Hercules Crane on 'The Conqueror'
John Wayne

Ralph Chapman with Scientific Award
for Titan Crane

Original Large Crane on 'Destination

Chapman's Stage Crane on 'Julliet
Prowse NBC Special'

Chapman's Crab on NBC Special

Chapman's Crab on Milton Burle NBC Special

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Chapman Studio Equipment began its operation in 1945, teaming up with Leonard Studio Equipment in 1965, to create the Chapman / Leonard Studio Equipment , Inc. that exists today. Since its beginning, Chapman / Leonard has always manufactured and rented camera support equipment for motion picture and television use. One of the initial producers to use the first of our automatic leveling location cranes was Cecil B. DeMille in his epic film, "The Ten Commandments," proving Chapman's' equipment essential for top quality and specialized camera movements. Today Chapman / Leonard Studio Equipment leases and rents camera support equipment worldwide. Chapman's number one goal has always been ultimate creativity with utmost safety.

Our line of equipment, over the years, has gone through an evolutionary process of research and development and has provided the foundation of all camera support equipment on the market today. The Chapman line of equipment has evolved over the years to accommodate the new technologies and needs of our industry. The history of the Chapman line of equipment begins with the Small, Medium and Large Stage Cranes that were developed between the years of 1946 to 1947. The largest of these units obtained an extraordinary camera mount height of 40 feet. Next came the Hercules Mobile Crane between the years of 1953-54. This unit added the features of driving the unit to the location, six wheel crabbing abilities and leveling system. The Atlas Mobile Crane came next in 1957. In 1958, the first Crab Crane was developed. This unit was created to accommodate filming in smaller, more confined areas and on stages. The Crab Crane was much smaller than any other Chapman crane with a camera mount height of about 12 feet. In 1961-62, the Titan was developed. This unit is still used in many productions today due to its ability to create smooth, sweeping shots. The Titan was developed with the new added features of automatic leveling and balancing, as well as a new Hydraulic Rear Steering system. In 1988, the Super Nova Mobile crane was created, enabling greater payload on the nose of up to 1,860 pounds with automatic balancing capabilities of up to 1,226 pounds in less than two minutes. The Apollo Mobile Crane came next in 1963. By 1964, the Nike Stage Crane was developed.   This unit was a sleeker, updated version of the Crab Crane with the ability of electric drive conventional steering. The Nike obtained a camera lens height of 14 feet. In 1967, the Zeus Stage Crane was developed. This unit was like the Nike but had a longer arm to maintain a camera lens height of 16 feet. Sidewinder was developed in 1970. This dolly was Chapman's first to incorporate a hydraulic arm lifting system. The Sidewinder also incorporated the electric drive system, yet adding the ability to drive in both crabbing and conventional steering. The Sidewinder obtained a maximum camera lens height of ten feet. In 1983, the Olympian Dolly was developed. This unit was a sleeker version of the Sidewinder with the ability of electric dolly speeds of up to 18 mph. The sleek trim on the Olympian, along with large balloon tires and high electric drive speeds, makes it ideal for sports coverage. The Olympian, with almost 14 feet of lens height, additionally has a variety of turrets and mounts, making it extremely versatile. The Super Nova, Titan, Apollo, Nike, Zeus, Sidewinder and Olympian are used widely in our industry today.

By 1973, the first small dolly, the Hustler, was developed. The Hustler Dolly had the ability to be used on or off track, crab and conventional steering and hydraulic lift system. Between 1980-81, the first PeeWee® was developed. This unit was revolutionary with its ability to work on and off track, without changing wheels; the ability to change the wheel configurations; the ability to change the camera mount into various camera positions; and the ability to be made compact for easy transportation. While the PeeWee® was being introduced into the market, the Hybrid Dolly was in the works between 1983-84. The Hybrid was simply a larger version of the PeeWee® with many of the same features, as well as combining some of the features of the Hustler dolly. By 1986, the Super PeeWee® was developed, adding the feature of electrically recharging the hydraulic lift and in 1995, the Super PeeWee® III was our latest version in the PeeWee® line adding the feature of a Universal Stop Valve for smooth,  feathered stops in any position of the arm. As the millennium approaches so does the ultimate PeeWee®...the Super PeeWee® IV. This unit incorporates a new third shift steering, commonly called 'roundy round'. Additionally, this unit has a built-in heating system that maintains the hydraulic oil temperature for perfect operation every time! Also new is the Super PeeWee® IV Cart to hold all the lovely new accessories for this truly revolutionary dolly!

