Magazine article American Cinematographer

In Memoriam: Takuo "Tak" Miyagishima, 1928-2011

Magazine article American Cinematographer

In Memoriam: Takuo "Tak" Miyagishima, 1928-2011

Article excerpt

Associate member Takuo "Tak" Miyagishima died Aug. 4 following an extended fight with pneumonia. He was 83.

Miyagishima was born on March 15, 1928, in Gardena, Calif. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, and during his service he occasionally worked as a projectionist of training films.

Miyagishima attended East Los Angeles Junior College and the University of California-Los Angeles with the hope of designing bridges. In 1 954, he joined a small manufacturing company as an engineer/designer. Among the company's clients was Panavision, which had been founded that year by Robert Gottschalk and future ASC member Richard Moore. Gottschalk quickly recognized Miyagishima's talents, and by the end of the year Miyagishima was one of Panavisions first full-time employees.

Among Miyagishima's early projects were the Super Panatar projection lens and the Micro Panatar printing lens. As Panavision turned its focus toward camera systems and taking lenses, Miyagishima contributed to such advancements as the 65mm Ultra and Super Panavision camera systems, the Panavision Silent Reflex Camera, and several series of 35mm spherical and anamorphic lenses.

Over his decades of service at Panavision, Miyagishima moved up from draftsman to senior vice president of engineering, and he remained a constant force behind the company's technological advances, including its push into digital capture. In 2004, reflecting on his 50 years with Panavision, Miyagishima told AC, "If a director of photography wanted a certain foal-length lens, we would look into it. For Lawrence of Arabia, all the mechanical parts of those lenses came off my table. George Kraemer and I actually calibrated the 'mirage lens' in the alleyway nght outside Panavision!"

Miyagishima also designed the company's "three-format" logo.

Miyagishima became an ASC associate in April 1995, after being proposed by Society members Woody Omens and Kees Van Oostrum.

"Tak was the most terrific engineer," says Van Oostrum. "I could go to him and say, 'This doesn't feel right. Somehow it doesn't merge with what we do every day.' And he would listen, nod and come back with a solution. As cinematographers, we deal with feelings and ideas that don't necessarily translate into engineering, but Tak had the ability to translate those ideas so eloquently, beautifully and effectively. It's a trait I've never really found in another engineer. …

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