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Qexit
06-29-2008, 09:58 AM
There have been a few bits of bad news relating to the film industry in recent weeks, notably for me the passing of Stan Winston. So I thought it wouldn't hurt to mention a bit of good news Today is Ray Harryhausen's 88th birthday He is the man I most admire in the film industry so I hope he has a really great day relaxing and/or celebrating. I'll be picking out one of his films to watch later on and watching it this evening. I think it will be "Mysterious Island" or "First Men In The Moon" as it a while since I watched either of them.

Although it is now over 20 years since he produced his last feature film, Clash of the Titans in 1981, he has been keeping busy on all sorts of projects writing books, lecturing and attending conventions all around the World. He is even moving back into making films. After supervising the colourisation of a classic 1930's version of 'She' produced by his mentor Willis O'Brien and three of his own early films he is now going to be Producer for a film entitled 'War Eagles' due for release in 2010.

Just in case anyone doesn't know who I'm talking about, just take a look at his entry in the IMDB:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0366063/

I think is a fairly safe bet you will know or have seen at least one of his films at some time. Possibly his best known epic was 'Jason and the Argonauts' way back in 1963. The really interesting thing to note about this is the title credits which show:

Special Visual Effects by Ray Harryhausen

The point being he did everything, unlike in modern films where this work is carried out by 'a cast of thousands'. I hope he is around for a very long time to come.

toby
06-29-2008, 04:26 PM
*Happy Birthday Ray*:bday:
We owe you much

jin choung
06-29-2008, 05:39 PM
and they're remaking clash of the titans!

harryhausen must be spinning in his grave....

: )

jin

toby
06-29-2008, 06:34 PM
uhhh... harryhausen... still alive...

jin choung
06-29-2008, 06:51 PM
i know... that's why it's funny!

jin

bobakabob
06-29-2008, 07:03 PM
Harryhausen the Master. Along with his friend Ray Bradbury, a sci fi / fantasy. I was lucky enough to see him on his recent lecture tour of the UK and he revealed he didn't even keep notes about the movements of his characters. He animated the hydra's heads entirely from memory!

I don't think I've yet seen any CGI that has the same drama and sense of wonder as the animation in Jason and the Argonauts, maybe Oshi's Avalon and Ghost in the Shell excepted. So much CG today is too eager to impress without furthering the story or developing characterisation. Harryhausen was an aspiring actor in his youth and you can see it expressed in his animation.

LW_Will
06-30-2008, 01:05 AM
i know... that's why it's funny!

jin

Um... no.

toby
06-30-2008, 01:43 AM
I just watched "Corpse Bride" again (yes, pathetic story/directing, but amazing visuals) , and there's a part where the groom plays a piano - the plaque on the piano, which would normally say "Steinway", reads "Harryhausen".

vfxwizard
06-30-2008, 03:07 AM
the plaque on the piano, which would normally say "Steinway", reads "Harryhausen".

Nice, I missed that. In Monsters & Co, IIRC, there's an "Harryhausen bar".

flakester
06-30-2008, 04:14 AM
!!w00t!!

Happy Birthday Ray! :thumbsup:
The man is a legend, and is also half the reson I got into animation.

flakester.

Darth Mole
06-30-2008, 04:18 AM
OT: I was born the same day that Willis O'Brien died (8 Nov 62). Was reading about him in Cinefex and it kinda spooked me out. I was hoping that his skills might have been magically transmitted into me...

Sadly not!

cresshead
06-30-2008, 07:43 AM
hapy b day!:thumbsup:

i have a few dvd's of his work...earth vs the flying saucers will be on my screen tonight!

steve g

Steamthrower
06-30-2008, 03:40 PM
Even almost half a century later, Jason and the Argonauts is still cool to watch.

He's really a master. Who knows, LW and visual effects today, period might not have even existed if it weren't for him.

jin choung
06-30-2008, 04:04 PM
well let's not go nuts. there was still willie obrien for stop motion (ray's mentor) and lots of other guys for doing vfx on different levels. he's up there but he's not the end all be all either....

jin

Steamthrower
06-30-2008, 04:09 PM
I'll keep my nuts to myself then, I guess. :D

Qexit
07-01-2008, 05:42 AM
well let's not go nuts. there was still willie obrien for stop motion (ray's mentor) and lots of other guys for doing vfx on different levels. he's up there but he's not the end all be all either....

jinActually, Steamthrower is correct. Ray Harryhausen did a lot more than just stop motion animation. He created and pioneered a lot of the basic techniques for combining live action footage with animation and special effects that are still used today. True they have been refined and improved upon but he was there first, so we do owe an awful lot to his early work. His first colour film, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad' was the first full length, colour feature film that combined live action, with stop motion animation and other visual effects. Ray Harryhausen did it all :thumbsup:

starbase1
07-01-2008, 06:24 AM
Some of his earliest work is available for download at archive.org, as it is out of copyright. You won't be blown away by the storyline, (nursury rhymes for example!), but in my opinion it is well worth examining.

