You may not know who Petro Vlahos was, but you certainly know his work, if you've ever sat down to any kind of special effects movie. And I mean any kind. Vlahos made it possible to enjoy such spectacular scenes as the chariot race in BEN HUR, all the way to the Star Destroyer flying overhead in the first STAR WARS. Petro Vlahos changed the way cinema was made, and made it possible for movies to take us to every world possible in imagination, from ancient Rome to a galaxy far, far away.
Vlahos invented Ultimatte, the process that allowed for blue screen compositing in movies. It appeared in BEN HUR, and pretty much every science fiction film since. Every special effect bluescreen and greenscreen matte technology borrows something from Vlahos' original invention. Because of his camera work - Vlahos had over 35 patents for all sorts of movie technology - he opened up so many possibilities in movies today. Every director working on a summer blockbuster right now owes a huge debt to Petro Vlahos, and we movie-loving genre fans do too.
Our condolences go out to his family and friends. Thank you, Petro Vlahos, for helping take us to the stars, to our past and our future, and for making our biggest stories and fantasies turn into stunning visions on the screen.