Charles Samuel Swartz


Died February 10, 2007

College: Branford

Widow: Stephanie Rothman
13914 Davana Terrace
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423-4218
818-907-9163 (Fax)

During his four years at Yale, Charles lived in Branford College. Even as an undergraduate, his consuming interest was in film, and when he graduated in 1961, he was awarded a graduate fellowship by the University of California (USC) Department of Cinema. While there he met and married his wife, Stephanie Rothman. When he finished his graduate studies, he was awarded the Warner Fellowship, which provided him with a year’s employment at Warner Brothers’ Studios, where his first assignment was assisting an auditor from Price Waterhouse to prepare a report on studio operations. What he learned would prove invaluable in his later work as a film producer. Charles then became an associate producer on the Warner’s television series F Troop. When the series ended, he joined his wife in making independently financed films for theatrical distribution: Charles produced them, she directed them and they mostly co-wrote them together. After twenty years, he left producing and went to work for the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Extension, which is the continuing education branch of the university, where he designed and ran courses in all aspects of film production. Charles established the first course in CGI (computer graphic image) creation that was available outside the studios, and for the first few years it provided a signicant number of the skilled workers needed for this new and expanding area of film technology. He was hired away from UCLA by Anderson Consulting as a business development consultant for the entertainment industry. Following that he did the same work at Sapient. He was then appointed Director and CEO of the Entertainment Technology Center, a research center at USC. The center’s focus at the time of his leadership was on establishing univeral standards for the display of digital cinema. During his time there, he also worked internationally as a consultant to companies both inside and outside the film industry interested in the future applications of this technology to their products. Charles also saw a growing need to teach students and professionals about this dynamic new field and so he gathered a group of experts together to write chapters for the first book ever published on the subject, Understanding Digital Cinema: A Professional Handbook, (Elsevier 2004). Charles served as editor and wrote the introduction to it.

It is in post production that many of the new film technologies achieve their most advanced application and innovation. In 2008, the Hollywood Post Alliance, named an annual award, The Charles S. Swartz Award For Outstanding Contribution in the Field of Post Production, in his memory.

by Stephanie Rothman


Charles S. Swartz, an innovative educator who helped push the movie industry into the digital age during his four years as executive director of the Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California, died of pneumonia Saturday (February 10, 2007)at a Los Angeles hospital, after a battle with brain cancer. He was 67.

“He was one of the fathers of digital cinema,” said Jerry Pierce, senior vice president of technology for Universal Pictures. “Charles played an important role in bringing people into the same tent to nudge digital technology in the right direction.”

Bob Lambert, senior vice president of worldwide technology strategy for the Walt Disney Co., called Mr. Swartz “a leader, a visionary, and a collaborator” whose skills as a filmmaker and educator helped him broker understanding between the technical and creative sides of the business.

Through the USC center, Mr. Swartz established a digital cinema lab in 2004 at the Hollywood Pacific Theater that is considered a premier testing ground for new cinema technologies.

Before he retired last summer, Mr. Swartz saw the lab flourish as a testing site that helped quicken the distribution and exhibition of digital films, said Rochelle Winters, colleague who consulted on projects. Swartz relished the lab’s historical ties to Hollywood’s past as he led research meant to take the film out of filmmaking. Instead, digital cinematography relies on capturing images on hard disks or other media capable recording digital data.

The lab, with its battery of satellite dishes on the roof and bank of powerful computer servers in the projection booth, was founded at the first theater built for talking pictures. Conceived by Sam Warner, the youngest of the four Warner brothers, it opened in 1928.

“Technology always has been a part of cinema,” Mr. Swartz told the Los Angeles Times in 2003. “And it always will be.”

Research at the center and its digital lab is funded by major Hollywood studios.

A native of Dallas, Charles Samuel Swartz earned a degree from Yale University and did graduate work in cinema at USC. While there, he met and married another film student, Stephanie Rothman, who survives him.

Early in his career, Mr. Swartz collaborated with his wife on several features. He wrote and directed several B movies with such titles as “It�s a Bikini World” (1966) and “The Velvet Vampire” (1971).