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Cooke Special Flare Coating Delivers a Special Look for "Star Trek"

Cooke Optics
Philip Lanyon (Image credit: Cooke Optics)

LEICESTER, U.K.—Flare is nothing new in filmmaking. Directors of photography use it all the time. While for many it’s simply a light reflection from the lens glass, it can become an additional element to the storytelling process.

Cooke Optics has two sets of anamorphic prime lenses (super 35mm and full frame) that have their standard coating. These lens sets are also both available with Cooke’s Special Flare (SF) coating. The lenses are exactly the same, except for the Special Flare coating… and that Special Flare coating is really special. 

I love the Special Flare. If you’ve never seen it or used it, you’re missing out on a great creative tool.

A FLARE FOR 'STAR TREK'

That special coating accentuates flares, bokeh and other anamorphic aberrations. Being able to use different light sources that create a relationship and interaction between the sets and the camera—and control the amount of flare—is one reason I’ve used the Special Flare coated lenses on both “Star Trek: Picard” and, more recently, on “Star Trek: Discovery” season 4, where I served as lead director of photography on both.

Since it’s “Star Trek,” there are technology-lit environments with LEDs and harder light sources: ships, stars, space gases, control surfaces, bright point sources that bloom and glow. I use these different practical sources to create layers of light and contrast that enhance emotional beats in the visual storytelling. It’s not in the viewer’s face, but the impact it delivers is not subtle. That is, unless you want it to be. 

While using the Special Flare lenses, I have always had great control over flare. If I want more flare, I just use a harder light. If I want less flare, I knock down the light until I have what I want.

That’s what made the Special Flare perfect for both “Star Trek: Picard” and “Star Trek: Discovery.” It’s a natural decision for the “Star Trek” universe. So natural, that independent of the work that I was doing with both full frame and Special Flare, my colleague and mentor, Glen Keenan, who is lead DP on the newest series “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” also went with both Cooke Anamorphic/i Full Frame Plus SF and Anamorphic/i SF.

SEE THE DIFFERENCE

As I write this, you can watch “Star Trek: Picard” on Paramount+, where you can see the difference between the series open on a more naturally lit planet Earth and the transition to the more technological lighting of being in space. “Star Trek: Discovery” season 4 will premiere in late 2021, while Keenan’s Special Flare work on “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” will be released in 2022. In addition, there are a number of other projects that have used Cooke’s Special Flare lenses that you can view at www.shotoncooke.com.

It’s not often that DPs get the opportunity to add to their creative toolkit. Typically, today it’s gadgets—things that the camera gets attached to or that attaches to the camera or lens. But Cooke’s Special Flare coating is part of the lens. It’s integrated and controllable. I hope that you’ll grow to love it as much as I do. l

Philip Lanyon is a multi-award-winning director of photography/ cinematographer working around the globe. With more than 30 years’ experience in the film and television industry, Lanyon works on commercials to feature films, documentaries to some of the largest television shows produced today. He can be reached at philiplanyon@mac.com.

For more information visit www.cookeoptics.com.