The Monstrous Movie Clip Of The Day: Dinosaur Wrangling Made Easy?
Written By: Ken Hulsey
Way back in 1969 the master special effects Ray Harryhausen created one of the most spectacular stop-motion animation shots for the movie "The Valley of Gwangi". To the casual viewer this sequence may not seem like a hard illusion to pull off but to those who know how the scene was achieved it stands as a true testament to hours of hard work and an amazing attention to detail.
Here is the problem that was presented to Harryhausen, "How do you get live action cowboy actors on horseback to lasso an Allosaurus model (Gwangi) that is only about a foot tall and make it look real?" The effect was achieved by having the actors actually lasso a pole that was the same height as a real Allosaurus that was mounted to the back of a Jeep. The jeep and pole when filmed with the miniature dinosaur are on a back rear projection plate and hidden by the body of the model, and the portions of rope attached to it's body are painted wires that are matched with the real ropes for each individual frame by Harryhausen using his keen eye looking through the camera's viewfinder to ensure everything lined up perfectly. The model of Gwangi also had to be manipulated to make it look like the horses and their human riders were reacting to the dinosaurs movements and not vice versa. Overall the five minute sequence took almost a month to complete via this process.