Harryhausen was 13 years old when he was inspired to do stop-motion animation after watching the 1933’s King Kong. He eventually got to meet the animator for the movie, Willis O’Brien, and became his pupil.
His stop-motion technique is called “Dynamation.” It is a split-screen technique where the background image and foreground image are filmed separately and then later put together. The technique got its name from Harryhausen’s producer and partner, Charles Schneer. Schneer saw the “Dynaflow” logo on the dashboard of his Buick and thought “Dyna” would be the perfect marketing term.
Here are some more interesting facts about the animator:
- The sushi restaurant in Monsters, Inc. is named after Harryhausen. The sushi chef is also based on the octopus from Harryhausen’s film It Came from Beneath the Sea.
- The most difficult creature Harryhausen had to animate was the seven-headed Hydra from Jason and the Argonauts.
- The infamous skeleton scene from Jason and the Argonauts took about 4 1/2 months to film.
Harryhausen inspired many filmmakers with his work, including Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Joe Dante, Tim Burton, Nick Park, and James Cameron. For more info and to see Harryhausen’s work in action, check out these videos:
The Ray Harryhausen Creature List
The History of Ray Harryhausen