Movie effects innovator Petros Vlahos dies at 96

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by Associated Press

Associated Press

Posted on February 20, 2013 at 5:04 AM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 20 at 11:05 AM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The two-time Academy Award winner whose blue- and green-screen technique on movies like "Mary Poppins" and "Ben Hur" made the modern blockbuster possible has died. Petro Vlahos was 96.

The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that his family said he died on Feb. 10. The Hollywood Reporter says Vlahos' company, Ultimatte, also announced the death. No details were released.

Others had tried so-called "composite photography" before, combining separately filmed actors and sets into one shot. But Vlahos took huge leaps forward in the process with the chariot race in 1959's "Ben Hur" and in Julie Andrews' and Dick Van Dyke's dance with cartoon penguins in 1964's "Mary Poppins."

The process would soon be key to the rise of major sci-fi and fantasy movies such as "Star Wars" and "Avatar."

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