United Productions of America

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United Productions of America, better known as UPA, was an American animation studio of the 1940s through present day, beginning with industrial films and World War II training films. In the late 1940s, UPA produced theatrical shorts for Columbia Pictures, most notably the Mr. Magoo series. In the late 1950s UPA produced a television series for CBS hosted by Gerald McBoing Boing. In the 1960s UPA produced several Mr. Magoo and Dick Tracy series and specials, the most popular of which was Magoo's Christmas Carol. UPA also produced two features, 1001 Arabian Nights and Gay Purr-ee, and distributed Japanese films from Toho Studios in the 1970s and 1980s. The latest animated series is with Gerald McBoing Boing for Cartoon Network.

UPA Pictures' legacy in the history of animation has largely been overshadowed by the commercial success of the vast cartoon libraries of Warner Brothers and Disney. Nonetheless, UPA had a significant impact on animation style, content, and technique, and its innovations were recognized and adopted by the other major animation studios and independent filmmakers all over the world. UPA pioneered the technique of limited animation, and though this style of animation came to be widely abused during the 1960s and 1970s as a cost-cutting measure, it was originally intended as a stylistic alternative to the growing trend (particularly at Disney) of recreating cinematic realism in animated films.




UPA was founded in the wake of the Disney animators' strike of 1941, which resulted in the exodus of a number of long-time Walt Disney staff members. Among them was John Hubley, a layout artist who was unhappy with the ultra-realistic style of animation that Disney had been advocating. Along with a number of his colleagues, Hubley believed that animation did not have to be a painstakingly realistic imitation of real life; they felt that the medium of animation had been constrained by efforts to depict cinematic reality. Chuck Jones' 1942 cartoon The Dover Boys had demonstrated that animation could freely experiment with character design, depth, and perspective to create a stylized artistic vision appropriate to the subject matter. Hubley, Bobe Cannon, and others at UPA, sought to produce animated films with sufficient freedom to express design ideas considered radical by other established studios.

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