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#1 Tom Hepburn

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 12:13 PM

Hello,

I have question regarding keeping things in focus. I was watching a documentary last night (on the 1960's) and noticed a lot out of focus and some in.

First off I have an ACL with a rotating shutter so, at least for me, it's very hard to know if I'm nailing the focus when the camera is running.

I'm aware of marking the lens, rehearsing, pulling focus, and making sure you subjects/actors hit their mark, but what about live events or documentaries? For example, say that the light is a slightly low and you have a shallow DOF, someone is walking from point A to point B. I can rehearse a bit before they actually get to point A. However, what do people do when that person decides to throw in a point C (6 feet further back) or a point D (4 feet closer to the camera) then back again? Is this just something that comes with experience? Or are there some pointers, guidelines that I'm not aware of?

Thanks,
Tom
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 10:13 PM

Documentary focus pulling is basically a skill learned through experience. One trick is to zoom in, focus, and zoom out - and hope they cut out your zooming around, otherwise, you get focus marks in advance for some key objects in the frame as a reference, and otherwise, you wing it.

Obviously the clearer, brighter, and sharper your viewfinder, the easier it is to judge focus, which is one reason why Super-16 shooters like the Aaton cameras.
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#3 Chris Keth

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 03:05 PM

You have to learn the room.

Know how far away the close corner of the couch is. Also know how far someone is when they sit on the close side, the middle, and the far side. Know the doorway, and the window, and the lamp on the table.

See where I'm going with this? When you don't know the action, you need to get a picture in your head of the distances of static objects in the room. Once you know that, you can get anything in the room sharp with some luck and some experience to interpolate between those tapes you ran.
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#4 Tom Hepburn

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 11:31 AM

Thanks for the responses Dave and Chris. I understand. As with most everything one is trying to accomplish, practice is a key element. No surprise.

I was watching Titicut Follies the other day and noticed how the focus was adjusted while the subjects were moving. I really felt like the person was seeing clearly through the viewfinder what they were focusing on and thus being able to make the accurate adjustments. I believe an NPR was used in that documentary, which I would think is at best the same as the ACL Kinoptic viewfinder, although I'm not sure.

Thanks,
Tom
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#5 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 10:39 PM

Also remember that S16 has the advantage of the depth of field of smaller formats, unlike 35mm and 65mm and up. If you have to keep the image wider to "mask" your focus issues, then you do. Usually speaking you don't notice things being so out of focus on S16 until you are at the end of the zoom or when two or more objects are in the frame an neither is in focus, etc. As you say, practice, practice, practice.
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