Takuo 'Tak' Miyagishima Dies at 83

One of the most esteemed design engineers in the motion picture industry, he made first mechanical drawing for Panavision in 1954.

Takuo "Tak" Miyagishima, one of the most esteemed design engineers in the motion picture industry, has died, Panavision said Friday. He was 83. No details of his death were immediately available.

Miyagishima made his first mechanical drawing for Panavision in 1954 and worked there continuously for more than 50 years, retiring in 2009 as senior vp engineering.

During his tenure, Panavision and its employees received more than 20 scientific and technical awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Miyagishima is credited with many of the ideas and inventions that made Panavision successful; he even designed the iconic Panavision logo itself.

In 1999, Miyagishima earned the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation for dedicated service to the Academy; in 2004, he joined a select group of sci-tech giants whose contributions to the industry have merited the Gordon E. Sawyer Award, and with it an Oscar statuette.

The Academy had scheduled an Aug. 16 screening of Steven Spielberg’s historical drama Empire of the Sun (1984) as part of a celebration of Miyagishima’s accomplishments. Empire was one of the first feature films to use Panavision’s Primo Series of spherical prime lenses. Miyagishima, Iain Neil and Panavision received a technical achievement award in 1990 for these lenses. There was no immediate word on whether the Academy would reschedule the event.

“Tak is amazing in that he always had time to help, guide, counsel, or teach anyone from the highest profile filmmaker to a student eager to learn,” said longtime colleague Rob Hummel. “Yet this is a man who had a hand in providing the means for cinematographers to create some our most iconic images in cinema. He was not on the marquis in the general public’s eye, but to generations of directors and cinematographers, Tak Miyagishima is their hero.”

Added American Society of Cinematographers president Michael Goi: “Tak’s important contributions to the tools we use in our craft are only exceeded by the love he inspired in every single member of the ASC. He was a gentleman and a friend, and we will miss him dearly.”