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Focus Pulling for Jimmy Jib shots


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#1 Bradley Stearn

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Posted 10 May 2016 - 12:56 PM

I've got a couple of focus pulling jobs this weekend, both of them new kinds of focus pulling for me. Not that my job will be much different than usual, just want to hear any stories from any similar shoots/experiences you guys may have.

 

This weekends job involves a jimmy jib setup for a music promo. My guess is that there will be a lot of improv, no rehearsals, like majority of music promos I suppose. I'll be pulling wirelessly of course, so can stand by the side of the jib and attempt to judge distance as much as possible. I'll probably request a wireless system for my TV logic, although I do usually prefer going more off marks and measurements. I was wondering if anyone had any tips or tricks in regards to pulling focus with jib movements? I'm aware it's going to be similar to judging distance for steadicam, not drastically different in terms of technique, but anything that might make my life easier would be great. The DOP has told me he usually shoots T5.6 for studio music promo work, so that's a pretty good comfort blanket for me.

 

 


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#2 Shawn Sagady

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Posted 10 May 2016 - 01:34 PM

I usually get some rough marks for the various extremes and common positions of the Jib.  Depending on how much the subject will be moving that will at least give you some quick marks to reference while eyeballing the camera.  I would certainly see if you can get a little time with some stand ins and the Jib operator to just get a feel for it before you are filming.


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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 10 May 2016 - 01:37 PM

Wouldn't touch a job like that with a bargepole.

 

You'll be working 18 hour days for a tenner and expected to nail everything first time, without rehearsal or even any solid idea of blocking and framing.

 

Surely you've done music videos before? It's misery personified.

 

And off a jib! Good luck, you'll need it.


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#4 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 02:23 AM

Yeah but presuming its a pretty wide angle and 5.6.. and a feed from the operator monitor .. if not wireless .. should be pretty painless..    apart from the 18hr days ! .. 


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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 02:39 AM

Yeah, but it won't be, will it?

 

It'll be some idiot with illusions of Michael Bay and a 200mm stills zoom.

 

P


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#6 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 02:48 AM

hehe well just find focus on the end frame then off the TV logic.. and the rest is post French new wave expressionistic anti focus, to convey mood and and an organic look..  and if its film it doesn't  matter anyway, because its always soft due to the random silver halides ..  PTI.. !


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#7 Simon Wyss

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 04:05 AM

Keep focus settings always a bit shorter than estimated and you’ll be acclaimed master of focus pulling.


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#8 Bradley Stearn

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 04:33 AM

Haha 200mm stills lens! Luckily it's superspeeds on an amira, 18mm being our widest, 85mm being the tightest. Although I have visions of 85mm t1.3, 15ft to close focus into a dancer doing improv. 


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#9 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 05:11 AM

Good grief, a properly-budgeted music video in London.

 

I thought they were an endangered species.


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#10 Mark Dunn

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 05:17 AM

I thought they'd been humanely destroyed.

Even so, don't take a cheque.


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#11 Moe Hissi

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 03:46 AM

Seems like the whole shoot is based on improv movements, my advice to you my friend is: CINETAPE


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#12 Bradley Stearn

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Posted 23 May 2016 - 04:31 AM

For about 2 hours on the first morning the shots where rehearsed, after that it was pretty much improv for two days. 80% on a 18mm lens at T4, getting no closer than 4ft. So wasn't too much of a challenge. Just eyeballed it most of the time. Had some 32mm shots that where slightly more challenging, but all in it went well. 

 

Cinetape would have come in handy, I'm definitely going to try and get one for the next job like this.


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#13 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 23 May 2016 - 05:23 AM

Thought so.. glad it worked out ok.. if you have a fancy crane it will mostly be wide angle .. glad Im not focus pulling anymore.. its easier to operate or be the DP..!! 


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#14 Bradley Stearn

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Posted 23 May 2016 - 05:41 AM

We had one 85mm improv take, the artist didn't know we where on a tight lens so kept moving into close-focus. We had been doing some close-focus shots with him on the 18mm the take before haha. 


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#15 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 23 May 2016 - 06:13 AM

Blimey 85mm on a crane.. yikes.. ! .. focus pulling is such an art.. and there is only a few people on set ,who really know how hard some shots can be.. and almost no body actually watching the finished footage.. cant say I ever really enjoyed it.. too nerve wracking .. esp in the days before monitors/cine tape etc.. just those leather cased tapes and Sammy,s white plastic DoF calculator ! all power to you sir.. 


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#16 Shawn Sagady

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Posted 23 May 2016 - 02:58 PM

Glad it worked out!  Sounds like a harrowing but good experience to have.  


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#17 Martin Yee

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Posted 23 May 2016 - 09:51 PM

As a Jimmy Jib owner and operator, I don't envy the focus pullers. Hard job and nerve wracking when focus is so critical. LOL. Same here, had a DP wanted a 85mm lens, and another DP on another gig who wanted on a 90mm lens... both times.... painful. It certainly helps with a good monitor to pull focus with. Odyssey 7Q was very good to pull focus with. My 17 inch Panasonic is strictly a view finder in comparison.

 

It is getting rare these days that directors just want regular wide and high shots. Now they want you to swing in fast, boom high to low and zoom in super tight and pull focus all at same time with the sun/spotlight in your eyes with hundreds of screaming girls and moms at a dance competition for 17 hours straight with little breaks in between. And they expect you to repeat that for 3 days straight. Gotta make em happy. :)


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