Posts Tagged ray harryhausen
Stop Motion animation has been used as far back as the original King Kong Film. King Kong was simply a stiff metal skeleton frame that was then covered in a mouldable material and sculpted to look like a gorilla. Because the skeleton of the sculpture was stiff, this allowed the artist to make small and deliberate changes to the sculpture that could be photographed frame by frame. Each small change would be photographed so that when played through a projector at 25 frames (photographs) per second would make King Kong appear to move. These effects were produced by Willis Obrian, a former news paper cartoonist who in 1914 moved into film special effects.
One day Willis Obrian got a phone call from a young man called Ray Harryhausen, who asked if he could meet him and show him some of his work. Willis was impressed with Ray’s work and inspired him to go to art school, where he met Ray Bradbury. Ray Bradbury was a frustrated writer who was struggling to get his stories published. They formed a bond that would see them work on a huge number of films that involved stories from the past.
Ray began to work on his ambitious project called Evolution. This was a film about the entire beginnings of life on Earth. The film that was shot on 16mm film was never completed. Ray Harryhausen worked on a number of small projects until world war two started. How ever this did not interrupt his development as he was employed to make sequences for army training films.
After the war Ray then began to make fairy tales such as little red riding hood. Ray’s father then began to help him by making his armitures (wooden or metal bones connected by metal bolts). His mother also got involved by making all the little costumes for the puppets.
Ray then got a call from Willis Obrian asking him to help him on his new film Mighty Joe Young. On this film Ray animated 65 percent of the effects. Ray then went onto make The Beast From Twenty Thousand Fathoms. For this Ray hired his old friend Ray Bradbury to write it.
This film was a success and led to the film The Beast That Came From Beneath The sea in which Ray animated a giant beast huge tentacles pulling down the golden gate bridge.
In his next film he animated flying sorcers in the film Earth Verses Flying Sorces.
Eventually Ray went onto do much bigger films in which they were much wider variety of stop animation effects from pegassus to the cracken in Clash Of The Titens to the skeleton fighters and the Tundra in Jason And The Argaunauts.
Other film makers were inspired by Ray’s work producing effects like the tauntons in The Empire Strikes Back
At the time these effects were state of the art but as the development of computer graphics continued, stop animation has become virtually obsolete. But why have these effects become obsolete if they were once considered to be so good.
1. Stop animation produces quite a jerky motion, because when you photograph some thing moving in real life there is a motion blur effect as the subject actually moves while the film is exposed. In stop animation this does not take place because you are photographing the subject in a series of still posses. How ever it could be argued that in some films for example fantasy this could be an advantage. Ray Harryhausen himself once said that he preferred the look of stop animation because “it creates a dream like effect, almost as you would imagine it in your mind or while you were dreaming.”
2. If you make a mistake in stop animation you do know until you get to the end and you can’t fix it with out going back to the start. With computer animation you can alter or manipulate any aspect individually and then instantly play it back to check it.
3. The labour intensive style takes a lot of time, where as a computer animation can be pre programed.
As a film maker myself, I still use stop animation for some effects because in order to produce computer models that look photo real you need a lot of man power hours and huge rendering farms in order to render it all out. If I build a model that looks real to my eyes, then it will look real on camera. The only issue I will have is in the movement.
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