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Cooke Optics, EZtrack partner to ‘blur the line between production and post’

Integrated system enables film-makers to merge images from on-set cameras with high-quality computer generated elements in Near Real Time

Cooke Optics and EZtrack have joined forces to develop an integrated system that enables film-makers to merge images from on-set cameras with high-quality computer generated (CG) elements in Near Real Time (NRT), which the companies say gives directors the confidence a shot has worked in moments.

Cooke’s /i Technology maps, which allow precise and accurate manipulation of the digital image, have been 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, said the companies.

It means a director can be on set watching the feed from the live cameras with a real-time version of a basic CG render for the sake of positioning. All of the data collected can be used by the on-set VFX team to produce an updated rendering of the required CG to help the editor to see project come to life in Near Real Time.

The first project to debut the technology is Italian film Comandante, which features 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 utilised in the film.

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, added: “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.”