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Steven West

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Posts posted by Steven West

  1. 11 hours ago, Gregory Irwin said:

    Gotcha about zone focus. As for the Goodfellas shot you referenced, my friend Larry McConkey was the steadicam operator. He did it brilliantly! But know that there was also a focus puller who did a magnificent job keeping the shot in focus by eye, a dolly grip guiding Larry through the maze and a sound boom man waving the mic overhead. If you watch carefully, you can see a couple of camera and boom shadows in the shot (just to show how hard they were working ☺️). They did great!


    Wow, that's incredible! You just don't notice any focussing going on at all, I assumed it was fixed. 

    I have seen some BTS on that actual shot and I think they ran it 3 times or something and got the choreography down, but the guy (host) in the final part of the shot kept missing his lines and so they had to do it again and again... I'm going to go back and look for the shadows now!

    Thanks again for all your insights I really appreciate it.

  2. Hi Gregory,

    Many thanks for your detailed reply.

    I think I am just overthinking stuff. I do want to say that zone focussing in stills is not auto focus; it's actually fixed. We set a distance and use the DOF determined by that to set up a zone wherein subjects in that zone would fall into what's called 'acceptable' focus, but nothing in the shot would be in critical focus unless they were at the exact distance set on the lens.

    Thinking of the Copacabana Steadicam shot in Goodfellas where it looks like the operator is keeping distance with the couple and keeping them in the DOF is maybe the way the shot that one? Or would you say they used a focus puller on that shot?

  3. I'm fairly new to the world of filmmaking and have a question about focussing that I was hoping someone could help me out on.

    I come from a commercial stills background but used to use zone focussing to shoot street photography as a hobby years ago. 

    I understand Hyperfocal is used sometimes, but I was wondering if zone focussing is something that is used/factored into in some shots, particularly follow shots or leading shots for example.

    On a shoot recently pulling focus myself I found I lost focus sometimes on the moving subject and there were times it was a bit too soft. I got to wondering if zone focussing was a thing in filmmaking since it seems it would lend itself perfectly to moving shots like follow, orbit or leading type shots on say a Steadicam or gimbal. I understand that for most productions there is a focus puller, but in the case of working alone, could it make sense to use zone focussing?

    Say you have a follow shot and you decide on walking behind the subject a few feet using a 35mm lens and f 2.8. The DOF is not going to be great and if you are pulling focus yourself there is most likely going to be a lot of drifting in and out of critical focus, so in cases like that, do cinematographers grab a DOF calculator and decide on a lens, distance and aperture in the cases they can't use a focus puller and roll with an acceptable level of sharpness by just keeping the subject(s) within the depth of field, instead of constantly trying to track the subject and keep them as sharp as possible? 

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