Aug 12, 2012

Carlo Rambaldi died yesterday. From the Guardian's obit:—
'Rambaldi was a pioneer of animatronics (puppets operated mechanically by rods or cables) and mechatronics, which combined mechanical, electronic and system design engineering, all in the days before digital special effects became ubiquitous. "The mystery's gone. It's as if a magician had revealed all of his tricks," he said, expressing his disdain for the digital age. "Digital costs around eight times as much as mechatronics. ET cost a million dollars and we created it in three months. If we wanted to do the same thing with computers, it would take at least 200 people a minimum of five months." To realise the little extraterrestrial, which was capable of 150 separate moves, Rambaldi used steel, polyurethane, rubber, and hydraulic and electronic controls. Rambaldi soon built his reputation in America with Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and Alien. "He designed the mechanics of the head, made the lips work, made the jaws function," Scott recalled of the latter. "Normally you can't stand to have the camera take a close look at things like this, but it was so good I just did a huge close up on it." Rambaldi, who had worked on Flesh for Frankenstein (aka Andy Warhol's Frankenstein,1973) and Blood for Dracula (Andy Warhol's Dracula, 1974), Italian co-productions shot back-to-back in Serbia, was invited to the US by Dino De Laurentiis, who was producing his 1976 remake of King Kong. De Laurentiis had been impressed by Rambaldi's special effects in Argento's stylish thriller Profondo Rosso (Deep Red, 1975).'


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