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focusing on a moving subject

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noor hussain
focusing on a moving subject
on Nov 11, 2010 at 4:14:19 am

i just got a 7d and went out to shoot some videos to put it to test.im just a newbie so it totally baffled me how do i keep on focusing on a moving subject.if its moving towards the camera??do i keep the aperture quite closed to give me a good range of depth of field.or do i manually keep on focusing with the focus ring.But if i want a shallow depth of field on a person and its moving but still i want the focus to be locked on it????? can someone plz explain all the methods in detail and how do i go about this?


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Jason Jenkins
Re: focusing on a moving subject
on Nov 11, 2010 at 7:22:49 pm

You answered your own question. Yes, it is hard to track a moving subject. That's why filmmakers use actors who hit their marks and focus pullers who know their craft and lenses that cost more than my car...

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


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noor hussain
Re: focusing on a moving subject
on Nov 12, 2010 at 4:07:41 am

but wot should i do in a documentary??when u cant predict the action


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noor hussain
Re: focusing on a moving subject
on Nov 12, 2010 at 4:09:55 am

and correct me if i am wrong ,i heard there is a option in dslr like 7d ,which can lock a focus and sort of follow it??/


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Ryan Mast
Re: focusing on a moving subject
on Nov 12, 2010 at 4:48:58 pm

Stop down to f8 or f16 for a deeper DOF.

Or don't shoot a doc on a DSLR.

--
Meteor Tower Films
We make music videos, design video for live theater, and build interesting contraptions.


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Todd Terry
Re: focusing on a moving subject
on Nov 12, 2010 at 5:13:51 pm

Doing a good job with follow-focusing while shooting a 35mm format is difficult, but of course it can be done (even with the iris wide open). And it has been done...for, oh, about 100 years now.

One of the biggest jumps in the ease of focusing is if you choose to use real 35mm cine lenses rather than SLR lenses... I tried them once and quickly went back to cine lenses. SLR lenses really weren't made for motion tracking of moving subjects. To go from the nearest point to infinity on an SLR lens you only have to turn the focus ring about one-fifth of a complete barrel turn... so it requires extreme finesse in nailing a razor-sharp image. With a cine lens, you have to make almost a complete barrel turn to go throughout the focus range, so it's much much easier to follow focus. Plus, on a side note, almost all SLR lenses breathe, whereas cine lenses don't (breathing is where the size of the image changes slightly as you rack focus). SLR lenses were made for shooting stills of course, so breathing doesn't matter... but it is really distracting in motion footage.

The other must-have thing is a decent follow focus unit. And not one of the cheap ones (most of those are made in India or China) that are flooding eBay... it's easy to pick one up there for $200-300 but they are not worth anything... there is way too much "slop" in their gearboxes for them to be useful. A really good FF unit, like an Arri or a Chroisel, is pretty expensive... as much or more than your 7D body. But on the low end, I can heartily recommend the microFollowFocus from RedrockMicro. It's inexpensive, but is really tight and works well.

It's also super helpful to have someone (and someone good) who is the focus puller. If you are serving as director and camera operator you are already juggling a lot of balls at once. When logistics allow, having an experienced camera assistant dedicated to doing the focus pulling can help things a lot.

Other than that... practice, practice, practice.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Mark Suszko
Re: focusing on a moving subject
on Nov 12, 2010 at 5:23:49 pm

I think you answered your own question, regarding DOF. Everybody loves the DSLR narrow DOF look, until they need to cover a lot of stuff in motion at various camera distances. So increase depth of field for that kind of situation, and your mistakes won't be as glaring when you do make them.


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Peter Ralph
Re: focusing on a moving subject
on Nov 15, 2010 at 4:05:13 pm

I understand your frustration. There are dozens of links to "documenatary shot on DSLR", even "photojournalism with a DSLR", which all but ignore the difficulties of shooting run and gun. It's not just focus, it's ergonomics, audio, record time, start-up time, controls that are not split-second accessible etc.

The mistake is to equate "documentary" with "run and gun". If you want to shoot unpredictable action as it happens it is recommended to shoot handheld and have fingers on iris/zoom/ND/focus/exp lock all the time.


But a lot of doc and VJ footage is not run and gun. If the action is predictable/repeatable a DSLR works fine.


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