Even his very early work shows loads of attention to detail, and subtle touches that are missing from expensive high tech productions today.

Nick

Qexit
07-01-2008, 06:39 AM
Some of his earliest work is available for download at archive.org, as it is out of copyright. You won't be blown away by the storyline, (nursury rhymes for example!), but in my opinion it is well worth examining.

Even his very early work shows loads of attention to detail, and subtle touches that are missing from expensive high tech productions today.

NickAn even better idea is to pick a copy of the 2-disk DVD set: Ray Harryhausen - The Early Years. It's available in Region 1 and 2 format and includes fully restored versions of all his available early work plus other related features and material. Here in the UK they are practically giving it away for just over 5 inc postage, e.g.:

http://www.thehut.com/hut/8551166.product

jin choung
07-01-2008, 12:28 PM
Actually, Steamthrower is correct. Ray Harryhausen did a lot more than just stop motion animation. He created and pioneered a lot of the basic techniques for combining live action footage with animation and special effects that are still used today. True they have been refined and improved upon but he was there first, so we do owe an awful lot to his early work. His first colour film, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad' was the first full length, colour feature film that combined live action, with stop motion animation and other visual effects. Ray Harryhausen did it all :thumbsup:

yeah but the original sentiment was along the lines of "if not for him".... and i'm saying that's a bit extreme... despite "dynamotion" and whatever else, they were refinements and applications of stuff that have existed in the past.

willis obrien as i mentioned did lost world and king kong (which really did pioneer a lot of the liveaction/stopmotion marriages)... rear screen projection existed in one form or another almost since the inception of cinema etc.

don't get me wrong, rh did a lot for the art of vfx... just sayin' if not him, someone else woulda' come along. the base, the foundations had been built already.

jin

bobakabob
07-01-2008, 01:21 PM
It's no exaggeration to say Harryhausen was a pioneer not just in animation but also revolutionary compositing techniques.

Harryhausen himself reveres Willis O'Brien as an iconic animation mentor and constantly mentioned him in his UK lecture. However Ray did more than develop O'Brien's techniques. It's interesting to note that, 'The system Harryhausen devised which became known as Dynamation... was in many ways the opposite of that favoured by O Brien, overcoming the limitations of restricted camera angles and big painted sheets of glass [which often cracked under the lights]. Rather than placing rear projected actors into a miniature environment, Harryhausen used a combination of rear projected live action footage and foreground mattes 'to place his characters into real environments containing real people' (Rickett). It was a revolutionary system 'that I used for the rest of my working life.'(Harryhausen)

Harryhausen is also distinguished as a genuine artist - you could call him an auteur - who not only storyboarded in exquisite detail but developed specialised armatures, designed and sculpted original characters and invested them with personality through his meticulous painstaking animation. For the classic skeleton battle in Jason he animated 35 seperate movements for each frame and each movement had to synchronize perfectly with the movements of three live action men averaging 13 frames a day for 4 and a half months.

starbase1
07-01-2008, 01:50 PM
For the classic skeleton battle in Jason he animated 35 seperate movements for each frame and each movement had to synchronize perfectly with the movements of three live action men averaging 13 frames a day for 4 and a half months.

I really think that scene stands up well against the best stuff you see today.

j__
07-01-2008, 03:28 PM
"Harryhausen is also distinguished as a genuine artist - you could call him an auteur"

I think that's the point, and with respect to JC who probably didn't understand this angle and a lot of people don't and it's a widely misunderstood, and sometimes thorny and controversial topic about animation itself and the nature of it.

But let's go back a bit:

"Harryhausen the Master. Along with his friend Ray Bradbury, a sci fi / fantasy. I was lucky enough to see him on his recent lecture tour of the UK and he revealed he didn't even keep notes about the movements of his characters. He animated the hydra's heads entirely from memory!"

I met Harryhausen years ago too at a lecture he did, it was quite interesting.

