Metadata will be most useful when it has become trivial to collect and, therefore, becomes ubiquitous. Logically, this should happen right from the start of the acquisition process - at the lens. The tools have been there for more than a decade, however even now there are vast quantities of valuable information that could be obtained during acquisition but aren’t. This metadata can save significant time and money during production and post production, but only a small percentage of productions take advantage of this.

This paper seeks to address the development of /i Technology, a semi-open metadata protocol developed by Cooke Optics that is made available to the industry in an effort to create a standard protocol for gathering and sharing lens data. It will also look at the barriers to adoption and implementation, and efforts to achieve greater standardisation.


The value of metadata is now completely accepted for archiving and in many areas of production, particularly news, where it is crucial to enabling people to search, find and manage content quickly and easily. However, it is still largely overlooked at the acquisition stage. Although some metadata from the lens is being used on set for monitoring levels, there is so much more it could do that could save significant time and money during production and post production.

While lens/camera communication is taken for granted in the B4 broadcast environment it is still in development in the PL world. On set, smart PL-mount lenses (such as those in figure 1) can communicate with other camera equipment in order to automatically and instantly calibrate controls for that lens when you plug it in, thus saving preparation time. In post production, lens metadata can provide crucial information for complex VFX work, particularly working with tracking software to solve scenes that would otherwise have to be solved manually. Lens metadata detailing how footage was shot could also be useful for future reconstruction work.