Pierre Andurand (above left) was in LA last week to introduce his successor Emmanuel Sprauel (right) to key Angenieux partners. We’ll introduce Emmanuel in an upcoming article. But for now, let’s celebrate Mr. Andurand and his achievements at Angenieux.
Pierre has been CEO and President of Thales Angenieux for a little more than 5 years. He moves on to a VP position at Thales Air Systems. This is a natural progression—successful Thales executives are usually promoted within the Group every five years. Pierre began his career in aerospace and high technology, working with companies like Aérospatiale and Société Européenne de Propulsion involved in space launch programs. Before joining the Angenieux division, Pierre had been working in the Thales group for 7 years. “This was fascinating for me because of the company’s diverse activities in communications, transportation, satellites, air traffic control, banking transactions, defense, and more. Thales is a worldwide group with 67,000 employees in 56 countries,” he said.
Among Pierre’s accomplishments at Angenieux, he was responsible for key decisions in the renewal and growth of the Angenieux lens portfolio (30-72, 56-152 and 25-250, 44-440, Optimo Style and Type EZ series… and more to come). He supported major investments within the company, along with technological developments such as IRO (Interchangeable Rear Optics) technology. IRO is at work in the 25-250 Optimo Style lens, which converts from spherical to anamorphic in a matter of minutes by swapping the rear module. IRO is also the reason the new Type EZ zoom lenses convert easily from Full Frame to Super35 and get a speed boost from T3.0 to T2.0
Pierre has been a great friend—to me and countless cinematographers worldwide. His passionate pursuit of lens technology in support of the art of motion pictures has strengthened the Angenieux brand with a progression of new products. His love of cinema will continue, I’m sure, in his new Thales position, and he won’t be flying under our radar.
Pierre has been a strong supporter of increased cooperation with French Cinema schools such as La Femis and Louis Lumiere, and at the Cannes Film Festival by honoring Cinematographers with the Angenieux ExcelLens in Cinematography award.
Here are some excerpts of Pierre Andurand’s interviews with Film and Digital Times over the past five years:
NAB: April 2013
Pierre had a major announcement at NAB 2013, announcing a full family of new anamorphic zooms. He explained, “We see ‘Scope widescreen as an important format for the future. Angénieux has always been keen to find the best way to help cinematographers and users. The basis for this product, and this is something that does not exist today, is a line of compact anamorphic zooms. Since we already have a family of compact Optimo spherical zooms, this is the logical progression. We will develop a full range.
“Angénieux has always excelled in very high performance optics, not only because we have the people to design very high performance optics, but also because of our history and our long term relationships with the cinema industry. I think we provide a good combination of high performance optical designs along with integration of certain human touches and sensibilities. Each product is designed keeping this in mind. The aesthetics of the image are as important as the pure optical resolution and technical characteristics. This is something that really struck me when I arrived at Angénieux, a company already famous and with a lot of very expert people.
Since early childhood I have been a fan of cinema. It was literally a dream for me to be appointed CEO and President of Angénieux.
JON FAUER: You said that Angénieux is putting humanity into the product. What do you mean by that?
PIERRE ANDURAND: The fact that Angénieux has been working in the cinema industry for years and years becomes very important. An optical designer comes with years of optical design experience. But the job is not only pure optical calculations. It also involves polishing and specific chemical surface treatments. The designers at Angénieux are not systematically targeting purely theoretical parameters. They are also trying to take into account the look and aesthetics. They have simulating tools that help them rapidly check how the final result will look on the screen and to ensure a natural look. All this is what I call the “DNA” of Angénieux products.
We can very rapidly produce new prototypes and do practical shooting in a real studio, under real-life conditions, and then see the results. This feedback between what the optical designers envision and what we see is very important.
JON FAUER: This year there seems to be a move towards maybe not so perfect lenses because either the digital cameras are unforgiving or, as some have said, they are all looking pretty much the same. So it’s up to the lens to help provide the unique look cinematographers are searching for.
PIERRE ANDURAND: You are absolutely right and it is a question of compromise. All lens designs are ultimately a compromise of look, resolution, cost, size, weight, speed. Pushing for maximum resolution may not always be the best way. At Angénieux, we have chosen to maintain a superb level of resolution while keeping what we call humanity in the image. We also take into account something important for the customer: a friendly, usable, compact and lightweight product. All this is a compromise. You can have the perfect optical design, but it will be a very expensive, very heavy product. And in the end, the result may not be very good for the spectator.
We met again a month later at Cannes.
Excerpts from Pierre Andurand Interview at Cannes 2013 at the first Pierre Angenieux Award honoring Philippe Rousselot ASC, AFC:
JON FAUER: Why is Angénieux at Cannes?
PIERRE ANDURAND: The question should be, “Why have we not been part of Cannes before?” That was my first impression when I arrived to manage the company one and a half years ago. Although Angénieux is a small company, it has a long and rich history in cinema—more than 75 years. Cannes is a very big international festival, and it took some time to discuss our participation with the festival organizers and with our parent Thales group. But this was important because Cannes represents an image we share about our company and the products we are developing and manufacturing for the cinema industry.
A large part of our success comes from the proximity we have with our users. Many helped us understand their requirements, needs, and the kind of products they would like us to develop. You don’t always find this proximity to cinematographers, directors, operators, assistants and rental houses at an exhibition like NAB or IBC. Cannes is a very important festival where we can have direct contact with a lot of people coming from all over the world.
JON FAUER: Were these users influential in your decision to make anamorphic zooms?
PIERRE ANDURAND: Our new anamophic zooms are very compact, lightweight, and have a range of focal lengths that will allow the user to shoot many setups a day, very rapidly. But our foremost intention was to provide cinematographers with a lens that will help them make movies in ‘Scope.
The rental companies have been in direct contact with some of the users, provided feedback and advice. Particularly in Hollywood. What surprised us was the large number of orders for this product. We did not expect such a big success.
JON FAUER: Why not? I thought anamorphic has historically been the next big thing after each wave of 3D?
PIERRE ANDURAND: Anamorphic was forecast to be a niche market. I had a feeling when I arrived that it would be bigger than that. I didn’t understand why people were saying it’s a niche product. The idea was a lens that users could afford, that would be easy to use, and practical. It was really something new. If you compare it to the anamorphic lenses of the past, when you wanted to shoot in ‘Scope, most of the zooms were very large and heavy. So our new lens was welcomed, not only in America and France, but also worldwide.