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Benefits of follow focus for single-operator?

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David Sikes
Benefits of follow focus for single-operator?
on Oct 10, 2013 at 8:23:00 pm

Hey all. At my day job, I'm a one-man-band video guy. The camera we have here is a 5D Mark II. The guy here before me bought a good bit of DSLR rig stuff that I don't use—shoulder rig, matte box, follow focus, etc.

The shoulder rig doesn't fit into the "look" our company is going for, but I get where it fits in... the matte box doesn't swing out, plus all of our filters are screw on anyway, so I never use it. However, the follow focus intrigues me. I totally get the use of a follow focus when a 1st AC is involved, and I've seen a lot of hype and talk from other videographers about how much they want/love a follow focus... but I just don't see the benefit of it when shooting solo. However, if there is a way that a piece of gear (especially one that is at my fingertips) could help me while shooting, I'd hate to miss out on that. I always want to learn and improve, so I am all ears.

So, in your opinions—what does a follow focus bring to the field when shooting solo with a DSLR setup? Thanks for your thoughts and advice!

- David


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Steve Crow
Re: Benefits of follow focus for single-operator?
on Oct 10, 2013 at 9:21:12 pm

If could be useful for setting rack focus marks but I believe the big thing is that when using still camera lenses the focus ring is very sensitive, you have to get good at making small adjustments with your fingers. Because of the different sized gearing associated with a follow focus I believe that it's easier to make small adjustments to focus - a complete turn of the follow focus changes the area of focus much less than the same turn made directly by your hand on the barrel of the lens (I think they call this the "throw" of the lens)

I would think that a shoulder rig would be important for run and gun weather shots in the field when there may not be time to set up a tripod.

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media
http://www.CrowDigitalMedia.com


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Craig Alan
Re: Benefits of follow focus for single-operator?
on Oct 18, 2013 at 6:27:03 pm

iF you are wide open with a narrow depth of field then I could see the follow focus allowing for easier rack focus control, focus corrections and less chance of unwanted cam movement. You are mounted on a tripod?

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Pablo Aura
Re: Benefits of follow focus for single-operator?
on Nov 1, 2013 at 4:15:35 am

Hey David!,
go for the FF. Just use it. At first it might be awkward, but after a little bit of practice you'll start to love it, and your rack focus shouts will be much more precise.


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