FDL Movie Night: Remembering Ray Harryhausen

Ray Harryhausen was an American hero, an American who brought innovation to the arts and inspired generations of filmmakers, animators and visual artists. From Mighty Joe Young to Clash of the Titans, through dozens of fantasy and monster movies, the late Ray Harryhausen created marvelous models of dinosaurs, giant squid, and mythic creatures that terrified, amused and delighted moviegoers.

A Los Angeles native who attended Los Angeles Community College and served in the Army Signal Corp during World War II, Harryhausen created a form of revolutionary filmmaking called Dynamation by projecting

a live action image onto a rear screen in front of which was placed the animation table with the model…When the live action plate had been shot Ray would establish where he wanted to make his matte line and so by looking through the camera viewfinder he would re-establish that line and with a wax pencil on the end of a stick, follow that line by drawing it on the glass.  When he was satisfied that the line was accurate he would then paint out, with black matte paint, the lower section, below the line.  He would then photograph the animation of the model reacting to the live action on the plate.

The art of Ray Harryhausen is wondrous and meticulous and so very different from the CGI to which we’re growing accustomed.  The joyful weirdness of his stop action animation mixed with live action is a delight.

What films of his have you seen?

I’ve posted more of his work here, watch them.

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