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FILM - In this Saturday, May 15, 2004 file photo Ray Harryhausen visits the Empire State Building in New York. Ray Harryhausen, a special effects master whose sword-fighting skeletons, six-tentacled octopus, and other fantastical creations were adored by film lovers and admired by industry heavyweights, has died. He was 92. Biographer and longtime friend Tony Dalton confirmed that Harryhausen died Tuesday May 7, 2013 at London's Hammersmith Hospital, where the special effects titan had been receiving treatment for about a week. (AP Photo/Mike Appleton, File)

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Obituary: Special-effects wizard Ray Harryhausen, 92

  • May 7, 2013 - 6:19 PM

Ray Harryhausen, the animator and special-effects wizard who found ways to breathe cinematic life into the gargantuan, the mythical and the extinct, died on Tuesday in London, where he lived. He was 92.

Often working alone or with a small crew, Harryhausen created and photographed many of the most memorable fantasy-adventure sequences in movie history: the dinosaur that lays waste to Coney Island in “The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms”; the sword fight between Greek heroes and skeleton warriors in “Jason and the Argonauts”; the swooping pterodactyl that carries off Raquel Welch in “One Million Years B.C.”

Harryhausen made use of many different photographic effects and often combined several in the same film. But he was best known for stop-motion animation, a painstaking process using three-dimensional miniature models that are photographed one frame at a time.

The effects he achieved inspired the generation of filmmakers who produced the digital-effects-laden blockbuster films of the 1990s and beyond.

His innovations were honored in 1992 with a career Academy Award for technical achievement. Harryhausen often told interviewers that for all the advances that computer-generated imagery had brought to filmmaking, he thought some of the necessary magic had been lost: “If you make things too real, sometimes you bring it down to the mundane.”

New York Times

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