Ray Harryhausen, the visual effects pioneer who worked on classic films including "Mighty Joe Young" (1949), "It Came From Beneath The Sea" (1955) and "Jason and the Argonauts" (1963) died today, according to a statement from his family. The American writer and producer was 92 years old.
Harryhausen first became fascinated with animation after seeing Willis O’Brien’s work in "King Kong," which he saw in 1933 with his childhood friend Ray Bradbury. The two soon joined a science fiction league together and became lifelong friends. Harryhousen's first major motion picture, "Mighty Joe Young," ended up winning anOscar for Best Special Effects in 1949.
One of Harryhausen's greatest achievements was his the creation of his own animation technique, which he called DynaMation. The purpose was to allow live action to be "split" so that a model could be appear to coexist and interact directly with the actors. The technique itself is far more complicated, however.
Harryhausen's family released a statement outlining his past projects and accomplishments:
"Harryhausen’s genius was in being able to bring his models alive. Whether they were prehistoric dinosaurs or mythological creatures, in Ray’s hands they were no longer puppets but became instead characters in their own right, just as important as the actors they played against and in most cases even more so."
The statement also contains lovely words from the biggest names in filmmaking, all heavily inspired by Ray's innovation and imagination. Stephen Spielberg wrote: "Ray, your inspiration goes with us forever."
See photos from Harryhausen's 2010 "Myths and Legends" exhibition at The London Film Museum in the slideshow below. Leave your favorite memories of Ray's work in the comments.
Still curious? See every animated creature created by Harryhausen, in chronological order, in the video below.