God damn it! Not too long after the passing of Tim Russert, the world has lost yet another respected craftsman, visual effects pioneer and all around awesome guy Stan Winston. If you're a kid of the 80's like me, or if you're just a huge fan of 80's-90's movies, then you're more than familiar with Mr. Winston's work. Terminator, Aliens, Predator, Jurassic Park. Those are just a few of the movies that his Oscar winning/nominated work has graced, mastering not only practical effects, but also blending them with CGI effects so that there's only a seemless, awesome presentation. He was scheduled to start work on Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins, and had been fighting a battle with Cancer that hadn't been heavily publicized.
And now, his valiant fight has come to an untimely end. Everyone from James Cameron to Frank Darabont has poured their hearts out on Aint It Cool News, reflecting on a great man and his passion for his work and fast cars. (You can find that article here: http://aintitcool.com/node/37106) What hurts so god damn much about this is I knew Stan Winston's work. Growing up as a movie geek, I knew he was behind the scenes of some of my most feared nightmares. He scared the shit out of me with robots, he scared the shit out of me with aliens, he even managed to make the Predator the ugly motherfucker he's always been. Most recently, he helped make the world believe a man could fly again with his work on Iron Man.
But he also made me, and many others, believe in dinosaurs living in our time. He made a whole new generation want to study, or in other cases (mine) want to be, dinosaurs. Even his work on A.I. wasn't scary, but equally disturbing and heartbreaking, and he made only true geeks want a Super Toy Teddy. His work ethic was to bring practical effects in whenever possible, and to bridge the gap between CGI and actual reality so you couldn't really see it. If he had worked on the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Jar Jar Binks may not have existed, or if he did he wouldn't have been so cartoony looking.
Stan Winston didn't use effects as an excuse, he used them as an enhancement. He proved that imagination is a powerful thing, and used the right way you could bring people places they never even dreamed of. He proved that if you actually give a shit about your work, and did it the right way, you could get everything you could want out of life by just showing up to work in the morning and going back to your family at night. He will sorely be missed. Stan Winston, you are a boyhood hero of mine, and may you rest in peace.
If anyone is interested, apparently this is a photo album of some personal photos from Mr. Winston's photo collection. http://tinyurl.com/5jrk7u The password is "mainstreet". If there's an appropriate tribute to a great man's work, then this is it.