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Josh Taylor

Pulling focus on extreme shallow DOF

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I would say that I am a pretty good focus puller but I am looking for some advice or maybe some tricks at getting better at pulling focus on shallow DOF.


Recently, I did a shot where the Alexa had a 75mm Master Prime at a T1.3 - The camera started at 9ft and was pushed in to 4ft 9in - I place marks on the floor for every foot. The subject does not move or at is not suppose to - the entire time I am only looking at the marks and following it with the WCU 3 and I had the 2nd ac watch the monitor to make sure it was all sharp. I think we did about 8 takes and about half of that 4 was in complete focus where the others had small buzz towards the last 3rd of the shot. (I did try one take looking at just the monitor but I was better at looking at the marks).


So based on this situation how would you guys tackle this shot?


(Also you can't ask the DP to stop down.)

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Any focus pull gets harder as you get closer to camera. You could try placing extra marks at the close end of the track. Depending on the shot, you may be able to have your 2nd call the marks out to you, so that you can just watch the lens.

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At these settings, your DoF is half an inch. 50% miss is expected (and even a good result I think!) given the conditions and depending on the movement of the actor of course. I don't know any trick except the usual: practice and muscle memory. And what Stuart said. Did you have a cinetape ?

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Thanks for feedback.


I didn't have a cinetape as it was outside of the budget. But I am not sure if it would have come in handy for that shot. Guillaume you are right with the DOF - there was no room for error in that shot.

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