Page 5 - OConnor - The Ultimate Supports For Professionals 2014

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At the time, he still viewed the head and his photography
as a hobby, and he shot more than 100,000 feet of film
of steam engines in action during their final days. But one
day in 1952, while filming near Glendale California, another
steam enthusiast tapped him on the shoulder and asked to
look through the view finder. The stranger seemed to know
his way around cameras, so O’Connor gave him a chance to
try the head out. The man was so impressed that he asked if
O’Connor could make more for him. O’Connor agreed but said
it would take time as he built them in his garage. The man
said, “But I need it right away. Oh, by the way, my name is
Walt Disney.”
Disney was then shooting one of his first nature studies,
The Living Desert, and needed a way to shoot moving animals
smoothly. The O’Connor head was so successful that Disney
immediately ordered 10 more. This film won the first Academy
Award for Documentary Feature in 1953. O’Connor founded
a part-time business in 1952 to make the heads, first building
them in his garage and then from a small factory on Green
Street in Pasadena, which his wife Regina ran during the
day. By 1969 the business was so successful that he left
the power company to work full time on camera heads and
steam engines at O’Connor Engineering. He enjoyed working
with cameramen, by inventing solutions for their needs.
He produced thousands of OConnor fluid heads and legs,
from the ever-popular O’Connor 100, so renowned for its
ruggedness that it is still a staple of camerawork worldwide,
to the OConnor 2575, which was made to complement today’s
high-end film and television production.
O’Connor and Disney maintained a life-long friendship and
business relationship. O’Connor designed the power systems
for the steam launches and paddle wheelers at Disney World
in Florida.
In 1975 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
presented O’Connor with a Class II Scientific and Engineering
Award and in 1992, they awarded him the Academy Award of
Merit, the Oscar, for his work on the fluid head. In his lifetime,
O’Connor received 29 US patents.
Chad O’Connor died on September 5, 2007.
Chad O’Connor, founder
of OConnor Engineering