The Bomb Chroniclers

The men who developed the nuclear bomb largely went on to become famous. But those who videotaped the first test explosions remained obscure, despite the ubiquity of their footage. However, declassification of information by the government of the U.S. means that more and more of their footage, and more and more about the film-makers themselves is coming out.

As for the atomic cameramen, there aren’t that many left. “Quite a few have died from cancer,” George Yoshitake, 82, one of the survivors, said of his peers in an interview. “No doubt it was related to the testing.”

The cinematographers focused on nuclear test explosions in the Pacific and Nevada.

Electrified wire ringed their headquarters in the Hollywood Hills. The inconspicuous building, on Wonderland Avenue in Laurel Canyon, had a sound stage, screening rooms, processing labs, animation gear, film vaults and a staff of more than 250 producers, directors and cameramen — all with top-secret clearances.

If you’re interested in the training videos they made, a lot are available here.

Secret Corps of Film-makers Documented Nuclear Bomb Tests [NYTimes]


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