Cooke Optics partners with EZtrack

Behind-the-scenes of 'Commandante'.

Cooke Optics has partnered with EZtrack to merge images from on-set cameras with computer generated elements in ‘near real time’. The idea is that directors can have confidence that a shot has worked long before post-production.

The partnership sees Cooke’s efforts to map its lenses combined with EZtrack’s camera tracking and data aggregation hub.

Cooke’s /i Technology maps allow 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 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.

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. The collaboration of Cooke and EZtrack the allows the data collected to 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 and filmmakers to have confidence in the shot.

This innovation debuted on the Italian film Comandante, which 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’ workflow utilised in the film. Cooke worked closely with EZtrack, The Foundry, Kevin Todd Haug and David Stump, in realising 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 pfficer 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”.