I visited Cooke Optics in Leicester, England the other day for a tour of the factory and to find out more about the Cooke Anamorphic lenses coming up at NAB. The result is an in-depth study in the April issue of FDTimes on how these anamorphic lenses are made — with a look at the teams who design, manufacture and assemble them. I should say I have never before had such complete and totally unrestricted access at any lens manufacturing company. Nothing was censored and there was no machine or process they weren’t proud to let me photograph. The only restriction was that the story remain NDA until today.
On that cold, rainy morning, I met with Les Zellan, Cooke Chairman, and the optical and mechanical designers. I had expected to be meeting with one designer or two…that’s been the usual procedure for previous FDTimes optical interviews.
Instead, a dozen designers entered the conference room on the second floor of the recently expanded Cooke factory.
I asked, “How many engineers do you have working on this project? I thought at most there would be one or two. I don’t think I have interviewed so many optical and mechanical designers in one place at one time. You have enough people to start a football team.”
Paul Nettleton replied, “We do have a football team. It’s called the Alpha Bokehs.”
The mechanical design group included: Kevin Warren, mechanical design engineer; David Payne, mechanical design engineer; Paul Nettleton, senior mechanical design engineer; Kurtis Brooks, mechanical design engineer; and Catia Mao De Ferro, mechanical design engineer.
The optical designers consisted of: Graham Cassely, Philip Watson, Leo Chen, Stephen Pope (engineering manager), and…Iain Neil. Iain Neil—what was he doing here?
Les Zellan explained, “We approached Iain Neil and luckily he was available and didn’t have any other anamorphic projects. Iain Neil is the optics technology consultant to Cooke and has been working on the anamorphic project. This team works well together and the proof is we’re going to be delivering the first 5 of our 7 anamorphic lenses at NAB 2014. Later this year, we will deliver the additional 2 announced focal lengths, 25 and 135 mm, and we’ll be announcing a few more. I think the set will finish with about 10 or so prime lenses.”
To be continued…