Boomerang Media and on May 11, 2009, it was announced that the subsidiaries and offices of Entertainment Rights would be absorbed under the name, Classic Media.
In 2012, it was announced that Classic Media, owner of the Filmation library, would be acquired by DreamWorks Animation.
- Rod Rocket (1963; production design only)
- The New Adventures of Superman (1966–1967 CBS)
- The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure (1967–1968 CBS)
- Journey to The Center of The Earth (1967 ABC) (distribution rights are held by 20th Century Fox Television)
- Fantastic Voyage (1968 ABC) (distribution rights are held by 20th Century Fox Television)
- Aquaman (1968 CBS)
- The Archie Show (1968 CBS)
- The Batman/Superman Hour (1968–1969 CBS)
- The Adventures of Batman (Batman with Robin the Boy Wonder) (1968–1970 CBS)
- The Archie Comedy Hour (1969 CBS)
- Will the Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down? (1970 ABC)
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1971–1974 CBS & Synd) (Co-produced with The Sabrina Company)
- Archie's TV Funnies (1971 CBS)
- Fat Albert and The Cosby Kids (1972 CBS)
- The Brady Kids (1972–1974 ABC)
- Lassie's Rescue Rangers (1973–1975 ABC) (distribution rights are held by DreamWorks Classics a.k.a. Classic Media)
- Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973–1974 NBC) (distribution rights are held by CBS Television Distribution)
- The U.S. of Archie (1974 CBS)
- The Ghost Busters (live-action TV series) (1975 CBS)
- Uncle Broc's block (1975 ABC)
- Tarzan, Lord of The Jungle (1976 CBS)
- Ark II (live-action TV series) (1976 CBS)
- The New Adventures of Batman (1977 CBS)
- Space Academy (live-action TV series) (1977 CBS)
- Space Senteniels (1977 NBC)
- Tarzan and The Super 7 (1978 CBS)
- Fabulous Funnies (1978 NBC)
- The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse & Heckle and Jeckle, & Quackula (1979–1981 CBS)
- The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show (1980 CBS) (Co-produced with MGM Television)
- The Tarzan/Lone Ranger Adventure Hour (1980–1981 CBS)
- The Tarzan/Lone Ranger/Zorro Adventure Hour (1981–1982 CBS)
- Gilligan's Planet (1982 CBS)
- The Adventures of Fat Albert and The Cosby Kids (1984–1985 Synd)
- The Original Ghostbusters (animated) (1986–1988 Synd)
Television films, shorts and specialsEdit
- The Brady Kids on a Mysterious Island (1972)
- Lassie and The Spirit of The Mountain (1972)
- Daffy Duck and Porky Pig Meet the Groovie Goolies (1972) (Co-produced with Warner Bros. Animation)
- The Fat Albert Halloween Special (1977)
- The Fat Albert Christmas Special (1977)
- The Fat Albert Easter Special (1982)