Written by Kelly Wold, edited by Tim Smyth
While unrealized in his lifetime, Willis “Obie” Obrien’s mastery of animation has helped inspire the mind's eye of generations. This pioneer’s monstrous legacy was cultivated through years of developing innovative techniques.
The Oakland born California native gained life experience before stepping into motion pictures. O’Brien’s winding artistic road began in his teens working briefly as a cowboy, boxer and cartoonist. These interests would resurface in his later works. Obie’s focus shifted to sculpture, consisting of mainly human and animal figures. He would add molded rubber to their surfaces giving his pieces both character and freedom of movement.
It was said that during a particularly slow day of…
Ray Harryhausen was born on the 29th of June, 1920. At the age of five Ray was entranced by the dinosaur movie 'The Lost World' and when he saw 'King Kong' he was "thirteen years old and very impressionable - and of course I didn't know how it was done at that time. Stop-motion was a secret, they kept it hidden for a good many years. A friend of my father's worked in a studio at RKO and he told me how it was done and I started doing it as a hobby in my garden and in my garage."
Both of these inspirational films were animated by the great Willis O'Brien. Ray visited 'Obie' and presented a stegosaurus model only to receive the advice "The legs look like wrinkled sausages. You’ve got to put more character into it and study anatomy to learn where the muscles connect to the bone."
Ray duly enrolled on art, anatomy and film-making…
When the topic of stop motion animation comes up most people immediately think of Ray Harryhausen and Willis O’Brien. O’Brian was an early pioneer who used clay and then improved his armatures using ball and socket joints with foam and latex covering. He made many films starting in 1914, and was a huge inspiration and influence on a young Ray Harryhausen, who later was able to work for O’Brian in the 1949 film, MIGHT JOE YOUNG. Ray Harryhausen went on to becoming a living legend in the field of stop motion and special effects, and he, in his turn, inspired and worked with a young Jim Danforth, who has been twice nominated for the Oscar for Visual Effects; once for George Pal’s THE SEVEN FACES OF DR. LAO, (1964) and the second time for WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH, (1971).
Danforth got his first professional break at Art Clokey’s…