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lens blur to get movie effect

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Ali Quintana
lens blur to get movie effect
on Apr 29, 2014 at 12:34:02 am

A good DOP was resently telling me that they use some kind of lens blur on dslr and also BMCC (using dslr lenses), This to get a more film look.

He did not say how or if its done in post or in filming.

Would love to Learn more about this!


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Michael Macalincag
Re: lens blur to get movie effect
on Apr 29, 2014 at 1:44:20 pm

There are lots of old tricks DPs still use for this such as vaseline or (women's) stockings to soften up an image a bit or to simply get the light to react differently.

Of course nowadays it's very possible to do things like this in post, so it's really hard to say in your situation. As time goes on there's will always be more, yet different methods to reach a destination.

I would suggest Googling some of the keywords I suggested, it'll lead you to a lot of good reads.

Hope that helps.


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Matthew Sonnenfeld
Re: lens blur to get movie effect
on May 1, 2014 at 2:50:34 am

Sounds to me that this lens blur that the DoP was talking about was good ol' "depth of field." This is the effect of objects blurring in the foreground or the background of your image. With a "shallow" depth of field, the focal plane, your main subject typically, is in focus while everything else is blurry. This creates a cinematic effect and is often the reason for the use of DSLR cameras or other large sensor cameras like the BMCC. Depth of field gives you the tool of "selective focus" where you can choose your focal plane instead of having everything in focus (deep depth of field). In this way you can visually direct the attention of your viewer. Used properly, shallow depth of field can be quite pretty. Overused, it can be annoying especially when people miss focus.

The lenses used on DSLR's and the Blackmagic camera are 35mm lenses meaning that they are designed for use with 35mm film. This means that they cover a relatively large imaging area and as such can create shallow depth of field. On smaller sensor cameras, like handheld camcorders and older style ENG cameras with fixed lenses, there is often only deep depth of field with most objects in focus regardless of distance from the lens.

Of course, you may know this already and may be looking for techniques to create soft focus in which case sure, vaseline on your lens is one technique. Though I wanted to go through that before I told you to smear vaseline on your lens. And if you are looking for soft focus, please try a soft effects filter before vaseline.

Co-President at fourB Productions, Inc.
Blackmagic Cinema Camera, RED Scarlet-X
2011 Macbook Pro 17", 2.3 Ghz Quad Core, 16GB RAM
2008 Mac Pro 2.6 Ghz 8 Core, 10GB RAM
AJA IoXT, Blackmagic Intensity Pro, Blackmagic Mini Monitor
Adobe Production Premium CC, Avid Media Composer 7, Final Cut Pro Studio 3


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Richard Martz
Re: lens blur to get movie effect
on May 1, 2014 at 3:11:11 am

Yep. Personally I find vaseline to be an absolute MESS to deal with. We have done some interesting EFX by Netting the back of the lens with a black stocking. It looks a little like a pro mist. But only a little. And you really need to stay away from high f-stop numbers because the pattern of the stocking will be seen in the light areas of the picture. Remember that I said it was interesting. Certainly not conventional. You be the judge. I like it for a few things. Very few.

Both Tiffen and Schneider make a variety of cinematic filters in a bewildering array of effects including fogs, promist, soft FX, and combo cosmetic filters that I will not live long enough to use due to the sheer number of available filters.

Sincerely,
Richard Martz

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Atlanta, GA

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Ali Quintana
Re: lens blur to get movie effect
on May 1, 2014 at 11:49:00 pm

Thank you, very interesting, but I dont think I will try vasoline.

What about trying lens blur in post? any Idea?


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Ali Quintana
Re: lens blur to get movie effect
on May 1, 2014 at 11:47:47 pm

Thanks for the reply. Yes I do know about the depth of field etc etc.

and that DOP knows I know that, so he was refering to something else.

I think the soft focus. I do not want to try vasoline..... just
dont feel like trying that on my lenses.

What about post? any Idea?


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Matthew Sonnenfeld
Re: lens blur to get movie effect
on May 2, 2014 at 5:44:02 pm

Probably going to be an After Effects composite to do it in post. You can give it a go if you're feeling ambitious. Shouldn't be too hard unless you are looking for motion tracking but a static effect on a single clip should be doable.

Usually easier and less time consuming (cheaper) to do with a filter on set if possible and if you know the look that you are going for.

Co-President at fourB Productions, Inc.
Blackmagic Cinema Camera, RED Scarlet-X
2011 Macbook Pro 17", 2.3 Ghz Quad Core, 16GB RAM
2008 Mac Pro 2.6 Ghz 8 Core, 10GB RAM
AJA IoXT, Blackmagic Intensity Pro, Blackmagic Mini Monitor
Adobe Production Premium CC, Avid Media Composer 7, Final Cut Pro Studio 3


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Michael Macalincag
Re: lens blur to get movie effect
on May 9, 2014 at 9:10:03 pm

Didn't think I had to state the obvious but no, DO NOT put vaseline directly on your glass- use a filter for that!

Of course, as technology progresses as well as the seemingly hundreds of plugins & overlays that are coming out everyday, most of these older tricks and techniques are rarely implemented, especially with the younger generations. Doesn't mean they should be discounted, though. I still know people who enjoy the "hands-on" process of in-camera effects as well as going out of their way to experiment and conjure up different looks. Why? Because it's fun.

But since you're still not exactly sure what effect you want to achieve (you did say lens blur), I'm very confident you can find a plugin or overlay to suit your needs- even if you don't know what it is you want right now, you'll most likely know once you lay your eyes on it.

I'm not going to start naming plugins & overlays as there's so many to choose from, but a simple search for your criteria (lens blur) will generate substantial results. Most NLEs (or other applications) have default effects that may deliver what you need as well...


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