"I don't think I've yet seen any CGI that has the same drama and sense of wonder as the animation in Jason and the Argonauts, [...] So much CG today is too eager to impress without furthering the story or developing characterisation"

If you accept that statement as true it would mean that the 'domain' of 'CG' to a large degree has become (in my view especially since 1994) its own self-perpetuating genre or compartment-genre that is often imbued in values that are in antithesis to the ones your describing. It creates what its about, not what it's not about, and that can be a race to the bottom.

"don't get me wrong, rh did a lot for the art of vfx... just sayin' if not him, someone else woulda' come along. the base, the foundations had been built already."

I think that's missing the point slightly Jin. We're not strictly talking about his 'contributions to the technique of stop motion animation', in that sense it's like well if you didn't have Joe Bloggs the plumber then innovations in plumbing techniques wouldn't be where they were, I think the point is that HH had an unusual position in animation itself that made him somewhat more of an artist as opposed to a swappable 'animator' labor unit, and his legacy will be judged on that and I think that's the point bokkabob was making.

Interesting to hear that HH is 88 and I wish him all the best.

Qexit
07-01-2008, 03:29 PM
... just sayin' if not him, someone else woulda' come along.That's like saying that if the Wright Brothers hadn't successfully flown their plane...someone else would have come along. If Marconi hadn't come up with wireless communication .... someone else would have. History records the people who did it first and they take their well earned accolades. In this case Ray Harryhausen was the pioneer in several areas. That's why the film industry finally acknowledged his contribution in 1991 when he was awarded his own special Oscar in the form of the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for technological contributions to the film industry:

http://www.oscars.org/aboutacademyawards/awards/sawyer.html

To quote his entry in the Academy:

"He pioneered and developed many of the stop-motion techniques that have become today's industry standards."

madjester
07-01-2008, 04:07 PM
don't get me wrong, rh did a lot for the art of vfx... just sayin' if not him, someone else woulda' come along.


I haven't met Mr. Harryhausen but I have met a few who have worked with him and I can tell you, you're probably right.

But then someone else would have come along to fill in The Beatles spot too. The difference in both cases is the hard work and dedication they put into their work. Even today no one man can animate the way Harryhausen did. He didn't care about technology or technique, all he knew is that horse had to fly and he was going to make it.

Can't say I'm a big fan of The Beatles and honestly the films Harryhausen worked on weren't too spectacular outside of their effects, but damn I'd rather watch Clash of the Titans than Terminator 3 any day.

jin choung
07-01-2008, 04:27 PM
That's like saying that if the Wright Brothers hadn't successfully flown their plane...someone else would have come along. If Marconi hadn't come up with wireless communication .... someone else would have. History records the people who did it first and they take their well earned accolades. In this case Ray Harryhausen was the pioneer in several areas. That's why the film industry finally acknowledged his contribution in 1991 when he was awarded his own special Oscar in the form of the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for technological contributions to the film industry:

http://www.oscars.org/aboutacademyawards/awards/sawyer.html

To quote his entry in the Academy:

"He pioneered and developed many of the stop-motion techniques that have become today's industry standards."

or like saying if thomas edison didn't invent motion pictures, someone else would have... but wait, someone else did... the lumiere brothers....

again, i don't want to take anything away from the rh... i have no agenda for doing so... my position is simply that to say "such and such things would not exist if not for rh" is a hyperbole.

rear screen projection, stop motion animation, etc etc etc... all stuff that came before harryhausen and stuff in use among his contemporaries.

and just like with early pioneers and inventors (like thomas edison in particular), sometimes history has a way of forgetting the gestalt from which the man arose and attributes TOO MUCH innovation too much originality and too much achievement to a single person (the bad side of auteurism) and forgets contemporaries and predecessors.

and there's a difference between saying "if the guy who didn't invent the wheel didn't do it, someone else would have" vs. saying what i'm saying about rh. rh took the techs that were in common use at the time and combined them. he wasn't really doing anything out of whole cloth.

basically, i'm saying cgi and lw and maya etc etc (barring anykind of butterfly effect, it's a wonderful world phenom) would still exist were it not for harryhausen.

jin

Qexit
07-01-2008, 05:00 PM
or like saying if thomas edison didn't invent motion pictures, someone else would have... but wait, someone else did... the lumiere brothers....Actually, William Friese-Green got there before the Lumiere brothers and is credited with creating commercial Kinematography...but that's getting off the subject :D

jin choung
07-01-2008, 05:40 PM
great but that kinda goes along with what i'm saying - certain things - especially technology achievements, just kinda reach critical mass and who ends up getting credited can end up being almost incidental - right cog at the right time.

