May 11, 2013
With Ray Harryhausen’s passing there of course is great sadness for those in the special effects field, from some of the public (fans) who were already aware of Ray, and in the general commercial mainstream movie biz, they acknowledge his contribution & legacy. Perhaps the press media about Ray, has exposed to a slightly larger segment of the public, about his significance from a cinema historical perspective.
Image © Peter Montgomery——————–
I would hope with Ray’s passing, that would now embolden the Stop Motion Creature-Character FX movement (a micro-movement indeed), however, practically ALL the reviews & comments in recent days speak of or imply that Harryhausen’esque FX as a methodology is for history. In other words, Ray’s brand of filmmaking is anachronistic in these current times where CGI mouse-clicked special effects has a monopoly. I do not know what it’s going to take to increase awareness of Stop Motion as a viable tool for Modern & Advanced Dynamation style special effects for Independent type film projects. There is micro-minority that are aware of stop motion creature character effects, but outside our circle … deathly silence it seems. Obviously, the mainstream film business will never accept the ol’ school classic methods of special visual effects creation.
Within our niche, I can almost count on ONE HAND, the Stop Motion ARTISTS who are actively pursuing or practicing their passion in the tradition of Harryhausen. They post their work samples on Youtube, but hardly get attention by public. Maybe the short attention span public are so jaded with CGI and general bombardment of online content that when people actually see sophisticated advanced stop motion, it has no impact on them? Even within the Practical Effects & Creature make-up groups, when Advance Stop Motion is posted on their forums, there is not a deluge of comments or reaction … it is kind of silent. There seems to be some kind of unspoken ‘divide’ between us and the practical-creature effects, I am not sure.
Yes, Stop Motion of course is popular and the internet has greatly exposed this animation art form to larger audiences, but I can see that only applies to a certain niche of the stylized stop motion all-puppet look cartoon aesthetics, as we have all seen these past years … Stop Motion has had some degree of success with the Nightmare Before Christmas’s, the Paranormans, the Frankenweenies, the Ardmann creations (Wallace & Gromit style) and so forth. However, let us not forget, that mainstream motion picture awards, known as the Oscars … even denied all those three nominated stop motion features … NOT one received an Oscar … zero, nada, zilch. I do not know the if there is a ‘message’ in what ‘Hollywood’ did.
Is the only way to grab the attention of public, studio/suits, to maybe have Lady Gaga in a movie, battling Harryhausen’esque (real Stop Motion, not CGI) created dinosaurs & creatures?? Will that get a million hits on Youtube? It is perhaps still too early, with Uncle Ray having just left us. Just as in Ray’s days, he always had to struggle promoting his brand of film-making & special visual effects. It appears that still exists today. All I can say to the die-hard Harryhausen’esque Troopers who are out in the battlefield trenches … to not give up, push on, use modern marketing & promotion methods now available via this high-techy communications … and perhaps we can preserve this unique creature character effects art/craft, keep IT going, so that we will keep ‘alive’, The Legacy of Ray Harryhausen into the 21st Century.