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May 07, 2013

Visual Effects Pioneer Ray Harryhausen Dead at 92

by VOA News

Movie visual effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen has died. He was 92.

The announcement was made on his foundation's Facebook page.

Harryhausen was most well known as a trailblazer of stop-motion animation, a painstaking technique in which an object is moved slightly, photographed, moved again and photographed time and time again. After many pictures are taken the shots can be played like a movie to create the effect of motion.

According to the statement on Facebook, Harryhausen was first inspired by the 1933 movie King Kong. Two years later, he made his first attempts at home movies.

Over the next 46 years, Harryhausen made such well-known movies as Mighty Joe Young (1949), It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955), three films on the adventures of Sinbad as well as 1981’s Clash of the Titans.

Harryhausen is probably best known for the animation of seven skeletons in the 1963’s Jason and the Argonauts, which took three months to film.

In 1992, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences presented Harryhausen with an honorary Oscar.

“Ray has been a great inspiration to us all in special visual industry. The art of his earlier films, which most of us grew up on, inspired us so much,” said Star Wars creator George Lucas in a statement. “Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no Star Wars.”

Peter Jackson, the director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, said Harryhausen's influence was enormous.

"I think all of us who are practitioners in the arts of science fiction and fantasy movies now all feel that we’re standing on the shoulders of a giant,” said James Cameron, director of the Terminator series of science fiction movies as well as other Hollywood blockbusters. “If not for Ray’s contribution to the collective dreamscape, we wouldn’t be who we are."