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35mm focusing


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#1 chris dye

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 01:38 AM

I realize that having a first AC pull focus is best and more accurate, but I was wondering if an operator can focus a larger 35mm camera (Panavision, Moviecam) by eye through the lens by themselves. In other words, if you're looking through the eyepiece and it's in focus, will it be focused on film.

I've focused by eye in 16mm to good results, but 35mm focusing seems more critical and I'm wondering if it's done that way ever.
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#2 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 01:59 AM

I give assistants focus marks by eye all the time with 35mm cameras. By all the time I don't mean EVERY time, but anytime a quick eye focus is needed it's not a problem. Then they can just mark the lens and know where the mark is. I wouldn't want to try to pull focus too much by eye in 35mm, but it's doable. I'd much rather have an assistant pull though. Of course, it's important to make sure your diopter is set correctly before you do this, otherwise the shot will be soft.
Hope that helps.
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#3 Michael Nash

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 03:47 AM

You can do it, as long as you're aware of the margin of error. The deeper your depth of field, the more room for error you have when following action or finding accurate focus. Sometimes the slight flicker or "wobble" of the camera's mirror when rolling can obscure critical focus while operating. Low-light shooting can be troublesome for finding focus also (especially when rolling). But with a camera with large, bright optics and a high-key scene, it's easier.

In terms of accuracy form worst to best, it's probably; operating focus (while the camera is running), eye focus (camera not rolling), and measuring. That's why measurements + a focus puller are used first, and operating focus is done as a last resort.
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#4 Robert Hughes

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 12:32 PM

On a documentary style shoot like "United #93", would the operator on an assistant pull focus?
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#5 Max Jacoby

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 12:59 PM

On a documentary style shoot like "United #93", would the operator on an assistant pull focus?

They still have focus-pullers to do the pulling, although like with most action scenes on long lenses, if the focus is slightly off, the camera operator would grab the focus wheel and adjust on the fly. That obviously does not work for every type of film.
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#6 Michael Nash

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 04:02 PM

They still have focus-pullers to do the pulling, although like with most action scenes on long lenses, if the focus is slightly off, the camera operator would grab the focus wheel and adjust on the fly. That obviously does not work for every type of film.


Right. The key word heres is documentary style. It's still a drama, and the action is still blocked.
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