TechTree Tribute: Stefan Kudelski Who Revolutionized Film Making Passes Away

Kudelski invented a portable recorder called Nagra III in 1958, which was widely used until the digital age in the 1990s.

TechTree Tribute: Stefan Kudelski Who Revolutionized Film Making Passes Away

Remember the 'who invented' questions in General Knowledge, in high school? Rudolf Diesel and Thomas Edison were common, of course. But not all inventors got to be that famous, even if their inventions were revolutionary, in their own right. Stefan Kudelski was one such inventor.

[Image credit: Kudelski Group]


The Person
Stefan Kudelski has an interesting history. He was Polish born, but his family fled Poland during the World War II, to escape from the Germans, and then his education continued in France and later in Switzerland. While doing his engineering in Switzerland, he patented his first portable film recorder, called Nagra. Later on, we went on to found his own company, called Kudeleski Group. Kudelski passed away at the age of 83, last week. 

The Invention
Amongst his various inventions (some which included spying equipment used by the US secret service), the one that revolutionized film making was the Nagra III (and later on, its successor, the Nagra IV). This portable device enabled film makers to synthesize sound to video frames on-location, which until then, needed to be done in a studio. The recording quality and the reliability of the Nagras become legendary.
Think of how 'easy' it is to read this article on your mobile phone while travelling, compared to say 15 years ago, when you had to sit in front of a PC and 'dial up' a connection to the Internet to do the same. This is the kind of ease and flexibility that the Nagra III brought to the film makers of those days. 

The Accolades
The Nagra III 's success and widespread use won Kudelski four Academy Awards and two Emmy Awards for technical contributions to film making. As stated by a New York Times article, "the Nagra recorder became an essential tool for the on-location, often improvisational techniques of New Wave directors...". 

If your curiosity has been provoked by the man and his contribution, here's more

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