all the elements pre-existed - silver halide chrystals creating a photographic emulsion were around before civil war, zoetropes and other spinny mopic dealies were around forever. arguable that certain technologies are just a matter of time.

and as in the example of mopics, you get lots of people working concurrently but separately, and invent the stuff virtually simultaneously. the car would be another example.

and again, not to take anything away from rh. he was a fine artist, craftsman and storyteller and if nothing else, did much to popularize a kind of movie.

but there's a certain level of hyperbole and mythologizing that i just can't go along with. too many instances in history (and history books) where (and i'm not saying this is the case with rh) the guy with the biggest mouth and not the highest merit gets the credit or history becomes lazy and just simplifies the story and chalks it up to one dude.

jin

bobakabob
07-01-2008, 06:48 PM
but there's a certain level of hyperbole and mythologizing that i just can't go along with. too many instances in history (and history books) where (and i'm not saying this is the case with rh) the guy with the biggest mouth and not the highest merit gets the credit or history becomes lazy and just simplifies the story and chalks it up to one dude.

jin

If you're not saying this about rh then why say it? :stumped:

jin choung
07-01-2008, 07:07 PM
i'm not definitively saying it as in i know that to be the case... the fact that he coined a term "dynamation" may hint that he may be pretty savvy in the marketing dept though....

and in context, i'm not saying "he has the biggest mouth"...

but it could be. i'm not saying he is any of these things... but he could be.... and as i said, history is full of it.

that's why i'm not a fawning worshipper.....

jin

bobakabob
07-01-2008, 08:29 PM
Jin, can't you just wish the man happy birthday? And admit you're just wrong? ;)

Watch this sequence from 1963 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yYeZMx1Y7U&feature=related)and weep with remorse that you ever - even remotely - questioned Harryhausen's genius on a public forum.

Harryhausen himself laughs at the term Dynamation because it was a silly marketing term the studios came up with. But there's no hype concerning the man himself and if you see him in person you'll see his humility is equal to his talent. For many interested in cinema, animation and special effects it's not about 'fawning hero worship'.

It's called 'inspiration'.

jin choung
07-01-2008, 09:03 PM
i said "let's not go nuts" to a post preceding that statement. i stand by it.

i will leave you to your worship.

jin

CMT
07-01-2008, 09:20 PM
Dayam....... If there's just a slight hole in someone's post you seem to always be there to make it obvious to others. Who the hell cares? That dead horse you've been whipping is really starting to stink....

jin choung
07-01-2008, 09:24 PM
and btw,

i'm very familiar with rh's work. valley of the gwangi, the sinbad movies, the tentacle dealy, the little dude that turns into a big dude and fights an elephant dealy, etc.

i'm just old enough to have become interested in things like rear projection, front projection, aerial image optical printing, called things traveling mattes and didn't have any idea what people were saying when referring to an "alpha channel".

in fact, the very first time i saw lw on a video toaster on an amiga in high school, a kid was building a uss enterprise with spheres and i totally PFFFFFFFFFFT'd it... i could run circles around THAT with my acrylic paints, glue, cardboard and my super8mm camera with the single frame shutter release.

so i'm not trying to take away anything from rh that is deservedly his. but when i hear things like "revolutionary" and everything stemming from his singular contribution... i just kinda shrug and am reminded of things like:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZyzUJ8Z5Cc&feature=related

rh was evolutionary imo. not revolutionary. and that's nothing to be scoffed at either but... "let's not go nuts".

jin

jin choung
07-01-2008, 09:26 PM
Dayam....... If there's just a slight hole in someone's post you seem to always be there to make it obvious to others. Who the hell cares? That dead horse you've been whipping is really starting to stink....

we're having a convo. no need to try to whip up trouble when there is no trouble to be found eh?

jin

rakker16mm
07-01-2008, 09:58 PM
so i'm not trying to take away anything from rh that is deservedly his. but when i hear things like "revolutionary" and everything stemming from his singular contribution... i just kinda shrug and am reminded of things like:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZyzUJ8Z5Cc&feature=related

rh was evolutionary imo. not revolutionary. and that's nothing to be scoffed at either but... "let's not go nuts".

jin

First of all it isn't exactly respectful to abbreviate a person's name using lowercase initials. Secondly while it is true that Ray Harryhausen was not the inventor of stop motion animation, he took stop motion animation to a level that is way beyond what any one of his time even dared to consider, and that IS revolutionary.

jin choung
07-01-2008, 10:14 PM
wtf...

i abbreviate or spell his name like i spell any name including mine. and if you haven't noticed, i'm not exactly one to spend a lot of cycles pondering about such things as "respectfulness". pfffft.