By 1983, with the coming of remote camera systems, the first Lenny Arm Prototype was developed. This was the basis of the current Lenny Arms on the market today. By 1992, the first Lenny Arm was introduced to the industry. The Lenny Arms unique features are its ability to be used in many different configurations and for both manned and remote use. The Lenny Arm II came in 1993, as well as the HY HY® base. The HY HY® base enabled the operator to quickly level the arm by a simple rotation of the leveling rods. The HY HY® also has the ability to work both on or off dolly track. By 1994, the Lenny Arm III was developed to reach even greater lengths. Also new was the ATB (All Terrain Base). The ATB was developed to easily handle larger crane arms, as well as have the added ability of electric drive and balloon tires. This combination makes it a simple process to glide the unit across most terrain with quickness and comfort.

In 1994, Chapman created its first pedestal unit, the Pedolly®. This unit was 8 years in research and development, combining the best features of conventional dollies and pedestals.

In 1992, Chapman /  Leonard Studio Equipment, Inc. opened its east coast facility in Orlando, Florida. This facility incorporates a state-of-the-art sound stage and production center. The Chapman / Leonard Studio & Production Center incorporates a variety of in-house production services making it the perfect 'one-stop' production facility.

Ralph Chapman was founder of Chapman Studio Equipment; Leonard Chapman is founder of Leonard Studio Equipment. Ralph Chapman graduated from Selma High in 1924. Leonard Chapman graduated Cum Laude from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1956. Leonard Chapman is a lifetime member of the California Epsilon Branch of the Tau Beta Phi, Engineering Honorary Society since 1956.

More recently, Leonard Chapman was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall Of Fame 2010 for his contributions to this field; providing innovative camera equipment such as the Olympian Sideline Vehicle, the Pedolly® and Lencin® Pedestals, as well as, the Titan Crane to capture new and innovative shots during play. His equipment has been used to cover Golf, Tennis, Basketball, Baseball, and Football, as well as, the Olympic Games. Leonard received his award along with fellow peers such as Davey Finch, John Madden, Geoffrey Mason, John Roche, Chester Simmons, George Steinbrenner and Pat Summerall. To catch a glimpse of the awards ceremony click here.

Chapman / Leonard Studio Equipment, Inc. has received a list of awards for its products and designs over the years. Beginning with Ralph Chapman winning an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Scientific and Engineering Award in 1962 for design of the Titan Crane, Leonard Chapman received awards beginning in 1978, an Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Plaque for his design of the Hustler Dolly, and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Scientific and Engineering Award for the design of the PeeWee® dolly in 1981, an Emmy Citation Award in 1982 and a SOC (Society of Operating Cameramen) Award to Chapman Studio Equipment for the Titan Family of Camera Cranes in 1993.  Recently, Chapman / Leonard Studio Equipment has received additional awards from the SMPTE Fuji Gold Medal Award from SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) for overall achievement, to the Cinec Award for the Super PeeWee® IV in 2000, to an Emmy Award for the LenCin® Camera Pedestal in 2001.  Lastly, Chapman / Leonard received the 2006 Cinegear Lifetime Achievement Award.

Today, Chapman / Leonard Studio Equipment, Inc. is a member of the American Society of Cameramen (ASC), Society of Operating Cameramen (SOC), Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) and Women in Film (WIF).