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Tech innovation turned holiday classic

CBS CMO George Schweitzer discusses how a color-correction process updated the classic TV special "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."


Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT tech-innovation-turned-holiday-classic "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" will light up CBS' air once again.

Rudolph was a pioneer. Not just because of its protagonist's navigational prowess, but because of its "Animagic" method created by producers Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass.

At the time, there was nothing like it. From Rudolph and Frosty to the Abominable Snowman, Rankin/Bass Productions' stop-motion animation has a distinctive look, recognizable for its doll-like characters with spheroid body parts, and powdery snow projected over the action to create the look of a blustering snowfall.

Over the years, fading and degeneration of the animation print caused the special to take on a reddish hue that differed significantly from the bluer tones and starker contrasts of the original. But in 1998, an ambitious color correction process restored the special to its original visual texture and color palette. Thanks to digital remastery, Santa's elves regained their blue suits back after years of wearing faded green.

Today, the animation techniques used in the special have long since been eclipsed. Yet Rudolph remains powerful because of the creativity of its initial vision and the strength of the characters and story. Who could forget that shy reindeer and his misfit pal, Hermey the elf and a snowman version of Burl Ives singing "Silver and Gold"? Yet more proof that no matter what, good content outlasts changes in technology.

Tune in on Tuesday, November 29, to relive the magic with "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (8:00 -9:00 p.m. PT/ET) on CBS.

Read more information about the special.