US-born "king of stop-motion animation" and special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen died aged 92 in London on Tuesday, his family announced.
Hollywood tributes flooded in for Oscar-winner Harryhausen, who is best known for his work on Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans.
"Ray has been a great inspiration to us all in special visual industry," said Star Wars mastermind George Lucas.
"The art of his earlier films, which most of us grew up on, inspired us so much. Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no Star Wars," he added.
Director Peter Jackson called The Lord of the Rings his "Ray Harryhausen movie".
"Without his life-long love of his wondrous images and storytelling it would never have been made - not by me at least," he explained.
Tinseltown giant Steven Spielberg said Harryhausen's "inspiration goes with us forever" while Avatar director James Cameron stressed that Hollywood science fiction practitioners had been "standing on the shoulders of a giant".
Britain's Nick Park, creator of Wallace and Gromit, called him the "king of stop-motion animation".
Harryhausen, who was born in Los Angeles in 1920, attributed his fascination with special effects to Willis O'Brien's creations in 1933 classic King Kong.
Other credits throughout his distinguished career include It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955), One Million Years B.C. (1966), and three films based on the adventures of Sinbad.
"Harryhausen's genius was in being able to bring his models alive," said the family statement.
"Whether they were prehistoric dinosaurs or mythological creatures, in Ray's hands they were no longer puppets but became instead characters in their own right, just as important as the actors they played against and in most cases even more so," it added.