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Filmotechnic’s ‘Russian Arm' Takes Its Name From History
- Thursday, Mar. 21, 2019
How The Cold War and a Russian Engineer Changed Filmmaking Forever
When people think about camera arms, they usually visualize the large camera crane originally conceived and developed by Filmotechnic. It truly revolutionized the entertainment industry, giving directors the ability to capture their vision like never before, at a price point most could access. Today, many inquiries still center on why these “Arms” are referred to as “Russian?"nd
Russian Arm Origins
Many companies now refer to their cranes as "Russian Arms," but the generic name for the equipment (like Kleenex for facial tissue or Xerox for copies) traces back to two things; the Cold War and Filmotechnic engineer Anatoliy Kokush. The Cold War historically was considered a period of political hostility from 1945-1990 between the US and the Soviet Union. Once tensions subsided, there was a lot of heavy duty war vehicles around, including Russian tanks. Legend has it that when the Russian born Kokush engineered his first camera crane, he was inspired by Russian tank turrets. One legend has it that Kokush used actual tank turrets in his original Arms! Whatever the story, the association between being "Russian" and the highest tech camera arms stuck.
In the 1980s Kokush founded Soviet film and television company Filmotechnic. Being an engineer, he saw the need for a heavy-duty yet nimble camera arm that could rotate 360 degrees quickly while providing an ultra-smooth platform for cameras and heads. In 2006 Kokush garnered two Oscars in the Scientific and Engineering Award categories. One was for his Russian Arm gyro stabilized camera crane and the flight head, the other for the development of the Cascade series of motion picture cranes. Filmotechnic and its Russian Arms would be used to film such major Hollywood pictures as Titanic, War of the Worlds, Casanova, and also the wuxia film Hero, many Russian blockbusters, as well as Ukrainian films. Other films include The Italian Job, Ocean's Twelve, King Arthur, Kingdom of Heaven, Bean: The Movie, Transformers, Iron Man 2, and many other box office hits.
Russian Arm Revolution
Today, Filmotechnic equipment and their trained crews are tapped by filmmakers worldwide. Filmotechnic USA is the ONLY factory authorized Russian Arm supplier in the United States. The Russian Arms are booked for movies, TV series, commercials as well as coverage of the Olympic games. Today’s Filmotechnic Russian Arm features a gyro-stabilized remote camera head (Filmo’s Flight Head 5) attached to a gyro-stabilized remote-control crane arm. The Arm still leads the industry in the filming of moving objects, about to shoot from just about every angle and speed, in all weather conditions. Kokush continues to revolutionize what filmmakers can do. Based in the Ukraine, Filmotechnic stays ahead of imitators with annual improvements to the Arms, maintaining their status as part of the best camera car systems in the world.
Last year the company was awarded a 2018 cinecAward for its new telescoping Russian Arm. The cinecAwards are part of Cinec’s annual international trade fair for people engaged in the film, TV and video industries. The specs are impressive; boom length adjusts from 4.5’ to 20.5’ while the arm is remotely (robotically) operated. The crane can pan a complete 360 degrees in eight seconds. The arm can be mounted on many different camera cars/shooting platforms, has numerous options for movement and can be used in studios, paired with Filmotechnic’s new electric EVU. The latest Russian Arms are available in the US through Filmotechnic USA facilities in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Orlando and Hawaii.
RPG Los Angeles