Cooke Optics has partnered with EZtrack to develop a seamlessly integrated system that, the companies say, revolutionizes the way movies are made.
The combination of Cooke’s long-term efforts in accurately mapping its lenses, combined with EZtrack’s camera tracking and data aggregation Hub has blurred the line between production and post-production, the companies said, allowing film makers to merge images from on-set cameras with high-quality computer-generated elements in near real time, giving directors the confidence a shot has worked, not in days or hours, but in moments.
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.
This 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 visual effects 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.
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. But more importantly, thanks to the collaboration of Cooke and EZtrack, 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. Not in the post-production phase, when laborious re-shoots are prohibitively costly, but in the moments after the shot has happened.
This innovation in the cinematography process debuted on the Italian film Comandante. An incredible venture that not only benefited from this revolutionary new approach to data capture and management, but also featured a 1:1 replica of a Second World War submarine where most of the action takes place.
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 chief technology officer said, “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”.