Monday, June 16, 2008

R.I.P. Stan Winston

(Photo from LA Times)

Very sad news, Stan Winston, designer/creator of the practical effects and makeup in movies such as Aliens, Terminator, Jurassic Park, Predator, Edward Scissorhands, and Batman Returns died of cancer yesterday. His last completed film was this year's Ironman, and he was next slated to work on Terminator 4 and James Cameron's Avatar. It's amazing that one person was responsible for so many iconic and enduring movie moments, some of my favorite, for sure. You've got to admire the dedication to detail and ingenuity needed to produce models that not only look realistic, but move and interact with other characters. When you see something in a movie that you know is real, not computer generated, in my opinon, it's much more evocative of that wonderous feeling movies are supposed to generate. (This had the effect of producing considerable terror when I, at 10 years old, saw Jurassic Park for the first time.) Practical effects put limitations on how a movie is shot and, often, this leads to more dramatic composition. Just look at how shadows and mist are used in the Alien films, or The Thing. CG effects are nigh ubiquitous in movies these days, but I hope the Winston tradition will carry on in his absence.

My favorite Winston creation? That's a tough choice, but I would have to go with the queen from Aliens.

The LA Times has some nice pictures and a summary of Winston's career.

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