Thursday, October 07, 2010

Bob (Trach) Trachinger, 1924-2010

Professor Robert Trachinger, aka "Trach," died last month. I was his teaching assistant for three semesters at UCLA, for "Issues in Broadcasting." He chose me again and again to work for him. It was an honor.

Trach was a great teacher, a great guy, and a great inspiration. He taught me how to teach. He had been a network vice-president, as well as a television engineer and technical director for ABC Sports, and ABC News, and KABC, where he worked on network football and the Olympics. He developed slow motion video for sports replays as well as an underwater television camera. Working for him was a delight. He had a twinkle in his eye. His classes were packed, and always had a waiting list. I was lucky to have known him. Here's an excerpt from his UCLA obituary:
Robert Trachinger, innovative ABC television executive and TFT professor, passed away Sunday, September 19, in Rancho Santa Fe, CA, at the age 86.

Trachinger's work in broadcasting began in 1950, at ABC, where he worked on a broad spectrum of programming, including the early live serial “Space Patrol”, innovative documentaries such as “Decision to Die" and on live coverage of the Kennedy-Nixon debates and the Academy Awards.

He worked side by side with Roone Arledge, then President of ABC Sports on “Wide World of Sports” and the Olympic Games telecasts, beginning with the Winter Games in Innsbruck in 1964 and concluding with the landmark Summer Games in Los Angeles in 1984.

“The Hollywood Reporter” recently called Trachinger “a technical wizard,” acclaimed in engineering circles for his innovative thinking and for his contributions to broadcast technology. He was responsible for developing the first hand-held TV camera, the first underwater TV camera (field-tested in his own swimming pool) and slow-motion videotape for replay at sports events, introduced on-air in 1961.

The winner of three Emmy Awards, Trachinger retired from ABC as a vice president in 1985.

In addition to his professional career, Trachinger had a deep commitment to education and to mentoring young people. At his death he was a Professor Emeritus of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, having taught courses in production and ethics in media from 1968 to 1998.

He was instrumental in introducing classes in live TV production into the TFT curriculum. The van for remote production that is still parked at the School, between Melnitz and East Melnitz, was acquired for the School by Trachinger through his many industry connections.
Here's a link to his Hollywood Reporter obituary.