10:37 AM PDT 5/7/2013 by Duane Byrge
Stop-motion legend developed many of the techniques that have become today's industry standards.
Animation effects wizard Ray Harryhausen, who pioneered many of the stop-motion techniques that have become today's industry standards, has died at 92.
Utilizing his Dynamation process, Harryhausen brought to life both mythological figures and pre-historical creatures in such films as The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts where he created the famous skeleton swordfight. He created extra-terrestrials in such entertainments as Earth vs. the Flying Saucers and Twenty Millions Miles to Earth.Revered for his cutting-edge effects work in the '50s and '60s on such fantasy classics as The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts, Harryhausen developed the technique of projecting footage from the front and rear, one frame at a time. He dubbed the technique “Dynamation.”
In 1992, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences presented Harryhausen with ah honorary Oscar, a tribute to his visual magic. He was presented with the Gordon E. Sawyer Award, an Oscar statuette, given to an individual “whose technological contributions have brought credit to the industry.”
In those early years, he performed his stop-motion techniques on very low-budgeted projects. His effects created spectacular havoc in such disaster films as The Best from 20,000 Fathoms and It Came from Beneath the Sea. He re-created dinosaurs in One Million Years B.C.
During the '70s, he created cutting-edge special effects for three films: Golden Voyage of Sinbad,Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger and Clash of the Titans.
“They were considered B pictures because they were made on a budget. But we outlived many of the A pictures made at the same time,” he once noted.
More recently, he produced MGM's Clash of the Titans (1981), which starred Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith, Claire Bloom and Ursula Andress.
Harryhausen considered his specialty to be creating “fantasy creatures,” where he would insert the monsters believably in the same frame as actual actors. “I don't do monsters you know. Monsters are associated with horror. I'm not interested in horror…I don't' want to deceive or frighten. I want to create illusions, fantasies, legends,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1981.
Harryhausen inspired a cult following and was the subject of a 1986 documentary, Aliens, Dragons, Monsters and Me, directed by Richard Jones.
Other films included: Valley of the Gwangi, 20,000 Miles to Earth, First Men in the Moon, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, Mysterious Island, Animal World and The Valley - Time Forgot.