After attending Johns Hopkins University and the University of Southern California film school, American cinematographer Caleb Deschanel was trained at the American Film Institute. He launched his professional career as assistant to veteran photographer Gordon Willis, then he handled the second unit photography for Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1978). One of his first major cinematography credits was for the Coppola-produced The Black Stallion (1979), undoubtedly one of the most beautifully-lensed films of the 1970s. Deschanel earned Oscar nominations for his work on The Right Stuff (1983) and The Natural (1984); he was instrumental in developing the Steadicam system that assured rock-steady camera movement under any circumstances, which he would later refine into his own "skycam" system for aerial photography. In 1996, Deschanel earned another Oscar nomination for his work on the acclaimed family film Fly Away Home; he continued to work steadily throughout the decade, giving such films as Anna and the King (1999) their lustrous glow. During the start of the next decade Deschanel provided his for undistinguished fare like Timeline, The Patriot, and National Treasure, but he helped make The Passion of the Christ the most successful independent film and the most successful R rated film in history up to that time. He teamed with John Madden for the Elmore Leonard adaptation Killshot, and brought his typical mastery to Robert Towne's Ask the Dust - beautifully evoking depression era Los Angeles. In addition to his camera credits, Deschanel has directed two films, one of which was the quirky success d'estime The Escape Artist (1982).