2020-3D animation students make Jason film

Students recreate magic of Jason and the Argonauts for national exhibition

Wed, 23 Sep 2020 10:45:00 BST

Students at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) have sent iconic characters from Jason and the Argonauts on a sightseeing tour of Scotland in a short animation film that pays tribute to their legendary creator.

In what would be animator Ray Harryhausen’s 100thyear, the National Galleries of Scotland is running an exhibition to celebrate his work and provide a unique insight into the history and art behind special effects in film making and animation. 

Keen to take part, GCU entered a competition which tasked its 3D animation students to create an exciting short animated promotional trailer for the event. Their video was judged as one of the best and is now being used by the National Galleries to promote the exhibition – entitled Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema – which will take place at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art [Modern Two] from October 24 this year to September 5, 2021. 

The GCU entry used the original 3D scans of two famous characters from the fantasy adventure movie Jason and the Argonauts: Talos, the giant made of bronze, and one of the skeletons used in the famous sword-fighting scene with Jason.

The brief called for the chosen characters to embody the spirit of the original film, but in a modern-day Scottish context. The GCU students’ idea was to show the characters on a sightseeing journey from Glasgow to Edinburgh, ending up at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art itself, for the exhibition. 

The project comprised original live-action photographic video backgrounds, shot at various well-known Scottish locations – such as George Square, Arthur’s Seat and Edinburgh Castle – with the animated characters then digitally composited into them. The students who made the video, all of whom graduated this summer, are Jack Davies, Emir Hamitouche, Victoria Murray and Adam Semple.

The video was singled out for a Special Commendation by both the National Galleries and the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation.

Simon Haslett, senior lecturer in 3D animation at GCU, said: “Ray Harryhausen is an absolute cinema legend, so this was a rather special opportunity, as well as an extremely valuable learning experience for the students in so many animation and film-making disciplines.

“As a big Harryhausen fan myself, it was quite a privilege to be able to create a project with the scans from the actual models used in the original movie and help bring them to life on the screen once again.”

The exhibition will be a large scale, interactive and engaging experience of Harryhausen’s work and it is hoped to attract a diverse audience who may not usually attend galleries, including families, young locals and first-time visitors, and help educate and influence them on how stop-motion animation is captured.