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What can I do to make autofocus look good?

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ryan elder
What can I do to make autofocus look good?
on Aug 18, 2018 at 11:44:04 pm

I've never worked with autofocus before, and am not use to it, but I was had a gimbal operator shoot a scene for me, and he had have the camera on autofocus while moving the gimbal around because he said he wasn't able to pull focus manually on it.

However, the autofocus screws up in some of the takes for every take and takes too long to focus, and plays catch up.

But since I didn't have the budget to get an operator who has the equipment to pull focus as well as move the camera on the gimbal, what can I do to not make it seem like an error to the viewer?

I want to make my low budget limitations still look good, is there anything I can do to make the autofocus catch ups appear more natural to the viewer?


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Stephen Smith
Re: What can I do to make autofocus look good?
on Aug 20, 2018 at 6:47:16 pm

The autofocus capabilities will depend on the camera. I think this tutorial will help:







Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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Mark Suszko
Re: What can I do to make autofocus look good?
on Aug 21, 2018 at 2:18:32 pm

If the AF has a "momentary" button, press it to set the focus, then leave it alone. Use iris and shutter settings that maximize depth of field and focus becomes less of an issue, and then you can add blurs in post if you want to control where the apparent focus is and make it *look* like you shot with narrow DOF...


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ryan elder
Re: What can I do to make autofocus look good?
on Aug 21, 2018 at 4:50:53 pm

Well I was thinking maybe I could shoot deep DOF and forget about adding focus in post, but some viewers told me they find my footage distracting when everything in focus before. So how does make deep DOF look good, like older movies use to before the 60s?


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Stephen Smith
Re: What can I do to make autofocus look good?
on Aug 21, 2018 at 5:49:41 pm

In my opinion, adding blurriness to the background never looks the same as just filming your shot so it has a nice blurry background.

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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ryan elder
Re: What can I do to make autofocus look good?
on Aug 21, 2018 at 8:06:22 pm

Yeah I agree, I did the adding blur in post before and it looks synthetic so I try to avoid it, but let's say I shoot with a really deep DOF to avoid actors going out of focus.

What would look better to an audience? Adding unnatural looking blur in post, or just leaving the whole movie with a deep DOF and not changing that?

I've had viewers tell me they find certain objects in the background distracting on a deep DOF, especially in public locations where I cannot control everything. So if I choose not to add blur in post, how do I get the viewer to not be distracted by the background, and just pay attention to the story?


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Stephen Smith
Re: What can I do to make autofocus look good?
on Aug 21, 2018 at 8:45:12 pm

What camera do you have? The 1DX Mark 2 Parker Wallbeck used in that autofocus video does an amazing job at keeping people in focus. I love that it offers two types of autofocus so you can pick and choose what will work best in your situation. I thought never in a million years would I ever use autofocus. I have a Zhiyun Crane 2 with a 1DX Mark II and I really love what it can do and that I don't have to have another person pulling focus.

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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ryan elder
Re: What can I do to make autofocus look good?
on Aug 21, 2018 at 10:24:34 pm

I'm using the Sony A7 right now, but I'm assuming the autofocus is not that good? The DP is using it and so far the autofocus is late in catching up I find and actors go out of focus for too long as they move around.


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Stephen Smith
Re: What can I do to make autofocus look good?
on Aug 22, 2018 at 4:42:15 pm

Sorry, I've never used that camera. Does it offer a tracking autofocus?

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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ryan elder
Re: What can I do to make autofocus look good?
on Aug 22, 2018 at 6:25:28 pm

I'm not sure. It's the DP's camera and I trust him to know what it can do, but it seems the focus goes out of focus sometimes, when characters are moving, and than has to catch up, but it looks awkward to the audience.


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Stephen Smith
Re: What can I do to make autofocus look good?
on Aug 22, 2018 at 8:34:49 pm

Sorry, this might be one of those situations that unless you can rent a camera like a 1DX then you will have to change your vision. I would like to bring up an example where budget restraints created a better solution. Doug Liman did not have the budget he wanted for Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The neighborhood scene where Mr. Smith trips on the fence and accidentally almost shoots his wife is a great one and added a lot to the movie. It was originally supposed to be this big budget car chase scene that the studio would not pay for. Instead, we ended up with this very simple scene that brought so much more to the movie. Limitations can help you find better solutions.

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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ryan elder
Re: What can I do to make autofocus look good?
on Aug 22, 2018 at 8:58:00 pm

Okay thanks. I think I am going to tell my DP that for now, we are going to have to go all manual focus and just shoot at a deeper DOF for now then.


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Todd Terry
Re: What can I do to make autofocus look good?
on Aug 22, 2018 at 9:21:12 pm

[Stephen Smith] "Doug Liman did not have the budget he wanted for Mr. and Mrs. Smith. "

Oh! Oh!... I get to namedrop!

My set of primes was used on that movie! Well... used some. Most of that film was shot anamorphic but for some reason there was a mix and some of it was shot with spherical lenses (hard matted... I assume). Those shots were my lenses. Well... they weren't mine then... back then they belonged to DP Bojan Bazelli. But they're mine now. Great glass.

Anywho... Stephen is right. Maybe the vision has to change. As I'll re-quote Robert Rodriguez for the third time in all this, "Make the movie you can make, not the movie you want to make."

T2

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



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ryan elder
Re: What can I do to make autofocus look good?
on Aug 22, 2018 at 8:58:17 pm

I don't see how deep DOF will add it though (shrug).


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Stephen Smith
Re: What can I do to make autofocus look good?
on Aug 22, 2018 at 10:44:30 pm

Best of luck.

Stephen Smith

Utah Video Productions

Check out my Vimeo page


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