watch the king kong clip. then watch the jason clip. if you say that one "can't be imagined" from the other, i have nothing else i can say to you.

jin

CMT
07-01-2008, 10:17 PM
You didn't need me to find trouble, did ya? :p

jin choung
07-01-2008, 10:27 PM
:yawn:

jin

rakker16mm
07-01-2008, 11:11 PM
wtf...

i abbreviate or spell his name like i spell any name including mine. and if you haven't noticed, i'm not exactly one to spend a lot of cycles pondering about such things as "respectfulness". pfffft.

watch the king kong clip. then watch the jason clip. if you say that one "can't be imagined" from the other, i have nothing else i can say to you.

jin

When I watch the King Kong clip I see only one or two characters being animated at a time. Impressive yes, but far from where Ray Harryhausen ultimately took the art. Windsor McCay combined live action and animation in 1914 in the animated short Gertie the Dinosaur. Yes there is evolution going on here but each step of the way is a kind of mini revolution.

On a side note whenever I watch that King Kong clip I keep thinking "When the log rolls over we'll all bee dead" :D

Ray Harryhausen animated whole armies, and he pushed the technology to new heights. Even if animators imagined doing such things they never actually made it happen, and really I have to doubt that they would have thought about it more than briefly. I put Ray Harryhausen in the same class as Windsor McCay and Ub Iwerks. These people really pushed the technology to new heights. They had to invent new techniques to make their visions a reality. It is true that they could not have done it without the work of their predecessors, but they were all still very revolutionary. Small revolutions yes, but they each changed the way films were made.

When sound was added to film it brought about a revolution in the way films were made and even in the way we watch them. It was a revolution. People had thought about putting sound and film together before but no one had managed the trick. Actually we forget that Thomas Edison had managed the trick but not in a way that was practical. So in this case Thomas Edison doesn't get the credit for the revolution. That isn't really taking anything away from him. He has many other credits to his name. He did make the Vitascope, recorded sound, and even put the two together, but for all practical purposes they remained separate inventions. Then one day.... "Talkies". Actors that couldn't make the transition went the way of the Dodo bird and the rest is history. Is this evolution or revolution? Most of the essential technology was there, and even the idea of it had been around for quite a while.

On Balance Ray Harryhausen's contribution is probably not as significant as the addition of sound to film, but it was ground breaking in it's own way, and like the invention of the Talkies it changed the way films were made... well at least films with stop motion animation that is. ;)

By the way if you don't want to capitalize the first letter in your own name that is fine with me but I still have to say it isn't really being respectful to abbreviate some one else's name in lowercase initials. The only reason I even mentioned it in the first place is because you said that you weren't disrespecting Ray Harryhausen. How much effort does it take to spell the man's name out or put your pinky finger on the shift key? I just copy and paste it if it is too long to type out. Just sayin...

starbase1
07-02-2008, 12:30 AM
It's called 'inspiration'.

Combined with a staggering amount of hard work and attention to detail!

bobakabob
07-02-2008, 06:22 PM
Agreed. As Hamlet said, 'The rest is silence.'

(That is, until Jin singlehandedly enlightens all these poor deluded Harryhausen fans with a barely comprehensible stream of consciousness thesis on the evils of hype, which only he has the powers of discrimination to seek and destroy. Yawn.)

jin choung
07-02-2008, 06:39 PM
does that pass as wit where you come from?

jin

cresshead
07-02-2008, 06:46 PM
..must be the dry heat...bet he didn't like the corn bread either!

be happy people!

oh and happy b'day to rh

CMT
07-02-2008, 07:22 PM
You got that right, Bob.

Reminds me of my older sister when I was a child who just had to correct me at every minute opportunity..... :2guns: She had issues...

jin choung
07-02-2008, 10:21 PM
"reminds me of my older sister..." nyah nyah nyah.... what are you, in jr. high? holding a grudge against her cuz she wouldn't let you play with her doll house? has she been a meanie?

you're not gonna threaten to tell your mommy on me are ya?!

oh mercy. hilarious. thanks for that.

jin

Paul Lara
07-03-2008, 10:10 AM
Happy Birthday, Ray!

Marvin Miller
07-03-2008, 10:13 AM
Let's get this thread back on topic!

Ray Harryhausen animated on many of our favorite movies. That's why we celebrate his birthday, he's left so many great memories for us through his work on film. Not every animator gets the limelight, but Ray Harryhausen was fortunate to have the opportunity. (And to be honest the only star on the "Walk of Fame" I was excited to see was his!)