ZEISS’ Market Position within the Motion Picture Industry
Carl Zeiss AG, Senior Director, Sales/Marketing and Service / Mr. Michael Schiehlen
Michael: This year marks the 200th anniversary of our founder Carl Zeiss’ birthday, and 170th anniversary of company Carl Zeiss. And we have been devoting our efforts in two directions. One is to create “innovative products” that are on the cutting edge, or even beyond. In Cinema Lens business, “Compact Zoom CZ.2” lenses are the good example. We introduced CZ.2 when there were no full frame cinema cameras in the market, and HD resolution was the mainstream. We were far beyond the times, and now they catch us up. The other direction is to provide “solutions” to customers’ needs. And this is what “Lightweight Zoom LWZ.3” is about. It’s for Super 35mm sensor, not the full frame, but still has the benefit of ZEISS lens, the body is lighter and slimmer than CZ.2 lenses, and comes in an affordable price. This is a solution product for cinematographers who cannot bring bulky equipment for shooting, or who have to manage within limited budgets.
I would say the secret of ZEISS lenses lies in ideas for products, and accumulated knowledge in physics, i.e., technologies in glass, metal, and precision.
And that enables us to provide solutions for every customer based on one’s needs and resources, which are meant to last for a long period of time.
There are many companies using terms like “communication” and “marketing” without giving further thought to their deeper meaning, but we engage in real and honest dialogue with our customers – listening to customers, and applying cutting-edge technology into user-friendly products.
Why are ZEISS lenses used at film productions worldwide
Michael: When people discuss film production, Master Prime and Ultra Prime lenses are often mentioned, and our partnership with ARRI has been important to the brand. Next year marks the 80th year that we have been working with ARRI and it has been a very successful and mutually beneficial partnership. Both companies are pursuing a common goal in the high-end motion picture industry — one in the production of the best cameras and the other in the production of the best lenses. This fact is well-known in the marketplace as well.
Let me take the example from the Master Prime lens, which has seen the highest sales record this year (2016). MPs has been the frontrunner for the past 11 years, and I believe it will continue to be a successful product. However this is not solely because of the product specs. It is also based on faith in our brand, and the idea: “I can trust this product because it’s made by ZEISS.” What we enjoy hearing more than “Wow the T1.3 is amazing” is hearing customers say, “I chose this lens because it’s reliable.” This is what inspires and drives us forward. We want customers to be able to say, “With this lens, we will continue to make great films and outstanding projects — not just this year, but next year and five years later, too.” The ability to use the same lens in perfect condition* regardless of whatever new lens might have been released that year — that is what is crucial to customers.
*The article on Customer Care Center and Service Department continues on issue 02
Proof of Reliability on a Global Scale
Carl Zeiss AG, Segment Marketing, Motion Picture / Mr. Dominik Schadewaldt
Dominik: When I’m at a trade show like NAB or IBC for example, and I see customers who love and trust our products, that is a wonderful moment. When you are filming on set, it can be very stressful and you’re always pressed for time. And in those moments where you have to make split-second decisions, you need to have a product that you can trust. When it comes to a customer service issue or responding to customer needs, we don’t simply answer their questions — we collect all the relevant information: tried and tested approaches to the issue, what steps they should take to resolve the issue, etc., which we then compile into a document of 5 pages or so that we send to the customer. We try to provide follow-up support wherever possible. For example, we had a customer that had been using our products for 13 years. That in itself is proof that they trust our products and that our products last. This is what we are striving to achieve. This is ZEISS.
Michael: We started production of our Ultra Prime lenses in 1990, and we began manufacturing the Master Prime lenses in 2005. These two lenses were developed during the analog era, but the demand for these lenses increased when digital cameras appeared on the scene. There is not much difference in lens design when making a before and after comparison, but the coating technology has improved dramatically. With the transition from analog to digital, the need for a new, more sensitive sensor arose. Our T* (T-Star) coating is one of the best available in the marketplace to suite these digital mediums. It has essentially eliminated reflection, flare and ghosting, and offers the ability to control optical echoing. Although some users prefer to have flare and ghosting, our objective is to achieve the ultimate in quality. The Master Anamorphic lens in particular offers the most effective coating.
What customers worldwide are striving for
Dominik: I often hear the question, “How much can this product cover? – 4K, 5.5 Wide Screen or 6K? etc. – ” Customers who upgrade their cameras are concerned whether they will be able to use their existing lenses. Naturally the Compact Prime and the Compact Zoom are compatible with full-frame, 8K, and wide screen. Technological developments have a significant impact on the customer, too. So when cameras improve, it is important to be able to use the same lens. We cannot stop the evolution from 6K to 8K, so we have to keep looking further down the road to prepare for technological advances, and we already have these products.
The motion picture industry is a very international market. The crew is international these days. It is not the case that some countries use ARRI, others use RED, or others use Panasonic. They decide which location is suited to a story they want to tell and then they go shoot the film. Rather than asking, “Which country should we film in?” the issue is more about the final look they want for the production, and so the question becomes, “What tone and look do we want to achieve?” To get the look they want, a crew from anywhere in the world would go as far as Malaysia or Thailand, or even Japan and use whatever lens they could to achieve the look they want.
On Japanese Market
Michael: The Japanese market is incredibly traditional. For example, the Loxia lens is made entirely of metal. The focus and the aperture are manual, which is fitting for a more traditional customer. And Japanese customers are very detail-oriented. For us, that is a wonderful thing. Looking at the marketing reports, we are highly regarded among Japanese customers, and we really appreciate their support.
Dominik: The Japanese customer is very exacting. And that is a very good thing for us. This is because we are very detail-oriented when it comes to manufacturing our lenses, and this serves as motivation for us. When we receive this type of feedback, we can continue to improve our products, and it continues to inspire and motivate us.