Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Why Go Remote on Your Focus?

There are a lot of skills on any production, but none is so central than pulling focus: accurate focus is a requirement on literally every shot. DSLRs and other large-chip cameras and inexpensive fast lenses have made shallow focus affordable, and focus all the more important. Accurate focus can make or break your production. Shane Hurlbut, ASC has often said, focus is the anchor for your entire project. With the new microRemote from Redrock Micro, remote focus control is now affordable for everyone, costing a fraction of traditional wireless focus systems: price is no longer a barrier. Having access to remote focus is really exciting for a lot of filmmakers. But what advantages are there to using a remote system? Turns out, there are plenty:

Advantages of Using Remote Focus
  1. Better Focus
A remote focus unit can actually deliver better, more consistent focus results. First, because it's wireless, you are not touching the camera, eliminating any shake that could result. Second, the motors give you just the right amount of assist so changing focus is effortless. It's like power steering in your car; smooth easy movements. There is a reason power steering is now standard on virtually every car sold. Finally, if you are using still lenses on your DSLR or other camera, the remote focus expands the focus ring from a tiny amount (often 45-60 degrees) to a whopping 270 degrees. It does it for all your still lenses. This means when you change focus, you have a lot more room and precision to hit your focus marks.
  1. Use It On Any Shot
Filmmaking today often calls for a lot of specialized setups and gear to make the cinematography interesting, and to better tell the story. This means jibs, cranes, Steadicam and handheld, in addition to tripod work. A remote focus system is the only focus controller that works on all these setups. Whether you are pulling focus on sticks, or on a 20' high crane shot, you can pull focus accurately and consistently. A popular choice is to outfit a camera with a cage (such as the Redrock ultraCage series), which gives the camera top rails and multiple mounting points. This enables a remote focus system to permanently live on top of the camera, and can be moved from setup to setup without changes. This is a huge timesaver when moving between setups.
  1. Owning One Makes You Better
And by better, we don't just mean a better person. The advantages of owning gear isn't just minimizing rental fees and having more flexibility to shoot at a moment's notice. You know your gear intimately, and have the opportunity to use it all the time. Like any gear, familiarity and practice means you get better. Better at setup, configuration, and calibration. Better at hitting your focus marks. As you improve, you will be able to shoot with increasingly shallow focus for more impact.