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Advice on pulling focus for a beginner AC ?


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#1 Soufian Ratib

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Posted 04 May 2015 - 02:19 PM

Hello everyone,

 

We are a very small production company that shoot mostly corporate videos. We use the F3 along the new cinealta PL series of Prime lenses.

 

What advice would you give to a focus puller ? He uses a Redrock system wireless focus and the peaking function of the O7Q+ as a monitor.

 

Thanks


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#2 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 04 May 2015 - 10:47 PM

Hello everyone,
 
We are a very small production company that shoot mostly corporate videos. We use the F3 along the new cinealta PL series of Prime lenses.
 
What advice would you give to a focus puller ? He uses a Redrock system wireless focus and the peaking function of the O7Q+ as a monitor.
 
Thanks


Sounds to me like that you have already hired him. Then trust him. If you don't trust him, then you didn't hire properly.

G
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#3 Soufian Ratib

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 03:04 AM

Hello Gregory,

 

The AC is a young graduated who works with me a lot to gain some experience. I myself used to freelance in L.A (where you based) as a DIT before moving back to France in 2008 (mostly because of the crisis and the screen writer strike). Here, in Evian they are not that many people (if not none) that has a film background...so i tend to stick with that kid and see how I can help him to become better <_<


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#4 Mark Dunn

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 03:48 AM

Sounds to me like that you have already hired him. Then trust him. If you don't trust him, then you didn't hire properly.

G

Two walkers ask a farmer for directions and he answers 'Well, I wouldn't start from here'.


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#5 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 08:29 AM

Hello Gregory,
 
The AC is a young graduated who works with me a lot to gain some experience. I myself used to freelance in L.A (where you based) as a DIT before moving back to France in 2008 (mostly because of the crisis and the screen writer strike). Here, in Evian they are not that many people (if not none) that has a film background...so i tend to stick with that kid and see how I can help him to become better <_<


My apologies. I took your post in an entirely different way. It sounded to me like you were checking up on his work style behind his back after witnessing how he does it. Good for you on helping him.

G
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#6 Soufian Ratib

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Posted 05 May 2015 - 10:56 AM

No worry Greg :)


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#7 Bradley Stearn

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 05:18 AM

I've been freelancing as an AC in London for just over a year now. I would still consider myself a trainee, but I have had plenty of experience focus pulling on a variety of productions. The best thing I was taught was to start judging distance, so to pull focus without a monitor. Since moving away from pulling solely with a monitor, I have become a much better focus puller, as I am more engaged in the action that is happening in the scene, other than playing the 'videogame' of 'following' focus on the monitor, which usually ends up in me being late with the pulls. In the UK we measure in feet when pulling focus. I find it is quicker to judge that an actor is 10 feet away, than hunting on a monitor to find that. I would then suggest using the monitor for critical focus, so usually that is 5 feet or under. 

When measuring for focus, you can use floor marks and actor marks to pull focus from. You will then see if an actor has hit is mark, 6 feet away lets see, or not. You would then judge that the actor has missed his mark by 1 or 2 feet, and you can compensate for that. 


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#8 Bradley Stearn

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 12:27 PM

Another great tip that a DOP mentioned to me once, is to always judge the distance between the camera and the subject, even when you are 2nd ACing. For example if you are a 2nd AC taking the tape measure out for the focus puller, then you could guess the distance before reading it out to the 1st. Just practice with judging distance whenever you can basically. 


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#9 Stuart McQuade

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Posted 09 May 2015 - 02:49 AM

What advice would you give to a focus puller ? 

 

My short answer is, send him here: https://nfts.co.uk/o...d#focus_pulling. That's where I was trained. The course was originally ran by Bob Shipsey, but Josh Lee now runs the course - both very good teachers. The UK Camera Technicians' Guild also offer courses: http://www.gbct.org/trainingcourses.html. You could even contact Josh directly and ask him if he'd be willing to come to France to train your guy: http://www.gbct.org/details.php?id=1948 ...or if you'd like to pay my flights and feed me, I can come and train him in 'rouillé' French. ;) But I'm pretty sure you could find someone in France who could train him, though.

 

If you don't have the cash to have your guy formally trained, then get him to practice these basic techniques below (there are no doubt many more techniques to practice, and there will be many people who think I'm wrong and they're right, but this is a good starting point):

 

Turn off the monitor, take out a tape measure, a pen to write on the focus disc and some tape to make marks on the floor (but there will be times when you can't put tape on the floor). Now practice the following with the lens aperture open as much as it will go (T2, for example). Yes, it will be hard, but this will allow your focus puller (and you) to see when things go soft:

 

- static camera, subject moves towards camera (try two speeds: constant speed and increasing speed)

- static subject, camera moves towards subject (try two speeds: constant speed and increasing speed)

- moving camera and moving subject, moving towards each other at the same speed

- moving camera and moving subject, moving towards each other at the different speeds (e.g. slow camera, faster subject)

- moving camera and moving subject, moving towards each other, pass each other and then move away from each other

- have a subject walk in while the camera films the subject from the side (profile view), the subject should walk closer to the camera while the camera remains on the same tracking line. Imagine an arrow > but on its side. The camera is on the flat side and the moving subject follows the angled line. Sorry, this one's a little hard to explain without a picture...

 

Give those a try. There are plenty more, but that will get him started. And remember that it's ok for the two of you to talk to each other and help each other out - it's not a competition. :) Then he can take out a monitor and try the same exercises again (if he wants to use a monitor).

 

People seem to have a love or hate with monitors. Personally, I think they're handy during slating, but I then switch to my marks once the slate's out of the way and ignore the monitor. I've met several 'DPs' who think I'm an idiot because I don't use a monitor, though. But to each his own... One thing I personally don't like about monitors is that they don't allow me to judge subject distance movement when using long lenses, one has to become used to 'chasing' the monitor peaking. (or hire Cinetape). You can notice in several UK dramaTV shows when the focus puller is chasing the focus, going beyond focus and coming back into focus. They're a tool, though, and they're not going to go away - especially with the speeds at which ACs are now expected to work; camera rehearsals now seem to have gone out of the window...

 

Hope this helps!


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