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Focusing and Action Scenes

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Jack Niedenthal
Focusing and Action Scenes
on Nov 18, 2011 at 9:50:53 pm

First, let me thank all those who put up with my posts that admittedly make me look like a neophyte, but the internet is the only resource I have, I live in the middle of nowhere.

I am filming in 720/24pN with an HPX 170

My question is regarding action scenes. I have experimented with this a bit but I would like to know what people would typically do in this situation:

Camera on a tripod/no panning. A guy is about 60-70 feet off running (or walking) right by the camera.

How do people typically deal with the focus here?

If it is a manual setting how far away would you set the focus?

Would it be better just to put on auto focus? Wouldn't this track the runner better keeping him in focus the entire time?

Jack Niedenthal
Microwave Films of the Marshall Islands
iMac i7 using Lion 10.7.x, HPX 170 using only one 64GB card
I live on an island in the middle of the Pacific, YOU are my only resource.

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Fernando Mol
Re: Focusing and Action Scenes
on Nov 18, 2011 at 11:44:07 pm

You can place marks on your lens, by choosing landmarks across the road and change them as your runner goes.

Place a starting mark on the focus ring and press the "Infinite" button. Now place a mark for each landmark. Now, as your runner runs your assistant can follow the landmarks to change the marks on your lens.

Be sure to place your focus ring mark on the "infinitum" place and press the infinite button each time so you reset it, because if you roll the ring passing this point it will lost the calibration.

Also, the camera has a manual focus assistant that work great most of the time, but it will change your rings calibration, so be sure to turn it off from the in-camera menu.

Of course, if you are skill enough you can use the focus meter along with the landmarks to change focus as your runner goes trough them, but this can be trick as you already know.

I hope this helps

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Robin Probyn
Re: Focusing and Action Scenes
on Nov 19, 2011 at 8:22:30 am

Longer the lens and wider open the aperture will make focus more critical ..

When the subject is 60 feet away the focus will be less critical till the subject is close by..

So you could start wide -ish.. hopefully with a large stop F11.. F16 if the camera will take it.. and then focus will hold quite a while.. if the subject is running all the better.. I,d pull your own focus.. if it goes soft right at the end its fine and can look pretty good..

If they are going to walk from 60 feet away.. its going to be a very long shot anyway.. and you could get away with breaking it up editing wise by having some handheld walking with the subject.. etc

Or fly in a features focus puller on $2,000 a day :)..

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