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Old March 30 2013, 10:40 PM   #553
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

I have a bone to pick with Ben Mankiewicz's commentary at the end of Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. He claimed that part of the reason the film didn't do too well at the box office was because Harryhausen's stop-motion animation techniques were starting to look old-fashioned in 1977, the year Star Wars came out. But if it weren't for stop-motion, we wouldn't have tauntauns, AT-ATs, the great big asteroid worm creature, the Rancor, etc. And those were in the sequels that came out in the 1980s. The only significant improvement ILM's Phil Tippett made on Harryhausen's technique was that he used computer motion control to add motion blur ("go-motion"). It wasn't Star Wars that rendered stop-motion obsolete, it was Jurassic Park (also Tippett's work).

It is true that Star Wars was a leap forward in VFX techniques, but that had more to do with the use of motion-control to allow camera movement in composite FX shots, and other ILM innovations. There are certainly a number of FX in Eye of the Tiger that look old-fashioned compared to Star Wars, like the static camera work in composite shots, the underwhelming animation of the aurora, and some pretty obvious bluescreening of the cast against background plates shot at Petra in Jordan (the same location used for the Grail temple in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade). But the stop-motion was on a par with the work in Empire and Jedi -- and for that matter, I can't think of any stop-motion creature FX being used in the original Star Wars.
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