Stan Winston, one of the great names in special effects, has died at age 62.
The Oscar-winning visual effects artist died at his home Sunday evening surrounded by family after a seven-year struggle with multiple myeloma, according to a representative from Stan Winston Studio, reports David Cohen from Variety.
The Industry today mourns the passing of one of the greatest individual effects artists we have known.
We were lucky enough at fxguide to visit Stan Winston Studios at the invitation of the then head of Digital Production Mike Pryor. You know Stan Winston from his work and you know the body of his work and the huge contribution that he made to film making. But it is not until you enter the Stan Winston Studios (SWS) conference room and stand in the middle of decades of his work that you really understand the phrase "Movie Magic".
As we said back then, if ever there was a cool conference room this is IT!
The Stan Winston boardroom contains work from films so iconic there are no signs or badges. Who would not know the Terminator? But it is not just a list of credits that sums up a career.
Eric Roth, executive director of the Visual Effects Society said "It's a big loss. Our industry has lost one of its giants, someone who has had a tremendous impact on helping tell stories with the use of effects."
The conference room at Winston's Van Nuys studio was long one of the most effective sales tools any effects company could hope for, with life-sized creatures including the original "Alien," the lunching out of the walls toward the conference table on all sides.
Stan Winston was one of the most prolific and respected effects artists, having consistently advanced the state of the art for over three decades. When discussing Winston's credits, it is easier to talk in terms of entire film franchises. With such memorable projects as the Terminator films, the Predator films and all the Jurassic Park films, he collaborated with directors such as James Cameron and Steven Spielberg, creating some of the most iconic characters in film.
Stan Winston Studio created the live action dinosaurs for the mega hit Jurassic Park in 1993. Their work and others on the film won an Academy award for Best Visual Effects. In an interview with EW (1), Winston said he didn't "do special effects" but instead was focused on building characters who were part of the story. ''The dinosaurs we created for Jurassic Park are real. We created characters for them. The brachiosaur is a much gentler beast than the velociraptor. One is a piranha, the other's a cow. The triceratops is a much gentler character-someone you care about-than a 9,000-pound Tyrannosaurus rex who could swallow you in a bite. Their performance, their body language, how they do what they do, determines their character.''
Winston also collaborated with Tim Burton on several films including Big Fish, Edward Scissorhands, and Batman Returns. Focusing on his own projects, Winston directed Pumpkinhead, among others, and produced a host of films including Wrong Turn, Skinwalkers, and The Deaths of Ian.
After forming Digital Domain with James Cameron, Winston opened a digital division of his own studio in 2002 called Stan Winston Digital (SWD). The idea being that the digital tool set is one that compliments his studio's existing abilities on the practical side. Having collaborated with many digital studios throughout the years, it only made sense that the studio have that kind of capability under one roof.
Since its inception, SWS has been a powerhouse for practical and digital effects, most recently on Marvel/Paramount blockbuster "Iron Man". In every case SWS delivered the gold standard of professionalism, realism and 'movie magic'
He will be sorely missed, and a generation must now enter the business knowing the golden age of individual effects giants is coming to an end.
Winston won visual effects Oscars for 1986's "Aliens, "1992's "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" and 1993's "Jurassic Park," for which he created animatronic dinosaurs that complimented the film's digitally-animated creatures.
"Iron Man" visual effects supervisor John Nelson "Stan was the man when it came to making those kind of prosthetic effects, he was the guy. If you look at the litany of other good people in the business, they tend to be people who worked for Stan."Stan Winston Studios did the practical Iron Man suit for this year's Marvel/Paramount blockbuster but Winston himself was not actively involved on set.
For decades, Winston's robotic/animatronic creatures were the best in the industry and his prosthetic makeup was among the best available.
"It was a perfect compliment to the stuff that we were doing," said Dennis Muren, who supervised the digital effects on "Jurassic Park." "His creatures would work with the actors and when you put the two together the audience was confused, and sometimes we were too, about who had done what." But Stan had always said it shouldn't be all one or all the other, it should be a combination of the two." (2)
Winston is survived by his wife, Karen; a son, daughter, brother and four grandchildren.
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