Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2001/01/15

[Author Prev] [Author Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Author Index] [Topic Index] [Home] [Search]

Subject: Re: [Leica] focusing movies WAS focusing Minox
From: Johnny Deadman <>
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2001 20:33:59 -0500

on 15/1/01 5:11 pm, Martin Howard at wrote:

> Speaking of focus and cinematography, how do they determine focus in
> Hollywood these days?  From what I've seen of behind-the-scenes stuff, they
> use gaffer tape on the floor in an X pattern so that the actors know where
> to stand, which would suggest that they focus by measuring the distance from
> the film plane to the X, rather than by eye.  Is this the case?

no, it's just so the actors can 'hit their marks'. They focus using
stand-ins and then mark the distances on the lens then a focus puller
changes focus according to the mark on the lens. So if someone is walking
into shot they will have distance markers corresponding to parts of the path
and a focus assistant or whoever will call out "one... two... three" and the
focus puller turns the lens accordingly. Occasionally a camera operator will
pull focus himself but it usual ends up 'hunting' and since the most
critical thing in movies is the actor's performance, you want everything
else to be absolutely nailed on every take. Every director dreads a great
performance take when the camera op puts his hand up and says 'problem'. So
much so they it has been known for the op to stay schtum (bad mistake).

In Tarantino's movies, where he was aping 50 million dollar movies on a tiny
budget you can see lots of focus errors (pulp fiction in particular) where
he was too ambitious for the schedule and the crew but actually who cares?
- -- 
Johnny Deadman