Visual effects master Ray Harryhausen, whose stop-motion wizardry graced such films as JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS and CLASH OF THE TITANS, has died aged 92. The American animator made his models by hand and painstakingly shot them frame by frame to create some of the best-known battle sequences in cinema. His death was confirmed to the BBC by a representative of the family. "Harryhausen's genius was in being able to bring his models alive," said an official statement from his foundation. "Whether they were prehistoric dinosaurs or mythological creatures, in Ray's hands they were no longer puppets but became instead characters in their own right." Born in Los Angeles in June 1920, Raymond Frederick Harryhausen had a passion for dinosaurs as a child that led him to make his own versions of prehistoric creatures. Films like 1925's THE LOST WORLD and the 1933 version of KING KONG stoked that passion and prompted him to seek out a meeting with Willis O'Brien, a pioneer in the field of model animation.
Harryhausen went on to make some of the fantasy genre's best-known movies, among them MIGHTY JOE YOUNG, ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. and a series of films based on the adventures of Sinbad the sailor. He is perhaps best remembered for animating the seven skeletons who come to life in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, a sequence which took him three months to film, and for the Medusa who turned men to stone in TITANS. Harryhausen inspired a generation of film directors, from Steven Spielberg and James Cameron to Peter Jackson of the Lord of the Rings fame. Peter Lord of Aardman Animations was quick to pay tribute, describing him as "a one-man industry and a one-man genre" on Twitter. "I loved every single frame of Ray Harryhausen's work," tweeted Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright. "He was the man who made me believe in monsters." The veteran animator donated his complete collection - about 20,000 objects - to the National Media Museum in Bradford in 2010.
Above text from The BBC
Ray Harryhausen was a Lifetime Member of the Visual Effects Society. Please Click here to see the 9th Annual VES Awards tribute to Mr. Harryhausen and his acceptance of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Photo from Getty Images & text by Carolyn Giardina for The Hollywood Reporter
Special effects inventor and engineer Petro Vlahos, whose industry contributions made possible such iconic film moments as Julie Andrews dancing with penguins in the 1964 classic MARY POPPINS, died Sunday. He was 96.
A member of the Academy’s original Motion Picture Research Council, Vlahos was honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences many times, starting with a Scientific and Technical Award in 1960 for a camera flicker indicating device. He earned an Oscar statuette in 1964 for color traveling matte composite cinematography and another in 1994 for the Ultimatte electronic blue-screen compositing process, the first of its kind. He received the Medal of Commendation in 1992 and the Gordon E. Sawyer Award, an Oscar statuette, in 1993.
Vlahos had more than 35 patents for camera crane motor controls, screen brightness meters, safe squib systems, cabling designs and junction boxes, projection screens, optical sound tracks and even sonar. He created analog and digital hardware and software versions of Ultimatte.
As the original patents ran out, many other present-day digital blue- and green-screen compositing systems were derived from Ultimatte and entered the marketplace. As a result, every green- or blue-screen shot today employs variants of the Vlahos technique.
Vlahos’ achievements also include his work on sodium and color difference traveling matte systems. His version of the sodium system was used on dozens of Disney films, including MARY POPPINS, THE LOVE BUG (1969) and BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS (1971) and was borrowed by Alfred Hitchcock for THE BIRDS (1963) and by Warren Beatty for DICK TRACY (1990).
Vlahos developed the color difference system (the perfected blue-screen system) for BEN-HUR (1959) and such scenes as its legendary chariot race. It was used in hundreds of films, including the first STAR WARS trilogy and the INDIANA JONES films.
Vlahos was also recognized with an Emmy in 1978 for Ultimatte and the Life Fellowship and Herbert T. Kalmus awards from the Society for Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE). An evening in his honor, “A Conversation With Petro Vlahos" was held at the Academy in July 2010.
Visual effects supervisor Bill Taylor paid tribute to Vlahos during the Academy's Feb. 9 Scientific and Technical Awards presentation, where Taylor received the John Bonner Medal of Commendation, the same honor that his mentor had received.
“It hard to emphasize the import of his inventions,” Taylor said. “His inventions made a whole genre of film possible - a genre that seems to make more money than any other. He created the whole of composite photography as we know it - blue screen, green screen, an important contribution to the sodium vapor system.
“He leaves no unfinished business. He lived a life full of achievement and honor and the love of his family.”
Born Aug. 20, 1916, in Raton, N.M., Vlahos showed an early aptitude for electronics and ham radio. He received his engineering degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1941, and during World War II, he worked as a designer at Douglas Aircraft and later as a radar engineer at Bell Laboratories.
After the war, Vlahos moved to California armed with an introduction from the head of Bell Labs to Douglas Shearer, sound director and the de facto head of R&D at MGM. Shearer steered Vlahos to the Motion Picture Research Council, which he joined as assistant manager.
The council was dissolved in 1960 and re-formed in 1968 as the Motion Picture Research Center with Vlahos as chief scientist. He also served the industry as a design engineer, field engineer and systems engineer.
