Properly pulling focus is essential on any set. Whether you’re shooting the news or a feature film, camera focus is key. Although viewers don’t always understand the nuances of focus pulling, they’ll notice when the camera operator gets it wrong. Suffice it to say, if the entire image becomes blurry, engaging with the program will be tough for audiences. Prevent this from happening on your set by reading this list of common focus pulling mistakes you should avoid.
Racking focus is a very deliberate, quick action that keeps a scene flowing smoothly. Although racking focus is swift, many camera operators get the timing wrong. Racking focus too slowly is distracting instead of illuminating, causing disorientation in the scene. In other words, the audience shouldn’t wait for you to catch up with the scene’s pace.
Instead, you should lead them through each scene, no matter what you’re shooting. In doing so, you keep the audience in the scene instead of bringing their attention to what’s going on behind the camera. An easy way to prevent slow racking is consistently practicing it in your free time to ensure it eventually becomes second nature.
Professionals can use several great video camera accessories to get clear, high-quality shots, including follow focus systems. One of the great attributes of follow focus systems is their white disk, which gives you a place to put blocking markers. As a result, you can visually represent how far you must pull the focus. However, making too many marks is a recipe for disaster and frequently results in out-of-focus shots. So, choose them wisely. Making multiple marks is fine as long as you can remember when and where to transition. Keep them at a minimum!
Rehearsals aren’t just warm-ups; they give the crew a chance to perfect technical aspects of production, such as blocking. Even when you walk to set with a plan for blocking, you might discover the plan isn’t going to work when you start filming. Coming up with a new plan on set isn’t rare, which is why not taking rehearsals seriously is one of the most common focus pulling mistakes you should avoid. During rehearsals, the camera operator should make sure the blocking is perfect, and if anything looks off, plan a suitable solution. That way, everyone can work to produce high-quality content worthy of the audience’s time.