Ray Harryhausen, Special-Effects Pioneer, Dead at 92

The genius who brought an army of skeletons to life in 'Jason and the Argonauts' influenced filmmakers like James Cameron and Peter Jackson

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Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images

Special effects creator Ray Harryhausen looks at his original models from his 1963 film Jason and the Argonauts at the The Myths and Legends Exhibition at The London Film Museum on June 29, 2010, in London

Legendary filmmaker Ray Harryhausen, who created the still dazzling special effects in movies like 1963’s Jason and the Argonauts and 1981’s Clash of the Titans, died in London. He was 92.

Harryhausen was the undisputed master of stop-motion animation — a laborious and time-intensive process in which miniature models are moved and photographed, a single frame at a time. What set Harryhausen apart from other such animators was his skill at combining those effects with live action — the most famous example being the skeletal warriors (below) that cross swords with the heroes of Jason and the Argonauts, a sequence that reportedly took more than three months to film.

Though long associated with low-budget genre fare, Harryhausen’s inventive genius influenced a generation of filmmakers — and gained him an almost cult-like following of Hollywood visionaries, including George Lucas, Peter Jackson (who called his Lord of the Rings trilogy, “my Harryhausen movie”), Steven Spielberg, and James Cameron.

VIEW: Photo Gallery – Remembering Ray Harryhausen