Ray Harryhausen


Ray Harryhausen, he died on the 7th May 2013 at the age of 93. He was an American film maker, best known for his use of stop-motion animation.

Harryhausen grew up in Los Angeles and loved dinsoaurs and different fantasy stories at a young age, his parents were supportive of his love for film and making models, he was inspired by a film called ‘The Lost World’ and ‘King Kong’ all the cinematic effects in film.

After seeing these film and them inspiring him he started experimenting with marionettes and stop-motion animation, making short-films in his parents garage.

At 18 he met the animator Willis O’Brien, and in the future he worked with him several times. O’Brien advised him to ‘refine his abilities’ which led to Harryhausen going to art and anatomy course in Los Angeles City College, then went to the University of Southern California.

At the time whilst he was in Univeristy he started developing on the technique called ‘Dynamation’ this is used to make it look like the actors in the movie are interacting with the models in the film.

In 1940 Harryhausen got his first job as an animator working for the producer George Pal on something called Puppetoons a short film that animated puppets with stop-motion. He created animations for the U.S.Army where he made propoganda films for the war, he worked with Frank Capra.

He created a various amound of nursery-rhymes based on films that he gave to different schools from the year 1946 after he got discharged from the war. Later on he was contacted by O’Brien to help towards the animation ‘Mighty Joe Young’, he received and Academy Award for special effects as most of the work in that film was produced by him.

The work he produced called on ‘The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms’ was based on a friend called Ray Bradbury this caught the attention of producer Charles Schneer who in the future was his main partner in a lot of the work he produced.

Harryhausen contributed to a load of different stop-motion films. Harryhausen is best known for his Sinbad films:The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and Sinbad and the Eye of The Tiger.

He also created the animation effects for The Clash of the Titans which is one of my favourite films. He retired from animation in 1980, however he contributed towards a few small animations throughout his retirement in the 21st century, he also got the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for technical contributions from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science.

My first impression of Ray Harryhausen, is that he is an animator and is very talented, what captures my attention is the detail put into his animations and how well they worked, they don’t look very realistic as when he was producing work the graphics wasn’t as good as it is today however it’s very good for the year when he made it.

His work covers a lot of areas as it’s animations and has done a lot of work for varied films however my favourite piece of work that he has done is Jason and the Agronauts, one I love this film and two the skeletons he produced were amazing and the other different mythical creatures that came to life in his work are amazing. he is quite a structural artist as he structures the models for the movie, which must take time and patience to create. The models he makes probably have different texture varying from smooth, rough and soft.

I like his work and don’t, i think the main reason I don’t like his work is that I’m not a huge fan on animation or anything like animation that includes patience a lot of time and anything to do with technology. On the other hand i appreciate how his work turns out and how he get’s it so precise and looking as realistic as you could probably get work to look when he made this work. I also appreciate the texture and detail gone into these models he made, a lot of detail and texture goes into these pieces of work he makes which I think are beautiful.




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