Rudolf Challis Bretz, known to all as Rudy, was a pioneer in the fields of commercial, public and instructional television, and an internationally renowned consultant on media for communication. He was born July 12, 1914. From 1931-1935, he studied social sciences, zoology, and pre-medicine at the University of Chicago.
When CBS-TV began in 1939, Bretz was the first television cameraman hired. He did many production jobs at the station: director, producer, studio manager, control room engineer, news cameraman, editor. He even drew the first weather maps and painted the first scenery.
Bretz was active in the launching of several early educational and public television stations, including KCET-Los Angles, WQED-Pittsburgh, WBOQ Birmingham, and the Alabama ETV Network. He was also a consultant in the establishment of religious broadcasting.
From 1954 to 1958, Bretz was the dean of the School of Radio and Television Technique in New York. In 1956 he became the head of the Television division of UCLA's Theater Arts Department. Throughout his career, he taught workshops, extensions courses, and regular curricula in more than 20 colleges and universities. Additionally, Bretz traveled all over the world—including Canada, Australia, Europe, South America, and Southeast Asia—training TV personnel, often sponsored by the U. S. Department of State and United National Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
From 1965 to 1972, Bretz served as a senior consultant for the Rand Corporation. He directed projects toward implementing innovative uses of communications technology. His research was sponsored by the U. S. Air Force, National Institute of Health, and the National Science Foundation.
Bretz worked as a consultant, and eventually vice-president, of Bedacom, a computer services firm from 1974 to 1983. He specialized in management information systems, large scale econometric modeling, instructional technology, and data processing.
Bretz's eight TV production inventions include the "Bretzicon," "Bretzbox," and the "Bretzscope." He was also a prolific writer. He authored or co-authored eight books including The Television Program: Its Production and Direction (with Edward Stasheff) and the definitive Techniques of Production. He also illustrated several books, including Producing the Play, by John Gassner, a scenes technician's handbook.
Rudy Bretz died June 1, 1997. At the time, he was working on his ninth book and an active member of the Society of Motion Pictures and Television Engineers (SMPTE).