The development team at CW Sonderoptic GmbH was honored with the Scientific and Engineering Award® from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the prestigious film industry accolade for technical products and innovations, for the Leica Summilux-C (Cine) lenses. On February 8, 2015 the Academy presented the Academy Plaque® to Iain Neil (optical design) and André de Winter (mechanical design) in Los Angeles during a gala at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, chairman of the supervisory board at Leica Camera AG and owner of CW Sonderoptic GmbH, spoke to us about this honor.

Q: What does CW Sonderoptic winning the Scientific and Engineering Award® mean to you?
A: As this project was started nearly ten years ago that means it’s proof that we achieved something remarkable.
Q: What was the atmosphere at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel Saturday night and at the Leica Store Los Angeles this past weekend following the announcement?
A: Great parties to celebrate our hard-earned success!
Q: For those on the Leica Camera Blog who don’t know, what are the Leica Summilux-C (Cine) lenses and what makes them so special?
A: It’s a great combination of a few things that are hard to combine. They’re really small. They are not heavy. They have the same front diameter. They have a very special focus scale where all the focus marks are in the same position. And they have a very special look. They have pleasing qualities of depth of field that you can play with. They are all T1.4. It’s a combination of quite a few things.
Q: The Cine lenses were introduced in 2011 – in just a short amount of time, they’re already recognized by the industry as part of a lineage of “inventions and innovations [that] make a significant and lasting contribution to the further development of the motion picture industry.” Did you ever expect this in such a short amount of time?
A: Hoping, yes; expecting, not really!

Left to right: Erik Feichtinger, Co–Managing Director of CW Sonderoptic GmbH; Christian Skrein, Board of Directors of CW Sonderoptic GmbH; André de Winter, Mechanical Designer; Iain Neil, Optical Designer; Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Leica Camera AG and Owner of CW Sonderoptic GmbH; Gerhard Baier, Co–Managing Director of CW Sonderoptic GmbH. © Jon Fauer
Q: You mentioned, “We have succeeded in transferring the virtually iconic reputation of the Leica brand from photography to cinematography. This accolade awarded to us by the Academy proves once again that lenses from Wetzlar are among the best in the world when it comes to high quality, optical and mechanical excellence, and superior imaging performance.” The idea of bridging Leica photography lenses to cinematography was around before 2011 (as many cinematographers have wanted this!).  What was the spark that made the idea into reality?
A: As we were addressed in 2005 to do cine lenses, it became clear there is a need for Leica cine lenses. Because we decided to spend the money and were able to combine different people with different skills to make it happen, we could give it a go.
Q: Even though Leica Camera is a manufacturer, the company is known for images. How do the images created by Leica still lenses and the images created by Leica cine lenses link to and/or complement one another and the Leica heritage?
A: Very natural and smooth skin tones. Very crisp eyelashes, yet skin is silky smooth. Especially when you work with the depth of field wide open.
Q: There is a growing blurred line between still and moving images. Where do you see this trend going?
A: We call this a full convergence regarding technology – although the process of shooting will be always quite different!
Q: The Leica Summilux-C (Cine) lenses are involved in many films up for awards at the Oscars – “Birdman,” “Whiplash,” “The Theory of Everything for Best Picture;” “Gone Girl” for Best Actress; and “Dawn of Planet of the Apes” for Visual Effects. Is there any particular film you’re hoping wins on February 22?
A: I wish luck to them all! But personally I really did like “Gone Girl”!
Q: Is there anything else you’d like for the readers to know in regard to this?
A: I hope that the readers will be also in the future be our respected customers!
Thank you for your time, Dr. Kaufmann!
– Leica Internet Team
Learn more about the Scientific and Engineering Award® here. Connect with CW Sonderoptic on their website, blog, Facebook and Twitter.