January 22, 2008
Precision Is The Hallmark Of German Pinchevsky
By John Zollinger
|Pinchevsky (right) developed a mastery of miniatures and special effects for films like Beware of the Car in the USSR.|
Based in a small, well ordered workshop above the Production Equipment Center, Pinchevsky has been servicing everything from cameras and lenses to sound equipment, lighting gear and more since he joined the staff in 1997.
“Every day it’s something different,” Pinchevsky said. “Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it takes a bit of experimentation to solve.”
“We used to send most of our cameras out for repair, taking them off line for weeks,” Facilities Director Doug Wellman said. “With German here, often he can fix the problem and get the piece back in the student’s hand that same day.”
|Beware of the Car is a Soviet crime comedy film by Eldar Ryazanov, produced by Mosfilm and released in 1966. It is often credited as one of the best Soviet (Russian) comedies.|
Pinchevsky has also devised modifications that dramatically enhance equipment performance. Among them are: eliminating electrical problems on the school’s Arri S cameras by replacing faulty factory power jacks with more common and less expensive XLR style plugs; upgrading the viewfinders from ground glass to fiber optics to provide sharper focus; and fine-tuning lenses when they are out of adjustment.
Such experience comes from a life-long interest in cinema. Though born in the then-Polish city of Brest-Litovsk in 1938, the Nazi invasion of 1941 forced the surviving members of his family to flee to Russia. Pinchevsky’s childhood on the banks of the Kama River in the Urals was austere, yet he made the most of growing up by the water, building rubber-band powered boat models and developing a penchant for books about the sea.
“These books, this harsh life, this river. It made me Romantic. That’s why I ended up in the movie business,” Pinchevsky reminisced. He did his first photos in the navy when a friend lent him a 35-mm still camera. Soon his knack for shooting grew into an unofficial photo studio, with subjects ranging from enlistees to officers.
|One of Pinchevsky's recent projects is a 48-inch replica of John F. Kennedy’s PT 109.|
Pinchevsky also developed a mastery of miniatures and special effects. In some instances, like the comic film Beware of the Car, the crew used models to avoid destroying real autos, which were a valued commodity in the USSR. Other times, such as the opening sequence for War and Peace, Pinchevsky used a projector to display aerial footage of a battlefield onto a plate of glass that had the title words etched into it. On the other side of the glass plate, he set up a camera to capture the blending of the aerial footage and the etched glass. The result was a composite image, which made it seem like the red letters of the title emanated from an exploding shell.
|Pinchevshy inspects a camera lens in the small workshop area above the SCA Production Equipment Center.|
“This is when ‘the water came to the nose,’” Pinchevsky said, using an old Russian expression.
|Pinchevsky (center) adjusts the camera to do a masking shot for the cinematic adaptation of Alexander Pushkin's Ruslan and Ludmila.|
When he’s not working on SCA equipment, Pinchevsky still pursues his love of miniatures, crafting radio-controlled boats. One of his most recent projects is a 48-inch replica of John F. Kennedy’s PT 109. Proving he still has his technical touch, Pinchevsky shot a sequence of the boat in action. By speeding the camera to 60 frames per second from the normal 24 fps, the model creates a wake that is as close as you can get to the real thing.