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Focus Pulling for Jimmy Jib shots

Bradley Stearn

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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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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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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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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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  • 2 weeks later...

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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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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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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