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Dunkirk - out of focus shots


Alan Kovarik
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I just saw Dunkirk in IMAX (great experience) and I noticed how many shots where sometimes slightly out of focus when the actors was moving too quickly. Was this intentional or is it too hard to keep quickly moving subjects in focus with IMAX cameras? I think it actually helped the movie to look less staged.

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IMAX 70mm (or 65mm 15 perf) has such a shallow DOF that it's a bitch to focus. There are a handful of out of focus shots here & there, but surprisingly little, praise the focus puller & operators.

 

 

Focus pulling on 65mm handheld cameras!

Edited by Freya Black
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Focus pulling on 65mm handheld cameras!

 

 

Hmm that makes it sound like they had special handheld cameras but you all know what I mean....

 

Focus pulling on cameras handheld on 65mm film... or something...

Edited by Freya Black
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Focus issues are pretty common place with super shallow depth of field situations on any format. I honestly didn't catch any major focus snafoo's in Dunkirk. I felt everything was focused "properly" and it's ok for actors to walk in and out of focus, that's totally normal. We just don't see it very much in modern hollywood fodder because people try too hard to make things perfect, they just wouldn't set themselves up for that scenario. With film and dark places, you can't just magically up the ISO to then increase the stop to help prevent the shallow depth of field issues. So you either need to add light or shoot at a lower stop, which of course makes the depth of field more shallow.

 

With Interstellar, there were actually some huge focus issues, where actors who weren't moving, were out of focus.

 

I actually just finished a shoot on 35mm with long lenses shot in dark situations and focus was an absolute nightmare. We lost three shots because the actors moved mid shot and you can't tell focus when the camera is running, especially in darker scenes. So yea, when I see focus as good as Dunkirk, in dark situations, I clap my hands. :D

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When the camera is being used handheld and the actors are also moving fairly freely and you are shooting on a huge film negative, I imagine it's a bit of a miracle to keep the focus spot on all the time and personally I quite like the effect of someone walking into or out of focus... I would kind of consider that a creative choice in a way but I havn't seen the movie so...

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With Interstellar, there were actually some huge focus issues, where actors who weren't moving, were out of focus.

Please consider that on INTERSTELLAR, the 15 perf IMAX, 65mm was constantly shot handheld at a T2 with a +3 diopter quite often. That makes the focus pulling quite brilliant when you know that bit of information.

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I found the 65mm portions of Interstellar quite odd really, I couldn't get my head around why you'd take such a spectacularly resolute medium, and then have so little of the picture in focus. It seemed a very strange choice (particularly with so much handheld work).

 

Frankly, I'm in awe of the fact that anything was in focus on that one Greg! You poor soul! 😄

 

I think they found a much more balanced approach in Dunkirk.

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Please consider that on INTERSTELLAR, the 15 perf IMAX, 65mm was constantly shot handheld at a T2 with a +3 diopter quite often. That makes the focus pulling quite brilliant when you know that bit of information.

Ohh I know! I shoot wide open on 35mm with decent length lenses, zero focus assist and nobody to pull for me. I honestly can't imagine being able to nail it on large format without stopping down and/or using wider glass.

 

Though honestly, the 15/65 stuff in Interstellar didn't bother me. It was the anamorphic 35mm stuff that bugged me. We've chatted about this before though, so no reason to do it again! LOL :D

 

Dunkirk didn't have any focusing issues that really bothered me at all.

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Please consider that on INTERSTELLAR, the 15 perf IMAX, 65mm was constantly shot handheld at a T2 with a +3 diopter quite often. That makes the focus pulling quite brilliant when you know that bit of information.

 

What does "+3 diopter" mean here please? I know a diopter is a type of glass lens element, but what is it's effect? Does it multiply the focal length by 3?

Thanks.

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What does "+3 diopter" mean here please? I know a diopter is a type of glass lens element, but what is it's effect? Does it multiply the focal length by 3?

Thanks.

The number is the reciprocal of the focusing distance in metres. So a +3 will focus at about 13" (from the dioptre, not the focal plane) with the camera lens at infinity.

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Focus pulling is all going to get much, much harder in the foreseeable future. I have on good authority that Arri will be releasing a full size chip camera in the vein of the Panavision DXL and Red Weapon VistaVision camera next year. The future will move to these formats very quick, just watch. Cinematographers seek out the format that has the least inherent DOF, that's just a natural law. Call it Frisch's Law. ;) And with that move will come more compounded focus requirements and mistakes. Not only that, this move will favor established and experienced focus pullers, making it harder for newbie's to get in.

 

On another note, if you're sitting on lenses that do not cover FF, you should think about selling them sooner rather than later as their value will decrease significantly in the near future.

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Focus pulling is all going to get much, much harder in the foreseeable future. I have on good authority that Arri will be releasing a full size chip camera in the vein of the Panavision DXL and Red Weapon VistaVision camera next year. The future will move to these formats very quick, just watch. Cinematographers seek out the format that has the least inherent DOF, that's just a natural law. Call it Frisch's Law. ;) And with that move will come more compounded focus requirements and mistakes. Not only that, this move will favor established and experienced focus pullers, making it harder for newbie's to get in.

 

On another note, if you're sitting on lenses that do not cover FF, you should think about selling them sooner rather than later as their value will decrease significantly in the near future.

 

 

My answer was moved to where it belongs :D

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