Stefan Kudelski, inventor of the first portable professional recorder, the renowned Nagra, passed away Jan. 26 in Switzerland. Kudelski, 84, was the founder of the Kudelski Group. In 1983, Kudelski entered the hall of fame of motion picture and television by receiving the John Grierson International Gold Medal, joining luminaries of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers that include Louis Lumière, Thomas Edison, Lee de Forest, George Eastman, Walt Disney, Samuel Warner, Léon Gaumont, Ray Dolby and Vladimir Zworkyin.
In the course of his career, he was awarded numerous distinctions including Oscars from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1965, 1977, 1978 and 1990, two Emmy Awards from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 1984 and 1986. He was also Doctor Honoris Causa from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) since 1986.
“The Nagra recorder was the mainstay of production recording for over 50 years and revolutionized both production and post-production workflows,” Cinema Audio Society president David Fluhr said, “And the worldwide sound community mourns the passing of Stefan Kudelski. It is fitting that as we award the latest in technical achievement for production and postproduction sound, we pause and remember this pioneer of the sound community.”
The tribute will include rare video footage of an interview with Kudelski by CAS member Omar Milano, as well as personal recollections by Tomlison Holman, CAS. An Oscar winner for his THX loudspeaker system, Holman visited many times with Kudelski in Switzerland and corresponded with him since 1983.
“I used the Nagra in all iterations from the Nagra III to the Nagra IVs in analog, to the Nagra D and D2 in digital,” CAS career achievement honoree Chris Newman said. “The Nagra III absolutely revolutionized the way we made films in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s.”
The 49th Annual CAS Awards will be held Feb. 16 in the Crystal Ballroom of the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Besides technical achievement awards in production and postproduction, awards for outstanding sound mixing will be presented in six categories. During the Awards, special honors will go to Newman as the CAS career achievement honoree and the CAS filmmaker award will be presented to Jonathan Demme.