Aint It Cool has broken some terrible news to the film community: special effects genius Stan Winston died yesterday.

It’s impossible to overestimate the effect that Stan Winston had on the world of fantastic film. Winston’s latest work was the Iron Man suit Robert Downey Jr wore in the Marvel blockbuster, but his career stretches back through three decades of revolutionary work, including the iconic metal skeleton of the Terminator to the animatronic dinosaurs of Jurassic Park to the work that got him his ninth Oscar nomination with AI (he won four). Stan had not been working as much in recent years, but he had a number of very high-profile films on his plate, including James Cameron’s recently wrapped Avatar, the now-shooting Terminator 4 and the upcoming Jurassic Park IV. And while his work in practical effects was second to none, he was also a major pioneer in CGI, co-founding Digital Domain with James Cameron. This is the guy who created the Predator! He brought the Xenomorphs to life in Aliens. Hell, I was recently enjoying his work while watching Galaxy Quest on cable.

To say this comes as a shock is understatement to the extreme – I’m not even sure if Stan being sick was public knowledge. In an interesting bit of synchronicity, Stan’s Malibu estate just sold over the weekend. I suppose he was getting his affairs in order.

Too often we get choked up about the deaths of people past their prime, but Stan Winston was only 62, and it seemed like he had years and years ahead of him to continue working stunning movie magic. I don’t want to be too schmaltzy, but today is truly a shitty day for people who love seeing dreams come alive on film.