Cooke Optics Partners with EZtrack

Cooke Optics and EZtrack system used on the Italian film “Comandante.”
(Image credit: Cooke Optics)

LEICESTER, U.K.—Cooke Optics has partnered with EZtrack to develop a seamlessly integrated system that will blur the line between production and post-production by allowing film makers to merge images from on-set cameras with high-quality computer generated (CG) elements in Near Real Time (NRT). 

An integral aspect of the project is Cooke’s /i Technology maps, which allow precise and accurate manipulation of the digital image. This means lens distortion can be corrected quickly, CG elements added to the undistorted image, and then the image can be re-distorted, so the CG element is matched to how the lens sees it, the companies reported. 

This technology is coupled with the EZtrack system’s ability to deliver precise camera movement tracking, together with lens and camera data, plus the movement of many other on-set elements such as mechanical cranes. This allows the VFX and camera teams to accurately know the position and movement of the camera at all times, while also providing access to all the Cooke /i Metadata.

The combination means that a director can sit on-set watching the feed from the live cameras with a real time version of a basic CG render for the sake of positioning. Even more importantly, the collaboration between Cooke and EZtrack means that all the data collected can be used by the on-set VFX team to produce an updated rendering of the required CG that, while not big-screen-ready, is more than good enough to allow the editor to see their vision come to life in Near Real Time.

This allows filmmakers to have confidence in the shot, but also provides them with the freedom to re-think a shot if necessary before they reach the post-production phase, when laborious re-shoots are prohibitively costly. 

This innovation in the cinematography process debuted on the Italian film “Comandante.”

The project used Cooke’s 1.8x Anamorphic/i Full Frame Plus lenses as well as /i Technology, which enabled Cooke and EZtrack to provide spatially accurate, frame accurate distortion maps, that track focus pulls across time for spherical and anamorphic lenses.

Cooke and EZtrack co-developed key technical workflow aspects which fed into The Foundry’s NUKE, whose VFX compositing software delivered the Near Real Time (NRT) workflow utilized in the film. Cooke worked closely with EZtrack, The Foundry, Kevin Todd Haug and David Stump, ASC, in realizing this creative and technical achievement. Other visual effects vendors involved in the project included Wow Tapes and Bottleship, and it was produced by Indigo Films and O’Groove Productions. 

Daniela Kesselem, chief product officer at Cooke, said: “This revolutionary innovation from Cooke Optics and EZtrack may have started on `Comandante’, but the flexibility and creative control it offers filmmakers means it will feature in many more productions in the years to come”.

Timothée de Goussencourt, EZtrack CTO added that “Participating in this project was really a challenge, I think that together with Cooke we pushed the limits of what is possible. The result we got with the anamorphic lenses is incredible”.

Visit Cooke stand 48 at CineGear Los Angeles on June 2-3 2023 to see a live demonstration of the Near Real Time technology in action, in partnership with EZtrack.

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.