Ray_harryhausen

Stop-motion effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen died today, with his passing confirmed by his family. The filmmaker, who retired from features in 1981, leaves behind a relatively small but incalculably influential body of work. In films produced between 1955 and 1981 his stop-motion animated skeletons, dinosaurs, and other beasts almost universally became icons of sci-fi and fantasy filmmaking. Though he hasn’t worked in features for over thirty years, echoes of his work continue to resound today.

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Class is in session. Put away your cell phones, sit up straight, and watch this video that’ll teach you the history of computer generated characters in movies. Beginning with the stop motion animation in the original King Kong and the films of Ray Harryhausen, to how those films influenced massive jumps like Young Sherlock Holmes, The Abyss, Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, let Professor Inrdshelby (a Vimeo username) take you on a tour. Check out the video after the jump. Read More »

King Kong Prequel Coming

kong_prequel

Two current projects have their roots in the work of Kong creator Merian C. Cooper. One is a long-stalled feature film originally conceived by Cooper and Ray Harryhausen, the other is a prequel to King Kong. Let’s take a look at them in turn.
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GeekBomb: A Brief History of Stop-Motion Animation

Editor’s Note: This is the debut post by Kevin Kelly, who will be offering his expertise in geekdom in a new /Film daily blog feature called GeekBomb. Welcome Kevin to /Film!

Neil Gaiman’s Coraline opens this weekend, and it’s directed by Henry Selick, one of the few modern masters of stop-motion animation. Although he was trained as a traditional animator, he really came to fame with stop-motion, having directed The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, and Monkeybone. In the day and age of everything being whipped up in CGI, it’s really a testament to see people work in a medium that requires hours of tedious work on films that can take an extremely long time to produce. Which is why the Sundance opening night film Mary & Max was such a treat.

Whenever someone mentions stop-motion, most people tend to think of one of the above movies, or the equally excellent Chicken Run or Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit, both co-directed by the amazing Nick Park. And just to be clear, I’m not calling Monkeybone excellent… but the stop-motion moments are pretty damned awesome. You just have to love a naughty monkey sometimes. Even though most of those films are fairly recent, stop-motion animation has been around in one form or another for more than one hundred years. Click through for the highlights and milestones of this under appreciated art form.

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