At IBC 2013, Cooke Optics will launch its new /i Squared Technology system that expands the capabilities of the original /i Tech system developed by Cooke to record key lens data, including a new inertial guidance system.

The /i Squared Technology system will include all the existing /i Technology commands as well as new functions to greatly enhance the data’s usefulness to post production and VFX teams. Surely the case for /i Technology is reaching critical mass.

Historically the original system required a separate off-camera recorder and then syncing of the /i Tech lens data with the footage - as the system was designed for working with film or digital. Next came the advent of the i/ Tech data being recorded as part of the meta stream on certain digital recording devices. Up to 100 times a second the lens data would be recorded, iris, zoom, etc and all of this metadata captured with the footage. This removed the problem of syncing the footage and removed the risk of the metadata being lost or misaligned to the footage. Of course this information is incredibly valuable to help solve lens based camera tracking.

Now today the system moves forward again. Not only is more data being stored and more information available to solve complex camera tracking, but with Codex one can record the inertial and lens data from Cooke lenses (or any lenses supporting the standard) via the Codex Data Logger One. This is a single channel serial data recorder that can capture Cooke’s new /i Squared metadata, including not only the new inertial data but also focus distance, depth of field, focal zoom position, iris settings and more. This then feeds into the other metadata and is managed by Codex for complex projects, and feeds into the pipeline.

In simple terms an Alexa with a Cooke lens will record all the lens and inertial data and that will move from on set via dailies into edit and then post. Simple, easy and a vast boost to camera tracking. The newest functions provide inertial tracking data in addition to the lens metadata to be used by applications such as matchmoving and 3D camera tracking, and one of the industry's leading and most professional packages PFTrack is already able to use this to produce faster and more accurate camera tracks.

The inertial tracking and lens data will help VFX teams to better deal with common issues like occlusions, fast camera motion (motion blur) and other known challenges associated with fast paced camera motions typical of today’s cinema style. Inertial tracking, now part of /i Squared Technology, will help achieve these robust results by providing refined inertial data as links to PFTrack’s sophisticated algorithms for better feature matching and solved 3D camera tracking under such conditions.

Inertial tracking or guidance in the real world is known to drift and thus be considered unreliable for long range tracking, but for a take - say a 30 second shot, the inertial tracking does not need to solely solve the entire camera track, clearly even without any lens data most shots can be camera tracked, and that has been possible for years. But assume that in the middle of that track there is a major problem - a loss of good points due to someone crossing shot or say a massive lens flare etc - all of which are difficult or near impossible to track through. In these situations there is now the inertial guidance information to accurately bridge the gap. While this alone may drift over an entire 30 second shot, frame to frame or for short intervals inertial guidance is actually remarkably accurate and can provide data when literally none existed before. Also it is possible to 'calibrate' the inertial guidance for the sections of the clip that the track is good - thus the good sections could inform the areas that may need greater help.

The new /i Squared Technology system will be backward compatible with Cooke’s current /i Technology software. An inexpensive upgrade will be available for existing Cooke /i lenses.

Cooke lenses with the new /i Squared Technology will be available in 2014, and it is very likely this will be incorporated in the impressive new anamorphic lenses. The good news is that it is also likely that recently purchased lenses will be able to be upgraded, and the rumor is that the cost could be as low as $50 to $150 but this is yet to be officially published.

At IBC 2013 Cooke Optics will also present the first two working production models from its Anamorphic range that was launched at NAB 2013. The new 40mm and 75mm Anamorphic lenses will be /i data lenses and come equipped with the new /i Tech, /i Squared, to capture lens metadata.

Cooke should be applauded for continuing to help the post industry obtain the sort of data required to improve complex tracks. The UK team have also explored GPS and a number of other options but few have the possibility of being viable in the short term, but they are still being explored, and in the case of GPS with a localized special sub system, but this is perhaps still a few years off.

Given the economics of a major feature film - having a faster tracking system when almost every visual effects shot needs tracking and the process is far from plug and play. Such a system could make a huge difference to profitability especially when the cost and on set footprint is so reasonable.


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