Out of focus footage can make your production look low budget and unprofessional. Blurry images are hard on the viewer’s eyes which detract from overall engagement. This is a technical aspect of filmmaking that doesn’t often require many expenses. Getting it right is essential to a production of any budget. A lot of time goes into setting up the camera for the determined angle. When the actors finally are performing you might not have the chance for another take as magical. Here are a few tips to getting it right the first time:
Know Your Lens
As a professional, you will keep several scopes of lenses in your bag. You should know which one will be best for the shot but also know that particular item. As you adjust the ring you are setting the focal point distance. With practice, you should be able to adjust it into focus without looking at the monitor. Novices and even advanced photographers should start practicing with this all the time. Constantly be holding your camera and pick out objects at various distances to practice with. You could be walking to the store, just keep adjusting. Eventually, your hand knowledge knows precisely where the focal point will be.
Apply this technique to focus on a point at a distance. Redraw the focus to a point closer or vice versa. As an object is closer to the lens, it will be harder to stay in focus. You can take advantage of this by focusing on something at a closer distance. Then pull back as the range of staying in focus will become easier. Pulling towards an object that is closer can mean the camera needs a moment to refocus. With practice, you should be able to gauge the ring adjustment to staying in focus the whole time.
Following the Subject
Walk in sync with a moving subject. Become aware of the direction you will need to turn your ring to stay in focus. This comes back to knowing your lens but also being able to properly gauge the distance of the subject. Practice walking with the subject to get a sense of pace. If your movements are at the same pace there should be no problem staying in focus.
Know if the subject will switch to a certain location. Mark a piece of tape on the ring and the meter. Align the pieces of tape to focus on the secondary position. Then focus on the subject at the starting point. As the subject moves from one position, it is simply a matter of re-aligning the marks of the tape. You can do this for multiple positions. Ideally, use tape you can write on so you will know which order to scroll through.
In addition to these technical tips, you can purchase a focal gear to assist with smaller focus rings. Most camera offer autofocus. Using it is not a bad solution but set the pace of the drive speed to the subject points as they move. Don’t forget to always review your photos and footage at the end of the day before wrapping up.