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Firas Kweis

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Posts posted by Firas Kweis

  1. These days you'll need to learn two techniques: Focus by distance, and focus by monitor. And sometimes combining the two skills.


    How to train? I might start by buying an old film SLR camera with a 50mm 1.8 lens. It doesn't need to work to shoot photos. You just need the old fashioned ground glass (newer auto focus cameras have partial ground glasses that make seeing focus very difficult) and a manual focus lens. I'd stick to Canon FD series cameras as the lens turns in the same direction as movie camera lenses. Nikons turn backwards.


    When you have your camera in hand just hold it up and practice eye focusing on anything that moves. Do this for hours until you have the "feel" of the lens turning to keep focus.


    Next, get a good tape measure and practice estimating distances by eye. Concentrate on the range from 1 foot to 20 feet. You'll need to learn the close distances within a few inches and the far distances within a foot or two.


    Then, go to a rental house and ask if you can practice focus on a not busy day. You'll need a camera with a s35 frame size and maybe a 50mm prime lens. Bring a friend as an "actor" and practice focusing by adjusting the ring on the lens and using marks on the floor. Record your footage and play back on a 17" or larger display to see how you've done. Start at an T4 and work your way down to T2 as you get better.


    When you feel kind of comfortable, volunteer to pull focus on student films.


    And if the student film can afford it, try also using a radio focus device and pulling focus by eye off a very good monitor. All that time walking around the the SLR stuck on your face will come in handy here. Many AC's now seem to use "focus peaking" indicators on their displays. It's tough as I'm not sure the focus peaking is quite accurate enough. But these days, there are rarely focus rehearsals, or even rehearsals for camera of any kind.


    If you have stand-ins on your shoot, use them to rehearse focus, again and again until the AD calls roll camera.


    Focus pulling is a very stressful job that rarely receives positive recognition. Make sure you have the personality for such a job before you pursue it.


    Good luck!!!!

    Thank you Bruce Greene

    i will try my best and lol nice pic

    I'm so grateful that you guys are helping out!

    • Upvote 1
  2. Even if you have marks. It's not 100% that the actors will hit them. It's more like an approximate. I usually put tape around the wheel with distance measures. (In yellow tape so the light from the wheel shines through) Then i make "arrows" out of different colors for marks. This way you don't have a lot of unused marks on your ring later on that day. About hard stops i rarely use it incase something unpredictable happens.



    Nice trick Rasmus thank you for sharing!

  3. I find it a lot easier using the crank or the whip when using a follow focus. It makes it much easier to turn. But like everyone has been saying, practice, practice, practice! I have some mannequin heads that I put on light stands to practice with. And also, don't be afraid to ask for a dry erase marker and mark the follow focus or preset the hard stops on the follow focus.

    Thx for the tip Reggie

    Also +1 for marking hard stops on the follow but nowadays it's hard to mark the follow focus because the director wants to shoot immediately is marking the follow focus with distances a better idea in general or do people make approximate marks nowadays ?

  4. I don't want to be hard man, but if you don't notice that lens have a curve in the focus, you don't spend a minute with a lens. You don't even look at the barrel and notice how the numbers aren't 1 2 3 4 5, but 0,5, 1 , 3, 10, 20 (exponential).


    The important thing here is, don't try to do something you don't even understand in the middle of a shooting. You are screwing a lot of work and people, people you need if you want to keep working.


    Spend time understanding your lens, ask for help before and don't try to chew more than you can bite.

    You are right, it's just that i haven't been that well guided before and making mistakes not on purpose ofc just me not understanding what to do.

    • Upvote 1
  5. It definitely takes a lot of practice and time to get decent at it.


    A big part of it is to learn it the "old fashioned way" with a tape measure.

    Sure, you will see everyone staring at a monitor these days but they will often do that in conjunction with reference marks.


    It is very easy to get lost in the monitor if you try to attempt a take, especially a critical one, just by staring at the monitor and trying to sharp on the fly.


    Another big thing is to understand the physical characteristics of the lenses and how they differ.


    Some lenses are cam driven on the focus which gives you a more evenly spread out focus scale (Cooke S4's for example), others are helical and will typically have a more compressed and uneven focus scale (Super speeds for example) which will require you to consciously ramp the speed of your pulls.

    Every lens will have its own "curve" and knowing how that affects your pulls for each is as important as knowing your depth of field.


    example: Depending on the lens/focal length, pulling from 20' ->15' might be a slight turn of the wheel while pulling 8'-> 3' will be a much greater turn of the wheel.

    Both were distance changes of only 5' but if you were to make both pull's at the same speed, the 8'->3' take would have likely gone soft.


    Like AJ and Giacomo said, go to a rental house and ask to setup up the pieces of gear you will be interacting with while on a job. Most rental houses will allow people to come in a try out gear for free as long as its available and not leaving the premises.

    Jobs where you are the 2nd, practice pulling focus on people and things around the set while you're on your lunch break or if your camera has down time.


    Take measurements, make marks, record takes with and without looking at a monitor and see how you do.

    If things don't come out sharp think about where you went off and how you can correct from there.

    Practice makes perfect.


