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Cutting Between Focal Lenghts?


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#1 Simona Analte

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 01:54 PM

Is it true that in order for a cut between focal lenghts to work, there needs to be a considerable different between the frame sizes?
Like a Wide-shot cutting to a slightly Closer-Cut will appear weird whereas a Wide to Close-up will work.
In that case I would have to cut from Master straight to Close-up with same f/stop for the cut to be smooth?
Would the continuity be right though?

I will be shooting a short project soon and I'm a bit nervous of using different focal lenghts.
For Master Id like to use 28mm, Medium 50mm and for Close-ups 75mm. Shooting mostly in a tight space on 7D.

What are the Do's and Dont's of shooting with different focal lenghts?

Any advice would be appreciated, thanks!
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#2 Lee Tamer

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 11:48 AM

Youre getting there,

The key thing to keep in mind is to establish the distance between the two actors in the shot. You cant cut from a straight on shot to a close up because it doesnt establish any type of space. Its important to always establish the space in the scene/frame before cutting

Also, the F/stop is important when considering Depth of Field. If you have a wide lens you'll have a deeper DOF, if you have a longer lens youll have a shallower DOF. DOF is important when choosing what type of shot you want, and Ive never seen an establishing shot with a shallow depth of field. You would generally want a deeper DOF for an establishing shot. With close ups, a shallow depth of field isnt a problem.

Remember, long focal length = shallow DOF, shorter focal length = deeper DOF.

Does this make sense?
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#3 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 01:11 PM

I think all this depends on the story and what's happening in the drama. For example you could cut to a CU of a character if the story demands that you see them before any location is established because they are the connection, not the location.

If you're going to cut have a reason for the cut, don't just do it because that's the mechanical thing to do. You can do CUs with wide angle lenses, but you must have a reason, usually longer focal lengths are more flattering, which normally makes them the standard choice. There's no rule that says you must use a wide angle lens for the establishing shot, although for interiors it's often more practical, but if it's a long corridor perhaps a longer focal length may be better.

There are standard shot sizes, which you can cut between, your angles will depend on the emotions and drama you wish to convey.
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#4 Matt Pacini

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 05:28 PM

I think you should first visualize the shot, then pick the lens.
Of course, this is one of those "chicken/egg" things, because the more experience you have using different focal lengths, the more you will 'see' what that looks like in your head as you're visualizing your shots.
Do a lot of testing to see what things look like not only at different focal lengths, but also test composition:
A shot with a wide angle lens, of 3 people standing 15 feet away, is not going to look anything at all like a shot with that very same lens, from 3 feet away & at a different angle.
There are even films shot on only one lens! (Bottle Rocket - 25mm).

There is much more to composition than just what focal length you are choosing.

Make the lens serve your idea, not the other way around.


Matt Pacini
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