Magazine article American Cinematographer

In Memoriam: Roderick Ryan, ASC, 1924-2007

Magazine article American Cinematographer

In Memoriam: Roderick Ryan, ASC, 1924-2007

Article excerpt

He was, perhaps, one of the least-public figures of importance in Hollywood, but in his 40 years at Eastman Kodak, Roderick Ryan, Ph.D., helped provide the know-how and service filmmakers have come to expect from that company. "He worked behind the scenes and didn't make a big show about things, but he always had the technical information I needed," says cinematographer Ralph Woolsey, ASC. "I was more interested in the technical side of the business than many, and when new Kodak products came out or were about to come out. Rod was the person I went to."

An honorary ASC member since 1986, Ryan died from the effects of Lewy Body Disease at the Motion Picture and Television Fund Hospital in Woodland Hills, California, on Oct. 11, 2007, at the age of 83.

Ryan was born on Sept. 18, 1924, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and spent his early years there and in Atlantic City, New Jersey, before moving to California. He graduated from Santa Monica High School in 1942. His career in motion-picture imaging began when he was a combat cinematographer stationed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Santee during World War II. He helped document the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944, and was shooting footage when the Santee was hit by a kamikaze attack during that fight. In July 1946, he was one of the photographers who shot footage of atomic-bomb tests at Bikini Atoll.

Ryan went to work for Eastman Kodak in 1947, and during his 40-year career in the Hollywood office, he held a number of positions, including quality control engineer/ Color Print and Processing; photographic engineer/Color Technology; and regional director of engineering services and coordinator of engineering services/Motion-Picture Division.

Ryan completed his education at the University of Southern California while working at Kodak, earning a B.A. in 1952, an M.A. in 1956, and a Ph.D. in 1966. Photocopies of his highly regarded doctoral thesis, "A Study of the Technology of Color Motion-Picture Processes Developed in the United States," circulated for years within the film industry before the piece was finally published as A History of Motion-Picture Color Technology (Focal Press, 1972). The book covered not only well-known processes, but also such obscure and short-lived processes as Brewster Color, Coloratura and the Morgana Process, and included technical details related to processing and color dye formulas. …

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