    I didn't knew about the curve oh wow

    And about the old fashioned way you are right i am not that good in distances i should improve and try to practice at the rental house more, can't believe how open you guys are and helpful i appreciate it a lot

  6. I'm kinda fresh as a first AC but i have never really had a shoot where i wasn't able to make the shots sharp.


    My tips for you are:


    * Skip all kinds of peaking, it just throws me off, not sure about other focus pullers out there but i usually just enhance the contrast in my monitor.


    * If you pull wireless, i find it easier setting the focus motor setting set to right on the right side of the lens. So by pulling towards my body, the focus goes further away. And the opposite. Think of the movement of your fingers underneath the wheel and you wont pull the wrong direction by accident.


    * Make sure to mark up a ring for each lens with distance. And don't be afraid to take marks if it's a hard pull. Tech-Rehearsals!


    * If you have the chance, use a UDM-1 or cinetape for accurate focus measure in the monitor of your FIZ.


    * If you're DOP is at T1.3 and on a gimbal freestyling, pray to the focus gods and trust your eyes for distance. Stick close to the camera.


    But again, as mentioned above. Practice makes perfect. Maybe you can practice at a local rental house? They usually don't mind.


    Hope this helps!

    It does thank you so much

    Time to pray to the focus gods :)

  7. Practice makes perfect.


    Go to a rental house and ask if you can practice pulling focus at one of their prep bays on a slow day.


    How do you practice?


    • Set up different distances using anything that can stand as a "character". This can be a lamp, action figure on a stool, etc. Just give yourself different points to rack focus to.
    • Create a system for yourself on how you mark the focus wheel. What is the first mark? Second? Final? Etc. Everyone has their own way, but find/make the one that works for you.
    • Learn to start recognizing common distances like 3', 5', 10', 20', etc. Typically, an actor may miss their mark, but if you can estimate their distance by knowing how far 3/5/10/20' looks like, then it'll give you a good head start.
    • The monitor can be deceiving, especially with focus assist. Treat it like another tool, compare the monitor to your marks. Usually, a monitor has an AC over correct and ignore the marks. Nonetheless, learn the different focus assist features that various monitors have.
    Don't get frustrated! It's hard at first, but you can make pulling focus second nature by practicing on your free time.

    Thx for the tips man ! will try to do it and yes i agree monitor focus assist isn't accurate at all, hopefully i am going to try to learn where 3,5,10,20 are.

  8. Don't tell me about it. I have to focus pulling in 2 night shots, by a campfire, so probably the aperture is going to be full open, and 90% of the scene with dollying.


    Saying that, I believe is a mistake to "practice" in the shooting, when you have the work of lot of people depending on you. If you want to practice, do it in your own time, ask help from a friend and practice stationary and then walking, and then when the subject waking, just practice. Go to a park and focus pulling on people walking, or riding a bike.

    If you were a musician, you can't practice on a live show, you need to do it by yourself or with your band. Same here. Is a mistake (your mistake) don't ask for help before.

    In my case, because the gig of focus pulling was not something that I planned (I was going to be camera assistant and that's it), I talked with the Director, I explained to him why the shots are going to be difficult (aperture, moving camera, low light with not the best monitoring) and we are going to have a couple of meeting to test the focus (and some make up effect that we need) and another things. I'm not waiting to the shooting to say "hey man, this is hard".


    Just talk with the producer and the director, don't wait to the middle of the shot, they are the first ones to want that everything go smoothly, so they are going to help you and give you what you need.


    I search for some information the other day, I give you the links (some of the information came from this forum).











    And a way of practice (I believe from a post in here)


    Turn off the monitor, take out a tape measure, a pen to write on the focus disc and some tape to make marks on the floor (but there will be times when you can't put tape on the floor). Now practice the following with the lens aperture open as much as it will go (T2, for example). Yes, it will be hard, but this will allow your focus puller (and you) to see when things go soft:


    - static camera, subject moves towards camera (try two speeds: constant speed and increasing speed)

    - static subject, camera moves towards subject (try two speeds: constant speed and increasing speed)

    - moving camera and moving subject, moving towards each other at the same speed

    - moving camera and moving subject, moving towards each other at the different speeds (e.g. slow camera, faster subject)

    - moving camera and moving subject, moving towards each other, pass each other and then move away from each other

    - have a subject walk in while the camera films the subject from the side (profile view), the subject should walk closer to the camera while the camera remains on the same tracking line. Imagine an arrow > but on its side. The camera is on the flat side and the moving subject follows the angled line. Sorry, this one's a little hard to explain without a picture...


    Give those a try. There are plenty more, but that will get him started. And remember that it's ok for the two of you to talk to each other and help each other out - it's not a competition.Then he can take out a monitor and try the same exercises again (if he wants to use a monitor).



    P.S.: Besides that, yes, is kinda an ungrateful job the focus pulling, but is your responsibility. Don't say yes if you believe you can't do it.

    Thx for the tips man any kind of camera and lenses setup to use like what lenses can someone like me use with long rotation and affordable ofc

  9. Hey guys i am a second camera assistant who has been working in the field for 4 years now yet everytime i get a chance to pull focus i end up failing badly to the point that either i lose my chance and they hire another ac to do the job or the director says we need to move on we can't keep repeating all day so the dp bumps the iris to 4 or 5.6 and does it himself, i just don't understand how some people can do it i mean if u can't practice how can you learn :(

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