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Home » PEOPLE AND PLACES in MA » MASSACHUSETTS (all topics) » Animagic
Animagic Fun

Hollywood Special Effects in the Berkshires

By Peter F. Demers | March 15, 2012

New England has numerous first rate museums, from world class art museums such as Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts to smaller local museums like Lyman Alley Art Museum, in New London, Connecticut. More unexpected is Animagic, a museum dedicated to animation, and special effects.

Inside Animagic

In the small western Massachusetts town of Lee, the museum was the brainchild of husband and wife team, Eugene Mamut and Irina Borisova.

Animagic is a free museum that not only provides an opportunity to discover how special effects and animation are created, but allows you to create your own special effects and movie.

Mamut began making movies and creating special effects at a Kharkov movie studio in Ukraine when it was still part of the Soviet Union.   It was here, in 1975, that he made one of the first computer-animated shorts.   In the early days of computer generated animation, a simple image required many hours of complex programming at a cost of several thousand dollars.

He went on to invent the elastic effect which led to “the camouflage effect” for the movie Predator. The camouflage effect is a sci-fi concept, usually seen in the form of a suit, that allows the wearer to become almost invisible.

Eugene Mamut Wins an Oscar (March 30, 1987)

For his groundbreaking work, Mamut received many awards and accolades, including a 1982 Clio Award® and a 1986 Academy Award®.

In 1996, Mamut moved to Lenox, MA to work with Mass.Illusions, where he made visual effects for movies such as Starship Troopers and The Matrix.

His wife, Irina Borisova, also from the Ukraine, began her career as an art director, first at a Kharkov movie studio and later at the Kharkov State Puppet Theatre. Borisova established herself in various genres of art - ceramics, puppets, book illustration, theatre stage set and costume design, theatre posters, etc.

Visiting the USA in 1993, she reconnected, and later married, her old colleague Eugene Mamut who was then living and working in the Berkshires.

In 2002, they opened Animagic to showcase the Berkshire visual effects talent and to foster the moviemaking spirit in the Berkshires.

A visit to Animagic provides the opportunity to learn and see firsthand the work of the many talented Berkshire residents such as Douglas Trumbull, who helped create the technology for rides from the Back to the Future movies and Jeffrey Kleiser and Diane Walczak who did the same for the Spiderman rides.

You can also see the work of Tom Glasek, the creator of such animated features as Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run.

On display are the ceramics, puppets and graphics created by Borisova, models used in high profile movies, and Mamut’s Academy Award.   There is also an opportunity to watch a stereoscopic 3D movie.

For a $20 fee, you can participate in a workshop that allows you to create your own model and animated movie which can be uploaded to YouTube.   Described as “Classes of Stop-Motion Animation for kids from 9 to 95,” they make the perfect gift.

Animagic is open by appointment only and is free.

All images appear courtesy of Animagic.


Animagic Animation Workshop

135 Main Street, Lee, MA 02138


(413) 841-6679

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