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First time Focus pulling


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#1 Saba Mazloum

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 08:08 AM

Hey guys,
Its my first time working as 1st AC, and its on a F900 Feature(35days). The DP is very nice and kind to let me on board as a 1st AC. So if any 1 can give me some good tips on Focus pulling on a HD camera i would very much so appriciate. We are shooting in Shanghai on the 10th of Jan till 15th of Feb. Is it a bad idea to do your first Focus pull on HD and on a feature??

Thanks

Saba
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#2 Rory Hanrahan

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 11:02 AM

Is it a bad idea to do your first Focus pull on HD and on a feature??


This is like asking if the first time you climb on a motorcycle you should try to jump a tank full of sharks.

Seriously though, all could go well, if you're prepared and can keep your cool. The important thing is to be prepared, so try and get some time with the camera and become comfortable with it. Even more important that pulling focus is your comfort level with the gear, as you will have to check-out, set up & build and maintain the camera and accessories for the duration of the shoot. If you are completely new to this, it can be... daunting. On the other hand, if the DP knows your experience level, he or she will probably be good at helping you learn what you need to and make this a successful shoot.

Fortunately, HD is an easier pull than 35mm, as long as you're sure of your backfocus. Try and get as much prep time as possible before the first day of shooting. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Most importantly: if a shot that you are pulling focus on is soft tell the DP!!!. Be honest, because they're going to see the results later on anyway, and ther's nothing that can be done about it then.

Good luck!
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#3 Chris Keth

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 05:35 PM

Rory's advice is all very good. Just try and get a bit of practice before hand if you can, and don't panic. Most focus pulling is fairly simple, especially on HD video. Start practicing estimating distances. Guess it then measure it. You'll get better.
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#4 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 05:44 PM

Start practicing estimating distances. Guess it then measure it. You'll get better.


You could play the ol' AC beanbag game. You toss a bean bag a certain distance, guess it, then measure it to see how close you get. Then repeat until you become pretty accurate.

Edited by Jonathan Bowerbank, 06 January 2007 - 05:44 PM.

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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 05:54 PM

You could play the ol' AC beanbag game. You toss a bean bag a certain distance, guess it, then measure it to see how close you get. Then repeat until you become pretty accurate.



EXCELLENT game. This is roughly what I still do to keep sharp at it or, if you're with other people' just choose natural landmarks like you might when pulling a shot and all guess then measure. Competition really helps you get good fast ;)
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#6 Saba Mazloum

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 10:53 PM

Guys thank you so much for all the helpfull advice. The DP knows I have no experience at all, he will give me a day or two to pratice with the camera, and he has a Camera assistant book for me to read too lol.
I was wondering you think its a good idea to look at the on board moniter sometimes for focus?
And again, is there anything else i should know for Focusing on the F900?

Thanks a lot guys, im not stressing as much as i did before .. :)

Saba
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#7 Daniel Stigler

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 02:25 PM

I was wondering you think its a good idea to look at the on board moniter sometimes for focus?



Well, if you see that the image on the monitor is soft, it's too late.
I use the on board monitor in situations where the focus choreography is crucial and needs to be timed with the movement of actors or the camera or something like this.
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#8 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 07 January 2007 - 08:09 PM

I was wondering you think its a good idea to look at the on board moniter sometimes for focus?

Saba

I know a few 1st's who use a monitor exclusively for focus with HD. Certainly there are upsides and downsides to this approach, and it's probably not right for everyone. I'm sure it takes some time to get used to it. Your best bet would be to try this approach while shooting tests. Also, don't try this with a small monitor. The 1st's I know that do this use at least a 15 inch monitor.
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#9 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 08 January 2007 - 12:03 AM

To add to this, it's not just about getting your subject sharp; it's the timing involved in the focus pull itself, particularly when you have multiple marks or when you're on a dolly. So maybe you should throw a few beanbags out and guess the distances between them too! The best way to get good at focus pulling is to do it, which seems obvious, but reminds me of something a cinematography professor told me in reference to filmmaking in general: "The only way to get really good at something is to do it over and over again." You can buy every book out there and you can know what 8 feet, 15 feet, 40 feet all look like, and you can talk about optics until everyone thinks you are crazy. But in the end, it's just going to take experience...and generally, experience takes time. People forget this when they keep thinking about the next job, and the next one, and the next one. Your co-workers might forget this too. But everyone will have their moments of growing pains and realization and even success, no matter how long they've been doing anything. Enjoy your job and be patient with yourself. I'm sure you'll do very well and the best thing is, you'll probably find that you've improved even more by the end of the job!
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