It’s sad news as it has been announced that Ray Harryhausen has died, the master of those films that inspired many special effects artists over the years.

The Harryhausen family regret to announce the death of Ray Harryhausen, Visual Effects pioneer and stop-motion model animator. He was a multi-award winner which includes a special Oscar and BAFTA. Ray’s influence on today’s film makers was enormous, with luminaries; Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, George Lucas, John Landis and the UK’s own Nick Park have cited Harryhausen as being the man whose work inspired their own creations.

Ray Harryhausen

Ray Harryhausen Visual Effects Pioneer

Before the advent of computers for camera motion control and CGI, movies used a variety of approaches to achieve animated special effects. One approach was stop-motion animation which used realistic miniature models (more accurately called model animation), used for the first time in a feature film in The Lost World (1925), and most famously in King Kong (1933).

The work of pioneer model animator Willis O’Brien in King Kong inspired Harryhausen to work in this unique field, almost single-handedly keeping the technique alive for three decades. While O’Brien’s career floundered for most of his life – most of his cherished projects were never realized – Harryhausen achieved considerable success.

Harryhausen draws a distinction between films that combine special effects animation with live action, and films that are completely animated, such as the films of Tim Burton, Nick Park, Henry Selick, Ivo Caprino, Ladislav Starevich and many others (including his own fairy tale shorts) which he sees as pure “puppet films”, and which are more accurately (and traditionally) called “puppet animation”.

In most of Harryhausen’s films, model animated characters interact with, and are a part of, the live action world, with the idea that they will cease to call attention to themselves as “animation.” This is different from the more obviously “cartoony” and stylized approach in movies like Chicken Run and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Harryhausen’s last film was Clash of the Titans, produced in the early 1980s. In 2009, he released colorized DVD versions of three of his classic black and white Columbia films (20 Million Miles to Earth, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, and It Came from Beneath the Sea) and of She, in tribute to its producer Merian C. Cooper (who had also done King Kong).

(info via Wikipedia)

Ray Harryhausen Fear and Fascination

Growing up in the 70’s the films that Harryhausen worked on were bit hits in. Cinemas, special ones like Clash Of The Titans and Sinbad and the Eye Of The Tiger.

With monsters and creatures that used to scare the hell out of me as a child, but at the same time it always fascinated me on how these amazing creatures had been brought to life on the big screen.

We all have favourites from Ray Harryhausen films and for me it has to be those terrifying skeletons from Jason and the Argonauts and the sabre tooth tiger in Sinbad and the Eye of The Tiger.

Yes I know a tiger right! But it looks so real to me as a youngster and being on a massive cinema screen, which were a lot bigger in those days, was terrifying.

Seeing these amazing films back as a child, started me on the road to wanting to be more involved in film, I wanted to be in the production side of the industry, but instead I ended up on the other side and became a film reviewer.

So we salute you Ray Harryhausen for inspiring generations with your amazing contribution to the world of cinema.

Karen Woodham
Karen Woodham is the founder and owner of the Blazing Minds, an avid blogger and photographer. She is also a Cinema reviewer, based at the Scala in Prestatyn and at the many Cineworld screens, where she reviews the latest movies, she has also had several articles published in various publications. In 2015 she became an Award Winning Blogger and also has her website listed as one of the UKs Top 10 Film Blogs.
Karen Woodham
Karen Woodham