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Based in Oberhaching, Munich, Panther is known for producing camera cranes, dollies and other film equipment for both feature and TV productions. Founded by former cinematographer Erich Fitz, the company is now owned by his son Andreas, who is also head of development. Originally called Filmgeräteverleih Waltraut Fitz, Panther was set-up as a hire operation while Erich Fitz, who had started out in ARRI's camera assembly department, was working as a cameraman. The company became Fitz's full-time occupation in 1972 as it established itself in the market and he was able to quit his job as a camera operator.
As the 70s went on Fitz and his team began designing their own equipment, starting with a dolly specially built for a shipboard shoot. This was followed by a lightweight dolly and other models, plus modifications of Elemack dollies. A turning point came in 1982 with the appearance of a prototype computer-controlled, electro-mechanical camera dolly. The following year the product was named the Panther after an employee compared the dolly's smooth, silent and powerful movements to those of the big cat. In 1986 a separate sales company was set up under the Panther name, with a US operation established a year later. In 1988 Fitz decided to create a more independent resource supply and set up HTG (High Tech Geratebau) as exclusive system supplier to Panther. The Super Panther dolly received a Technical Oscar in 1990; more products followed including the Pegasus crane, Pixy Jib, Jib Glider, Flex Grip Kit Slider, U-Bangi Slider, Trixy remote head, Roller Plate dolly and Flexgripkit Doorway dolly.
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