The ‘Cooke Look’: SPIE Congratulates Optics Firm on Oscar for Well-loved Lens Technology

Cooke Optics has been designing and developing lenses for cinematographers beginning with the very first, and is being recognized with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' highest technical award and the Oscar statuette. SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, congratulated Cooke Optics on earning the honor for its technology that has been used by the earliest newsreels through modern productions such as the 3D feature film “Hugo” and the “Downton Abbey” period series for television.

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The Award of Merit statuette ©A.M.P.A.S.®

The Award of Merit statuette ©A.M.P.A.S.®

This is another example of the work of optical engineers touching the lives of so many.

Bellingham, Washington (PRWEB) January 10, 2013

The “Cooke Look” ― long revered by photography directors and camera teams for its rendering of sympathetic color and optimum focus ― is being recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with its Award of Merit, the Academy has announced.

“Since their first series of motion picture lenses, Cooke Optics has continued to create optical innovations decade after decade,” the Academy announcement said. “Producing what is commonly referred to as the ‘Cooke Look,’ these lenses have often been the lens of choice for creative cinematographers worldwide.”

“This is another example of the work of optical engineers touching the lives of so many, and it reminds us of the roots of SPIE in cameras and imaging,” said Eugene Arthurs, CEO of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. “The Cooke lenses have extended the relationship between light and art into the modern era and we celebrate this recognition of the lens designers and makers. The images brought to us through movies, through these Cooke optics, are both informative and entertaining, and help bring about understanding among people in diverse regions and even change lives. I’m not endorsing all movies of course but many have served to inspire viewers.”

Optical design plays a key role in other aspects of life as well, Arthurs noted. “Whether it be the lighting in our homes and cities, space exploration missions such as the Kepler search for habitable planets, solar collectors for sustainable energy, or microscopes and endoscopes for medical diagnostics, optical design is a crucial contributor,” he said.

“The Cooke name has been associated with cinematography since the very earliest days of the cinema,” said Jonathan Maxwell, a lens design consultant who has worked with Cooke and other lens designers and has taught professional development courses for SPIE and other societies.

Headquartered in Leicester, UK,Cooke began working with George Eastman (later Kodak) in the 1890s, and worked with Bell & Howell on the first newsreel zoom lens in 1931, Technicolor on custom color-separation lenses from the early 1930s to the 1960s, and The Rank Organisation on zoom lenses for television and later film from the 1950s to the 1990s, Maxwell said.

“The revered ‘Cooke Look’ is characterized by a sympathetic color depth in the images, combined with an adjusted coincidence between the sharpest image and the optimum chromatic focus,” he explained. “Camera teams really do like the look and the way the lenses handle and focus ergonomically, with linear irises and focusing scales. They praise the way the lenses perform under difficult lighting conditions and in rugged meteorological and geographical circumstances.”

Read more about the Cooke Look and design challenges ahead for cinematographic optics in the SPIE Newsroom.

About SPIE

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. The Society serves nearly 225,000 constituents from approximately 150 countries, offering conferences, continuing education, books, journals, and a digital library in support of interdisciplinary information exchange, professional growth, and patent precedent. SPIE provided $3.3 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2012.


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