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20/20 last week - did you see it?

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David Speace
20/20 last week - did you see it?
on Dec 20, 2011 at 4:28:20 pm

I wanted to put this in one of the Forums... I think it should go here. Last week (Thursday night 12/15) I was watching ABC's 20/20 program and I noticed that one of the interviews with Diane Sawyer and the guest was shot either with the Canon 5D or the Sony F3... might have been the F3; anyway, what I noticed was how out of focus the background was... like completely out of focus... huge circles of confusion! So... gee I got my legacy 50mm lens on the camera and I can choose f/1.4 and wallah... the background is totally out of focus... so much so that whatever setting this interview was conducted in was obliterated. I would think that it is important to reveal the setting a little bit... like if the person being interviewed is a doctor, author, or expert then you might see something in the background that shows this...by being only a little out of focus. Diane Sawyer and the guest looked like they were sitting with a foggy cloud in the background with only a hint of little color splotches here and there... it was like an effect going on in the background and to me, detracted from the interview. Choosing the depth of field that you want is important, but it has a definite purpose in the story telling process... this is especially true in film making, but for the television interview we should take care and make sure that how we throw the background out of focus has some meaning for the interview setting and the story being told! Just like there is motivation for good lighting, the same should be true when we begin to decide how out of focus the background is going to be!

Dave Speace
Producer/Director/DP
DZP Video

Windows 7, 64 Bit, i7 8 Core, 16Gb Ram, GeForce 4800


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John Frey
Re: 20/20 last week - did you see it?
on Dec 20, 2011 at 4:47:01 pm

I fully agree, David. I have spent the last 30 years prepping backgrounds for talking heads using broadcast video cameras. Now that I also use DSLR equipment, the temptation to adjust for a super shallow depth-of-field is there. Unfortunately, I think a lot of young videographers go 'shallow' because they can - it seems so 'film-like'! Set design and lighting skills sometimes take a back seat.

John D. Frey
25 Year owner/operator of two California-based production studios.

Digital West Video Productions of San Luis Obispo and Inland Images of Lake Elsinore


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Rob Manning
Re: 20/20 last week - did you see it?
on Dec 20, 2011 at 6:07:51 pm

Thanks for the pointers folks.

I did not watch the episode, however, it's interesting to read the challenges which are cropping up with regard to the genre.

Generally f8, is in the pocket for HDslr as I've been told (tHough not set in stone)would either of you agree ?

Just curious.

Many thanks,

Rob


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Steve Crow
Re: 20/20 last week - did you see it?
on Dec 20, 2011 at 9:58:00 pm

F8 is what you would choose if you want everything in focus - the opposite of shallow depth of field. I believe it's a popular fstop with photojournalists because it makes it much more likely that what they capture will actually be in focus. I heard a funny saying once used by photojournalists that the secret to their success was two fold - a camera set at F8 and being there to take the picture.


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Peter J. DeCrescenzo
Re: 20/20 last week - did you see it?
on Dec 21, 2011 at 12:22:10 pm

[Rob Manning] "... Generally f8, is in the pocket for HDslr as I've been told (tHough not set in stone)would either of you agree? ..."

"f8"?

I think you need to add "f2." (or maybe "f1.") in front of that "8" for typical DSLR shooting! ;-)

In general, the main reason to shoot with a DSLR is to take advantage of the shallow depth of field capability of their large-ish sensors, with a fast-ish lens and a relatively wide-open aperture. There can be other good reasons to shoot with a DSLR, but that's the main one.

Otherwise, if possible use a traditional camcorder. Prosumer & pro camcorders beat DSLRs in almost every category, except shallow DOF and (usually) price.

Of course, I occasionally shoot with my GH2 with the lens set at f8 or slightly higher, but only if I want "everything" in focus and when there's a _lot_ of light available.

Cheers.

---

http://www.peterdv.com


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Rob Manning
Re: 20/20 last week - did you see it?
on Dec 24, 2011 at 8:58:39 am

Peter, specific to the question, yes, I'd shoot a 1.2, 1.4, 1.8 or 2.8 etc to be sure in an interview, however, when tracking documentary footage outside, in say Mono County, the use of those stops for proximity or bokeh porn, on a talking subject is a personal choice, eliminating the background visage, maybe not so much, hence a shooting script and story board.

Otherwise for nighttime still shooting with a prime, or interiors in a club perhaps.

RM


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Jason Jenkins
Re: 20/20 last week - did you see it?
on Dec 21, 2011 at 6:33:47 pm

[David Speace] "I noticed that one of the interviews with Diane Sawyer and the guest was shot either with the Canon 5D or the Sony F3... might have been the F3; anyway, what I noticed was how out of focus the background was... like completely out of focus... huge circles of confusion!"

I doubt they were shooting wide open and I doubt they were using a DSLR. It's more likely they had some kind of diffusion material stretched across the background. That would allow them the ease of shooting with a deeper focus while giving them the out-of-focus-background look they were going for.

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!

Check out my Mormon.org profile.


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David Speace
Re: 20/20 last week - did you see it?
on Dec 21, 2011 at 6:49:51 pm

No... I don't think they were using a scrim or diffusion material. It was definitely wide open f-stop in the f/1.4 to f/2 range. You can watch the video on abc's website.

Dave Speace
Producer/Director/DP
DZP Video

Windows 7, 64 Bit, i7 8 Core, 16Gb Ram, GeForce 4800


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David Jones
Re: 20/20 last week - did you see it?
on Dec 23, 2011 at 7:25:08 am

I try and shoot most talking head interviews at 2.8. If you go below that, you'll have most of the frame in focus. I did just finish a documentary where all the interviews were lit for 4.0 (this is what Ken Burns lights his interviews at). If you go wide open, using any kind of telephoto, you risk having nothing in focus.

Dave J


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