A Model Animator: Watch This Doc on Legendary Visual Effects Creator Ray Harryhausen

harryhausenEven if you don't know the name Ray Harryhausen, you've almost definitely seen his work, or the work of someone who was directly influenced by him. Harryhausen (who passed away in May at the age of 92) was the undisputed master of stop-motion, creator of "Dynamation," and the mind behind some of cinema's classic moments in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. Cinephilia and Beyond has a link to an hour-long documentary on the man's life, narrated by Leonard Nimoy (and I will watch anything narrated by Leonard Nimoy). Click below to learn more about this stop-motion icon, who created fantastic worlds one painstaking frame at a time.

Harryhausen was born in Los Angeles in 1920. He was so fascinated by 1933's King Kong, he worked on his own animated shorts as a teenager. When WWII came, Harryhausen worked with then Colonel Frank Capra as a jack-of-all-trades, but it wasn't until 1947, when he was hired as an assistant animator on Mighty Joe Young (1949) that he would break through.

The film won an Academy Award for Visual Effects for stop-motion pioneer William O'Brien, though Harryhousen had handled most of the actual work.

Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=5y2Kun99knk

His career took off and he worked on such classics as The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason And The Argonauts; one of the reasons his work was (and is) so influential is that the animated characters in most of his work interact with the live actors around them in a seamless manner. He achieved this by careful control of light so that the back projection looked as natural as possible, as in this legendary scene:

Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXmRuJByoVs

Everyone in the special effects world, and especially anyone who has ever worked with stop-motion techniques, owes Ray Harryhausen a debt of gratitude, and this great documentary showcases the man and his talent for his fans to learn from and be inspired by.

How do you think Harry Harryhausen has influenced film, and has he had any influence on your own work? If you're an animator or work with stop-motion, what are your favorite techniques today? Let us know in the comments!

Link: Remembering Ray Harryhausen -- Cinephilia and Beyond

[via Filmmaker IQ]

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Your Comment


Jason skeleton sequence craps on both 300 and recent Clash of the Titans. Doh, I'm showing my age.

August 5, 2013 at 12:30PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


an artist

August 5, 2013 at 1:06PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


an artist...Wow I just watched one of his movies...

August 5, 2013 at 1:07PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Hey Justin, I thought he was born in Los Angeles? But died in London.....

August 5, 2013 at 1:10PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Thanks for catching that, Nick!

August 5, 2013 at 1:49PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

V Renée
Content Manager at Coverfly

Hey Nick, thanks! You're exactly right. I transposed the two when I was writing. Good eye!

August 5, 2013 at 2:14PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

You voted '-1'.
Justin Morrow

Extremely inspiring..
It shows how success is result of hard work, dedication and tenacity.

I enjoyed this one as much as the Francis Ford Coppola doc (Hearts of darkness) that someone in the comments posted a couple of weeks ago.

Thanks Justin.


August 5, 2013 at 1:43PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Amazing Man as I got the chance to meet the legend in person in 2002 while he was invited to one of the expo show. He is a gentleman, he brought along medusa, skeleton crews sculptures. Great artists from both tradition, technical + creative side. A lost to the generation of people he has inspired, thank you Harry!

Wayne Lam
Waynes World Studio
Vancouver, BC

August 8, 2013 at 12:48PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM