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Stop-motion and visual effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen dies at the age of 92

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Ray Harryhausen
Ray Harryhausen

Ray Harryhausen, a special effect guru who created some of the most memorable visual effects sequences in early Hollywood films like Jason and the Argonauts, died today at the age of 92, reports The New York Times. Harryhausen was perhaps best known for his pioneering use of stop-motion animation, something that became his calling after seeing King Kong, one of the first films to use the technique in 1933. For decades, Harryhausen's work was a defining part of epic films such as Mighty Joe Young, The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, and the aforementioned Argonauts.

As filmmakers moved away from his Dynamotion stop-motion technique and started utilizing more and more optical and digital special effects, his influence was not as widely felt — but noted directors like George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, and James Cameron all cite him as a major influence. He was also recognized in 1992 with a career Academy Award for technical achievement. For those not familiar with Harryhausen's work, has put together a nice retrospective including a few interviews and a number of clips from his most famous films, while Vulture also has a good selection of clips — including the famed skeleton battle scene from Jason and the Argonauts.