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!