If you are not paying close attention while filming on set, one of the first things that you certainly could mess up is your focus. This issue also can be one of the biggest hurdles to overcome, especially if you’re not a seasoned focus puller. The worst part is that you can’t fix it in post. Even if you ruin only a few takes you still have to re-shoot the whole scene. So, the best solution is to avoid this situation by all means. However, it’s a lot easier to say than execute. Jordy Vandeput of Cinecom.net provides five tips for better camera focusing that can help you to nail down a sharp focus and be extremely efficient as a focus puller on set.
As Jordy highlights, the first tip is probably the most important one of all – know the ins and outs of your lens. The more familiar you are with your lens, the better you know how its focus ring behaves. For instance, professional focus pullers can focus by just looking at the scene and calculating the distance between the camera and the subject.
This ability is also a great advantage for various types of run-and-gun situations when focusing swiftly and accurately is essential, especially when you’re limited to only one take at a time. Of course, mastering this technique requires a lot of practice, time, and effort. A good tip to start off is making shots of multiple objects around you by trying to guess the distance and set the position of your lens’ ring without looking at the display. You won’t be perfect at first, but you will certainly improve over time.
When it comes to getting the sharpest focus, keep in mind that the objects in the background have a much larger focus area compared to objects placed closer to your lens. In other words, the odds are you’ll be able to keep the further objects in your frame in focus much easier that the ones placed closer to your camera. As-a-rule-of-thumb, try to start with the nearest object and pull focus to the one located further away in the background.
In regards to following a subject, the distance between the camera operator and the subject is crucial. That’s why you need to measure the distance continually and adjust it accordingly. This technique can either be done by changing the focus or by moving slower or faster.
You can practise this technique by going around an object and trying to keep it in focus as long as you can. The worst mistake you can do in this type of situations is turning the focus ring randomly in either direction. It’s paramount to remember in which direction you need to pull your lens ring.
If you have enough time, you can always create simple marking points with small pieces of tape by sticking those on your focus ring, just as when you are using a follow focus system. By utilising this simple yet super effective technique, you will be able to focus promptly and accurately to specific points.
At last but not least, use a standard focus gear. Even when you don’t tend to use a follow focus system, you can still utilise a focus gear to pull your focus more accurately. Typically, this accessory can be very useful for handling the focus with your hands, plus it gives you much greater grip, especially on lenses with a small focus ring. So, there you have it! These are the five quick tips for sharper focus,
So, there you have it! These are the five quick tips of Jordy Vandeput for nailing a sharp focus. If you have more suggestions on the topic, feel free to share them in the comments below.