At a seminar in Melbourne, Australia, an audience member asked Ray Harryhausen, “How do you get your creatures to look so big on screen?” He answered, “I put them close to the camera.”
Ray Harryhausen was a towering legend of cinema, a visual effects pioneer and stop-motion model animator who almost single-handedly defined the art. Ray’s influence on today’s film makers was – and is – enormous. Luminaries like 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.
June 29th, 2020 was Ray Harryhausen’s 100th birthday, and in honor of the contributions he made to the art of cinema, Nick Hilligoss created this amazing stop-motion short subject to celebrate legacy of Ray Harryhausen.
In 2010 Many of us Dynamation fans made animated tributes for stop motion and special effects master Ray Harryhausen’s 90th birthday. I referenced my favourite iconic moment from The Seventh Voyage without actually showing the cyclops (in Walking the Walk). For the 100th anniversary of his birth this June 29th, I thought I would do something similar with the equally memorable awakening of Talos in Jason and the Argonauts, again without exactly seeing Talos. I did, however, let a couple of existing puppets, the skeleton and Cyclops, sneak into the film to substitute for the actors in the scene. And then they tried to make it all about them.
Harryhausen’s fascination with animated models began when he first saw Willis O’Brien’s creations in King Kong with his boyhood friend, the author Ray Bradbury in 1933, and he made his first foray into filmmaking in 1935 with home-movies that featured his youthful attempts at model animation. Over the period of the next 46 years, he made some of the genres best known movies – Mighty Joe Young (1949), It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955), 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957), Mysterious Island (1961), One Million Years B.C. (1966), The Valley of Gwangi (1969), three films based on the adventures of Sinbad, and Clash of the Titans (1981). He is perhaps best remembered for his extraordinary animation of seven skeletons in Jason and the Argonauts (1963) which took him three months to film.
Harryhausen’s genius was in being able to bring his models alive. Whether they were prehistoric dinosaurs or mythological creatures, in Ray’s hands, the puppets became characters in their own right, as important as the actors they played against, and in most cases even more so.
Tributes have been heaped upon Harryhausen for his work by his peers:
Ray has been a great inspiration to us all in special visual industry. The art of his earlier films, which most of us grew up on, inspired us so much.” “Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no STAR WARS
– George Lucas
THE LORD OF THE RINGS is my ‘Ray Harryhausen movie’. Without his life-long love of his wondrous images and storytelling it would never have been made – not by me at least. His patience, his endurance have inspired so many of us.
– Peter Jackson
In my mind he will always be the king of stop-motion animation.
– Nick Park
His legacy of course is in good hands. Because it’s carried in the DNA of so many film fans.
– Randy Cook
You know I’m always saying to the guys that I work with now on computer graphics “do it like Ray Harryhausen”.
– Phil Tippett
What we do now digitally with computers, Ray did digitally long before but without computers. Only with his digits.
– Terry Gilliam
Ray, your inspiration goes with us forever.
– Steven Spielberg
I think all of us who are practioners in the arts of science fiction and fantasy movies now all feel that we’re standing on the shoulders of a giant. If not for Ray’s contribution to the collective dreamscape, we wouldn’t be who we are.
– James Cameron
It isn’t hard to see why Ray Harryhausen was such a giant of the cinema.
There’s no question that it comes of being so close to the camera.