R.I.P. Ray Harryhausen - The Most Engaged Employee Ever?

by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, May 9, 2013

© Rex Features / Chaz Gerretsen

It was with great sadness that I read this week about the passing of Ray Harryhausen, one of the icons of my youth. 

If the name is not familiar to you, you might at least be familiar with his special effects work in such films as Mighty Joe Young, It Came From the Sea, 20 Million Miles to Earth, Mysterious Island, One Million Years BC, and Clash of the Titans.  My personal favorites that I cherished as a youth were Jason & the Argonauts and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. 

And what makes him the most engaged employee ever?  He was a pioneer of stop-motion filmmaking.  Unlike the CGI work today, stop-motion filmmaking was a painstaking process requiring you to stage a scene and take a picture.  Then, you move an arm, and/or a leg, and/or a sword, and take another picture.  Repeat.  Given that the typical film speed is 24 frames per second, the ability to turn those micromovements into the illusion of motion is extremely time-consuming.

Take, for example, his work in the aforementioned Jason & the Argonauts.  To create the battle with the skeleton army, it took Harryhausen nearly four months, working seven days a week, mostly alone, to create the scenes.  Some days, he was only able to get 13 entire frames, less than a second of film, completed.

So, the next time an employee is complaining about the difficulty of their job.  Point him or her to the work of Mr. Harryhausen, and see if he/she will continue to be upset about his or her work.

Rest in peace.

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