Survey Stop-Motion Paper

Stop-Motion Animator Ray Harryhausen pushed the envelope in the realm of animated cinema for the entirety of his career. His defined character models alongside his fluent sense of motion really revolutionized the industry of visual effects. Through the means of puppetry, Harryhausen was able to manipulate viewers’ perspectives as to allow implementation of his models into live-action scenes. Since his works weren’t live-action nor traditionally animated, Harryhausen was able to cut back on production costs and times of his works. He used tangible materials to construct everything he worked with and explored areas of animation other departments simply couldn’t.

As can be determined from Harryhausen’s most notable films like The Animal World (1956) and Mighty Joe Young (1949), his puppets were defined figures of work. Every dinosaur in The Animal World, for instance, was carefully crafted with detailed skin textures and  thoroughly fleshed-out body structures. On top of this, the puppets that these dinosaurs were shaped from provided for real, more authentic visuals than conventional styles of animation. In Mighty Joe Young, Joe Young – the gorilla protagonist – attributes a fur coat, and zeroing in on the minute extrusions of hair and striped intricacies of the ape’s hide, one can start to understand just how fine the quality of physical materials can be. Harryhausen designs a well-made character model once and then uses it for the whole of the film – a method that saves loads of production time while still preserving model quality.

Live-action works were also unable to implement gigantic creatures similar to the “Rhedosaur” seen in Harryhausen’s The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) without spending significantly great amounts of money. Harryhausen broke new ground with his innovations in puppetry, manipulating the joints and extremities of colossally-sized beings on film.

Traditional animation is capable of being three-dimensional, however, stop-motion animation characteristically cannot take a two-dimensional form. With this postulate in place, stop-motion attains depth by nature, giving films like Harryhausen’s It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955) a much more volumetric look. Not only were shadows casted realistically from the giant octopus’ tentacles unto the Golden Gate Bridge but the inherency of the bridge’s deformation upon being restricted and compressed is aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Tentacle movement was smooth and living. Every bend of each elongated limb attributed no jumpiness. Harryhausen perfected object fluidity.  

Stop-motion gives us amazing visuals, life-sized depictions and movements that correspond with the pivots and structures that make up various models. Harryhausen definitely made an impact in the industry of animation and will forever be remembered for his contributions, applying techniques to stop-motion other animated processes couldn’t insist on doing.

About Markis Lazarre

Currently attending Alfred State College for Graphic Design.
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