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Ray Harryhausen, the Godfather of Stop Motion Animation, Dies

Producer and animator Ray Harryhausen, who invented a kind of stop motion model animation called 'dynamation,' died today

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The skeleton army. Photo: Joe Giardino, YouTube

Producer and animator Ray Harryhausen, who invented a kind of stop motion model animation called ‘dynamation’ and created special effects for classics such as Jason and the Argonauts and One Million Years B.C., died today, NPR reports.

A Facebook page managed by the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation broke the news two hours earlier today that Harryhausen passed away in London at the age of 92. Already, thousands of fans have responded, including the likes of directors Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg and others. James Cameron commented, “I think all of us who are practioners in the arts of science fiction and fantasy movies now all feel that we’re standing on the shoulders of a giant. If not for Ray’s contribution to the collective dreamscape, we wouldn’t be who we are.”

George Lucas said simply, “Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no Star Wars.”

Harryhausen began working in stop motion after seeing and being inspired by King Kong in 1933. He began experimenting with animated short films using stop motion, getting his break in 1949 with Mighty Joe Young. The film took home the Academy Award for Best Special Effects later that year. From there, Harryhausen blazed a career producing and directing visual effects for just under two dozen films. The last movie he made was Clash of the Titans, in 1981.

Here, Harryhausen talks about his work in a 1974 interview:

And here is a collection of Harryhausen’s greatest stop motion animation creations:

And here, one of his most famous scenes – the skeleton fight from Jason and the Argonauts:

More from Smithsonian.com:

Mining Greek Myths for the Movies: From Harryhausen to Wrath of the Titans 
King Kong Takes on Dinosaurs in Hollywood 

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