Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Notes from Ray Harryhausen An Animated Life by Ray Harryhausen and Tony Dalton

Dalton Tony and Harryhausen Ray, 2003, Ray Harryhausen An Animated life, Great Britain, Aurum Press LTD

1. Discovery of a Giant Ape

- Young built three dimensional objects including prehistoric dioramas - clay saurians provided b/g to realise Ray's dreams when older
- Pg 18 Ray's early example of stop motion and model making
- "It was a Cooper/ Schoedsack adventure that was to be the inspiration for my life - the one and only King Kong (1933)" (Harryhausen, 2003: 17)
- he collected everything he could on King Kong and realised was filmed by means of special techniques
- "Once I realised this, it became the most important thing in my life to discover the true secrets of King Kong." (Harryhausen, 2003: 18)
- he met people who worked on production and told him of stop motion how the process was done
- read magazines that made process clearer - ball and socket joints, glass paintings, scaled down scenery and props

2. Another Ape and a Beast 

- Obie befriended Ray during and after war and told him of new gorilla flick Mighty Joe Young and wanted him to take an active part in the production
- Mighty Joe Young a chance to recapture magic of Kong in more light heartening manner
- Pg 34 - Ray and model of Mighty Joe Yound
- sculpted 2 clay busts that were used as reference for Joe
- one favourite model he nicknamed Jennifer because special and reflects essence of creature from Duel in the Sun - Jennifer Jones small hands reminded Ray of the mould's small and delicate hands
- looked at real gorilla to provide mannerisms and quirks but the character was made more sympathetic with human traits
- Joe's character is important in scene of him pounding on lion cage and looks up as if he doesn't know where sound is coming as chimpanzees do same thing

6. Almost Human

"Greek and Roman mythology had never been a favourite subject of mine as school but as I grew older I began to appreciate the legends and realise that they contained a vivid world of adventure with wonderful heroes, villians and most importanly, lots of fantastic creatures." (Harryhausen, 2003: 151)
- Talos based on Collosus of Rhodes, in additon to model, constructed two fibre glass copies and sections of his body for close ups
- for Talos, Ray deliberately used stiff and mechanical movement in keeping with a bronze statue brought to life
- Talos images pg 156 and 157
- the fall of Talos inspired by silent movie of an enormous clay figure falls on some one
- Ray chose to make harpies more bat - like and to interact a lot with human characters (live action)
- the models were put in later to finish the sequence
- harpies allowed Ray to create winged demon models making characters that had female human characteristics
- Pg 164 - original Hydra model
- Ray based design of creature on classical vase paintings like Talos
- "When designing such a creature I always have to ask myself, Can I put this on the screen? If I had no such limitations, my imagination would run riot, ..." (Harryhausen, 2003: 165)
- reference taken from the actors photographed in the angles to obtain best likeness
- the gripped by tail began with actors suspended by wire and wrapped in full size section of tail
- pg 166 - Hydra emerging from cave from model - projection and scene
- skeletons/ Children of the Teeth were animated individually as they rose from the gorund developed from an idea It Came From Beneath the Sea
- models had to be animated on aerial wires due to the way they were designed
- he designed skeletons to have human touches to give them character

11. In the lap of the Gods

- Medusa in Clash of the Titans was a unique charater that allowed possiblities for dynamation
- "I still managed to complete majority of the hands - on animation myself. It wasn't that I wanted to say that this was my picture - not one film I have worked on can I truely say is 'mine', as all pictures are team efforts. The real reason was that I preferred to work alone." (Harryhausen, 2003: 265)
- 266 - pictures /models of Kraken
- 15ft model for opening underwater sequences
- Pegasus - Ray watched real movements of horses, during flight part real, part imaginative legs motion in straight forward gallop to tread the air like a race horse
- Calibos - not from Greek mythology but classic halfway transformation of man and beast, Ray gave him demonic look accentuated by a cloven hoof and a reptilian tail
- first dynamation character had lines
- to develop medusa, Ray looked how she was portrayed in art, literature and films
- not given garments as Ray felt too hard to animate
- models of Medusa 274 and 275
- pg 282 Ray's views of CGI and how field wouldn't have suited him
- Ray had to continously animate the twelve small snakes on Medusa's head based on Hydra in Jason

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