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Everything in Focus ?


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1 hour ago, Ram Nanda said:

Is there any movie, where everything in shot is in focus even if the subject is close to camera ?

Citizen Kane

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Speed Racer (parts of it), Werewolf: the Devil's Hound

(Realizing why they both reminded me of Citizen Kane – style and the subversive anti-corporate messages.)

Edited by M Joel W
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Unless you watch a movie shot on a small format like when consumer DV cameras were all the rage, you won't find a movie (other than animated) where every shot is in deep focus. However there are a number of movies where deep focus is the general aesthetic style aimed for when possible, like the day exteriors in a Sergio Leone western, or Gregg Toland's films like "Citizen Kane" or "The Best Years of Our Lives", or some of Douglas Slocombe's work.  Or look at Laszlo Kovac's work in "Paper Moon".

Then there's all the split-diopter work by Richard Kline for Robert Wise's "The Andromeda Strain" and "Star Trek: The Motion Picture."

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Although it’s not strictly “all” in focus, they use some longer lenses in spots and some racks, John Frankenheimer’s “The Train” (1964) strikes me as almost completely sharp. It has an almost brutalist aesthetic that compliments the focus on war and machinery. Very good movie too. 
 

-Tristan
 

 

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I spent some time thinking about this a year or two ago. I was inspired by Citizen Kane and Speed Racer and Werewolf: the Devil's Hound primarily is why I mention those examples. I think Speed Racer might be the Wachowskis' second best film to the Matrix. Not sure if that's a compliment for Speed Racer or a slight at the rest of their filmography, though, but I loved that movie and the story, style, and everything about it are a stark contrast (pun intended) to contemporary Marvel. It's weird and imperfect but I love it.

I bought a 17-50mm f2.8 Tamron EF mount lens because it can stop down to f32, then I bought a doubler so I could stop it down to f64 at 34-100mm. The idea was to shoot the wides at hyperfocal distance then green screen the close ups in order to stack focus, focused once on the background and once on the subject. Then shooting any other foreground elements similarly so we could stack focus in post. If we had more budget motion control would be another option.

It never happened – it felt too experimental and time-consuming given the material, but there's probably potential for a cool look here and maybe something to revisit as styles get more progressive in the future.

Edited by M Joel W
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17 hours ago, David Mullen ASC said:

Unless you watch a movie shot on a small format like when consumer DV cameras were all the rage, you won't find a movie (other than animated) where every shot is in deep focus. However there are a number of movies where deep focus is the general aesthetic style aimed for when possible, like the day exteriors in a Sergio Leone western, or Gregg Toland's films like "Citizen Kane" or "The Best Years of Our Lives", or some of Douglas Slocombe's work.  Or look at Laszlo Kovac's work in "Paper Moon".

Then there's all the split-diopter work by Richard Kline for Robert Wise's "The Andromeda Strain" and "Star Trek: The Motion Picture."

Hi Mr. David

Citizen Kane is famous for deep focus. But I'm referring to full focus. When actor is close to camera, may be like a close up or extreme close up, even in wide angle lens background goes to out of focus to some degree.

I was told by a cinematographer that he saw a movie from 90's where every shot in that movie is in full focus including close up shots. He doesn't remember the movie's name.

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Kudos to whomever mentioned Slocombe, I love his work on Indiana Jones.

Depth of field can be a shortcut toward drawing attention to a specific part of the frame: in a movie like Social Network condensing a 162-page script into 120 minutes you need all the help you can get and I've read Fincher's talkier dramas are often shot at t1.3. 

But there's something to the opposite approach, too.

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I can't think of a movie where everything, absolutely everything, is in focus. Usually when cinematographers and film lovers start talking about movies with really deep focus they often mention Citizen Kane, but also some of the so-called Spaghetti westerns such as Once Upon a Time in the West, by Sergio Leone. It was shot on 2 perf 35mm with stopped down lenses, in the harsh sunlight 'out west', giving it deep depth of field. It was a specific deep focus look that they were deliberately trying to create. It's an amazing looking film. It looks unbelievably good on BluRay. For a western, or any other kind of period picture, in my opinion, but especially for westerns, real film for the acquisition medium just leaves digital 'in the dust.' It looks soooo much better.

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In most movies that aim for deep focus, there is invariably some shallower focus shots due to light level issues -- look at the opening of "Once Upon a Time in the West", some of it is in overcast weather and the shots are not deep focus. And of course the night work in those Leone movies are not in deep focus. Remember he was using 50 ASA color negative film stock at the time -- even Gregg Toland was able to use Super XX b&w stock, often pushed from its base (which was about 125 or 160 ASA.)

Same goes for Slocombe's work on the Indiana Jones movies, some shots are deep focus, some are not. I mean, at some point if you are doing a tight close-up on a longer lens, even stopping down to f/16 isn't going to hold the background in focus. At that point you need to use tricks like tilt-focus lenses, split-diopter filters, or compositing.

I had a deep focus shot in "Big Love" where I used a 45mm slant-focus lens at f/11 or so, most of it is in focus:

Screen Shot 2022-03-27 at 10.49.17 AM.jpg

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Here's an example of a deep focus interior shot from "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade", but you can also see that even with using a lot of light and stopping down, the focus isn't completely sharp from near to far.

Screen Shot 2021-11-01 at 6.35.33 PM.jpg

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