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Following focus for sports


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#1 Fran Kuhn

Fran Kuhn
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Posted 10 July 2005 - 12:18 AM

I'm getting ready to shoot some handheld S16 film of an outdoor motocross event and would like some advice on following focus with fast-moving subjects. By myself, that is. I'll have full access to the sidelines and infield and--at least in theory--run around from corner to jump and shoot the riders doing their thing. Is there some trick to practicing this technique? (Or will it just take years of practice?)

For this job the camera will likely be an Arriflex SR3 High Speed with a Zeiss 11-110 with a mini-follow-focus, and maybe a 200mm and 400mm Nikkor; filmstock 7245 EXR50D and 7205 250D. I'd prefer to keep the aperture fairly open (t2.8-t4) for less depth-of-field. Don't we all. Anyway, I filmed a stadium Supercross race a few years ago and got some great shots, but a lot of the footage was simply too out-of-focus. Granted, I was hand-holding the rig with the lenses wide open, 100fps in the middle of Anaheim stadium, which made me wonder how those NFL Films guys manage to track a spiraling 50-yard pass while tripping over the shooter next to them on the sidelines. Any thoughts?

And by the way, I was not really crazy about lugging that Arri around all night, either. I couldn't use a tripod or monopod on the field, so my assistant set the thing up with some kind of aftermarket dual-handgrip attachment. It was so front-heavy that I had more arm pump than the riders. Any thoughts on a better handheld setup (or rigging the Arri to be less cumbersome)? I seem to remember hearing someone mention that an Aaton was a better choice. And not the A-Minima. It's a fantastic camera--I own one--but it's too much of a chore switching mags for this kind of thing.

Thanks.
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