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FOCUS on backlit run down hall shot?


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#1 GregBest

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Posted 06 December 2014 - 11:49 AM

I'm doing the cliched run down dark hall toward camera with bright spot light behind.  There will be a few flashlight LEDs on the walls, and 3 cheap rotating police lights that are no very bright.

 

Being a new amateur filmmaker, I'm unsure how to keep it all in focus shooting alone.  I know my f1.4 lens will be too small DOF, and cranking it up to f10 will be too dark, so I thought I'd reach out for other ideas?   Adding light isn't my option since I don't have any and I want dark shadows as well.  I've got a toy fog machine I have never fired up yet, and that might enhance the effect, but I worry about triggering smoke alarms.

 

But I think FOCUS will be my real problem - maybe focus for the end of the run?  The shot will end up maybe 2-3 seconds max (and that might be too long) and, although transitions scenes, is really designed for me to screw around with my camera and learn something.

 

Any trick I am not thinking of to get larger stretch of focus in a dark hall?


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 December 2014 - 12:05 PM

At minimum, if you are operating, get someone to try and pull focus for you. Do some practice runs.


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#3 GregBest

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Posted 06 December 2014 - 01:30 PM

That is probably the only realistic answer, but I am shooting wholly alone.  :)  I think physics is against what I think I want to do.  I'll try a few different lens and go with whatever is closest to working.  


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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 December 2014 - 04:02 PM

You can't just get a friend to stand next to the camera and pull focus on that shot???


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#5 GregBest

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Posted 06 December 2014 - 04:14 PM

No, my friends are all married.  :D


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#6 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 06 December 2014 - 06:36 PM

You could just rehearse it to the point of muscle memory, get several takes, and see what works best? 


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#7 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 06 December 2014 - 06:49 PM

Accept that it will be out of focus, and make it an intentional choice. Shoot wide open and set focus for the end of the run.

Set a key light for that last mark so that you can see the actor come into focus - it could be one of your flashing police lights. If you can paint the walls, go with a dark glossy finish to get reflections of the police lights, it will help you can get away with their lower output.

Shooting up from a low angle would help hide your lights (I'm assuming they will be low to the ground at the end of the hallway) and you could use the floor as foreground. If you can shoot slow motion, that could be nice.
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#8 GregBest

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Posted 09 December 2014 - 03:30 PM

welp, nothing turned out like I wanted, but it will be usable.  Thanks so much for the input!!  Primary reason I try this crap is so I can learn what not to do and how to see ways to do things better!  :D  I'm adding lots of FX like lights flashing, bullets flying, smoke and explosions, but here is a very bad quality, low res, poorly graded quick test of one of the 10 takes.

In the end, focus isn't didn't matter a bit and it looks way better in 4K.

 

https://copy.com/FmOfNT0BBQHI0Hsi

 

 


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#9 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 09 December 2014 - 04:09 PM

Nice effort, I think the biggest change you could have done to improve it would have been to use an actual hallway, since you can obviously see that you're in an office with a drop ceiling. If the real hallway had some overhead fluorescents, you could have unscrewed all but a few bulbs for a moody dramatic look and maybe wrapped some green colored gel around the lit ones for effect.

As is, it probably would have been better with a longer lens to hide the set more by framing out the ceiling and keeping the focus shallow. I would have placed the police lights out of frame, maybe further down the hallway and directly behind the actor, using those for the reflections on the walls instead of that bright unmotivated light.

Then give the actor the flashlight, and place a bounce board near camera so that he could hit it with the flashlight beam and have it bounce back into his face for a soft key as he gets closer to camera.
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#10 GregBest

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Posted 09 December 2014 - 09:48 PM

Yeah, I HATE HATE HATE the ceiling look, but my location options didn't exist - maybe I can put some "smoke" over it.  Love the flashlight idea but doesn't fit the script.  Bad guys have guns with lights on them, but his tools were taken.

 

It sure is great hearing some helpful, valuable ideas!  Thanks so much!

 

 

 

 

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#11 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 10 December 2014 - 03:54 AM

I wouldn't overdo the effects just to hide things. I actually like the slow-mo and the fact that the actor's face is obliterated. The only thing I would have adjusted a bit would have been to have the police light rotate as they do on actual police cars. A bit more backlight would have looked nice, but I still like it.

I mean just because you can see that it's an office ceiling doesn't really mean anything since it is a very shadowy shot. Suspension of disbelief led me to think that there was a window to the right of the actor just before the start of the "hallway." How do we know it's not a ground-floor office?...
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#12 GregBest

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Posted 10 December 2014 - 10:11 AM

The effects were planned from the start, but where and how much will be dictated by flow of the scene edit.  It's an off kilter comedy so the police lights will show up in bizaar, unnatural ways*.  But, heck, this is all no budget learning fun and I am learning a ton from you guys!  So, thanks for this valuable input!

 

* I had two more police lights, but they fell over the side and the lamps broke  :(


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