UCLan Student’s animation talents recognised

The work of a talented animator from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) appears in a new book chronicling an icon of 20th century special effects.

Student Mike Tharme, who is an avid fan of Ray Harryhausen’s work, was selected to colourise one of Ray’s original sketched film posters for John Walsh’s new book, Harryhausen: The Lost Movies, after impressing the trustees with his previous creations.

The part-time MA Animation student said: “Ray Harryhausen’s filmography includes hit films such as Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans. He was a legend of stop motion animation, inspiring countless animators, film directors; such as Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, George Lucas and Preston’s very own Nick Park, and visual effects artists from all around the world.

“To be asked by the Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation to colourise Ray’s own pencil illustration, which he wanted to use as the poster for the 1966 iconic film One Million Years BC, was absolutely unbelievable.

“Sadly for Ray, an image of Raquel Welch was used instead to draw audiences into the theatres, so his sketch was surplus to requirements. It’s been decades later when I’ve been lucky enough to bring it to life in this new book which explores all the unused ideas and projects Ray turned down, abandoned or where simply dropped due to budget and time restraints.”

The 35-year-old, who graduated from his BA (Hons) Animation at UCLan back in 2005, spent four months in the evenings working on the project, and recently went to London for the official book launch at Forbidden Planet and Regent Street Cinema.

Mike said: “I tried to put myself in Ray’s shoes and kept asking myself, ‘What would Ray do?’ I decided to give it a retro, vintage vibe and tried to bring it to life as he would’ve liked.

“It’s been great to be involved in a book that was a pre-order bestseller on Amazon and since its release the feedback for my work on social media and forums has been overwhelming.”

Mike, whose love of Harryhausen’s work stemmed from watching Ray’s films as a young child, was lucky enough to meet his idol at his London home after winning an online storyboard competition in 2012 and the duo were in contact until his death a year later.

In 2016, the Adlington resident won a national design competition held by the Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation to create the new #Harryhausen100 logo in the lead up to Ray’s 100th birthday, and he hopes his current MA Degree animation project, Wildlife on Mars, will be chosen for the Ray Harryhausen Titan of Cinema exhibition, which will take place between May and October at the Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art.

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