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Focus pulling


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#1 Andrea Altgayer

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Posted 25 May 2005 - 07:07 PM

Hi there guys,

Please could you tell me what are the basic principles of focus pulling, from step 1, to the very last thing that a focus puller has to do.

I am referring to focus pulling for both film and video/HD.

As you can see, I have a LOOOOONG way to go!! :)

Bye,

Andrea
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#2 Chris Keth

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Posted 25 May 2005 - 10:36 PM

Hi there guys,

Please could you tell me what are the basic principles of focus pulling, from step 1, to the very last thing that a focus puller has to do.

I am referring to focus pulling for both film and video/HD.

As you can see, I have a LOOOOONG way to go!! :)

Bye,

Andrea

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



It's a really simple procedure, in theory. Being really good at it is pretty tough though. Basically what you want to do is take some measurements that coincide with the major camera and actor movements in a shot. Perhaps measure the distance from the film plane to the actor's eyes when the shot begins, then when the actor is farthest away from the lens, and when the actor is closest to the lens, for example. Your goal is to keep the eyes of the star actor in prime focus (sharpest focus) at all times, even though the actors and camera may be moving.

You also need to find out who to keep the sharpest focus on. During some scenes, the actor you follow might change. Sometimes, you might go from an actor to something else.

You should make sure that these changes in focus are done smoothly and fluidly. You shouldn't reach a focus mark before the camera or actor reaches their corresponsing mark, nor should you be after.

In practice, this amounts to watching the focus ring (or follow focus knob), while watching the action, while walking with the camera, while being quiet, while avoiding things in the way, while staying out of the camera operator's way, while judging distance when you are between your marks. :blink: :ph34r: :D

It's tough to get really good at but it really is fun.:)
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#3 Rik Andino

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Posted 26 May 2005 - 02:30 AM

You need Jedi reflexes to be a great focus puller. :)
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#4 Bob Hayes

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Posted 26 May 2005 - 03:42 AM

I spent hours in my room at night with a tape measure estimating distances. If you have an aptitude for it you can get quite good. Don?t assume actors have hit their makes or haven?t moved after you tape. Have the operator check focus if it doesn?t match check again. Operators are right about 30 % of the time. Measure from camera to objects in the room that don?t move. Put marks on the floor or dolly track for tough focus. Be very aware on shots where most of the actor is hidden like behind a desk. Long exterior lens shots have your second stand to the side of the action and relay on a walkie as the talent moves.
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#5 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 26 May 2005 - 04:01 AM

I usually tell actors who are concerned that their performance style creates problems for them hitting marks that the marks are just reference for the focus puller to know where they are relative to a fixed position.

A good focus puller knows this, and is quick enough on his toes to correct for any problems.

From my end, I always try to give the 1st a reasonable stop to work with, especially with actors who have shown problems in this department.

Greg Irwin posts here some. I would be curious to hear what he has to say, as he is one of the biggest 1st ACs in the business.


Kevin Zanit
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Willys Widgets

Rig Wheels Passport

CineTape

FJS International, LLC

rebotnix Technologies

Ritter Battery

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Tai Audio

The Slider

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Wooden Camera

Technodolly

Metropolis Post

Opal

Glidecam