American animator and special effects creator Ray Harryhausen works with a figure of a dinosaur as a camera rolls. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Works of Early Special Effects Pioneers

In this page, you will find movie clips of the works of Early Pioneers of Movie Special Effects. You will get a fair idea of the extraordinary lengths that they went to, to create their masterpieces. They had no computers, sketch pens, drawing aids or even assistants to help them. They did not even have a fountain pen. They had to dip their pens into an ink well after every few strokes to keep the ink flowing. Yet they produced such wonderful works of art from which animation eventually started. Take a look!

Stuart Blackton
Stuart Blackton’s “Humorous Phases of Funny Faces” in 1906 was one of the earliest films to use drawings rather than live actors.

Winsor McCay
Winsor McCay came up with his own cartoon creation “Little Nemo” in 1911.

McCay makes a bet with his friends that he can sketch a dinosaur and then make it move. Watch this delightful clip about the bet and eventually the actual animation “Gertie The Dinosaur”.

Watch this amazing recreation of “The Sinking of The Lusitania” by McCay.

Earl Hurd
Earl Hurd invented Cel Animation. Watch his cel animation piece “BOBBY BUMPS STARTS A LODGE”.

After Cel animation took over, Winsor McCay created an animation using the Cel animation technique called “The Centaurs”.

Willis O’Brien
Some animators, instead of using drawings, used clay models or puppets and photographed them in progressive stages of movement to create their cartoon films. So cel animation and model animation evolved almost simultaneously. This technique was pioneered by Willis O’Brien, who in 1914 made a 1-minute short film about a caveman and a dinosaur, “The Dinousaur and The Missling Link”.

O’Brien’s next masterpiece was “The Lost World”.

You can watch the full movie here (1 hour 32 min).

O’Brien’s most popular movie was “King Kong” made in 1933.

O’Brien’s other movies include Mighty Joe Young

and The Black Scorpion

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