The folks over at Redrock Micro have a continuing piece titled Learn the Difference – an educational & informative piece that highlights the Redrock M2 Cinema Lens Adapter in a creative and artistic light.
Veteran television, film and video shooter Larry McKee’s ongoing series provided the inspiration for this piece on Follow Focus.
YOU LEAD, I’LL FOLLOW: The art of focus
We’ve discussed how selective focus and reduced depth of field can help you tell a story cinematically. By isolating your subject against a background of blur, you guide your viewer to what you want to emphasize.
What if your subject is moving? Or you want to change the focus from something in the front of the frame, to something in the back?
Follow focus is the answer. A follow focus unit is a knob surrounded by a marking surface. The unit also has a gear, with teeth to match the teeth on the lens focus gear. This allows you to preset your focus points with great accuracy, and create smooth transitions.
Blocking the scene. Let’s say your actor is moving 5 feet within the scene. Mark his first position on the floor with gaffer’s tape and mark the point on your follow focus unit. Then mark his second position on both the floor and your follow focus. During shooting, you should be able to keep the actor in perfect focus from Point 1 to Point 2 – and in between.
Rack ’em up. Another effective technique is called “rack focus”, where the subjects stay in place but the camera focus shifts dramatically from one point to another. Just set the correct points on your follow focus unit and employ the same technique as above. In our brief movie example, you’ll see how focus changes from the motorcycle in the foreground to the bicycle in the back.
Follow focus is a sophisticated technique, once the sole domain of film cameras. But with the advent of Redrock Micro, you can achieve the film look with an affordable video camera and 35mm lens.