Ray Harryhausen write up

Ray Harryhausen revolutionized the art of stop motion throughout his years as an animator. With the use of clay and other materials, he was able to make convincing models of monsters such as skeletons, apes and cyclopses never seen during his time. His true claim to fame came from his invention of ‘Dynamation’, which was used by shooting the stop motion scenes in front of a rear projection whilst the live action scene is filmed. This created a “realistic” effect for the time period that created some of hollywood’s greatest monsters; such as King Kong from the film of the same name, The skeletons from Jason and the Argonauts, The octopus from It Came From Beneath The Sea, and the Kraken from Clash of the Titans.

The process that the actors themselves would have to go through for these scenes were rather interesting. As an example, The sword fight in Jason and the Argonauts had the actors shadowboxing for a majority of the scene, and had to be rehearsed several times to find the exact point where their swords should stop, where they should fall, and where they should strike. Later, the skeletons would be put in where the actors strike to create the fight scene. This is one of the most astonishing scenes he created simply due to the fact that the film placements had to be absolutely perfect to capture the scale precision of the humans and clay skeletons. Octopus from it came from beneath the sea was also astonishing for such a low budget film. The octopus itself, during an attack on san francisco, destroys a model of the Golden Gate Bridge (a trend still common in Hollywood). The live action actors had to be filmed against a screen playing the octopus destroying the bridge, showing that the stop motion came first in this situation. However, due to the budget, the octopus itself was crippled with only six tentacles instead of eight, taking away slightly from the realism.

The amount of detail that went into most of the stop motion figures was incredible for its time. most of the “living” creatures, such as King Kong and the octopus, had the same organic movements that come with a living, breathing creature. he also gave most of them facial expressions during their scenes, expressions easily understood by the audience as a whole.

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