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Confused about what exactly is a deep focus shot.


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#1 Joseph Banham

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 12:34 PM

Hello everyone.
I have been doing research into deep focus shots recently and have become confused to what exactly does class as a deep focus shot. Some shots that I think are deep focus normally look like everything is in sharp focus in the wide shot but when the camera pulls in for tighter coverage the background becomes more blurry(meaning that the camera was not particularly stopped down for the scene). For a shot to count as deep focus, does everything in the frame have to be in sharp focus even when in the tighter shots? Also, shouldn't they be referred to as deep focus scenes instead of just deep focus shots? as the whole scene including all coverage is being shot at a constant light level with the same f-stop.
Thanks to any help. I hope I am being clear in what I mean.
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 12:47 PM

A deep focus shot is just one shot, such as the wide you mention. You can have a scene shot in deep focus as well, or a whole movie shot in deep focus. Even for a whole "deep focus film," there is nothing wrong with a few close ups where the BG is OOF (out of focus), it's just a technique to draw attention. I recommend watching Citizen Kane, it is perhaps one of "the" deep focus movies, and a damned good film anyway.
Primarily, though, a "deep focus film," is a film which is intentionally staged/shot with depth to the frame, where BG actions and set-pieces are adding to the movie in a subtle way as opposed to the just "consequential" deep focus, such as having to shoot a shot here or there at an F11 due to conditions beyond one's control, or just using a Wide-Angle lens. Though, come to speak of it, I would classify a lot of Terry Gilliam films as staged for deep focus, primarily due to his love of wide angle lenses and being able to see his production design (look at Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which is fresh in mind as I re-watched it last night).
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#3 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 07:35 PM

Hello everyone.
I have been doing research into deep focus shots recently and have become confused to what exactly does class as a deep focus shot. Some shots that I think are deep focus normally look like everything is in sharp focus in the wide shot but when the camera pulls in for tighter coverage the background becomes more blurry(meaning that the camera was not particularly stopped down for the scene). For a shot to count as deep focus, does everything in the frame have to be in sharp focus even when in the tighter shots? Also, shouldn't they be referred to as deep focus scenes instead of just deep focus shots? as the whole scene including all coverage is being shot at a constant light level with the same f-stop.
Thanks to any help. I hope I am being clear in what I mean.



As I mentioned previously over at filmmaking.net, there are a variety of factors that influence Depth of Field. A wide lens (ie 35mm) has more Depth of Field than does a longer lens (ie 150mm). So if the master wide shot is shot on a wide lens, the long lens coverage will automatically have less Depth of Field merely due to the focal length regardless of the T-stop.


For a shot to count as deep focus, does everything in the frame have to be in sharp focus even when in the tighter shots? I'm sorry, this question doesn't make much sense. You begin by asking about a single shot, but then turn the question into one that inquires about all the coverage in a scene.

"Deep focus" simply means that you can see a lot of the frame "in focus" regardless of the lens or stop you use. Theoretically, with a lot of light, you could potentially get a deep focus shot out of most lens, to a point when focal length begins to override a closed aperture. With LOTS of light, you could potentially get a deep focus shot out of a 50mm stopped down that is similar to a 24mm with a mid-range stop.

But most people don't generally attempt to achieve the same amount of DoF throughout an entire scene so it isn't much of an issue. A DP usually picks a stop that he wants to use (based on the filmstock in the camera and the amount of light he can realistically shine on the set)... then lenses are chosen throughout the scene that are appropriate for each shot without a lot of regard to the DoF UNLESS there is a specific reason that a specific shot may need multiple things in focus that are on different planes. Then in that case, the lighting could be increased in order to get a deeper stop which would increase the DoF... or a special lens (slant lens) could be used or a split-field diopter could be used. There are options, but again, those are generally just special shots and not something that is done throughout entire scenes.
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#4 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 07:35 PM

Hello everyone.
I have been doing research into deep focus shots recently and have become confused to what exactly does class as a deep focus shot. Some shots that I think are deep focus normally look like everything is in sharp focus in the wide shot but when the camera pulls in for tighter coverage the background becomes more blurry(meaning that the camera was not particularly stopped down for the scene). For a shot to count as deep focus, does everything in the frame have to be in sharp focus even when in the tighter shots? Also, shouldn't they be referred to as deep focus scenes instead of just deep focus shots? as the whole scene including all coverage is being shot at a constant light level with the same f-stop.
Thanks to any help. I hope I am being clear in what I mean.



