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A Tribute to Dan Kneece: Steadicam Operator and DP of David Lynch

A Tribute to Dan Kneece: Steadicam Operator and DP of David Lynch

The American Steadicam operator, director of images, and co-founder of the Steadicam Guild, Dan Kneece, handed away on August seventh, 2021. In reminiscence of his state-of-the-art work and cooperations with many legendary administrators, together with David Lynch, Quentin Tarantino, and Wes Craven, to call just a few, right here is our tribute to Dan – one of many biggest digicam and Steadicam operators of all occasions.

In 2019, I had the possibility to shoot and interview SteadXP’s founder Adrien Farrugia to speak about their distinctive post-production stabilization system. Throughout pre-production, we deliberate on having Dan Kneece on set with us, and it was very attention-grabbing to see the expertise for Steadicam usages and the way forward for cinematography.

A few weeks later, I met a tall, bearded, impressive-looking man in France, who shot a few of the function movies I watched rising up. We met as much as speak about SteadXP and his work as a cinematographer. After spending time with him, I spotted what a really sort and passionate Steadicam and digicam operator he was, who devoted his total life to this craft.

Early years

Dan Kneece was born on September thirteenth, 1956, in South Carolina. At 13 years previous, his mom purchased a Tremendous-8 digicam, and Dan began taking pictures movement footage. With ardour in his veins, he graduated from the College of South Carolina with a Grasp’s diploma in Media Arts in 1979. The identical 12 months, whereas ending his diploma, Dan began his skilled profession taking pictures information at WIS-TV in Columbia, SC. However Dan knew that if he wished to make it huge, he needed to transfer to Los Angeles, which he did in 1982.

Transferring to LA, Dan met Garrett Brown, famously often known as the inventor of the Steadicam stabilization system. The Steadicam was fairly a “new” factor, because it was invented in 1972. After a variety of apply and a strong mentorship, Dan Kneece began to work as a Steadicam operator for at least 28 years.

A legendary Steadicam operator

It might be a particularly lengthy listing to say all the function movies Dan Kneece shot as a Steadicam operator, however if you need, you may check out the complete list on IMDb. However to make it brief, Dan had an in depth skilled relationship with David Lynch on movies similar to Blue Velvet, Wild at Coronary heart, and Mulholland Drive. Within the interview beneath, David Lynch talks about “Steadicam Dan,” as he known as him.

You bought it; through the years the Steadicam grew to become an extension of Dan’s physique. His unimaginable experience led Dan Kneece to function the Steadicam on function movies similar to Scream by Wes Craven and Jackie Brown by Quentin Tarantino. So most of us in all probability already watched one in every of his Steadicam pictures with out even realizing they had been shot by him. Oh, and if that’s not sufficient, he additionally shot the Beyoncé and JAY Z music video “Loopy in Love.”

Alongside this unimaginable journey, Dan was the primary individual on this planet to fly cameras such because the Thomson/Grass Valley Viper HD or Sony F23 on a Steadicam. To share his experience, he skilled 1000’s of aspiring Steadicam operators throughout the globe. The subsequent step was to discovered the Steadicam Guild along with David Allen Grove in September 2002. In 2007, he was even named President of the Society of Digicam Operators.

Digicam operator and tech fanatic

Working a Steadicam for 28 years is difficult in your again, and in 2011 Dan stopped and have become a digicam operator and director of images. He continued taking pictures function movies and TV films/sequence till his final days.

Dan was additionally an actual tech fanatic with a transparent imaginative and prescient of how instruments assist technicians and administrators to innovate and obtain their imaginative and prescient. We had a dialogue about digicam motion and expertise, and I bear in mind him telling me the way you obtain the shot just isn’t essential, neither is the way you need to shoot it, you need to all the time comply with the director’s imaginative and prescient and discover methods to make it occur.

Icg Native 600’s Nationwide President John Lindley wrote:

Dan Kneece was a tough working member and colleague with a prepared smile and open arms that embraced all of us who knew and labored with him,” wrote Lindley. “The world was his good friend. He leaves his legacy of kindness and heat for us to hold on in his absence. We mourn his loss and prolong condolences to his family and friends.

John Lindley

Dan Kneece handed away at age 64 on August seventh, 2021.

Sources: IMDb and the ASC.

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