Tags: Survey of Animation, Stop Motion, Ray Harryhausen, Dynamation, Push the Egg
Ray Harryhausen in know for creating animations for films such as Mysterious Island, Clash of the Titans (1981), Jason and the Argonauts, and The Story of the Tortoise and the Hare. At and early age, Harryhausen had experimented with animation.
He was inspired by Willis O’Brien, who Harryhausen was able to meet in person to critique his work. O’Brien urged him to take classes in graphic art and sculpting to hone in on his skills. Harryhausen took this advice and went to study at Los Angeles City College. His later studies where at the University of Southern California, studying art direction, editing, and photography. Here Harryhausen learned to improve on his models for his animations. Harryhausen enlisted into the army in 1942 and was assigned to the Signal Corps then the Special Service Division, where he worked on many propaganda films, such as Why We Fight for the US War Office. He then was honorably discharged in 1946 with several medals, including a medal for sharpshooting. Later ray decided to make his own short films of nursery rhymes shot with 16mm color Kodachrome stock film, including Little Miss Muffet, Old Mother Hubbard, Queen, The Queen of Heart and Humpty Dumpty. The models had ball and socket armatures were designed by his father and the clothing for the models were mad by his mother. Harryhausen later went onto creating the movies he is most famous for.
The technique Harryhausen used is called Dynamation. It is the projection of a live action image onto a screen in front of the animation. When the matte that Harryhausen had set up was in the right position, he would then paint out the live action matte and then photograph the animation. After he would then combine both the live action and animation into one. The animation was never behind the live action because that it would not appear behind the live action. The problem with this style of animation is there is no immediate feedback on the animation. The actors or the animation could have delayed actions if ether part is one or more frames ahead of the other.
I tried to adapt this style of animation in my work by adding a human element, a hand, into a cut out animation. I tried to accomplish this by having the hand push the cut out figure off the brick wall. But this adaptation wasn’t anything like Harryhausen’s work, instead of having two parts, a live action and a stop motion, of a film; the animation I made was made from a single piece.