Movie audio pioneer Kudelski dies

Feb. 1, 2013 at 3:25 PM
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CHESEAUX-SUR-LAUSANNE, Switzerland, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Stefan Kudelski, who invented a professional-quality portable tape recorder that transformed film making, has died in Switzerland, his company said. He was 83.

The Kudelski Group, the Swiss electronics engineering firm he founded, announced Kudelski's death, The New York Times reported Friday.

Born in Poland in 1929, Kudelski fled Poland with his family when World War II began, settling in Switzerland.

He was studying engineering at a Swiss university in 1951 when he patented a portable recording device he dubbed the Nagra that could produce audio quality on a par with large, fixed studio recorders.

It was first used by Swiss radio stations.

Seven years later Kudelski introduced a version of the Nagra that could synchronize sound with the frames on a reel of film. The portable, 14-pound Nagra III freed filmmakers from the conventions and high cost of studio production, allowing a greater use of location shooting.

Kudelski won Academy Awards for his technical contributions to filmmaking in 1965, 1977, 1978 and 1990, and Emmy Awards in 1984 and 1986.

"There was virtually no film made from 1961 until the early '90s that did not use the Nagra," Academy Award-winning sound engineer Chris Newman told the Times.

Newman used a Nagra in winning Oscars for "The Exorcist" (1973), "Amadeus" (1984) and "The English Patient" (1996).

"We would not have the movies we have today without it," he said.

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