Survivors include his wife, Virginia; a son, Paul (a second-generation Oscar winner); a daughter, Jennie Vlahos Gadwa; stepchildren Sandra Bentley King and James Bentley; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Compiled from various sources
Long time VES member and Visual Effects Producer Eileen Moran died Monday in New Zealand after battling cancer. Over her brilliant career she won three VES Awards and an Oscar. Her films included FIGHT CLUB, THE LORD OF THE RINGS Trilogy, KING KONG, AVATAR, THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, PROMETHEUS and THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY among many others.
She was too ill last week to attend the New Zealand world premiere of THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, one of the last movies she worked on.
Director Peter Jackson said, “She was a lovely, decent person who had great respect for all the artists she worked with.”
“Eileen was an integral part of building Weta Digital Profile into the most powerful engine for imaginative imagery that ever existed, and she shepherded some of the milestone films of her generation to completion,” said Director James Cameron.
In 2001, she got an e-mail from Jackson that changed her life when he was turning J.R.R. Tolkein’s trilogy into a movie and needed a visual-effects producer. She moved to the other side of the world and remained a key member of his production team until she died.
She is survived by her children, Jack and Ava, her father Jack Moran, stepmother Joan Moran, and sisters Janet, Patti and Jackie. Eileen Moran will be greatly missed.
The visual effects community lost a great matte painter on Sunday. Born on January 19, 1923 in Lorain, Ohio Matthew’s first job after serving in the Navy was for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios in January 1954. Much of his early studio work went uncredited but included many classic film's like FORBIDDEN PLANET(1956), NORTH BY NORTHWEST and BEN HUR (both 1959). In 1976 he received an Academy Special Achievement Award for LOGAN'S RUN and was nominated on CLOSE ENCOUNTEERS OF THE THIRD KIND in 1977. His outstanding work spanned nearly 40 years into the 1990s, and included such films as SOYLENT GREEN (1973), THE CHINA SYNDROME (1979), BLADE RUNNER (1982), GHOSTBUSTERS (1984) and DANCES WITH WOLVES (1990). In 2010 he was awarded Honorary Membership in the Visual Effects Society. His legacywill not soon be forgotten.
The Society and computer graphics community lost a great champion this past weekend; Sande Scoredos passed away Saturday morning after a prolonged illness.
Sande, who served as Executive Director of Training and Artist Development At Sony Pictures Imageworks for the past 12-plus years, was a founding member of the VES, coming on-board within the first year of the Society’s existence. Right from the beginning, Sande was an active member of the Education Committee, serving several years as Co-Chair. During her tenure, the Committee produced many valuable events, presentations and hands-on trainings for members. She was also a guiding light in the first years of the Training and Mentoring Program, giving invaluable advice and support. Sande also served on the Board of Directors, where her input on educational matters was pragmatic and insightful.
A graduate of UCLA, Sande has been involved with education in high-end computer graphics for almost as long as there has been 3D cgi. At Wavefront Technologies she developed and taught in their training program, bringing 3D skills to artists the world over. She then went to Rhythm and Hues and crafted their remarkable training department, one of the few remaining in-house training departments.
At Sony Pictures Imageworks, she built a training and development department that boasts fifty courses, including life drawing, sculpting, acting and special lectures, as well as specialized tasked-oriented classes for every aspect of production including animation, effects, color and lighting, compositing, and various production management methods. At the same time, Sande shepherded the development of the Sony IPAX (Imageworks Professional Academic Excellence) program, which works with the leading academic institutions in the world to help them train their instructors and structure their curriculum to teach the skills needed to survive in the crazy world of digital production.
As an educator, Sande has always been a believer in the importance of foundational skills, along with specific technical training; life drawing holds as much weight as a class in effects production in Maya. She has taught at UCLA, USC and MIT.
In the almost three decades that Sande has been involved in computer graphics education she trained, mentored, guided and touched an untold number of individuals who owe much of their success to Sande’s dedication and passion. She will be greatly missed.
Memorial service on Saturday, August 21, 2010 at 4:00 pm at the:
Conejo Mountain Memorial Park,
2052 Howard Road
Camarillo, CA 93012
(805) 491 2350
There will be a gathering afterward at Sande's Longtime residence:
The Scoredos Ranch
11451 Glenside Lane
Santa Rosa Valley 93012
Donations in lieu of flowers should be made to:
The Angeles Clinic Foundation
2001 Santa Monica Blvd Suite 560w
Santa Monica, Ca 90404
From HollywoodNews.com Among his recent credits are Charlie St. Cloud, Hot Tub Time Machine, The Uninvited, Vantage Point and the mini-series “Impact.” Hodgson had just begun work on Starz’ “Camelot,” the upcoming series focusing on the King Arthur legend, when he died.
Hodgson was nominated for a Gemini Award – Canada’s highest honors for work in TV – in 2009 for his effects efforts on “Impact,” and in 2004 for “The Collector.” His effects work on “Impact” earned him a Leo Award – celebrating film and TV productions from British Columbia – and “The Collector” netted him a Leo Award nomination.
Born Oct. 6, 1959 in Bellshill, Scotland, Hodgson was based in Vancouver. He is survived by his wife Patricia, children Michael, Lawrence, Madison and Elizabeth, and his brother Craig Hodgson. A funeral for Hodgson will be held July 1 in Cobham, Surrey, in the UK. Hodgson’s memory will also be celebrated at a memorial service in Vancouver later this summer. The family asks that donations in Steve Hodgson’s name be made to the BC Cancer Foundation
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