Ukrainian Film Engineer and Inventor Anatoliy Kokush

Most likely best known for his invention of the ‘Russian Arm’, Ukrainian film engineer, inventor and businessman Anatoliy Kokush continues to make a significant contribution to the international film-making industry with his innovative camera remote systems. His inventions have been so revolutionary that this talented Ukrainian inventor received two Oscar awards in 2006 in the Scientific and Engineering Award category – firstly, for the Russian Arm gyro-stabilized camera crane and Flight Head, and secondly for the Cascade series of motion picture cranes.

Following his graduation from the Leningrad Institute of Film Engineers in 1974, Kokush started his working career at Kiev‘s state-run Dovzhenko Film Studios, before founding the Ukrainian film and television company Filmotechnic in the 1990s. Although the so-called ‘Russian Arm’ is a fully Ukrainian invention, and is actually called ‘Autorobot’, it has been unable to shake the nick-name given it in Hollywood in the early nineties and this is now unofficially accepted as its name. The Russian Arm was the first of its kind robotic and mobile camera remote crane system, and remains the most stable and flexible camera system available today. This innovative technology opened up a world of possibilities to film directors for high-speed action shots that puts the audience in the thick of the chase.

The list of motion pictures that have made use of the Russian Arm is truly impressive, and include the epic War of the Worlds, Titanic, Transformers, Fast and Furious, Mission Impossible 3, The Italian Job, Batman Begins, Mr and Mrs Smith, Van Helsing, a number of the Harry Potter films and many, many more. The Russian Arm has also become the equipment of choice for filming car commercials and music videos.

In describing what inspired him to explore this field, Kokush noted that his love for photography and cinema started when he was a child, and his hobby became his livelihood. He described the process of shooting a film in the mid-1970s as being very primitive, with the camera operator having to look into the viewfinder of the equipment, limiting his range of movements and vision. So, Kokush’s first goal was to be able to remote-control the camera, but as he worked on that he realized that the most important thing was to stabilize the camera to prevent it from shaking no matter what the external conditions may be – and so he successfully invented a stabilizing head for cameras. After that, camera cranes of different sizes, lengths and applications were developed, allowing film footage to be shot from a car roof, train, motor boat, or helicopter, meeting the needs of whatever the scene required.

It is only in the past decade or so that Filmotechnic has been working on block-busting Hollywood movies, and already the inventions of Anatoliy Kokush have become indispensable in bringing entertainment to the world.