As I mentioned previously over at filmmaking.net, there are a variety of factors that influence Depth of Field. A wide lens (ie 35mm) has more Depth of Field than does a longer lens (ie 150mm). So if the master wide shot is shot on a wide lens, the long lens coverage will automatically have less Depth of Field merely due to the focal length regardless of the T-stop.


For a shot to count as deep focus, does everything in the frame have to be in sharp focus even when in the tighter shots? I'm sorry, this question doesn't make much sense. You begin by asking about a single shot, but then turn the question into one that inquires about all the coverage in a scene.

"Deep focus" simply means that you can see a lot of the frame "in focus" regardless of the lens or stop you use. Theoretically, with a lot of light, you could potentially get a deep focus shot out of most lens, to a point when focal length begins to override a closed aperture. With LOTS of light, you could potentially get a deep focus shot out of a 50mm stopped down that is similar to a 24mm with a mid-range stop.

But most people don't generally attempt to achieve the same amount of DoF throughout an entire scene so it isn't much of an issue. A DP usually picks a stop that he wants to use (based on the filmstock in the camera and the amount of light he can realistically shine on the set)... then lenses are chosen throughout the scene that are appropriate for each shot without a lot of regard to the DoF UNLESS there is a specific reason that a specific shot may need multiple things in focus that are on different planes. Then in that case, the lighting could be increased in order to get a deeper stop which would increase the DoF... or a special lens (slant lens) could be used or a split-field diopter could be used. There are options, but again, those are generally just special shots and not something that is done throughout entire scenes.
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#5 Tom Jensen

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 08:41 PM

In addition, we normally shoot with a shallower depth of field to isolate the action and background is often a distraction. Deep focus is usually thought of as interior shots where a person of object is sharp in the foreground but there is an object of person in the background of equal interest and it too is as sharp as the foreground often on tighter lenses.

Edited by Tom Jensen, 20 February 2011 - 08:42 PM.

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#6 Joseph Banham

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Posted 21 February 2011 - 03:36 PM

Thank you to all answers- I think I pretty much understand now.
You'll have to excuse my ignorance as I have almost zero experience and am only just starting to expand my knowledge on cinematography.
Again, thanks. :)
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#7 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 04:06 PM


"Deep focus" simply means that you can see a lot of the frame "in focus" regardless of the lens or stop you use. Theoretically, with a lot of light, you could potentially get a deep focus shot out of most lens, to a point when focal length begins to override a closed aperture. With LOTS of light, you could potentially get a deep focus shot out of a 50mm stopped down that is similar to a 24mm with a mid-range stop.


Sir Larry Olivier's 'Hamlet' is full of 50mm deep focus camera work.
& Kurosawa's films, particularly the TohoScope ones, extensively use deep focus with long lens, the 200mm range.
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 04:48 PM

Technically, a deep focus shot holds focus from near to far, and the composition/staging takes advantage of this. In general, though, if it "feels" deep focus, it's generally considered to be so -- many people call Kubrick's wide-angle shots in "The Shining" "deep focus" even though they are shot at wide apertures and wouldn't hold sharp focus from extreme near to far.

"Citizen Kane" is the most famous deep focus movie. A number of shots were done on a 25mm lens stopped down as far as f/16. However, it took me years to realize that this one was a trick shot, probably a split-screen in-camera composite (you can tell because the wall behind Orson Welles' head is not in focus):

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Kurosawa managed to use longer lenses (even anamorphic in this case) and get deep focus by using a ton of light and stopping down the lens:

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#9 Jenna Whitney

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 01:28 AM

DEEP FOCUS
Like deep space, deep focus involves staging an event on film such that significant elements occupy widely separated planes in the image. Unlike deep space, deep focus requires that elements at very different depths of the image both be in focus. In these two shots from Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958) Besieged (L'Assedio, Bernardo Bertolucci,1998) all of the different planes of the image are given equal importance through deep focus, not only to the characters (like the man peeking at the window in the first image), but also to the spaces (Shanduray's basement room in the second).

Posted Image Posted Image

While deep focus may be used occasionally, some auteurs use it consistently for they believe it achieves a truer representation of space. Directors like Jean Renoir, Orson Welles, Hou Hsao-Hsien, or Abbas Kiarostami all use deep focus as an essential part of their signature style.


-This is from a Yale cinematography course by the way
http://classes.yale....ematography.htm


Edited by Jenna Whitney, 20 November 2011 - 01:29 AM.

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