Visual Effects Master Stan Winston, 62

By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Stan Winston, 62, an Arlington County native and visual effects master who won four Academy Awards for breathing life into some of the most fearsome and fantastic creatures ever seen in films, died June 15 at his home in Malibu, Calif. He had multiple myeloma.

A pioneer in modern screen makeup as well as cutting-edge animation, Mr. Winston was accomplished in embellishing the appearance of live actors and in constructing and operating mechanical devices so skillfully that they seemed to be alive.

Among Mr. Winston's creations was the Tyrannosaurus rex of "Jurassic Park" (1993) and many of its terrifying companions, which stepped out of the pages of paleontology texts and into Hollywood history.

With foam rubber, electronics and powerful motors filling in for flesh, blood and bone, these creations helped Mr. Winston win one of his Oscars. Others were for "Aliens" (1986) and "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (1991). He won two Oscars for "Terminator 2," for visual effects and makeup.

In addition to the Oscars he won, Mr. Winston had been nominated six other times for films including "Predator" (1987), "Edward Scissorhands" (1990) and "Artificial Intelligence: AI" (2001).

He also worked in television, receiving five Emmy nominations and winning the prize twice.

As the head of a studio, which began in the garage of his home, Mr. Winston led and supervised teams of skilled craftsmen and technicians in some of his best known projects. He also worked with some of Hollywood's best known performers and filmmakers, including Steven Spielberg, who directed "Jurassic Park" and "Artificial Intelligence," and James Cameron, who directed "Terminator 2" and "Aliens."

Mr. Winston was considered innovative and imaginative in overcoming the technological challenges his work presented. But he was known as more than a modeler, technician or engineer.

Many of his innovations were designed to enable mechanical or robotic beings to transcend their inanimate limitations and demonstrate human qualities through such methods as the variation of facial expression.

Once interested in an acting career himself, he was "all about creating character," said J. Allen Scott, a supervisor at his studio.

In much of his work, Mr. Winston turned human actors into figures of fantasy. He won recognition for the technical wizardry that transformed Michael Jackson into the Scarecrow in "The Wiz" (1978) and making a mutant of Johnny Depp in "Edward Scissorhands."

Through Mr. Winston's artistry, Danny DeVito appeared with a strikingly shaped nose as the Penguin in "Batman Returns."

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