Cooke Optics is proud to announce it has partnered with EZtrack to develop a seamlessly integrated system that 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 forever blurred the line between production and post-production, allowing filmmakers to merge images from on-set cameras with high-quality computer-generated (CG) elements in Near Real Time (NRT), 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 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. 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.
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 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”.
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.