The Mastermind behind Cooke’s Sales, Hon Ming Lai!

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HM Lai- Cooke Optics

Capturing WOW brings you an exclusive interview with Cooke Optics’ sales director Hon Ming Lai. In a candid conversation, Hon Ming talked about his previous experience at Kodak Motion Picture Films, his enthralling journey with Cooke Optics, and the future strategies which Cooke Optics will put in action soon.

Stay with us till the end of this article to know more about the industry’s transition and Cooke Optics’ further plans to continue having a firm footing in the cinematography lens market.

How Did Your Journey With Cooke Optics Start?

Hon Ming answered, “Initially, I began working as the salesperson for Kodak Motion Picture Films in 1993. At that time my customers were film production houses, camera rental houses, and a lot of other industrial organizations. I worked in Kodak for 20 years before leaving the company in 2012. Later, I joined Shinryo Hong Kong Limited where I was responsible for sales and marketing.

It was in November 2020 when I was appointed as Cooke Optics’ sales director. It’s been almost 10 months now working with this reputable brand, handling the sales of Asia, Australia, Africa, and the Middle East.”

You Have Been in This Industry for Over a Decade Now. What Do You Feel Has Changed About This Industry?

“I feel the most significant change has been a shift from shooting films to going digital. It’s not just the equipment brands like Cooke and Kodak, but the entire industry is evolving. As compared to the earlier days where they had to learn the workflow of shooting films, now they need to learn about the workflow of digital. The camera technicalities, lens, lighting, post-production working – everything needs to be learned. Back in the 80s and 90s, no DIT provider was available. Now, DIT has become a necessity.

Talking about post-production, they need to evolve themselves in terms of investing in larger storage space and up-to-date software. With everything going digital, people are shooting a lot of content which asks for more storage capacity than before. It’s been like a chain reaction for the whole industry to adapt to the new, changing system,” answered Hon Ming.

In-Line with Other Cinema Lens Manufacturing Brands, What Does Cooke Optics Have to Offer Which Sets It Apart From Other Brands?

Explaining the value which Cooke Optics adds to the industry, Hon Ming replied, “Providing with a choice – that’s what sets us apart. In recent times, every other brand is talking about the resolution and colour reproduction to be as high as possible. Cooke has been a player in this industry since 1894. Having experience of over 100 years, our company understands what the audience wants.

We research through our consumer behaviour changes because understanding their needs is important for us. Our lens is designed in a way where a 3D effect is produced in a 2D plane. We call this the ‘Cooke look’. Although these lenses are higher in contrast, they aren’t too sharp. Rather, they are pleasing to the eyes, give an aesthetic look, and have high detailing.

We understand the human eye perception and then design our lenses to have very sharp yet subtle details which give the users a different look than what other brands offer and help them tell their story better.”

Are There Any New Challenges That You Have Faced as Compared to Your Earlier Days?

“Understanding the changing consumer needs and audience expectations have always been a challenge,” answered Hon Ming. “Our consumers readily adapt to the changes and know how to choose the correct image. As far as Cooke is concerned, we have been constantly monitoring the consumer’s trend. One of the ways we follow to do that is by working with different cameramen, understanding the development of their camera, and then providing the best product to match the needs of the consumers.

Making optimum utilization of our resources, providing the best solution for producing a suitable image to the audience – it has always been difficult.”

How Did Cooke Optics Deal With Post-Covid Effects?

“The COVID has impacted everyone in the world. Cooke’s supply as well as the customer base was tremendously impacted. Suffering from delay in supply of raw materials due to lockdown, and no shipment facilities available, it became very difficult for us to plan. Despite having customer orders, we did not have the raw materials supplied at the right time. Apart from that, we had to either cancel or delay shipments to countries where lockdown was imposed.

To tackle these crises, Cooke Optics adopted a flexible production schedule and made the workforce work overtime to catch up with the orders. We started prioritizing our orders and produced those first which were demanded on an immediate basis. We made a lot of other changes in our working structure as well and had to work around the clock to cope up with the pandemic situation.”

Being the Sales Director, What Are Your Future Strategies for Cooke Optics?

“The only way we have survived past 130 years in this industry is by changing ourselves according to the market change. For the upcoming years, we will be focusing more on the services. With Cooke having a global customer base, we need to be able to provide quick services throughout the year. We also plan to invest in developing and improving our production facilities in the UK. We will bring in more modernized machinery, better working space, and increase our capacity to meet the market demands. Currently, these are the areas we are focusing on for moving Cooke Optics into the future,” answered Hon Ming.

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