A Chat With Ray Harryhausen
(continued from page 3)

The challenge of making these fantasy elements into stars in their own right, within the context of a live-action feature, seems to be what drove Ray in his use of stop-motion.

Some of Harryhausen's work in the Sinbad series gave him practice for the more complex movements in The Clash of the Titans.
© Animation Art Gallery London.

Ray: Medusa was fascinating to work with because I gave her a snake's body so that she could pull herself with her hands which gave her a very creepy aura. I didn't want to animate cosmic gowns. Most Medusas you see in the classics have flowing robes which would be mad to even try to animate. I see the Russians do a lot of windswept gowns but then it's a puppet film and you accept it, but it doesn't look convincing. It's a stylized form of expression. But I'm amazed they even attempt it.

Ruth Whiter: Do you think it can be distracting?

Ray: It can be, but then you accept it because it's a puppet film. If you did that on Medusa it wouldn't be acceptable, it would just look like bad animation.

The Business Of Animating
Ray talked about a trip he had made a few years ago, when he'd visited Will Vinton's studios in Portland, Oregon, and also met with two paleontologists who had originally been inspired by his dinosaur films. He talked about joining them for a dig and the amount of patience needed for that type of work, which led us to talking about the commonly held view that animators need an unusual amount of patience.

Ray: A lot of people thought my work was very tedious, and it can be if you look at it from that point of view, but I never looked upon it as tedious.

Ruth: People come into the studio and the first thing they always say is, "Oh, you must be so patient," and I think, there are so many jobs in this world where you're working on a tiny part of a whole, animation is just one of them, and what they really mean is, "I couldn't be bothered to do it myself."

Ray: They don't know the joy of seeing the film come back and what you had in your mind is on film.

Ruth: The only thing I find tedious is something with no character, like making a plane fly around in the air, but otherwise it would never occur to me that it was.

Ray: No, that's the same for me. I did find parts tedious, when I had to do things because they had to bridge something. I was very limited in what I could do with flying saucers, because they're just a metal disc. I had to try and put character in as if they were intelligently guided. Did you ever see that, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers? We destroyed Washington DC. That's not the reason I fled to Europe.

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